Horizon: Zero Dawn is arguably one of the most gorgeous games on the PlayStation 4 right now, even more so on the PlayStation 4 Pro. 4K graphics are allowing designers to do things they simply couldn’t before. Those same graphics are allowing us as players to enjoy more immersive and beautiful worlds like that in Horizon: Zero Dawn.
While 4K, and the PS4 Pro are great boons to the gaming industry, there is one factor that simply isn’t really being talked about. I wouldn’t have known this was an issue if not for a friend of mine who bought the PS4 Pro and PlayStation VR. He was super excited to have 4K gaming in general, but especially to have it with his virtual reality headset. Unfortunately, the PSVR is only capable of running at 1080p; the hardware is just at its limits right now. Another huge detriment to the PSVR and the PS4 Pro is the fact that you cannot have your headset plugged in if you want 4K gaming on your TV.
PS4 Pro systems with the PSVR obviously don’t advertise this fact, as it would turn people off from buying it. Unfortunately for my friend, he realized this the hard way. Over and over he would play a game on his 4K TV and, for the life of him, couldn’t figure out why the graphics didn’t seem that much better. Finally, he called customer support and was asked if he had his PSVR plugged in. When he responded with the obvious answer of yes, it was only then that his fate was revealed. As the customer support tech told him, he wouldn’t be able to view 4K on his television with the PSVR plugged in. He felt his temper boil. The rage he felt inside him at learning this after spending the amount of money he did was so bad, he returned the PSVR headset the next day. He said he couldn’t even look at it without feeling enraged once again.
It’s easy to imagine a similar scene in households across America as they boot up their PS4 Pros and PSVR headsets, only to find that the graphics look disturbingly similar. Equally likely, the PlayStation customer service reps are probably tired of fielding calls left and right about the same issue. What’s the easy solution here? Well, they could advertise it in the description of the systems in online markets. They could let people know about the issue ahead of time. The biggest problem here is that it would prevent sales, especially considering I know someone who would have never bought the bundle knowing what he does now.
This entire issue is especially baffling, given that the PS4 Pro can be bundled with the PSVR. The fact that the console simply isn’t designed to work at maximum capacity with the VR headset even just attached is perplexing. You can say, “Why not just unplug the PSVR when you don’t want to use it?” There are multiple reasons not to. My PS4 is currently stored in a shelf that I have to remove from the wall every time I set up a new system. Wear and tear is also an issue, as my PS3’s HDMI port actually fell out after two years of frequent moving. Is it really too much to ask that my consoles just do everything they say they can do?
This could be a huge detriment to the future of the PSVR. “Kill the PSVR!!” the 4K-ers may scream. If one person has returned theirs for sake of 4K, it’s safe to assume others may have too. VR is still in such a juvenile stage of being introduced to the general public that any little snafu could bring it down. With the introduction of 4K TVs and the consoles that can display it, it stands to reason that the accompanying headsets should have been able to accommodate it as well. However, it also makes sense that such a new technology like VR hasn’t had time to adapt to new display settings. They’re just barely coming out of development to handle 1080p, so 4K really threw a wrench in the plans.
For now, the inability to game in 4K with a PSVR attached could certainly hurt the PS4 Pro’s popularity. By association, it also means a shaky start for the PSVR. If only we could have been content with just 1080p... but, 4K is too awesome.