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PlayStation VR Worlds (PlayStation 4) artwork

PlayStation VR Worlds (PlayStation 4) review

"For Example"

Whether it's the wonders of sea life, the seedy activities of "organized" crime, or bug-riddled space ships in the far reaches of outer space, you'll lay witness to these and other such occurrences in PlayStation VR Worlds, a compilation of five experiences. Having said that, VR Worlds likely won't be one of the best titles you'll have in your VR library, due to several flaws and shortcomings. However, and this is the unusual circumstance surrounding this product, VR Worlds still comes highly-recommended. With both positives and negatives, this release actually serves as a suitable testing ground for players entering their introductory phase of virtual reality.

Along with these five thrill rides come unique control methods, three of which only require the headset. One of the three, VR Luge, puts you in control of... well, a luge. Not the "Olympic" kind, but the illegal street kind where you speed down a long-winding road past traffic and other hazards that include a log spill. Another, Ocean Descent, is more of an oldschool virtual reality presentation. One where you watch a scripted event filled with coral reefs, giant turtles, and other marine life pass by while you stand in a shark cage, doing activities "unrelated' to the shark cage. Sure. Then there's Danger Ball, a futuristic sports event where you must knock a ball past your opponent and vice versa five times to win. So... first-person Pong.

You would think out of all those descriptions, VR Luge could be the most exhilarating with the headset. Ironically, it's actually the most underused, unexciting of the five titles.

Luge's biggest problem is how it's a bland demonstration of controlling with the headset. It's fine and very responsive, but you're redundantly tilting your head left and right in every race. The sensation of being inside a VR world isn't there, either. Luge wants you to believe your head is attached to a body on a board, going down streets at high speeds, but you just don't feel it. You're so focused on playing the game normally that you forget you're in a virtual world. The main issue that adds to this disconnect is that you're encouraged not to look at the environments. You can during the pre-race countdown, but any attempt to do so during a race might result in a crash. Weirdly, there's also no rumble support, which could have enhanced the "physicality" of going down a hill.

Interestingly, VR Luge is more exciting to watch than play.

Ocean Descent, on the other hand, despite being an underwater elevator simulator, does a much better job awing with its limited concept. It very much makes good use of the fact that you're intentionally stuck in a descending object, as you'll observe many objects in any direction, up close and off in the distance. While things occasionally get in your face, like a fleet of jellyfish, you can also spy various structures, schools, and manned submersibles farther off, creeping in and out of your view. And yes, the shark unnerved me. I knew it wasn't real, but I still tilted my head away when it got really close. Unlike Luge, Ocean Descent succeeds at making players feel a part of the environment, in spite of it essentially being a restricted demo.

As for Danger Ball, a name so awesome I have to bold it every time: shockingly, this is the best headset-controlled game and best title in the collection. It's engrossing. It's addicting. It's... Pong. But seriously, the reason Danger Ball works well is because its core, intense gameplay of outplaying your opponent with a combination of speeding up and curving shots is executed really well in a virtual environment. You'll look ridiculous twisting or thrusting your head forward to perform a curved or power shot, but hey, at least you'll have fun.

Adding to the intensity is the fact that each opponent have differing abilities. One opponent can grab the ball and sling it back at fast speeds, another can toss two balls, and then there's one that's a literal wall you must wear down before slinging the ball past it. Now imagine the chaos this causes in the arena: between normal shots are the occasional curved and power shots, along with the calamity the enemy brings with multiple balls, speedy shots, and what not. You must quickly react as the ball returns, deduce what shot needs to be made, tilt, move, or push your head appropriately, and HOPE your rival doesn't catch on. All this while the arena tiles get demolished between hits as the ball bounces everywhere. It's a surprisingly thrilling atmosphere in VR.

A different thrill awaits with London Heist, a crime story with graphically-impressive, likely mo-capped characters. Or as I like to call: The Touchy Feely Game. With either the default PlayStation controller or Move sticks in hand, you'll be guided through brief sections of the heist where you get to grab, push, or throw a bunch of objects in your immediate vicinity. Whether it's a wad of money and an ignitable cigar on a table, or fiddling with the radio and opening the passenger door in a moving van, the game clearly wants you to interact to the point of ignoring dialogue.

However, the best part about London Heist has to do with handling a gun during shootouts. While you're given two control options, it's so obvious the Move sticks are a must when it's time to shoot up a bunch of gun-totting guards. You'll be ducking behind a desk as people come flooding in the room you're stuck in, firing a million bullets from behind couches, on ledges, and even through windows, and when it's time to pop your head out and blast away... it's ridiculously natural. As you fire in the correct direction, at the right angle, you'll constantly perform headshots, and even when you make a slight mistake, all it takes is a simple, quick adjustment. Reloading with one of the Move sticks is just as instinctive; I was habitually holding ammo in the middle of a chaotic firefight in anticipation of each reload.

Unfortunately, London Heist is extremely short, and on top of that, there's only two main shooting sections within the whole story. Graciously, the devs had the foresight to include a target practice mode with some interesting variety, such as firing at candles in a dark room and knocking color-coated cans in the correct containers as they pass by. As expected, these are all points-based, and require some accurate, savvy, and quick shots on your part to get a decent rating. This... doesn't sound amazing, maybe even dire, but considering how fun it is to shoot stuff in VR, it's better than replaying the story ad nauseam. But even in its fleeting moments, London Heist demonstrates how organic aiming in VR can be.

The other "big" title in VR Worlds, the outer space adventure Scavengers Odyssey, is the most ambitious of the collection, as it tries to be an actual game with full-on controls and a story with chapters. Here, you're required to use both the headset and PlayStation controller in unison to pilot a mech; the controller to navigate and attack, and the headset to look around and aim at green space bugs. There's also a "grapple hook" ability, allowing you to pick up debris, which you can either hurl away or use to squash some enemies. Additionally, there's a "hop" command that let's you bounce and latch to various plains if there's a "dead end," usually on different heights and angles. Because space.

It's ambitious... and you'll likely abandon the game after ten minutes, especially if you're super new to VR gaming; Scavengers Odyssey will make you feel genuine motion sickness. Of course, motion sickness varies from person to person with VR, but this game has very specific moments that cause the symptom en masse: the hopping sections. The way you're elevated to different plains, as the camera adjusts itself in contrast to the overall scenary, messes with your mind. You know this isn't really happening, but your brain is still expecting something... and isn't getting one. Now mix this with the usual VR movement, especially if you're expected to attack and dodge bugs before, during, and after all this hopping, and it becomes a real hassle to continue. This is why so many VR games use a "teleport" system over manual movement.

Unfortunately, Scavengers Odyssey is a game you'll have to desert and come back to later when (or if) you have better resistance to VR motions...

PlayStation VR Worlds isn't by any means a great collection. I mean, one game is just a traditional VR simulation in water, another has no additional value as you're rolling down the street, and then there's the game you have to quit ten minutes in because your brain is having a meltdown. And the two best titles? One is target practice and the other is Pong. If you've already played several virtual reality titles, then don't even think about getting this; maybe as a novelty pick-up at a low price. But again, as weird as it sounds, I would highly consider purchasing this if your first real foray into VR is with the PlayStation VR. Considering VR Worlds is all over the place with its senses and control set-ups, it'll help you on your feet before you tackle a full-length game.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (December 24, 2018)

I can only imagine what the dev meeting for Yaksha's character design and animations were like...

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