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Project Morpheus: Experiencing PS4’s Virtual Reality Prototype

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on Mar 21, 2014 // Senior Manager, Social Media

Project Morpheus is PlayStation’s prototype virtual reality system for PS4, announced earlier this week at GDC. Despite its pre-release status, Morpheus is a sleek, eye-catching piece of hardware that feels surprisingly comfy once strapped to your cranium.

This is partly due to a clever design that distributes most of the unit’s weight to the top of your head, not the bridge of your nose or other delicate pressure points. Properly seated, the unit sits snugly over your eyes but rests comfortably on your face. You peer through two separate lenses, which resolves into one immersive, high definition image that provides a convincing sense of depth.

I tried out two demos: EVE Valkyrie, a fast-paced arcade-style dogfighting simulation set in outer space, and The Deep, a face-to-face encounter with a prowling great white shark. Each of these demos was radically different, expressing radically different approaches to virtual reality gaming.

Of the two demos, EVE Valkyrie’s sci-fi dogfighting left the biggest impression. The actual gameplay was dead simple thanks to its DualShock 4 controls, with the left analog stick controlling the thrust of my ship, R2 firing lasers and L2 deploying lock-on missiles.

The game was a blast, but the 360 navigational freedom and sense of immersion provided by Morpheus took EVE Valkyrie into a completely different place. Several times, I craned my neck to watch an enemy ship zoom past my shoulder. Other times, I peered up through the top of my cockpit to watch the battle unfold above me.

Then came the real mind-blower: I looked down and saw my own virtual body seated in the cockpit with my hands clutching the flight controls. During moments like this, I briefly felt like I was actually somewhere else — an effect of “presence,” a term that describes successful VR’s ability to trick the mind and fully immerse the player in his or her virtual surroundings.

Then I played The Deep, a visually striking descent into shark-infested waters. Though safely enclosed in a shark cage, it didn’t take long for a giant great white shark to begin circling me menacingly. Armed with a puny flare gun, I tried feebly to fend off its advances while my mission commander shrieked in my ear.

Project Morpheus - PS4

Project Morpheus is also capable of interacting with a variety of peripherals including PlayStation Camera, used to track DualShock 4’s lightbar in The Deep demo for aiming the flare gun. It also supports the PlayStation Move motion controller, which was demonstrated in The Castle demo for manipulating medieval weapons like crossbows and swords.

All told, my first brief experiences with Project Morpheus were promising. Judging by this prototype design, the hardware is finally catching up to the dream of honest-to-God virtual reality. Now it’s up to developers to come up with experiences that will maximize the potential of this fascinating and game-changing technology.

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50 Comments   9 Replies

1

+ xeno3d on March 21st, 2014 at 6:04 am said:

I want this ASAP! And I hope it ships with The Deep because it sounds like it would be terrifying


2

+ bball230 on March 21st, 2014 at 6:07 am said:

Can’t Come soon enough.

I’m sure we will have to wait super long, unfortunately, a whole year or so


3

+ kod13 on March 21st, 2014 at 6:08 am said:

Yes yes that’s all well and dandy.But at what cost!? and when?


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:18 am said:

    No word on these details – this is just a prototype.


4

+ D3rekBrightside on March 21st, 2014 at 6:15 am said:

will it be difficult to wear for people with glasses??


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:19 am said:

    No, it’s designed to work if you wear glasses.


5

+ Dionysus-Jones on March 21st, 2014 at 6:20 am said:

@4: Several media outlets (and Sony) have reported that Morpheus was designed to cooperate with glasses.


6

+ Dionysus-Jones on March 21st, 2014 at 6:21 am said:

I’m hoping for a Holiday 2014 release, but I feel like I’m asking for too much.

Definitely bundle in that Shark Cage demo, though.


7

+ MINI-TAUR on March 21st, 2014 at 6:23 am said:

This is a big step but i have a question about this… will this connect through the console or is it a console itself?


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:19 am said:

    It connects to PS4.


8

+ strider367 on March 21st, 2014 at 6:24 am said:

Oh this is so great. But you people have this little problem. You haven’t been able to make any bug free firmware for the ps3, 4 and vita. So how are you going to make the thing work? Just saying you people have a horrible track record. So how can anybody take you serious with this?


9

+ T3DV0L70L1N4 on March 21st, 2014 at 6:41 am said:

Can’t wait to play Killzone Shadow Fall and Outlast on this.


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:22 am said:

    This is an interesting point – based on what I played (and heard from several folks), it would seem that the best VR experiences are tailored directly to the strengths of VR. So I think we’ll be seeing far less ports and far more original experiences. Not a bad thing!


10

+ MINI-TAUR on March 21st, 2014 at 6:48 am said:

please tell me that this has wireless connectivity?


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:22 am said:

    The prototype is wired.


11

+ WilbertX on March 21st, 2014 at 6:53 am said:

Getting goosebumps !!! I use to think VR gaming would be way to cheesy but this is actually the future and it’s happening and this shit looks so good! Very excited for the release!!!!


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:22 am said:

    It’s soooo hard to describe what it’s like – it’s something you definitely have to experience for yourself.


12

+ ClawOfTheFallen on March 21st, 2014 at 6:57 am said:

I think this has immense potential with the DS4 controller in one hand and a Move controller on the other for first person games.
Having the analog, d’pad, two triggers on the DS4 with it’s light pinpointing where it is and a move for representing your weapon hand. Say, an Elder Scroll game.
Datura comes to mind as something that the Morpheus could really help immerse into the unusual experience. The Unfinished Swan too!
Can’t wait to play Valkyrie with it!


13

+ PanTheMan16 on March 21st, 2014 at 6:58 am said:

Poor Micro$oft.


14

+ Dragonchasers on March 21st, 2014 at 7:02 am said:

@6 They’ve already said “Not this year.”

I’m guessing holiday 2015 at the very earliest. If they’re just showing it to devs now….


15

+ TeamGreen615 on March 21st, 2014 at 7:27 am said:

I hope this does well but I’m afraid it’s not for me. As someone who suffers from migraine headaches from time to time I think I’ll leave this to the younger generation. I remember the end of Uncharted 3 making me feel bad. Guess that’s what happens when you get older.


16

+ cool_trainer on March 21st, 2014 at 7:34 am said:

Are you going to get Anton the Boy Wonder on the Blogcast to talk more about it?


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:23 am said:

    Hah – yeah, we should!


17

+ reynolds-wrap1 on March 21st, 2014 at 9:01 am said:

I cant wait to see something like a first person MMORPG. To have a true “second life” per say.This technology can go far. All it needs is a decent fanbase, a reasonable price point and decent advertising and you have an instant hit. This is the future of gaming ladies and gentlemen. Greatness Awaits.


18

+ Skater_Ricky on March 21st, 2014 at 9:27 am said:

@ClawOfTheFallen #12 I’m all for using the PlayStation Move in my right hand but using a DualShock 4 in the left would be a little to heavy and engage you out of the experience. You did forget about the “PlayStation Move Navigation Controller”. But I would recommend the navigation controller get a update to version 2.0 by adding Rumble and a light bar for tracking with motion sensors inside for precision tracking. So with those three added feature to the Navigation Controller I would be comfortable with each controller in my hand to throw what ever comes at me in a game. Just imagine driving a race car with the PlayStation Move steering wheel accessory. Using the headset to move the drivers to head inside the car would be spectacular. Can’t wait for more information on the upcoming vr headset


19

+ Skater_Ricky on March 21st, 2014 at 9:35 am said:

The best driving simulator experience would be Gran Turismo + VR headset + steering wheel and a break and accelerator on the floor would be awesome. Looking forward to Driveclub this year hopefully. That racing game has me excited as well.


20

+ CommandingTiger on March 21st, 2014 at 9:36 am said:

That’s all good.
But First You guys need to be making more PS4s by having more facilities making them.
It needs 2.6 Million to 3.5 million units produced per month.
Just hurry and get them out. You know the Wii did it when it first came out, it tripled the facilities.
So get those PS4 out the door.


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 10:24 am said:

    More PS4s are getting out there right now! Big shipments are going out, so keep checking with your retailer of choice…


21

+ yentair on March 21st, 2014 at 9:44 am said:

To anybody that wears glasses like I do, here’s something to think about. I’m nearsighted (everything starts to get fuzzy beyond 12-24 inches in front of my eyes). With this virtual reality device, it’s sitting only a couple inches in front of your eyes. Presto, problem solved! I won’t need to wear my glasses or contact lens to see the screens clearly.
I suppose if you’re legally blind or have a serious eye condition, that might still come into effect. But for the rest of us, it won’t even be an issue. Isn’t technology wonderful? :)


22

+ akibake on March 21st, 2014 at 12:01 pm said:

I’m really glad that Sony is contributing to the growth of VR gaming. I hope game companies are willing to develop their games with VR support, so we don’t see only specialized games that play like tech-demos. If Sony can get FPS developers on board, then I think VR has a chance of defining this generation of gaming. Games with first-person perspective are already in the “reality simulation” field, so they are the obvious choice to focus on. This means adding VR support for some of the biggest selling games in the industry. If Sony can’t accomplish that, I think there’s a danger that Morpheus will receive only modest adoption by the game community.

While I think games that involve Move in addition to a VR display are neat, I think gamers are less concerned with the avatar body mapping directly to real world hands, for example. The grail in my estimation is just having a head-tracking system that allows the user to feel like they’re enveloped in the game. I think gamers will be tolerant of the incongruence of the in-game avatar’s body and their own holding a gamepad.


23

+ tusunami on March 21st, 2014 at 12:41 pm said:

As much as i am excited for this i’m not to sure about this just yet. I will need to see project morpheus incorporated with a game and see how that works exactly.


24

+ BanzaiHeil on March 21st, 2014 at 1:12 pm said:

Please tell me Valve gets a dev kit. VR Portal 3 anyone?


25

+ Sgt_0951 on March 21st, 2014 at 1:12 pm said:

This would be great with a racing game like Gran Turismo. Full on racing seat with Logitech wheel/pedal setup and a VR helmet for virtual view of your surroundings. Crazy setup.


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    + Sid Shuman on March 21st, 2014 at 1:14 pm said:

    Totally.


26

+ pudgenet on March 21st, 2014 at 1:52 pm said:

This is 3D, then? What about those of us who have poor stereoscopic vision and can’t handle 3D very well?


27

+ pablofsi08 on March 21st, 2014 at 3:44 pm said:

I want to throw up after a while of looking at 3D games, this will make me want to puke too. Motion sickness is an obstacle for this technology.

Also, it isn’t completely immersive, since you are using the same DualShock controller, it will be completely immersive when you can just do what the game asks you to do but with invisible controllers, just motion recognition, like the PS Camera would do I suppose… but say… using the controller to wave a sword and hit using X takes away a good portion of the immersion.


28

+ Zoryu_of_Setsuna on March 21st, 2014 at 5:08 pm said:

Definitely can’t wait for this!


29

+ Dunameos on March 22nd, 2014 at 3:11 pm said:

Can you use it simply as an alternate screen for all PS4 games? Or does it only support specific games designed to output video on two screens?

I get motion sick, so I won’t take advantage of the VR feature. But I would like to have an alternate viewing screen for my PS4 if my TV is being used by other family members. It would also be good to hide the violent stuff from the kids.


30

+ pillsbury1 on March 22nd, 2014 at 10:43 pm said:

Unbelievably excited for true immersive VR. This is what us gamers have been waiting for since the 80′s and it is finally here.


31

+ TIMETRAVEL1966 on March 23rd, 2014 at 3:43 am said:

Do you have a list of public demos . Please do a demo in Bristol uk


32

+ digedige on March 23rd, 2014 at 4:41 pm said:

Oh this is when i wish they would do a beta test like send some out to playstaion 4 users i would so love to get my hands on it.


33

+ lireskun on March 24th, 2014 at 1:44 am said:

This will also be cool to use for games like Sims or strategy games. It’ll make you feel like you’re a god watching over and controlling things in front of you.


34

+ meFreeman on March 24th, 2014 at 6:20 pm said:

This WILL be GREAT for all kind of games! Racing! Shooter! Horror Survival! Fu**! This is AMAZING! Cant wait to put MY hands on it!


35

+ Evil_Alliances on March 25th, 2014 at 4:32 pm said:

he front of the visor (the outside bit) should have two front facing cameras for stereoscopic vision that would/ could work in unison with a touch pad on the front (the black part ) so that you could potentially use those in unison to put the unit on hold without removal. The two cameras could then overlay the users surroundings I’m real time. The touch input could also be used for switching camera/HUD modes in-game for example: switching from normal vision, to infrared, or night vision. Or in-game augmented vision like the glasses in heavy rain. I hope this suggestion gets heard, because I would probably buy project morpheusin a heart beat if it did this as well.


36

+ BlaZnFast2K on March 25th, 2014 at 5:36 pm said:

Check out http://psvrforum.com for all the latest Playstation VR / Project Morpheus info and discussion. Also if your a reddit user, get subbed to http://reddit.com/r/playstationvr


37

+ V8_R3L3NTL3SS_1 on March 26th, 2014 at 8:27 am said:

Gimmie a break, if this is the future of gaming guess I won’t be gaming anymore. Wearing that stupid thing on your head , come on how about focusing on giving us the content we want on our ps4′s instead of wasting your time on this garbage. It reminds me of the 3d TV gimmick that’s failing !


38

+ Zionine on March 26th, 2014 at 8:36 am said:

Oh, I thought this was a new post — I see what you did there… All this news about VR being sold off to a very unliked company.. means good news for Sony’s VR set! I’m personally much more excited for what you guys have in store for this peripheral!


39

+ ElektroDragon on March 26th, 2014 at 8:43 am said:

Fantastic! Should me much better than the Facebook VR headset. LOL!


40

+ desimnyc69 on March 26th, 2014 at 8:52 am said:

I definitely need this is my life. Please Sony make it available soon and at an affordable price.


41

+ luckner893 on March 26th, 2014 at 9:22 am said:

im just gonna wait and see. i wonder how much they would charge for a peace of tech like this. nintendo tried to do this a couple of years ago all a got from that crap was headaches. but this is the future not that im comparing the this to nintendos VR boy. i hope it doesn’t ruin the gaming experience.


42

+ hannahaj on March 26th, 2014 at 9:49 am said:

When are any 3D games for the PS4 be available. I bought my 3D tv a couple years ago and the games were amazing on the PS3.


43

+ stalepie on March 26th, 2014 at 10:05 am said:

People want it for PC. I imagine it’d be good with Everquest.


44

+ naoplox on March 26th, 2014 at 10:20 am said:

SWORD ART ONLINE ANYBODY??!?! :D


45

+ Ever_killer on March 26th, 2014 at 6:07 pm said:

i got some ideas not sure if u guys have thought about but have some


46

+ Ever_killer on March 26th, 2014 at 6:15 pm said:

like here 1 of many ideas. i just saw in ign u guys had some problems with walls why not add a chareter push back u know like a animation 1st of the 1st exapele of the 4 of the confrence but 2 make it inmesive ull push back the charecter with the move dont know if i explane myself corectly so keep explaning imagen a virtual wall so lets say i have the move and i put my move in a way i hit the wall so if i keep extanding my move ferther 2 the wall my charecter gets push away like in real life that u can push urself of the wall


47

+ Ever_killer on March 26th, 2014 at 6:29 pm said:

even got a ideas 4 educational stuff like a virtual class room (jeje home school) using the usual game lobby like the teacher can have the host privileg anyways i just went u know a idea 2 make it posible put here the dream idea so think ur a student and with the morheus it be like if u where in a classroom so the teacher begins talking about egipt then she gets a host options 2 active a virtual egipt so she can explane like with a 3d interactive envirement why after a lets say finishing the lesson she can go bk 2 the classroom or lobby like in game re chose a map or subjet and go bk


48

+ Xx_VinylST04_xX on March 29th, 2014 at 1:03 pm said:

with project morpheus in playroom, can see the bots without looking at the TV screen?


49

+ OzRocks88 on April 2nd, 2014 at 9:03 am said:

This looks great, if it’s not to expensive I’ll definitely have it. Also hope Sony can get VR Minecraft :)


50

+ LoneStarSlayer33 on April 2nd, 2014 at 7:57 pm said:

okay, when this thing gets launched its going to lots of $$$


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