Rather than following gaming trends in search of profit, Capcom is beginning to create another of its own: high-quality, big-budget VR ports. After Resident Evil 7: Biohazard successfully translated Ethan Winters’ plight to save his wife into the world of virtual reality, the developer has done it again with the follow-up. While we feel some things could have been done better, Resident Evil Village in PSVR2 is even more intense than the flat-screen experience. It’s one of the launch games you need to play.
What we have here is the exact same title as Push Square’s 2021 Game of the Year. The campaign remains the same, its story beats are unchanged, and the combat is still just as fervent. This works in the PSVR2 port’s favour as you needn’t worry about having to play a watered-down version of what’s already playable on PS5; this is Resident Evil Village in all its glory. As such, you can read our full thoughts on the game in our Resident Evil Village PS5 review — this new verdict will focus on what PSVR2 brings to the table. In short, though: it’s still an amazing experience.
The PSVR2 version retains the first-person perspective and couples it with so many more ways to interact with the world. Instead of navigating menus, weapons and items are placed on your person while the map is a physical object that can be pulled out. You’ll find the handgun and ammo attached to either side of your waist, the shotgun is placed over your right shoulder, and a flashlight is tucked inside your jacket. Utilising the precise tracking of the PSVR2 Sense Controllers, you can seamlessly switch between guns and gadgets without ever hitting a pause screen.
It’s incredibly immersive, allowing you to really walk in Ethan’s shoes. However, there is a trade-off. The game demands a lot more of you in VR, so the difficulty is at least a notch above the base experience. The big sticking point is the reload requirements, which are a multi-step process in PSVR2 compared to a simple button press when playing without the headset.
The handgun, for example, demands you reach down for a new magazine from your satchel, place it in the chamber, and then pull back the slide so it’s ready to shoot. The shotgun commands you to reload each individual shell and then use the slide to load the chamber. Are these actions true to real life? Absolutely, but they’re fiddly in practice and you can get stuck in different animations if you don’t place your hands in the right place. Since the enemy density seems to be pretty much the same as the normal version of Resident Evil Village, it makes things much tougher, with more things to think about and added complexity.
Thankfully, a series of comfort and assist options can mitigate these intricacies. You can get rid of the stages required to reload your weapons, and a default 30-degree snap turn can be switched out for a standard camera. The latter seems like the best way to play the game — if you can handle it without getting any motion sickness — but the options related to the former do remove some of the immersion. You’ll need to choose between what Capcom intended and making the game more manageable until you’re properly up to speed with its demands.
One feature we wouldn’t recommend turning off is the PSVR2’s haptic feedback, which triggers vibrations in the device’s head strap in accordance with big set pieces and weighty moments. It’s really effective and certainly heightens some scenes as you physically feel what’s going on around you.
And ultimately, in VR, what you see is just as important as what you feel. While it obviously doesn’t look as good as the original PS5 experience, Resident Evil Village in PSVR2 is quite the looker. From afar, backdrops and the haunted locations of the remote dwelling look fantastic — a huge upgrade over what was possible on PS4’s PSVR. The characters you meet look great and environments remain just as detailed.
However, the game loses some of its cinematic spectacle in what is a double-edged sword situation. PSVR2 lends you the freedom to look around when control is taken away from you as a scene plays out. This allows you to gaze longingly into Lady Dimitrescu’s eyes as she feeds you to her daughters, or watch what other characters are doing that you wouldn’t normally be able to pay attention to.
It’s neat letting you explore scenarios and pick out extra details, however because of that freedom, it’s very easy to miss key details. In the flat-screen version, the camera automatically pans to what you should be looking at, allowing you to easily follow what’s happening and take in story beats. In PSVR2, though, there’s none of that. You could be looking at what you believe to be the focus of a scene when the action is actually playing out behind you. This issue in particular is common during the very early house fire scene where Elena loses both her father and her own life.
In addition, a handful of cutscenes use Cinematic Mode and cut away from the immersive scenes that happen around you. It really pulls you out of the VR experience when you’re all of a sudden watching something play out on a big cinema screen in front of you instead of taking place in your surroundings.
Capcom has translated the Resident Evil Village experience to VR in supreme style, but it comes with a few caveats. Some of the cinematic spectacle is lost, and you’ll need to battle fiddly animations just as much as the werewolves dominating the remote village. Still, wonderful VR graphics, welcome comfort options, and great haptic feedback support make it a PSVR2 must-play.