An entire procedural universe available and the wonders of the unknown place the concept of No Man’s Sky in particular harmony with virtual reality. Hello Games is well aware that, as soon as the opportunity arose, it did not hesitate to reach VR platforms with the Beyond Update. If on PC the result was remarkable, on PS4 it was necessary to collide with the limits of PSVR 1 and of an outdated hardware. Fortunately, the gap seems destined to disappear on PS5 thanks to the new Fractal Update, an update that adds full support to PlayStation VR 2 with the promise of offering the maximum possible immersion. After wandering in the most remote corners of the cosmos we can say that the goal has been almost completely achieved, net of some uncertainty about graphic fidelity.
Gloves and helmet of a space explorer
As seen with Gran Turismo 7 (by the way, our test of Gran Turismo 7 on PSVR 2 here), we are facing an update that extends VR support to the entire play package of the original title, without sacrificing any content. Once the viewer is on, you can launch into a new game, or resume one in progress by loading one of your previous saves.
Compared to the classic flat mode, playing in virtual reality you have to get familiar with a control system completely redesigned for the occasion. And it is here that the most evident qualitative leap is noticed, a real generational leap for those coming from PSVR 1. The Sense Controllers replace the clumsy PS Moves, conveying the sensation of wearing the gloves of a true explorer of the cosmos.
In addition to the versatility of movements guaranteed by the presence of the analog sticks, the haptic feedback of the controllers and the helmet make us perceive the environmental conditions of each planet. When you go through a sandstorm or a blizzard you have the impression of feeling it on your skin, not to mention the disturbing vibrations of the ground that we will be able to feel when a giant worm passes by.
By bringing the hand behind the shoulder we can extract the multi-tool pistol, a tool that we will usually use to collect the resources scattered in the various biomes. The pointing system works with precision and it will be very intuitive to get used to moving your head and arms to interact with the environment. Furthermore, the ability to use both hands independently will open up new dynamics in combat thanks to the fact that you can independently manage the shield and weapon in any direction, which is impossible to do with a traditional control system.
Those who have played No Man’s Sky will remember the first flight with emotion, the moment in which, detaching from the ground, one is projected towards cosmic infinity. Tackling it in VR will be like reliving it completely, and with greater involvement. Virtual reality always manages to amaze when it introduces us inside a cockpit, and the spaceships of Hello Games’ procedural adventure are no exception. Compared to the PSVR 1 version, you can appreciate a greater level of detail on board the aircraft, as well as a more extensive depth of field when viewing the panorama. The driving model has also been made more immersive, using one hand to control the stick while adjusting the speed with the other.
The menus and inventory, on the other hand, are called up in the form of holograms projected at the height of the wrists, and are simple enough to consult at any time. We particularly appreciated the creative mode and the base building phase, where eye-tracking was cleverly used to select the positions in which to place the various construction units with a glance.
Furthermore, thanks to the numerous options available for comfort, playing No Man’s Sky in VR proves to be within everyone’s reach. Whether you want to do it sitting or standing, with free movement or teleportation, relying on fluid rotation or jerky rotation, your journey among the stars will be comfortable and motion sickness-proof. On our trip, we only experienced a slight initial annoyance when operating the jetpack, a problem that we recommend possibly reducing with the activation of vignetting.
Performance and sense of immersion
The real weak point of the PSVR 2 mode of No Man’s Sky, at least at present, lies in a graphic sector that leaves some perplexities.
Hello Games claims to have improved texture quality, terrain tessellation, planet rendering, and draw distance. Unfortunately, it seems the developer hasn’t struck the right balance between asset quality and resolution, as the visual presentation ends up lacking overall clarity and clarity. When one observes the environment closely, one notices an excellent level of detail, but it is enough to turn one’s gaze even at a medium distance to notice a decisive degradation of the image, as if one felt the sensation of having blurred vision and not being able to distinguish clearly what is being observed. One is left with a bitter taste in the mouth, and with the regret of not being able to fully enjoy the magnificent sense of cosmic scale that one breathes while exploring the planets. It almost seems that Hello Games has not fully exploited the Foveated Rendering, the technology made available by the Sony viewer to concentrate the maximum graphic quality in the only portion of the field pointed by the eyes. Technology that has made it possible to achieve remarkable results in other games such as Resident Evil Village (we refer you to our review of Resident Evil Village for PSVR 2), with surprising resolution even in the most open scenarios.
We understand how complicated it can be to manage computing resources in an open and variable game like No Man’s Sky, and we are confident that the next updates will improve the situation (as has already happened in the past for the PSVR 1 version, after all).
Either way, it won’t be long before you’re enraptured by the galactic pilgrimage and completely absorbed in the experience. Discover new planets in search of precious resources, lose yourself in the contemplation of landscapes dominated by gas giants, lift your head to meet the gaze of a colossal creature, follow the trajectory of a meteor shower or admire the fluorescent glow of an alien plant inside a cave: everything acquires an incomparable evocative power in virtual reality. Something that is always difficult to explain in words, and which can quickly make you forget the technical limits of a VR mode which – once tried – will make it difficult to go back to playing on a simple screen with the same eyes as before.
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