Cyber Monday is here and many of the PlayStation bundles that went on sale last week are still available. If you're curious about VR gaming, now could be the time to get a good deal on a PSVR.
Updated, Nov. 26: Confirmed availability and pricing.
I've written about VR a lot, but I really don't use it all that much in my personal life. It's a weird reality. While I don't think VR is dying, I do think its annoying setup, price, and the way it requires me to blinder myself off from the real world (and all notifications) adds up to an experience I'll only sip from occasionally. Kotaku's Stephen Totilo summed it up well recently, describing his experiences with Sony's PlayStation 4-connected, two-year-old platform.
I've thought about PlayStation VR a lot in the last few weeks, especially with $100 discounts on PSVR bundles that began on Black Friday and continue through Cyber Monday. Since I bought a PSVR two years ago, it's mostly sat in my home, unused but beckoning. But playing a couple of the newest PlayStation VR games made me realize that PSVR has become a solid VR gaming platform. Maybe the best for its price, especially if you already have a PlayStation 4. You just have to understand that VR is still a gaming novelty, and might remain that way for a while.
Sony's future VR and console plans will likely evolve to newer hardware that could leave this in the dust. But in the present, it's an interesting way to breathe life into a years-old console.
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There are a few notable PSVR bundle sales happening this Cyber Monday, all of them already live.
Bundle option 1: PSVR headset, camera, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, and Moss for $200 ($100 off)
It's still currently available at Walmart, Best Buy, and Gamestop (in most cases you'll have to find a store for in-store pickup, though). Astro Bot and Moss normally cost $70 separately. Astro Bot and Moss are both beautifully designed, adorable games, and make use of VR's unique qualities perfectly. This is the bundle I'd get if I didn't already own a system, since those games speak right to my interests. (They're also the most kid-friendly, although you shouldn't let kids under 12 play PSVR anyway.)
This deal is currently out of stock online.
Bundle option 2: PSVR headset, camera, two PS Move controllers, Superhot and Creed: Rise to Glory for $250 ($100 off)
It's still available at Gamestop. The best savings comes in the $250 bundle, if you want all accessories: The handy PS Move controllers are $100 for a two-pack separately, and the Creed and Superhot games together normally cost $55.
Bundle option 3: PSVR headset, camera, two PS Move controllers, Skyrim for $250 ($100 off)
This is the only PSVR bundle at Target right now, and is sold out online, but available for pickup in some stores. Skyrim is a great game, and this isn't a terrible deal, but I'd snag the Superhot/Creed bundle over this one.
This deal is currently out of stock online and in stores.
Speaking of Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, it's one of three recent games that pushed me over the top to consider PSVR worth getting for the right price. If you're going to buy a PSVR, I'd beeline it to get these three, at the least:
Tetris Effect: It's. Does the idea of musically emergent meditative waves of Tetris appeal to you in 2018? Maybe not initially. The game, directed by game design legend Tetsua Mizuguchi (the mind behind Lumines and Rez), has earned a lot of praise and hype. It doesn't disappoint. It's "just" Tetris, but the addition of new modes, musically and visually interlinked landscapes, and incredible art direction add up to a hypnotically relaxing sensory-bubble experience that feels meditative.
It's a PS4 exclusive game right now, but is also designed to make the most of the PSVR via immersive animated environments that, as game-generated beats unfold, throb and transform. If you've ever played Rez, or Lumines, expect something similar here. It's a game worth playing in VR, as long as you can dedicate a bit of meditative time to it without interruption. (Read Gamespot's review.)
Firewall: Zero Hour: I never owned a PlayStation Aim controller, a $60 light gun accessory for PSVR. Joseph Kaminiski and Dan Ackerman talked me into it, just to play Firewall: Zero Hour. I'm not a shooter-game person, and I probably never will be. And yet, I appreciate what Aim and the compatible games it works with can do to create a weirdly real home-arcade feeling. Firewall: Zero Hour has the bones of an online Call of Duty-like game. Using just the Aim controller, you can do all the things a PS4 controller can, plus aiming and shooting. It works better than I ever expected it would, and if you're hungry for a home gaming arcade setup that could easily be at home in a Dave & Buster's, this is it. The Aim controller is a year old, but feels more purpose-built for Sony's VR hardware than the old but compatible glowing Move wands. You can play the game with a regular DualShock 4 controller, too, but it's not quite as immersive.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. Many have called Sony's cute VR gaming platformer a "Super Mario 64" for VR, a game-changer and eye-opener. I came to the game late, and so far it's been one of the most polished, fun games I've played this year, VR or not. Anyone who's been around VR will recognize a lot of the Oculus Rift launch game Lucky's Tale in the concept: you're floating along, watching a cute robot hop and hover across platforming puzzle challenges, collecting coins and rescuing lost robot buddies. But Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is a stellar experience, as good as anything I've tried in 2018.
The secrets in each level are brilliantly hidden in plain view: a ramp up above, or a tunnel off to the side. Looking around the world feels like exploring a giant cartoon universe come to life, animated like I've jumped into a sub-dimension of Mario. The 3D worlds are vivid, and even with a regular non-Pro PS4, graphics look sharp and bright. Clever uses of the controller extend into the game, transforming the DualShock 4 into a grappling-hook launcher or water cannon. If ever there was a game that felt like what you'd imagine Nintendo VR to be, in the best possible way, this is it. (It's also on sale at Gamestop for $20 right now.)
Other games to consider: Sony's VR-enabled Wipeout racing game remaster is excellent, as is Moss (mentioned above, in case your bundle doesn't include the game: it's an adorable puzzle-solving adventure starring a little mouse). The new music-rhythm game Beat Saber requires PS Move controllers, but has been a VR standout on other platforms all year. And there are dozens of indies, many of them not more than $20.
I was aware of many of these games, and have played some of them (Moss, Wipeout), but honestly never got around to playing many of them simply due to the PSVR not feeling enough like a destination gaming platform versus something like the Nintendo Switch. But all of a sudden, I've been sitting down on PSVR more than I have in years. In a weird way, it's now one of my favorite game consoles of the moment. It's still not something I spend a lot of time in, but it's not a crazy choice for a holiday splurge, either, if you already have the console you want.
PlayStation VR (or VR in general) still might not be for you. But it's finally a platform where good, worthy games really do live.