Resident Evil Village VR is one of the highlights of PlayStation VR2, though it is not for gamers with weak hearts.
A new way of playing
Resident Evil Village was not originally developed with VR in mind, yet it seems like Capcom has always taken into account that this game should one day be playable in VR. Pretty crazy isn’t that. With Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, owners of the PSVR already got a taste with an exclusive VR mode made specifically for that headset. With Resident Evil Village, VR mode is once again exclusive to PlayStation for now, but for the PlayStation VR2.
For those not yet completely familiar with Resident Evil Village, it’s not very difficult. In Resident Evil Village, Capcom picks up the story from Resident Evil 7. After Ethan Winters’ horrific adventures with the Baker family, he is finally living a peaceful and loving family life with his wife Mia and daughter Rose. Of course, their life is rudely disrupted and you find yourself playing as Winters in the village from the title. It’s up to Winters to figure out what’s going on.
When you launch the game with the PlayStation VR2 connected, the first thing you’ll get is a tutorial so that you become familiar with the mechanics of Resident Evil Village in VR. After all, it all works a little differently than when you have a controller in your hands. This is also the first time that a tutorial doesn’t feel redundant, and secretly this is actually incredibly well done. For example, you learn how to handle weapons at a virtual shooting range. Here, players are handed a shotgun and a sniper, among other weapons. The cool thing about VR is that you don’t have a reticle to aim. That sounds awkward, but this forces the player to actually aim with the weapon itself. For example, a sniper rifle really has to be held in front of the face to peek through the scope.
More immersion than ever
After diving into the Virtual Reality world of Resident Evil Village for a while, it’s safe to say that this is one of the games with the most immersion on PlayStation VR2 right now. The first-person horror game lends itself perfectly to a VR mode, even if the game is not always consistent with picking up or opening objects. For example, sometimes you open a drawer with a cross and other times with a gesture. That certainly shouldn’t spoil the fun, because once you’re in the action it really does feel like players are in another world entirely. This is further reinforced by the fact that you have to reload weapons manually, by pulling a magazine out of your holster and actually inserting it into the weapon. Then you also have to reload it before you can shoot. When the player is cornered, this can create extremely frantic, but for bystanders hilarious, moments.
It quickly becomes clear that Resident Evil Village, or perhaps all horror games, work much better in Virtual Reality. The danger feels a lot more real than sitting in front of a flat screen, while even the first encounter with Lady Dimitrescu is much more impressive than we were used to. She towers over you, making the sense of scale a lot better than in the regular game.
If you don’t dare to play Resident Evil Village alone, this also makes the game excellent for playing in “multiplayer,” by passing the PlayStation VR2 headset from time to time. It does take its toll to be in this world for hours, especially with as much tension as Resident Evil manages to give. That the game is so exciting is mainly due to its graphical power. Because the headset uses OLED panels, the color black on the display is actually pitch black. In the worse-lit areas, this can sometimes be confusing, but in general it produces beautiful pictures.
To make this possible, Village uses a technique called foveated rendering. Because the PlayStation VR2 uses eye tracking, the area the user is looking at can be shown sharper than an area that is out of view. Thus, there is more detail in the images viewed by the player, which works extremely well in gaming. Only Horizon: Call of the Mountain is prettier at the moment, I think, although Resident Evil: Village blows that game out of the water in terms of gameplay.
Should it all get a little too difficult, or you’re easily nauseated, Capcom has also thought about settings around accessibility. For example, you have help in terms of aim assist, which you can adjust to your liking. There is also the ability to adjust camera speed, smooth looking around or stepping in, and your dominant hand. The game can be played sitting and standing, although we still prefer the former. Standing takes more energy and you sometimes feel like you’re falling over, although in the end it delivers less motion sickness for us.
Resident Evil Village comes off much better in VR than on a flat television. Through special techniques, the game displays extremely beautiful graphics, which are rarely surpassed in current other Virtual Reality games. It almost seems as if the game has always been conceived with VR in mind. You don’t have to play the game for the story, but still, you must have experienced Resident Evil Village once in VR.