Six things you didn't know you could do with PlayStation VR

Fun for all the family, not just the hardcore gamers
PlayStation VR isn't all games

Although Sony has really been pushing the PlayStation VR, or the PSVR as it's more affectionately known, as the ultimate virtual reality gaming device, it's actually much more than that.

Think of the PSVR as a portal to another world. Whether that means flying an X-Wing in Star Wars: Battlefront, checking out how good a doctor you'd be in Surgeon Simulator or even just kicking back with some block-building in Tumble VR, there's plenty to take in.

Essential reading: The best PlayStation VR games to play first

That goes beyond gaming too, because the experiences you can have on PSVR are much more varied than you'd expect. Here are six great ways to experience what else PSVR has to offer without even whispering the word videogame.

Keep the kids busy

Now, technically PSVR is aimed at users aged 12 and over, but we know that as soon as you've got your VR headset plugged in, everyone and their gran is going to want to try it out - especially at Christmas.

What better way to give the younger members of your family a sample of VR than letting them watch an animated short that really shows off the 360-degree immersion of virtual reality, without the complications of fast-moving, potentially nausea-inducing, gameplay.

We'd recommend two of these at the moment, both currently available now and totally free.

The first, Allumette, is quite a powerful story of a young orphan girl who lives in a mystical city in the clouds, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. It really gives you a sense of height, floating about that fluffy stuff in the sky, but also allows you to lean in close to the action as the story unfolds.

Or there's Invasion!, which is more of a Pixar-style animation, following the strange day had by one fluffy white bunny. We won't spoil what happens, but it's a great little five-minute time waster that will give you a wonderful sense of what virtual reality storytelling can do.

Allumette: Free, PlayStation Store

Invasion!: Free, PlayStation Store

Educate yourself

When games get a little too intense, it's nice to kick back and drink in some culture. Thankfully there are a few apps for PSVR right now that offer a range of 360-degree videos to explore, whether you're interested in investigative journalism, being on the red carpet at the Oscars, or meeting Goofy at Disneyland.

Littlstar VR Cinema is a free app that has constantly updated content, an easy to use UI and plenty to get involved with. What's particularly great is that it already has content from some top name partners including Nat Geo, Discovery, Showtime and ABC. It might not all be feature-length, but it's top notch viewing nonetheless.

Or there's Within. Again, it offers a variety of content to absorb, but all of incredibly high quality. We're particularly enamoured with the Mr. Robot experience and the Sundance Film Festival pieces, which are an assault on the senses in the very best way.

There's also another such app coming soon to PSVR called Lens, which Sony claims offers experiences made specifically for VR, rather than just 360-degree videos.

Littlstar VR Cinema: Free, PlayStation Store

Within: Free, PlayStation Store

Get your fortune told

Anyone with an interest in astrology or psychic auras might be intrigued that you can meet up with your very own psychic in Kismet on the PSVR.

Its spiritual guidance comes from partaking in three different activities. The main part is a three card past-present-future Tarot card reading dished out by a lady called Kismet - hence the name. The cards are beautifully animated and also come with a thorough explanation, helping you to understand each one and how it might relate to your life.

Then you've got the daily Astrology session, which is called The Stars. You input your date of birth and you'll get your daily horoscope according to your star sign. Because you're sitting across the table from Kismet, it feels incredibly personal and again, the graphics are ethereally beautiful.

If you've had enough of seeking your fortunes, Kismet also includes a third activity, which is actually playing a game of Wit. Now, we know that we said we weren't talking about games here, but the entire experience is so magical that anyone who buys Kismet should try it.

Whichever activity you undertake, it's all a comfortable experience thanks to the fact it's all seated. It can even open your mind to some more mysterious elements of life. After all, everyone likes to know more about themselves, right?

Kismet: $6.99, PlayStation Store

Travel to Mars

If you've watched Matt Damon try to survive solo on Mars in The Martian, you'll know that it's a rather miraculous fiction and an excellent film. But what if you could actually be in the film alongside Damon? We know it defeats the object of him being stranded on Mars, but - as long as you're not expecting a fast-paced game - The Martian VR Experience is quite the journey.

There are Damon clips a-plenty to explore, including semi-interactive vignettes based on some of the key scenes in the movie, but more importantly, you get to explore the red planet with your own eyes.

You can take part in a few mini-game experiences, one that involves potatoes and the other manoeuvring a small crane. But the big draw here is driving the rover across the surface of Mars, using a virtual joystick that you can wiggle yourself. It's a glorious experience and the highlight of this gorgeously presented app.

The Martian VR Experience: $20, PlayStation Store

Become best mates with David Attenborough

We've all watched Planet Earth, listened to David Attenborough's dulcet tones and wished we could go on some of his many adventures with him. Or even just wondered how he does it all in his late eighties.

But whatever you're wondering, there is a way to go on one of Attenborough's journeys without having to even leave the sofa. David Attenborough's First Life VR is a ten minute short documentary slice from the TV series of the same name. You go back in time to the Cambrian Oceans as they were more than 500 million years ago.

Attenborough's soothing voice narrates what's happening in your ear as you explore the deep blue, and who doesn't want that?

It's coming soon but if you can't wait, head to the National History Museum in London to check out Attenborough's VR Great Barrier Reef Dive. Go beneath the waves with David as you explore the world's largest coral reef in virtual reality. You can book tickets here, and trust us, it's worth it.

David Attenborough's First Life VR: $TBC


Take centre stage

If you've ever regretted about not taking your school clarinet career further, fear not, because PSVR is about to make your first chair dreams come true.

The upcoming Philharmonic Orchestra VR experience will take you behind the scenes with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Southbank Centre. It'll take you with the band as they prepare before the concert backstage, and then drop you in the hottest seat of all right in the centre of the orchestra.

You'll then be able to experience the LPO perform Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 led by world-famous conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen in the best seat in the house, without even having to dust off your instrument case.

Philharmonic Orchestra: Free (coming soon)


Shop for VR headsets on Amazon

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift
$399
PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR
$299.99
HTC Vive
HTC Vive
$599.99
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR
$94.63

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