Jaded's Pub

The other day I was watching a Playstation Access (my favorite YouTube channel) video about an upcoming game, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. But this isn’t a post about Yonder, which sounds interesting but isn’t going to be out for some time. At the end of the video Hollie Bennett said something to the effect of “If you like this art style and want to play something now, check out Oceanhorn.”

I checked out PSN and found that lo and behold, Oceanhorn was on sale. It’s $10.49 for regular folks and I think it was $7 and change for Playstation Plus members (it’s also available on Steam and Xbox One). For less than $8 I thought I’d give it a go. Now listen, I’ve played for less than two hours at this point and I don’t want to get too distracted from the games I’m trying to finish, but Oceanhorn is only on sale for a week. Just in case it’s someone’s cup of tea, I thought I’d share my very very early thoughts.

Oceanhorn feels a lot like an old Zelda game. Your health is displayed as a series of hearts and you collect heart pieces to extend your health bar. You run around swinging your sword at every and any thing, cutting down grass and what not in the hopes they’ll give up a heart or coin when destroyed. You can also pick up and throw pots and rocks, either just to smash them to see what is inside or as a weapon.

At first glance you might think this is a Minecraft-alike based on the blocky shapes in the world, but nope, you’re not building things. Each island (and rather than have ‘levels’ the game has islands you sail between) is kind of a maze of blocky corridors that you have to find your way through, and at least at the start of the game you can’t jump. Every ridge is an insurmountable obstacle and you’ll have to find ramps to get up high (though you can walk off a ledge to go down). This is made more difficult by the fact that you don’t have a proper map, just a little mini-map.

In some cases you’ll encounter sliding block puzzles that bar your way too, and they’re the kind where you can only push blocks, not pull them (so there’s always a reset button nearby just in case). Oh and you have the old “I need to find something to set on this pressure plate” kinds of obstacles, too.

Your ultimate goal is to travel the world to find magic gems that are going to help you defeat the titular Oceanhorn (a sea monster) and find out what happened to your father, but you know how that goes. The first island you visit has a destination you can’t reach because of a landslide. You need a bomb to clear that out. You get bombs at, where else, Bomb Island. So you get in your boat and sail to bomb island but the bomb merchant has no bombs because something has gone wrong in the mines. So you go into the mines and clear out the mobs and solve that mystery so you can get bombs to go back to the first island to get through the landslide, etc, etc. Once you’ve ‘unlocked’ bombs you’ll find them in the same way you find coins and hearts.

In the meanwhile you’re earning experience and leveling up, which unlocks new abilities or gives you other rewards (but with no choices involved, you get what you get). For example one of the early levels gives you a gun to fire from your boat as you sail back and forth (sailing is automated, at least in the early game) and from there on in you’ll encounter floating mines you’ll have to clear with your gun. I have a strong hunch that eventually you’ll get a bow or something, too.

And that’s about all I’ve got so far. It’s a cute game and I had fun but it’s not going to take me away from the games I’m currently invested in. For less than $8 it’s a fun diversion and even at full price its only $15 or so. If I ever come back to it to play it more extensively I’ll do an actual review. Remember once again, this is based on less than 2 hours of playing.

Clickbait headline is clickbait! Really I want to talk about nudity and near-nudity in general as it relates to gaming. I realize this is a bit of a minefield so if you hate my opinions just keep in mind that I’m not a game developer or influencer so what I think ultimately doesn’t really matter.

Back in the day, the chainmail bikini was everywhere (I’m using the term chainmail bikini as shorthand for any kind of sexy but impractical outfits). You remember those days. You’d have games where a male character fought covered head-to-toe in plate mail and his female comrade was basically naked. Some folks loved this, others hated it. Over time things have changed, at least among Western developers. You see less female skin than you used to, though the issue hasn’t vanished completely by any means (and developers in Asia still seem to revel in skimpy outfits for female characters).

I’m going to make a confession: I always liked chainmail bikinis, no matter how impractical they were. I know I’m not supposed to like them, but I’m going to blame it on the fact that I’m male and I’m old and I’m hopelessly out of touch. I grew up in a different time with different values. Free love, let it all hang out and if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. AKA the 60s. Anyway…

And just between you and me, I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who likes them but I’m not going to out anyone. Instead I’m wondering if there’s a way to save sexy outfits without continuing to offend the folks who are not fans. I want everyone to be happy gaming and if that means more conservative clothing, so be it. But maybe we can find a way for everyone to be happy.

So the first issue is inequality. Why do the female characters have to go into battle wearing next to nothing while the male characters don practical armor? Let’s end that. If a game forces female characters into bikinis, the male characters should be forced into chainmail Speedos. Having a level playing field for all characters should be rule #1, right?

But a better option is offering choices. No one should HAVE to play a scantily clad character of either sex. I’m a big fan of “appearance armor” in games. I’ve played MMOs where friends would get gear (usually this is for their female characters) that had great stats but looked like something a stripper would wear and they’d have to make a tough choice as to whether they wanted to use that armor or not; they needed the stat boost but were uncomfortable with how it made their character look. Forcing a player to make that kind of decision is just dumb. Let people dress their characters the way they want to dress their characters. Like I said, I know plenty of folks (of various genders) who LOVE the chainmail bikini look, and I know plenty who get really annoyed when they’re forced to play a character in revealing clothes. Why not give people a choice and make everyone happy?

Of course then there’s the issue of NPCs and in multi-player games, other players. If I chose to wear conservative armor, why do I have to look at another player in something skimpy? That’s a trickier issue. I almost want to say “Get over being such a prude” but that’s not very helpful. I mean here in the US we have such twisted ideas when it comes to nudity. The Walking Dead can show a person being bludgeoned in the head so hard that their eyeball literally pops out of its socket and that’s OK, but if one of the female characters exposed a nipple, people would lose their shit about it. That’s so… bizarre.

OK let me climb down off this soapbox and put it away.

Some games have settings for the level of gore you see. Why can’t games also have settings for the level of skin you see? Assuming you as a game developer are already offering both conservative and revealing outfits, as you should be, then maybe a toggle in the options would replace all revealing outfits with something more conservative. I wonder if that would be practical? I guess then someone would have to make judgement calls: “OK outfits A, D, E, L and of course X are all provocative and will be swapped for outfit B, aka Business Casual, when the ‘hide skin’ option is toggled.” Yeah that sounds like a minefield, doesn’t it?

Maybe I don’t have all the answers after all, but maybe this is a start. What do you think? Is there a way to offer sexy/revealing outfits (for both genders) without offending the folks who aren’t into that sort of thing?

So what got me started thinking about this topic are, ironically, a couple of single player games I’ve been playing and how I’ve reacted to them. As you can see in yesterday’s post, Fairy Fencer F has the character Harley who has large breasts and a skimpy top. I actually hesitated to blog about Fairy Fencer F just because of how Harley looks, but the truth is she doesn’t bother me one bit. In fact if I’m being completely honest I kind of like Harley, BUT I’d hesitate about recommending the game to some of my friends because she looks the way she does and you can’t change that. If you’re not a fan of cleavage Harley is going to be very off-putting.

Conversely in Final Fantasy XV there is Cindy. Cindy bugs the hell out of me. Cindy is supposed to be a mechanic. She wears tiny shorts with her thong-strap pulled up well above the waist onto her hips and a tiny bikini top with a cropped jacket over it. And of course she has large breasts. In Final Fantasy XV you have to get gas for your car. In most gas stations Noctis fills the tank himself, but at Hammerhead where Cindy works, she takes care of it, then she leans over the windshield to wash it, making sure you get a good look at her boobs. (Video below.) It is all totally gratuitous and pandering and it just bugs me. I really want to be able to change Cindy’s outfit but I can’t (since she’s an NPC). So from that point of view I get that sometimes these outfits are very off-putting.

I don’t know why I have such a different reaction to these two characters. Maybe its because FF XV has more realistic graphics while FFF is very cartoon-ish? Maybe it’s the tone of the game? Fairy Fencer F is just kind of silly and ‘light-hearted’ whereas FF XV is trying to tell a much more serious story.

I haven’t been able to unravel why I want Cindy to put some damned clothes on while I just roll my eyes when Harley’s boobs jiggle a bit in every combat flourish. I’m glad I’m not a game developer trying to keep everyone happy.

Anyway what do you think? Is there a way for game devs to offer sexy outfits for those who enjoy them while not offending the players who have more conservative tastes?

As I mentioned elsewhere, I’ve decided to devote Monday evenings to playing Fairy Fencer F, Advent Dark Force on the PS4, a turn-based JRPG that doesn’t take itself very seriously, at least so far. (I’m about 13 hours in; howlongtobeat.com says the main game takes 30 hours, which for me means probably 40+ because I’m slow.) BTW the original Fairy Fencer F is available on Steam (and PS3). The Advent Dark Force version, as I understand it, adds an ‘evil’ path to follow. I’m following the Goddess of Light path in this first playthrough which I think is the same game as the Steam version.

OK first some background:
The basic goal of the game is to collect furies. So what’s a Fury? A Fury is a powerful weapon that houses a fairy. They are wielded by fencers, skilled warriors who for some reason can wield these weapons. When a fencer chooses a fury he or she basically binds with the fairy inside.

In game terms each character has a fury, which means he/she has a fairy she is bound to. These fairies are basically NPCs that show up in cut scenes. As your party collects additional furies, the fairies inside them become available to equip on each character, and an equipped fairy will level up and get more powerful. OK that’s enough for the rest of the post to make sense I hope.

The Characters (so far):

The main, or at least first, character you meet is Fang, a young man who is a complete slacker. Through some process I’ve already forgotten, he winds up with a fury inhabited by Eryn. Eryn is a fairy who has lost all her memories and she hopes if she and Fang go in search of other furies then she might meet a fairy who can help restore her memory. Fang is completely uninterested in becoming a fencer (“It sounds like a real hassle.”) but Eryn tempts him with the promise of meat (and food in general). Off they go.

In typical JRPG fashion you start the game alone and quickly add members to your party. The second character you meet is Tiara, a pretentious know-it-all who wants to collect furies in order to release the Goddess of Light because she’s heard that whomever does this will be granted a wish. She (from her point of view) enlists the help of Fang and Eryn. Tiara’s fairy is Cui, a cute little cat-thing that only says “Cui” over and over because every JRPG has to have some kind of cute creature that can’t speak.

One of the more uncomfortable bits about the game is that every so often Fang will be really mean to Tiara and her reaction is to become attracted to him. Kind of a weird message there; that women are attracted to verbally abusive men. I hope at some point this turns around and Tiara punches Fang’s lights out.

Next we meet Harley. Harley is a “fairyologist” (the game is sprinkled with intentionally dumb terms like this) and she wants to find furies to study the fairies inside. She’s always trying to study Eryn which makes Eryn very uncomfortable, and her advances often seem sexual in nature. Harley’s fairy is Bahus, a kind of father-figure who spoils her. Harley is also something of a trope: the bombshell character who is also a complete slob. Her fairy is always scolding her for not bathing or changing her clothes. (At least I think that’s a trope. I can’t give specific examples but I feel like I seen this kind of character before.) Soon after we meet Harley she decides she is too warm and removes her clothes, giving the devs an excuse for a bit of fan-service. Not that she ever wears very much, at least above the waist.

Next we meet Galdo and his fairy Marissa. Galdo speaks with a Canadian accent if Canadians actually spoke like Bob and Doug McKenzie. Marissa is a rather maternal fairy who refers to Galdo as Galdie-kins. I’m still getting to know Galdo but he seems like he’s going to be the heart of the team.

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. There’s room for six characters on the combat field and an option to switch out characters, so I expect the cast to continue to grow.

Before tonight the whole game has been kind of a snark-fest (which I didn’t mind too much, I get a chuckle out of fictional characters being snarky to each other) but story-wise, Galdo really stepped up tonight. I think he’s started to wear off on the others and they’re starting to be a little bit nicer to each other. I’m finding myself pretty curious about what’s going to happen next.

The other thing that happened tonight is that gameplay wise, I hit a difficulty spike. I’ve been chewing through enemies pretty much on auto-pilot, just hitting the attack button over and over. I was doing that tonight when all of a sudden I noticed Tiara was KO’d. I didn’t even notice she was low on health. What followed was a frantic re-adjustment as I tried to get her rezzed while keeping the baddies at bay via spells and special skills. I hadn’t saved in quite a while so it was a bit of a panic!

I made it through that fight, healed everyone up then did the sneaky-sneak thing to try to get out of that dungeon without too many more fights (you can only save at Save Points while in the dungeon). Then I headed back to town to visit the shop to stock up on potions and the game’s equivalent of Phoenix Downs. Bought some new gear too. I went back and paid attention and made it through but had some really good, fun fights.

So now I’m looking forward to my next session. I’m interested to see if the group can rise above “Let’s just be asses to each other” and start to behave as a team, and I’m excited to see how hard the next dungeon is.

Next week I’ll talk a bit more about some of the actual game systems. So far I’m liking Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, but at the same time I’m glad I got it for $12 or so on-sale. It’s fun but it’s not game of the year material or anything.

Until then, here’s Galdo fighting in a bath towel:

Today’s my first day back to work since the day before Thanksgiving. It was a ‘staycation’ for me: I just had PTO I had to use up. I played a LOT of games and wound up kind of getting caught up in too many. It was fine while on vacation but now that time is limited, I gotta figure out how to juggle everything.

I’ve been trying to do better about finishing games but I know if I let one of these languish for too long I’ll never get back to it.

So here’s what I’m playing:

Rise of the Tomb Raider. I picked this one up when it launched for the PS4 because if you played the first week, you’d get 100,000 credits. I don’t really know what credits are used for, but as I’ve said, I’m “Easy Mode” when it comes to marketing departments. So I played once, got the 100,000 credits (and I still have no idea what I do with them) then put the game away until the PS4 Pro came out, since everyone was saying how great the game looks on the Pro. Then when I got the Pro I wound up playing Infamous: Second Son and Infamous: First Light before getting around to Tomb Raider. Anyway now I’m playing it and really enjoying it. Great game so far (~40% done).

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force. During the PSN Black Friday sale this was something like $12. I was feeling an itch for some old-school turn-based JRPG goodness so I snagged it. It’s oddly soothing so far. I do a lot of grinding which manifests as crunching through easy battles almost as fast as I can click the controller. Sometimes I almost fall asleep playing!! It’s also kind of offensive in that way that Japanese games can be when it comes to gender. Y’know, large breasted female characters not wearing much, female characters reacting positively to being treated badly, that kind of nonsense. Don’t judge me too harshly; I try my best not to be a sexist asshole in real life even if I play one in a JRPG now and then.

Final Fantasy XV. Pre-ordered this one because it came out at the start of my week off. I actually didn’t like it much at first but it’s growing on me. In my heart I’m almost treating this one like an MMO: a game I assume I’ll be playing for a long time. The only downside to this is that the story kind of gets lost when I spend so much time fishing or farming materials.

No Man’s Sky. I’m one of those people who was perfectly happy with No Man’s Sky when it came out. I pumped about 30 hours into it before drifting away in August. When Hello Games surprised us all with The Foundation Update last week I had to jump back in, and I got hooked again. I want to at least complete my base before drifting away again.

So I gotta figure out how to manage all these games. I think I’m going to say Monday night is Fairy Fencer night, and Thursday is No Man’s Sky night, and focus on Tomb Raider and FF XV the rest of the week until I get Tomb Raider finished.

Of course in addition to these are evergreen games like The Elder Scrolls Online, and Destiny has a holiday update coming in a week or so and I’ll want to check that out. Then there’s Stardew Valley launching on consoles about the same time as the Destiny holiday update, and Uncharted 4 Survival mode arrives this month and looks fun…

Oh yeah and I’m kind of hooked on mobile/Facebook game Star Trek: Timelines, too!

Maybe I need to just quit my job so I have more time for gaming! (I haven’t even mentioned my huge backlog…PSN has to stop having all these sales, they’re killing me!)

This isn’t usually my thing but it was free so why not, right? I d/l Let It Die overnight and fired it up this morning.

Warning, don’t watch these videos if you’re not a gore-fan. This is one heck of a gross game, but that’s kind of the point. In an interview from PSX one of the devs claimed he was told by Suda51 that the game had to have enough blood to fill Madison Square Garden 3 times over! LOL

Unfortunately I got through the tutorial and BZZZZT! Servers were down. So I’m not sure what the cash hook is. I know you can buy some kind of space-bucks on PSN but not sure what they’re used for yet.

If you want to check it out for yourself, here’s a link to it on PSN.

Fun for the whole family, eh?

My blog has been gathering dust for a long time. Nothing new really. Since I started writing it in 2002 it has gone through many cycles both in terms of posting frequency and in subject matter. A few years back I was fortunate enough to get a job blogging professionally. It wasn’t my main job, I still had a 9-5 gig, so I had to write the paid stuff in the evening. That really hurt Dragonchasers because I only had so many words in me (and only so much time) per day.

About a year ago that blogging job vanished when the publisher realized scabs would blog for free “for the exposure.” I could go on a long tangent about that but for once I’ll restrain myself.

For the past year I’ve been bopping around not-quite-blogging on Google Plus, Facebook and lately Imzy…or in the comments section of someone else’s blog. Yesterday it dawned on me that as long as I’m writing blog-length posts anyway, I may as well write them here. I might not get as much exposure but I’m no longer too concerned about that. I gave up any interest in becoming an Internet celebrity long ago. Even if I had the ambition and talent to become one (and I don’t), Internet celebs are exposed to far too much hate. I couldn’t deal with it.

I’ve also accepted the fact that I don’t have any Truths to share (at least none that the rest of you don’t already know). But I like talking about the stuff I like and who knows, maybe there’re a handful of people out there interested in hearing what I have to say. If nothing else it’s good for me to write stuff now and then.

For the next year or so, I’m primarily a Playstation gamer. I’ve lost interest in PC gaming; I work out of a home office and at the end of a work day I need to go be somewhere other than in front of a computer. I’ve tried PC gaming on the TV but it always winds up being too much of a headache. I own an Xbox One but once Microsoft announced Project Scorpio I stopped playing Xbox One games because I know all the good ones will get updated for Scorpio (which I plan to buy). So why play, say, Gears of War 4 now when I can get the 4K Game of the Year edition for Scorpio next year? I picked up a Playstation 4 Pro last month so that’s where I’m spending most of my time and what I’ll be talking about for the most part. Of course the majority of console games come out for both systems anyway. If I blog about Destiny or Final Fantasy XV it doesn’t matter much if I’m on PS4 or XB1 (unless I’m talking about technical details I guess).

So that’s the plan. I figured I’d better post something before I jumped in, just so that friends don’t think my blog had been hacked or something. (“Hey, there’s new posts at Dragonchasers… Pete never blogs so it must be those dreaded hackers who get into your blog and start posting boring stuffs!”) 🙂

This weekend Sony is having their now-annual Playstation Experience, an event for fans of the Playstation. In other words, this isn’t a press event, it’s a thing for the gaming public.

I’m not at the event and I wasn’t even around to watch the keynote live stream, so I’m still catching up but already two games have really caught my eye. The first is The Last of Us, Part II. I enjoyed the first game so much and while in some ways I liked that it stood alone and felt like a complete story, I can’t help but be happy to learn we’re going to see more of Joel and Ellie. Also that Ashley Johnson (who’s been awesome in Blindspot on TV, btw) and Troy Baker are back to reprise their roles. It’s a long ways out yet, but here’s the trailer. I expect holiday 2018 might be the target launch date but we’ll see.

Before then we’re getting another Uncharted game, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. This one is a kind of stand-alone ‘side story’ and features Chloe and Nadine. (Claudia Black and Laura Bailey). You remember Chloe from Uncharted 2 and 3, and Nadine was in Uncharted 4. This one is supposed to be out in 2017:

So those two I’m super-jazzed about but there’ve been other announcements, including Knack 2. Go on and laugh if you want but I played through all of Knack and it was fun. It wasn’t a game I pine for a sequel to, but I can see myself picking up Knack 2 when it’s on sale or something. I mean yeah, it’s kind of odd that a game that was so disliked is getting a sequel but I assume it’s another pet project of Mark Cerny. I bet it’ll look amazing on the PS4 Pro at least!

There was also a new trailer for Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and a confirmation of a 2017 launch date. Here again I am odd man out. While Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a very pretty game, I found the actual gameplay was pretty dull and I never finished it. But I’ll include the trailer for all you Ni no Kuni fans.

And that’s still not all but I guess 4 videos is enough for one blog post. I’m hoping Sony makes an archive of the keynote available for those of us who were aoubt and about while it was going on.

Update: Ack, one more. Ys Origin trailer:

Some post story gameplay, messing around with Concrete powers.

[Spoilers Below]

You get Concrete powers in the final boss battle so if you just shut down at the “The End” screen you’ll never get to play around with them, and they’re pretty potent. Creep factor is you can only recharge from downed enemies, though.

I pre-ordered Playstation VR (PSVR) as soon as I was able to do so. I guess that was back in June. On Sunday, just days before it shipped, I decided to cancel that pre-order.

There are a lot of ‘satellite’ reasons why I canceled it: the HDR pass-through issue I mentioned in my last post and the amount of money I’ve spent and am spending on other things this fall (a new TV and a PS4 Pro) being two of them.

But what finally changed my mind was stopping to consider how much of an impact PSVR would have on our living room. Setting it up would mean digging out the Move controllers and a charging stand for them and re-positioning the Playstation Camera which is currently mounted on the wall above the TV. I’d have to free up a power outlet for the Processing Unit (the PS4 is on a UPS and I’m out of battery-backed up slots, but if the PU isn’t on battery then the PS4 may as well not be either), and I’d have to find a place to store the rather large visor and its 10′ of cable when I wasn’t using it. It’s just a lot of ‘stuff’ to integrate into the room.

And that would be fine if I thought I’d be using it a lot, but considering I’d probably have to move the furniture to use it (definitely would for standing experiences, probably would for sitting and using a dual shock…might not for sitting and using the Move controllers which you’d probably hold up higher) and considering that most of the software offerings in this first batch seem more like “Things it would be cool to try” rather than “Things I’d want to play every day.”

Driveclub VR was the one game that seemed like something I’d want to play on a consistent basis and to really get the full experience I’d have to buy a Wheel to go with it.

So $400 and a re-configuration of the living room all became too much of a barrier to entry for me. I’m not really much of a PC gamer but I think VR kind of belongs in the office with the PC, not in the living room. At least not until they can offer a wireless experiences. Oculus has announced a new headset that has half the PC processing requirements of the current Oculus so maybe that’ll be the way to go (my current PC isn’t beefy enough for VR).

Or maybe PSVR will grow into something with a library of games I really want to play, and if so I can always revisit my decision then. Don’t really need to be there day 1. I’ve more than done my fair share of “early adoptering” over the years!

It didn’t help to see a video of the 3 guys from Digital Foundry talking about PSVR. While they were all pretty impressed with how well it works given the limitations of the hardware and the relatively low cost, none of them said they’d actually buy it with their own cash, and one pointed out he had a Rift and after the novelty wore off he didn’t use it much. Then there was the EP.Net review where Victor Lucas laid all the parts on the table; that really illustrated how many pieces there are to this rig. (I’ll embed these videos below.)

So while I hope PSVR does well and that I come to regret my decision, I’ll spend this fall playing conventional games at higher-than-1080-but-less-than-true-4K resolutions on my PS4 Pro. Next spring I’ll take another look at PSVR and see if early adopters are still using it and if we’re still seeing good support for it. Then I’ll re-evaluate my decision.

Next week Sony’s Playstation VR launches. VR is in a funny place right now. After TONS of chatter leading up to the oft-delayed launch of the Oculus Rift, and to a lesser extent the HTC Vive, gaming and tech sites have kind of stopped talking about VR now that it is widely available. Here comes Sony to see if its solution can get more mainstream traction than the Oculus or Vive have.

Today Sony posted a FAQ about PSVR and revealed a major issue with the technology, at least for some of us. The PSVR doesn’t pass through HDR signals.

Now let me explain that in case you haven’t been following the product.

First, if you don’t have an HDR TV this won’t impact you yet, but your next TV will probably support HDR, unless you’re buying in the next few months and going low-end.

PSVR consists of two parts: the visor and a small box they call the “Processing Unit (PU).” To hook it up you run an HDMI cable from your PS4 to the PU and then run two HDMI cables out of the PU. One goes to the visor and the other goes to your TV, for the ‘social screen’ (which allows async MP or lets people in the room see what you are seeing) and for non-PSVR content.

Now let’s talk about HDR. You might have used HDR on your cell phone to take photos, and HDR on TVs is similar but apparently not quite the same thing. Honestly I’m no techie when it comes to TV. But I do have a 4K HDR-capable TV and I can tell you that in certain scenes (outdoor scenes in particular) HDR makes your TV seem like it’s a window. The lighting is so realistic if feels like you can reach into it. (Mind you, the content you’re watching has to be coded to provide an HDR signal.)

The problem with HDR is that you have to see it in person to appreciate it. I can’t take a screenshot of my HDR TV and give it to you. If you have an HDR display you already know what I mean, and if you don’t, you couldn’t see the effect. It’s kind of like 3D in that way. Just trust me that if you have an HDR display you probably want to take advantage of it.

OK so NOW let’s talk about the Playstation 4 Pro. When it was announced in early September Sony talked a LOT about how it was 4K and HDR compatible, and there were a lot of interviews with developers who said that for them, HDR was more important than 4K. For one thing, HDR doesn’t require a lot of additional processing power so it has a low impact on the performance of a game. Sony even patched HDR capability into the standard PS4. So yay Sony is excited about HDR gaming! (Microsoft is as well, their new Xbox One S supports HDR and already there are games, such as Forza Horizon 3, that take advantage of it…in this way Microsoft is ahead of Sony in HDR terms.)

Sony wants you to experience the wonder of HDR….unless you’re a PSVR user. Because if you have PSVR hooked up, any HDR signal coming from your PS4 is going to hit the PSVR PU and die. You’ll still see a picture, it just won’t be an HDR picture. Basically PSVR removes a feature that Sony just patched into all PS4s and is including (and promoting heavily) in PS4 Pro.

So if you have a PS4 and want to enjoy both PSVR and HDR content, you’re going to have to disconnect the PU every time you want to watch something in HDR. This is not only an inconvenience (whether a major or a minor one depends on your home theater set up and how easy it is to access the back of your PS4 or TV) but it is going to put a lot of strain on your HDMI ports. Think about how many times you plug or unplug an HDMI cable in a given year. Four or five maybe? Now imagine doing it every day. HDMI ports are fairly delicate, not only the port itself but the solder connecting them to circuit boards inside your device. Constant plugging and unplugging is going to wiggle those solder connections and greatly increase the chance that they will fail. Expect a lot of broken PS4s in households that own PSVR and an HDR TV.

Some have suggested a splitter. Take the output from the PS4, split it and run one side to the TV and the other to PSVR and then to TV. Couple problems with that solution. First it requires 2 HDMI ports on your TV or A/V Receiver. Second you need to make sure the HDMI switch supports HDR: many do not. Third, of the ones that do apparently a lot of them default to the lowest common denominator. In other words the switch would detect that PSVR’s PU doesn’t support HDR so it would disable HDR to both outputs.

Any way you slice it, it’s a problem and a big one for those of us who want both the best TV picture and the experience of PSVR. The best solution I can come up with is getting a PS4 Pro for your regular games and leaving the old PS4 as the PSVR console, but of course then you miss out on the added horsepower that the PS4 Pro would bring to PSVR.

I’m so disappointed that Sony screwed this particular pooch. I was kind of excited for PSVR (weird because I never got that excited about Oculus) but now I’m thinking I might cancel my pre-order and wait for a future iteration that offers better support for modern TV technology.

I guess I should be thankful that Sony didn’t keep this shortcoming secret until after the first units shipped.