There's been a lot said about the PlayStation VR2 for the PlayStation 5, much of which revolves around its high asking price. But having been one of the first to sample the virtual reality kit at the world's largest technology show, CES 2023, I immediately went ahead and pre-ordered one.
I know, it almost sounds like a rash decision, especially as I'm hardly the world's most enthusiastic advocate of virtual reality in general (don't mention the metaverse, please). But I am particularly fond of Guerrilla Games' Horizon IP and Aloy's antics, so having had a taster of Call of the Mountain all I now want to do is have it as my own to explore deeper.
I must admit, the initial setup process wasn't totally smooth sailing, but I largely put that down to being a glasses wearer and those pesky lenses causing some visual aberrations, then having to setup the play area and PSVR2's eye-tracking feature. I was extra keen and so the first one into the demo area following Sony's CES 2023 press conference, hence it hadn't been setup in advance.
Once everything was in position – VR2 overhead, headphones on, the two controllers in my hands – and it was a transformative experience. I can totally see why Horizon: Call of the Mountain is for PlayStation 5 and PSVR2 exclusively, utilising the graphical wallop for simply jaw-dropping visuals.
First of all the resolution is super fine, at 2000x2040 per eye, and while that produces visual finery from the off, it's the combination of smooth refresh rate and super-wide view that generates the sense of true immersion. It's comfortable to wear, too, if my 20 minutes of testing is anything to go by.
Second is the game itself: I was really worried that Call of the Mountain would struggle to deliver the kind of tempo associated with a Horizon title. It's certainly slower – it has to be, realistically, to avoid motion sickness – but it doesn't shy away from a similar experience of being able to climb various fractured rocks and get up close with robotic dinosaurs and people alike.
The sense of scale is phenomenal too, that being an obvious strength of virtual reality. Call of the Mountain's opening scene sees you floating on the water in a rowboat, while a Stormbird, Tallneck and many other mechanical familiarities roam closely around you. Their presence is so much more powerful than I've felt in any Horizon game before, so I bet there are plenty of treats that I'm yet to experience in the full game.
Sure, there are hurdles to get over in understanding the control system mechanics, and I'm yet to test out combat in this game, but based on my short teaser taster, I think that Horizon: Call of the Mountain could be the game to convince me that virtual reality has legs.
I have now parted with £570 (it's £50 extra for Horizon on top of the £530 baseline price for the hardware), which speaks volumes in itself. Or maybe I'm just that jetlagged. But, no, it's not that, it's much simpler: Call of the Mountain reveals early on that VR games needn't be simple one-trick pony games, and that has me curious for much more. I hope I've made the right decision...