The Impact of VR on Resident Evil
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Over the years, Resident Evil has reinvented itself over and over again. Some experiments, like the focus on action-oriented gameplay, haven’t always been a hit, although some changes, like the use of a first-person perspective, have managed to breathe new life into the franchise. Of late, Resident Evil has been dipping its toe into virtual reality (VR), and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal.
Ever since Resident Evil 7 got its VR mode in 2017, the series has remained the go-to place for the spookiest virtual reality experiences. Most recently, Resident Evil Village’s VR mode continued the torch on PS VR2, and players can look forward to the Resident Evil 4 remake also getting a VR mode. Judging by the success of Capcom’s experiments, VR could be an integral part of the future of RE if used properly.
Resident Evil 7 is already a pretty scary game when played in pancake mode. Taking things into VR introduces a whole new realm of horror. It’s no longer possible to simply walk away from a spooky scene, allowing players to truly feel trapped in Ethan’s nightmare as he tiptoes through the Baker family home. The action elements that the franchise has increasingly embraced also benefit from VR, as the gunplay is much more realistic. Players must now physically reload and cock their weapons before firing, which becomes an overwhelmingly intense task when hordes of enemies close in.
Screenshot of Destructoid.
Perhaps the biggest impact VR has had on Resident Evil lies in the way it was able to revitalize titles, giving players good reason to return to games they’ve already completed. This applies to Resident Evil Village, which feels brand new when played in VR. The horrors are taken to new levels, the shooting is more complicated, and the environments feel more immersive than ever. The same goes for Resident Evil 4, a game originally released in 2005. Its VR version, released for Quest 2 in 2021, was more than enough reason to revisit the classic.
VR in Resident Evil 4 Remake and beyond
The size of the player base that Resident Evil VR games have generated gives a good indication of just how much virtual reality has boosted the franchise’s popularity and dominance within the horror genre. According to Capcom’s official stats tracker, Resident Evil 7 VR has been played by over 1.17 million players, and that’s a shocking number considering the PS VR has sold around five million units. Additionally, Resident Evil 4 VR was the fastest selling game of all time on Quest 2 at launch. This is a clear indication of how well the franchise is thriving in virtual reality and the potential it has as a groundbreaking VR horror franchise.
What’s most striking about the franchise’s foray into VR is that despite delivering unmissable horror experiences, the games are undeniably flawed. In Resident Evil 7, this is most evident with the graphics, which take a significant nosedive in VR mode. In Resident Evil Village, interacting with the environment is sometimes an immersion-breaking experience, as not everything is manipulable. Resident Evil 4’s upcoming VR mode has a chance to learn from the mistakes of its predecessors, although it likely won’t be flawless since, like RE Village, it’s not a native VR title.
Still, VR paints a deliciously dark future for Resident Evil. The platform could still be used to revive classics, with Resident Evil 2 Remake and Resident Evil 3 Remake being the best candidates. The revitalizing power of VR could also be applied to some of the lesser-loved titles in the series, including Resident Evil 6. In addition to drawing attention to the best titles in the franchise, it would also help build RE’s reputation as one of the scariest solidify experiences available in VR. With virtual reality games still in their infancy, RE has a chance to establish itself as a leader in VR horror, much like it has made itself synonymous with the survival horror genre through years of impressive entries.
While virtual reality gaming is certainly not new, it still feels like the platform is gaining traction as it attempts to establish itself as a worthy companion to traditional gaming. Resident Evil has made the transition easier for some, as it shows that the platform is not only capable of delivering immersive AAA experiences, but greatly improving them. While the franchise still has a long way to go before it offers a perfect VR horror experience, it already seems miles ahead of many of its competitors.
Freelance Writer – Smangaliso Simelane is a writer with a passion for all things video games. He has been writing about video games since 2020.