The PS VR2 has many awesome features that make it a major step up from the original PlayStation VR. Features like the 4K OLED displays, inside-out-tracking, headset feedback, and foveated rendering are all set to make games much more immersive when PS VR2 launches in February 2023.
There is another feature though that I think sounds really cool and has the potential to make games feel more real. Eye tracking.
According to the PlayStation website, the PS VR2’s intelligent eye tracking allows you to express yourself to fellow players in new and lifelike ways. Eye tracking also simulates heightened emotional responses from your in-game avatar, giving an enhanced sense of realism.
Eye tracking certainly sounds like a pretty cool feature and there are already some PS VR2 games that will use it in some pretty neat ways. From Sony’s official description you would think that eye tracking only plays a role in co-op or multiplayer games. But it has its uses beyond expressing yourself and simulating heightened emotional responses as we will see below.
Firewall Ultra has not been confirmed as a PS VR2 launch title just yet, but we already know that it will use PS VR2’s eye-tracking feature in a unique way.
In a PlayStation Blog Post, developer First Contact Entertainment explains that Firewall Ultra uses eye tracking to let you select weapons from the weapon wheel and bring up HUD elements. You can see this in action in the short clip above.
Firewall Ultra utilizes new PlayStation VR2 Sense Technology features like eye tracking, which enables you to intuitively swap weapons and bring up HUD indicators through cameras built into the PS VR2 headset.
With Firewall Ultra being a fast-paced shooter using eye tracking in this way is very cool indeed. In the midst of a fierce gunfight, you can just “look” at the weapon wheel to swap weapons, saving you vital seconds.
The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR
In a recent Edge Magazine article (issue 380, February 2023) the article’s author, who has played a demo of The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR, seems pretty enthused by a particular eye-tracking feature in the game. The author explains that during the game there is a door with the words ‘don’t blink’ painted on it. The door opens up to a room filled with mannequins in Harlequin masks, bodies twisted into unnatural poses. Unable to stop himself from blinking, the author blinks and when his eyes open again the mannequins are rearranged in different positions – either by someone or perhaps themselves. With another blink, the same happens but this time a mannequin has come to life.
The author further explains that as they repeat the process (of blinking) they learn to use their eyes tactically, only blinking once their guns are readied. The author calls this particular eye-tracking feature in The Dark Pictures: Switchback VR “a strange, startling application of the tech.”
Tentacular from Firepunchd Games is a physics-based adventure with inventive and immersive VR gameplay. And it also uses PS VR2’s eye-tracking feature as well. Also in the latest Edge Magazine issue (issue 380, February 2023) CEO of Firepunchd Games, Simon Cubasch explains one of the biggest changes to Tentacular’s PS VR2 version is the use of eye-tracking.
In previous versions of the game on other VR platforms players interacted with the games’ villagers by tapping them on the head with a tentacle. But in the PS VR2 version, you just need to look at a villager and tap a button. The article states that Cubasch was reluctant to use this feature at first, worrying that it might take away some of the game’s charm. “But when we implemented it, we realised how elegant it was.” “It really helped us fix something we were trying to fix but couldn’t before,” Cubasch said.
The developers also explained Tentacular’s eye-tracking feature in a previous PlayStation Blog Post.
Firstly, Eye Tracking allows you to interact with the inhabitants of La Kalma by simply looking at them. Yes, your enormous, tentacled frame will finally catch people’s attention with nothing more than, well, a look! Choosing whether to accept a task from one of the town’s inhabitants is as simple as looking at the YES or NO option
Also in the Edge article, Simon Cubasch calls the PS VR2 version of Tentacular the best version of the game. Thanks to all the new features.
Moss & Moss: Book II
Award-winning PS VR games Moss & Moss: Book II are coming to PlayStation VR2. Both updated games use the PS VR2’s impressive features to make them more immersive and this includes using eye tracking.
If you have ever played the Moss games on PS VR, you will know that certain objects can be interacted with. These objects were usually moveable to solve puzzles and would glow with a blueish tint when you hovered your ghost cursor over them. This is how you could tell if an object could be interacted with. Now with Moss & Moss: Book II on PS VR2 you only have to look at an object and it will subtly glow. Eye tracking is also used to let Quill know where players are looking.
Interactive objects now emit a subtle glow when looked at. This allows players to quickly spot interactive objects during puzzles and throughout the game. Eye tracking also informs Quill where players are looking so she can offer hints if she figures something out before them.Polyarc/PlayStation Blog
Resolution Games’ PS VR2 launch title Demeo also uses eye tracking to add a bit of magic to the game’s menus. Writing on PlayStation Blog, Resolution Games explains that players will be able to select things in Demeo’s menus using eye tracking.
Thanks to hardware-level eye tracking capabilities, we’ll also be able to bring a little magic to our menus: PS VR2 players will be able to make selections in Demeo’s menus with little more than the blink of an eye. It’s a surprisingly fast experience that gets you into your next game in no time flat.
Sounds like a nice feature and a unique way of browsing the game menus.
PlayStation VR2 launch title Cosmonious High comes from Owlchemy Labs, the same people that gave us Job Simulator, so you know that game is going to be tons of fun. The game uses a host of PS VR2 features including eye tracking to make the game more immersive.
In Cosmonious High eye tracking is used to make your character’s eyes move or blink, and you can see this in mirrors or when taking a photo.
Utilizing the headsets eye tracking software, players’ eyes move and blink as they do in mirrors or when taking their photo — just make sure not to blink!PlayStation Blog
Before Your Eyes
With a title like Before Your Eyes, you would expect this game from Skybound Games to use eye tracking, and it does. In the game, you control the story and its outcomes with your blinks.
You will learn to control the flow of the narrative with your actual eyes – blinking through precious memories of family, first love, and the rise of an artistic career, ultimately revealing a heartbreaking truth.
And that is all the current games that use PS VR2’s eye-tracking feature, at least these are the games that I can find specific eye-tracking information on. There could be other games that use it in other unique ways.
PlayStation VR2 launches on 22nd February 2023, make sure to check out our guide to PS VR2 launch games. And stay tuned for more PS VR2 news as well as news about new game releases as they are revealed.