Sony's PlayStation VR 2 is the PlayStation 5's first dedicated VR headset, but 2023 is just getting started. With Meta's Quest 3 expected by the end of the year and Apple's unknown VR/AR headset expected to make an appearance as well, this isn't necessarily the best time to get a VR headset. But we love a lot of what the PSVR 2 offers, even if it's currently limited to a smaller game library and needs a wired connection to a PS5.
The Quest 2 is the most successful VR headset, although it's over two years old. Here's how these two devices differ and what each is best at. My colleague Justin Eastzer and I deeply discussed the topic in the video embedded in this story.
For more, read CNET's PSVR 2 review and Quest 2 review, and check out our favorite Quest 2 games and PSVR 2 games.
Hardware: Standalone vs. cabled
The Quest 2 is a fully self-contained VR game system; nothing else is required. For its $399 (£399, AU$630) price, that's a huge advantage that competitors are still trying to match.
The $550 (£530, AU$880) PlayStation VR 2, meanwhile, is tethered to a nearly 15-foot cable that needs to be plugged into a PlayStation 5. It doesn't work on its own at all. It's really a headset extension of your PS5.
That difference in design makes a bigger impact than you might think. The Quest 2's portability also means it's an easy headset to set up for full-motion VR gaming and fitness games and apps. Games like Beat Saber, and fitness apps like Supernatural, are some of the best things you can do on the headset.
The PSVR 2's cable is long, and it feels heavy. The one-cable setup and its self-contained in-headset camera-based tracking are a lot easier to set up than the original PSVR was, but it'll still need to live wherever your PS5 lives, and makes the PSVR 2 a better sit-down or stand-in-place experience than a full-motion one.
Displays and audio: PSVR 2 has a big edge, mostly
The Quest 2's LCD-based display is pretty sharp (1,832x1,920 pixels per eye), but the PSVR 2's 2,000x2,040 pixel-per-eye HDR OLED display is higher res, more vivid and has much better contrast and black levels. Colors are bright and rich. On top of that, the PSVR 2's ability to drive PS5-quality graphics means games have greater detail than the Quest 2. The latter uses an integrated Snapdragon XR2 mobile processor that's less powerful, although the Quest 2 can be tethered to a gaming PC, which lets it play higher-end games similarly to the PS5.
The Quest 2 has speakers that pump 3D audio near your ears but still lets other sounds in, which is bad for cinematic experiences but good for hearing kids or alarms -- handy when absorbed in VR. It also has a headphone jack. The PSVR 2 has included earbuds for 3D audio but no speakers, which means you're far more isolated when listening to audio. The earbuds sound OK, but Sony's wireless Pulse 3D over-ear headphones (sold separately) offer better sound. The PSVR 2 has a headphone jack too, just like the Quest 2.
The PSVR 2 also adds an extra couple of immersive wrinkles. The headset uses eye tracking to boost graphics quality where your eyes are looking via foveated rendering technology. The headset also has rumble, which sounds gimmicky but can feel like an extension of bass vibrations in-game, adding an overlap between sound and immersive sensation.
Controllers and input: PSVR 2 has better haptics and eye tracking, Quest 2 has hand tracking
The PSVR 2 and Quest 2 have the same type of controller design, mostly: VR headsets have settled on buttons, analog sticks, triggers and grips that are pretty consistent across the board. The PSVR 2 Sense controllers have much better vibration feedback and even force-feedback "adaptive triggers" that offer resistance in some games. These are features the PS5 DualSense controller already has, but they feel a lot richer in VR than the Quest 2's pretty basic buzzing. The PSVR 2 also uses eye tracking to add additional controls in some games, letting you glance at objects to select them, potentially improving accuracy.
The Quest 2 has better finger awareness when holding the controllers, sensing when your fingers are on or off, or even resting on the buttons or triggers. This awareness can create sensations that feel like hand tracking. The PSVR 2 doesn't do this nearly as well yet. Also, the Quest 2 can do actual hand tracking without needing any controllers. This input type isn't perfect, but it can be helpful… and the PSVR 2 doesn't do this at all (yet).
Software: Quest 2 has a huge advantage (for now), PSVR 2 has some standouts
The Quest 2's software library covers hundreds of games, productivity and design apps, fitness apps, meditation apps and social world apps. There are also plenty of free apps and games. The Quest platform has been around since 2019, giving it a big lead time. The PSVR 2 is starting from scratch. The hardware isn't automatically backward-compatible with original PSVR games. Although many of those games are getting PSVR 2 upgrades, it means waiting for the updates to happen, if they do at all.
For now, the PSVR 2 is also skipping entire genres found on the Quest 2. The PSVR 2 is all games, as you'd expect. There should be a few fitness apps (Les Mills Body Combat is already available) but no social world apps. That might be comforting for parents with younger kids, but it leaves out extra uses you could get from the still-evolving Quest 2.
Additionally, most of the PSVR 2 launch games are ports of games on the Quest 2. Only a few are unique standouts that the Quest 2 natively lacks: notably Horizon Call of the Mountain, Gran Turismo 7, Resident Evil Village and No Man's Sky, with more coming.
Price: Quest 2 has the edge
The $399 all-in value of the Quest 2 is a big advantage here. The PSVR 2 is more expensive at $550, and you still need the PS5, making it a $1,000-plus investment. But the Quest 2 is getting old, and a Quest 3 will likely come later this year that you should hold off for.
Yes, you should wait
Now is the time to wait and see what comes for VR. The Quest 3, expected by the end of the year, should be a clear upgrade over the nearly three-year-old Quest 2, and there's a chance that many more games (and even a holiday bundle) will upgrade the PSVR 2 experience by year's end. If you can, I'd hang on and see what the situation looks like for both Meta and Sony in the fall.
If you already have a Quest 2, the PSVR 2 doesn't offer enough yet to make the switch. And if you're a PS5 owner who doesn't mind spending a bunch of money on new tech, the PSVR 2 is already a fun experience, just one we can't quite get a future sense of yet.
More on virtual reality and VR gaming
- Best VR Headsets of 2023
- PSVR 2 Review: The New Best VR Gaming Headset
- Meta Quest 2 Review: Still the Best VR Headset For Now
- Meta Quest Pro Hands On: What $1,500 Does for the Metaverse
- Best Meta Quest 2 Games
- Best PSVR 2 Games