Sony Computer Entertainment surprised last evening’s Silicon Valley VR meetup #10 with the first public display of their Project Morpheus VR headset prototype.

Anton Mikhailov, Jeff Stafford and Frederick Umminger, from Sony’s Project Morpheus Team

Morpheus, unveiled at this year’s Game Developers Conference in March, was only shown to a limited audience of conference attendees and press at that event. Earlier this week it was on display at a small, invite-only event for developers in Europe. Last night was the first opportunity the public had to freely experience the prototype. Project team members Jeff Stafford, Frederick Umminger, and Anton Mikhailov were on hand at SVVR to show off the Morpheus hardware and their Castle demo.

morpheus-scottPlayers received a head-mounted display, stereo headphones (which plug into the HMD), and a pair of Playstation Move controllers.

The game takes place in a medieval courtyard, with a ragdoll dummy in front of you, and several sharp weapons nearby. Pulling the trigger buttons on the controllers balls your hand into a fist. Instructions are mostly unnecessary: take out your aggression on the dummies in front of you using fists or swords. Cutting the dummy’s hand off and then slapping them across the face is easy, fun and satisfying. The level of interaction the Move controllers adds lots of depth to the experience.

Much like at GDC, interested players raced to queue up as soon as the demo opened, and despite a long line lasting most of the night, nobody seemed to mind. Feedback from those that tried it was positive, with most saying it was better than expected. Having your hands in the game takes the experience to a whole new — and satisfying — level.

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Music video and commercial director Jonnie Ross, a co-founder of Virtual Reality LA who drove up from Los Angeles for the SVVR meetup, shared his thoughts:

As far as gameplay, this video shows up-close game action using the “social screen” that shows non-players an unwarped view of the action:

In another video, attendee Jacob Rangel demonstrates some of the play mechanics, including a dual-wield head chop:

And Scott Broock from Jaunt VR shows off his moves:

Many thanks to Sony Computer Entertainment for sharing with SVVR this evening, and to Jeff Stafford, Frederick Umminger, and Anton Mikhailov for working the extra hours to bring it to us. I expect there are at least a few people who updated their VR wishlists after tonight.

Don’t forget, you can still grab tickets to the forthcoming SVVR Conference and Expo in May and there’s a $100 discount available for Road to VR readers. Check out this article for more details on how.


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