PlayStation VR is shaking up the multiplayer format so hard that it’s now delightfully wonky

Stylish haircuts. Seesaws. Three-legged puppies. All are more fun because they’re a bit wonky. And, thanks to its emphasis on asymmetric multiplayer experiences, you can now add PS VR to that list.

The Social Screen function (powered by that dinky processor unit) is the key to a new kind of couch co-op on PlayStation. The function gives your headset-free mates a view of the action, as well as control via their DualShocks, letting them help or hinder your efforts. In bundled freebie The Playroom VR’s Monster Escape, you play Godzilla’s robo-relative, headbutting a city to bits while your pals lob objects at you to stop you. Like Wii U’s Nintendo Land and its adjacent GamePad, it creates new challenges and a fresh kind of gleeful schadenfreude.

Interestingly, PS VR’s Social Screen can also show friends something completely different to what you’re looking at. In another mini-game from The Playroom VR, this one set in a Wild West saloon, players describe a wanted outlaw to the clueless, armed headset-wearer in a game that’s more Shoot Who than Guess Who. And let’s not ignore Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes (which is exactly what it says on the suspicious, combination-locked suitcase). It doesn’t even require the TV for play.

Here the headset-wearer sees a bomb covered in baffling switches and buttons, while others rely on the defuser’s descriptions of the puzzles to uncover solutions in a printed 23-page manual. If everyone communicates, organs remain in bodies. If not, the virtual walls are painted a fetching shade of Exploded Friendship.

These divergent player roles are the new mechanics of VR, the interplay of differing experiences adding extra layers of havoc and hilarity to couchplay. And future possibilities thrill: a haunted house where the other players control the jump-scares is just one idea Sony has prototyped.

The best bit? Some of these (the saloon shootout and Keep Talking, for instance) don’t even need extra controllers. A single headset is enough for everyone to play along. If this is the new meaning of ‘unbalanced’ games, I’m in.

This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great PlayStation coverage, you can subscribe here.

Jen Simpkins

Jen Simpkins is the former Deputy Editor of Edge magazine, and has since moved into the games industry itself. You can now find Jen lending her immense talents to Media Molecule, where she now serves as editorial manager – helping to hype up all of the indie devs who are using Dreams as a platform to create magical new experiences.