Summary

Review Price to be confirmed

What is Project Morpheus?

Project Morpheus is Sony and the PS4’s attempt to take the next leap in gaming innovation and ensure it doesn’t get left behind by the Facebook owned Oculus Rift.

The futuristic looking virtual reality headset encompasses almost your entire field of vision, while internal tracking technology means you can look all around you. VR offers a gaming experience like no other.


Project Morpheus: How does it work?

Two LED screens are positioned right in front of your eyes. Unlike regular video headsets that essentially just provide tiny screens in front of your eyes, Project Morpheus uses lenses to wrap the displayed image around your vision. This means that each viewing rectangle is rounded outwards, providing a bigger surface and covering far more of your field of view.

While the effect is impressive this method does comes with a slight downside. The optics distort the image and spread out the pixels towards the fringes of the display. This means you’ll notice that the pixel density is higher if you keep your eyeballs fixed forwards than if you swivel them to look at the edges.
Oculus Rift
This is less of a problem than you might think because your peripheral vision does not take in as much detail as your main area of focus. Rather than moving your eyeballs to look around, Project Morpheus uses internal tracking technology to move the image as you move your head. The PS4 Camera adds another element of positional tracking so that Morpheus not only knows which way you’re looking but also how far forwards or side-to-side you move.

While Project Morpheus is relatively new I’ve been following the Oculus Rift since it was announced and have used a number of iterations.  At E3 2014 I made sure I had another experience of the Oculus Rift playing Eve: Valkyrie just before trying Project Morpheus. Here’s what I found. 

Project Morpheus: The Demos

Placing Project Morpheus on your head is reasonably simple. Plonk it on and you can push the screens closer to your eyes so that it encompasses your entire field of view. It stays on well and feels solid yet light enough not to cause too much neck-strain. I shook my head left and right but it remained firmly rooted.

The backlit LED displays are bright, perhaps overly so. The screens on Project Morpheus lacked some of the subtly of OLED panels, particularly in darker or high contrast scenes. This was apparent in the black start-up screen of the street luge demo we tried.

Of more concern, however, was the blurriness of the title. The words Street Luge were quite hazy and when we moved our head even slightly they became a blurry mess, totally indecipherable. It’s similar to the experience we had with older versions of the Oculus Rift and has to do with the slower response rates of LCD panels. It’s the reason some people get queasy using VR headsets.

Once the demo started things were a lot better. Resolution was sharp enough and the internal tracking let us control the luge using slight movements of the head. Hurtling down a mountainous road we had to stay on the track while avoiding cars and trucks, some of which were tall enough to slink under with a little precision.

SEE ALSO: Best Games of E3 2014
Street luge
It was a fun experience, if a little nausea inducing.

Less of a shock to the system was the underwater adventure where you are attacked by a great white. The experience is claustrophobic and scary and shows just how well VR could work in the survival horror genre.


How does Project Morpheus compare to the Oculus Rift?

Project Morpheus looks the part. Where the Oculus is ugly and boxy the Morpheus is all sweeping curves and funky lights.

There is not too much to separate Project Morpheus and the Oculus Rift on paper. Both have 1080p resolution (960 x 1080 per eye) and an inertial update rate (referring to the internal tracking) of 1000hz.

SEE ALSO: Oculus Rift vs Project Morpheus
Oculus Rift
There’s a slight variation in field of view with the latest Oculus Rift prototype offering a 100 degree FOV compared to the 90 degrees Project Morpheus can muster. To our eyes the extra 10 degrees makes little difference. Both products encompass almost our entire field of visions and both provide hugely immersive experiences.

Perhaps the most important difference between the two though is that the Oculus uses an OLED screen while Project Morpheus has an LCD display.

I’ve mentioned already that Project Morpheus made me a little nauseous, something I had not experienced since the first prototype of the Rift. Oculus has made a number of advances to ensure that motion blur and judder is kept to a minimum. The low-persistence OLED display has a far quicker response rate which helps, but there is also plenty of software trickery that makes the experience even slicker.

Project Morpheus: First Impressions

These are exciting times for gamers. Project Morpheus is an impressive piece of kit, if the Rift didn’t exist we would be salivating all over it. However, it does, and the difference in experience of both VR headsets side-by-side shows that Sony has some catching up to do. I’m confident it will, it just depends how long it will take and how important it thinks Morpheus is to its business.

There is no planned official release date for Project Morpheus yet. Sony says it wants to make it wireless before releasing it to the public. We’ll update this preview when we hear more.

Next, read our Xbox One vs PS4 comparison, now updated post-E3 2014

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