Capcom is back with another VR mode, and this time it’s for Resident Evil 4 Remake. That was enough for me to dust off my PS VR2 to see whether I’d be treated to an experience as good as Resident Evil Village’s phenomenal VR mode.
As is the case with Resident Evil Village, the VR mode is only available for the main story of RE4 Remake, but this time around you have trophies! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time playing RE 4 virtually so far, and while I’ve yet to complete the lengthy campaign, there are so many epic encounters I’m looking forward to tackling in VR.
Horror at its most beautiful
RE Village was a graphical showcase for Sony’s headset. It’s not the best-looking game on PS VR2, but it’s definitely in the same playing field as titles like Horizon: Call of the Mountain when it comes to visuals. Capcom has managed to exceed itself with RE 4‘s VR mode, which serves up a gorgeously horrifying world with a level of sharpness that few games on the headset have managed.
The blurriness that tends to plague VR games is rarely seen, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the world you’ve been warped into. RE 4 has never terrified me nearly as much as its predecessors, but that changes drastically when I’m thrust into VR. Suddenly, being surrounded by enemies feels like a life-or-death experience that has my heart hyperactive and occasionally, even my hands trembling.
Don’t expect the same graphical quality as the flatscreen mode, but prepare for a visual feast. During my first gameplay session, multiple times I stopped to just appreciate my surroundings after dealing with the enemies. The visuals are complemented by audio that never lets up when it comes to raising the hairs on the back of my neck.
The 3D audio comes in handy in VR, as it’s accurate enough to use sound alone to determine which direction danger’s coming from – all I had to do was follow the demented rambling from the Las Plagas-infected foes.
Fun with guns
Undoubtedly, the best part of the game is the gunplay. It’s so satisfying. Before blasting baddies, you have to go through the motions of ejecting your empty magazine, reaching into your pouch for a new one, loading it, and cocking your firearm. It’s a lengthy process that takes some getting used to before you can do it automatically under the most stressful of situations, but it adds an exhilarating layer of gameplay that even returning players can enjoy, not unlike RE 4’s VR version on Oculus’ headset.
The various guns behave and function differently, which is forcing me to practice and gain experience with every firearm. For example, pistols require a magazine change while shotguns force me to load shells individually instead. Shotguns take longer to prepare, but it’s worth it when I can finally pump and blast my way through a mob.
If any of this sounds overwhelming, don’t fret. The game does offer a tutorial at the beginning, and you have the option to simplify reloading in the settings menu.
Action that’s accessible
VR can be a tricky thing to get right, not least of all because of the variety of settings necessary to accommodate different people’s needs. For the most part, RE 4 VR does a great job in this department, allowing you to fine-tune several aspects of the game.
I hadn’t used Sony’s headset in ages, so I had lost my VR legs, and it didn’t take me long to feel nausea after jumping into the game. Fortunately, there are settings to help mitigate motion sickness, including snap-turning. There are also a few accessibility settings, including the ability to switch to left-handed mode if that’s the way you roll.
The only complaint I have on this front is that the HUD can be somewhat intrusive. You can switch it off completely, but then you can’t spot what objects in your environment can be interacted with. Turn it on, and you can switch off a lot of unnecessary junk, except for that cursed ammo indicator.
I really don’t like the fact that my weapons have a floating HUD element telling me how much ammo I have left. Let me find it out the hard way when I hear that dreaded click instead of a bang.
Both RE 4 and RE Village prove that Capcom has what it takes to craft some of the scariest VR titles possible. However, both games are also deeply flawed due to their flatscreen origins.
It feels a bit deceptive to call Resident Evil 4 Remake’s VR mode a first-person experience because it deviates from the perspective so often. It’s not just a matter of cutscenes being in the third-person. The problem is that the switch from first to third-person occurs at some of the most inopportune moments, including during combat.
Attempt to melee an injured foe, and you’ll see Leon pull off his cool kick in third-person. It’s so immersion-breaking that I try to avoid melee moves as much as possible. You run into the same problem when interacting with the environment. You can’t just open shelves, and instead, you have to press X. This feels really off in VR where the desire is strong to see just how much you can naturally interact with everything.
The VR mode is an amazing offering from Capcom, and it’s made more impressive by the fact that it’s a free download for anyone who already has the base game. If you own RE 4 Remake, and a PS VR2, this is an experience that should not be missed.
Are you one of the rare few who haven’t played this classic yet? It’ll be an exhilarating adventure to try virtually first, and I envy you. Nevertheless, be aware that it’s not flawless, and it constantly reminds you that you’re dealing with VR slapped onto a title that’s flatscreen at heart.
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