I have a somewhat turbulent relationship with Virtual Reality. I love it, but it makes me ill. It’s improved in leaps and bounds over the years, moving from tech demo to tech demo, and we are now at the point where Capcom is ready to build a full game around the hardware. Resident Evil 7 has been made from the ground up to sell PlayStation VR. Everything from the switch to first-person, to the slower, more classic horror pacing seems to suggest that the VR experience is the optimal one. But does it work, and more importantly, how is the actual game behind the experience?
First up, the actual PlayStation VR unit has improved immeasurably from when I played it last year. It’s super comfortable, really easy to adjust, and not very heavy. I was wearing contacts that day so I can’t say how it would have been with glasses on, but I imagine that aspect has also been improved. The head tracking is much more accurate, and a lot more responsive to subtle, smaller movements. Sony has really gone out of its way to make the PS VR as consumer-friendly as possible, and it really shows. Despite being considerably cheaper than its competition, the PS VR unit does not feel cheap.
That said… I was still unable to make it through the entire demo without getting sick – and I mean like, cold sweat, shaky hands, about-to-throw-up sick. Over the last couple years, I have tried multiple demos from multiple different VR headsets, and the result is always somewhere between “a little queasy” and “about to vomit”. RE7 was OK in the big open sections, but anything where stuff was really close to my face, such as opening doors, or crawling through the walls, made me nauseous. It may be time to accept that I, and other sufferers of motion sickness, will never be able to truly enjoy VR.
Thus, I find it really, really hard to recommend any VR headset unless you have had a chance to play for a substantial amount of time. You can’t really know for sure unless you try it.
Moving back to the actual game, Resident Evil 7 is a triumphant return to the series’ horror roots. In the demo, I didn’t pick up a single weapon. I didn’t even fight a single zombie. I frantically ran through a dark, decaying swamp house, hiding from a crazy old lady who wanted to do who-knows-what with me. It was terrifying. I was more scared in the 15 minutes I played the demo than I was for the entirety of Resident Evil 6.
The final scene, which had to be played out for me by a Capcom rep, was so gruesome that it make me gag – even without the headset!
The first person mode, combined with the VR headset, works exceptionally well. This is a horror fan’s wet dream right here, and it makes you feel like you are actually in a zombie thriller.
The VR version of the game takes an obvious graphical downgrade from the non-VR version, but that’s okay. It’s more important to have a solid framerate and resolution in VR than fancy graphics. Besides, it still looks pretty good! Additionally, while a Capcom PR rep confirmed that the game’s PC release will not support PC VR headsets like the Rift at launch, she stopped short of saying that it would never be supported.
Again, just like with Final Fantasy XV, the demo is too short to call at this point, but I am very happy with the direction it is heading. While I won’t be getting the PS VR version, I am glad that we are finally getting a Resident Evil that’s actually scary again, and not just another third-person cover shooter.
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