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How Song in the Smoke leverages PSVR 2's cutting-edge features

Talking tech with 17-bit.

We're hugely excited by PlayStation VR2 and in common with many media outlets, Digital Foundry now has access to a headset, so we're set for the review to come. Based on the unboxing experience, the physical design of the headset and the controllers does not disappoint, but what do game developers make of the specifications of the tech and in what ways is the VR experience heightened in transitioning their titles to PSVR 2?

That's what today's Digital Foundry video is about, where we talk to the fine folks at 17-bit to discuss their upcoming PSVR 2 title, Song in the Smoke Rekindled. This is an interesting title because it's already available for far less capable machines - the original PlayStation VR (where it accrued a couple of PSVR GOTY awards) and even the Oculus Quest.

In the video embedded on this page, you'll learn about Song in the Smoke in terms of its concept and execution, you'll see exclusive behind-the-scenes developers assets along with head-to-head comparisons of the new PSVR 2 version up against the existing renditions of the game. You'll hear the developers talking about how they've pushed the new features of the headset to elevate the experience, plus you'll get their impressions on the quality of the VR experience delivered by PSVR2.

Watch on YouTube

There's a lot to get through in almost 45 minutes of discussion, but there's plenty to learn about how the developers upgraded their assets for PSVR 2, how they ramped up settings across the board until things started to break, how they're targeting and maintaining 90fps - and there's also fascinating information on eye tracking and foveated rendering.

One of the big, game-changing enhancements for PSVR2 is how the headset is able to track your gaze with near-instant response. This manifests in gameplay as being able to climb simply by looking at the ledge, while the ability for the headset to know where you're looking means that foveated rendering is moved to the next level. No longer do you need to look ahead exclusively to get the highest resolution - the focal point adjusts instantly to where your eyes are looking.

That's all in addition to the basics, where the PSVR2 specification allows for a very wide field of view, while the hardware design also solves another perennial VR problem - light leakage from the outside world into the headset. This, combined with the OLED display, means that black is truly black. The HDR feature of the display also required some redevelopment by the game-makers, as the existing SDR assets didn't map across so well, especially in cutscenes. White would present as an ultra-bright white, for example, so the look of the game needed to be rebalanced with high dynamic range in mind.

It was great to talk in depth about PSVR2 with 17-bit, and the video should give you a good early impression of what to expect from Song in the Smoke Rekindled, and how a game targeting lower-end devices has scaled up very nicely for PS5 and PSVR2. We'll be reporting more on the new headset and its games closer to the system's launch.

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