The PlayStation 5 does VR, but don't expect a new headset, or PS5-upgraded VR games, anytime soon
Scott SteinEditor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
The PlayStation 5 is ready to push gaming into a lot of new territories. But VR? Not quite so much. Yes, you'll be able to play PlayStation VR games on a PS5, but it's not a reason to upgrade.
Sony's dive into virtual reality on the PlayStation 4 came at a time in 2016 when VR was making big splashes: The Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and VR goggles on phones were everywhere. Even years later, PSVR is still a surprisingly capable platform full of good games, but Sony's headset feels pretty old and clunky compared to more advanced PC and standalone options.
Sony may have a more advanced version of PlayStation VR that could emerge in another year or two, once the PS5 has had a chance to stand on its own for a while. The PS4 came out in 2013, but the PSVR didn't emerge until three years later.
Dominic Mallinson, Sony's head of PlayStation R&D told me last year that a new PSVR was never on tap to debut at the same time as the PS5. That headset, whenever it arrives, could come with new controllers, a higher-resolution display, built-in tracking and maybe it could be wireless (or at least require far fewer cables than the current version).
Right now, the existing PSVR headset will work with the PS5 and existing PS4 VR games should work. But you'll need a lot of other gear to make it happen.
BYO PSVR, plus PS4 camera (and adapter)
The included PS5 HD camera, which sits near the TV, won't work with PlayStation VR. Instead, you'll need a PlayStation 4 camera and an adapter to connect to the PS5. That camera is essential, because it's what tracks the headset's movement (the PSVR doesn't have built-in tracking like the Oculus Quest or Valve Index, or most modern VR headsets).
Sony's giving away a free adapter to plug the PS4 camera into the PS5, which you'll definitely need. It's a shame that the PS5 camera doesn't work, though, because wouldn't that make things a lot simpler?
BYO DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move controllers (because the DualSense won't work for VR)
Sony's new subtly vibrating DualSense PS5 controller has all sorts of haptic effects and force feedback on the triggers that sound perfect for VR. Alas, you can't play all your PSVR games with it yet. The DualSense lacks the motion-sensing that a lot of PSVR games need, and only works as a stationary controller. For everything else you'll need to use a PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller instead, or a pair of the ancient PlayStation Move wands (which were originally built for the PS3) with light-up balls on top, which work with certain games for more full-motion controls.
Watch this: PS5 review: Full breakdown of all the new features
PSVR games may be subtly updated, but don't expect a lot yet
The PlayStation 4 Pro bumped up the quality and resolution of PSVR graphics, making games look crisper and better on the headset. But with the PS5, you may not see quite as big a boost. Sony says that games will load faster and there could be some improvements in graphics in certain games. But it's not being touted as a key difference-maker yet for PS4-level PSVR games.
I haven't played VR games on a PS5 yet, but those that have haven't noticed major advantages. I have played PSVR games on a PS4 Pro vs a PS4 and there is definitely improvement on the PS4 Pro. Maybe it's too early to tell how VR games on PS5 will be upgraded, but for now it seems to mostly just be playing PSVR games with faster load times.
Even stranger, it seems that PS5 games that have been updated with new graphics also lose their VR component. No Man's Sky and Hitman III have VR modes, but according to Upload VR the games don't have VR modes in their PS5 updates. Instead, you'll need to load the PS4 versions. Which is weird.
The PS5 should, eventually, be a VR powerhouse
The PS5 seems ideally suited for VR, with spatial 3D audio and support for Unreal Engine 5, which will clearly be used for next-gen VR and AR. Unreal Engine 5 doesn't arrive until late next year, though. And Sony's plans for a new VR headset remain a mystery.
For now, if you're interested in VR, it doesn't seem like a good time to buy a PSVR unless you're ready to live with a lot of limitations. If you're using a PS4, maybe. But for PS5 owners, VR compatibility may be a lot less exciting than you were maybe expecting. Sony's VR game library is impressive, but the PS5 isn't ready yet to take VR to the next level.