A Closer Look At Project Morpheus

Ever since the world witnessed the dozens of Oculus Rift demos spring up on YouTube a few years ago, players have wanted more. Virtual reality (VR) has been nothing more than a fever dream for players for decades, reserved only for science fiction. That isn’t the case any longer; VR is here, and it’s going to be commonplace very soon. In Sony we trust; why not also read: The Future’s Bright – The Future’s PS4.

Yes, that also means it will be available on consoles; and yes, that includes the PlayStation 4.

It’s time to get excited, because the mere thought of what developers can do with this new, hot technology is mind blowing. Think about it: with AAA budgets and design pumping through a personal headset, games can have a whole new dimension to make lasting impressions. Sony’s VR headset – Project Morpheus – is designed as a way to completely immerse you in your favorite games. This headset may just be the thing that changes how we play video games for the future, finally moving us away from television screens and computer monitors into the virtual reality landscape we’ve always dreamt of. Yet, Project Morpheus has some stiff competition – most notably the Oculus Rift. Does it have what it takes to compete? Let’s take a closer look at it.

The Morpheus

First off, Project Morpheus looks like it has been ripped straight out of a sci-fi universe. While the Oculus Rift was no-nonsense and boxy, the Morpheus has a much sleeker feel, more curves and a streamlined headgear than its square counterpart. The Project Morpheus straps to your head with a ratcheting lock and, from there, gives you a full field of vision (including your peripherals) to enjoy your games. Using two 1080p LCD monitors in the visor, you’re going to be getting the absolute most out of your PS4 games with the Morpheus. As far as function, the Morpheus does what it’s supposed to do, at least in their stage demos. Project Morpheus will also use PS Move, allowing you to crouch and have your character do the same. Your head movements are also translated into your game so, for the first time ever, you can be entirely immersed in your game world.

Literally any first-person game can benefit from the Morpheus and its motion capture, because it makes everything that much more immersive. You’re no longer watching a screen using a controller, you’re actually driving cars in Gran Tursimo, actually shooting terrorists in Call of Duty, and actually running and jumping (and probably getting some serious vertigo) in Dying Light. This may even light a fire under popular sports franchises as well; imagine a sports game where you could actually make the passes and shots for a moment, putting a breath of fresh air into a game style that is looking for something new.

A Game Changer?

Could a VR headset like the Morpheus be the future for gaming? Like everything else in video games, it depends on how well it’s handled. We’ve all got an interesting relationship with the motion activated controls; we want to love it, but we’ve been hurt before. We got limited success with the Kinect, Wii, and PlayStation Move on a few games, but overall, we didn’t have a lot of games that really took advantage of the (still slightly buggy) hardware, and those that didn’t outright require them treated them like more of an obstacle than an asset. What we’re looking at with the Morpheus poses another problem; with the Wiimote and the Move controller, we could at least see our surroundings. With the things the Morpheus is promising, especially on their medieval weapon simulator, we’re envisioning a few involuntary fists through walls and other breakable objects. Peripherals also have a fine line they’re forced to walk; make it absolutely necessary, we expect it to get used for everything, and make it a fun little add-on, we’re probably not going to put out the money for it.

Of course, if it works, it works big. It’s a safe bet that this is where we want to go with games; we already have incredibly realistic graphics, high-powered processors, and enough of a fan base to give a quality AAA game the audience it deserves. Particularly with Sony, who traditionally edges out its competitors in the graphics department, a success here is a great way for the PS4 to really shine. Getting it to work will absolutely change the way we play video games, and this would allow the PS4 to completely eclipse other game consoles. Sony can claim their own exclusive titles that rely on this technology and essentially do for video games what the iPod did to MP3. As the frontrunner, they’re the iconic brand, and the iconic brand is going to get their pick of hot new titles, new companies, and generally anything on the forefront of gaming.

Will It Work?

Unfortunately, we’re not going to know if the Morpheus is an essential piece of gaming gear or an expensive flop until it gets some solid titles behind it, like most important peripheries, and even then, we won’t know until years afterward. It’s simple; people bought the Zapper for the NES because they had Duck Hunt and they bought the guitars, drums, and keyboards because Rock Band was such a success. Meanwhile, we’re still making jokes about the Power Glove because, while it meant well, we just couldn’t find anything to do with it. While we can enjoy playing all of the PS4’s titles using the Morpheus just for its screen, it’s not going to change the world of video games until we have video games that make use of all the Morpheus’ motion capture.

Right now, it seems we’re going in the right direction. All the positives that the Morpheus delivers as a prototype are really playing to the PS4’s strengths and, because this design makes first-person games the most immersive they’ve ever been, opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. Even the demos prove that this sort of thing can work as an amusement; an amusement, however, isn’t going to keep people entertained for very long. As long as PS4 can score a prime title that uses all the best parts of the Morpheus, they can start moving toward changing the way we play video games. Revolutions don’t happen in days, but once they get started, like we’re all hoping for with the Project Morpheus, you know that the changes are coming.

Dusty W.

Dusty has interviewed some of the brightest minds in the video game industry at E3, written for Lifehacker, and much more. Dusty is also a passionate PS4 gamer who has a BA in journalism.

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