The Oculus Quest 2-exclusive release of Resident Evil 4 in VR has been an eagerly anticipated one since it was first announced a few months ago. It’s finally here, so how did it turn out? Read on to find out.
Of course, part of the anticipation was the fact that Resident Evil VII is still one of the benchmark titles in VR, even though it is only available on a single platform – PSVR. Another element was the fact that this release is exclusive to the Quest 2, marking the first time where a Quest game isn’t available for the original Quest. As a result, it felt like we were finally getting a title that was going to fully use the extra processing power of the new headset – something else we were looking forward to seeing.
Developed by Armature Studio and co-published by Capcom and Oculus, this is pretty much a straight up port of the game that originally launched on Nintendo’s GameCube – making it one of the few non-first party games that other console owners were envious of. It eventually came to nearly every other platform out there as well, while also signifying a new direction for the entire franchise that more or less persists to this day.
Despite the fact that it wasn’t originally built for VR, Resident Evil 4 has a lot of elements that translate well to the medium. The 2D cutscenes that still play on a flat surface isn’t one of them, and they’ve fairly immersion-breaking when they pop up. Modern games have cutscenes that are rendered in real time, so they’d be much easier to port to VR, but RE4 is firmly rooted in an era where cutscenes were usually flashy and well directed – but of the pre-rendered variety to make sure they looked the part when consoles couldn’t do all that in real time.
Other aspects translate far better though, and even improve the game. Puzzles that used to involve grabbing and moving things with button presses can now be completed through motion controls, and shooting feels much more visceral when you can physically aim your weapon yourself. You can also manually reload, switch weapons and heal yourself through motion controls, which greatly adds to the immersion factor.
As in the original game, enemies can be tricky to take down, and you’ll run out of ammo if you’re not careful. This means you’ll sometimes have to take detours to look for supplies, or find smart ways to take out enemies before getting overrun. Picking them off one by one while using a knife is a good way to conserve ammo, for instance. Bosses are especially challenging, because they often only have one vulnerable spot and you’ll need to capitalize on it.
Resident Evil 4 is easily the largest title I’ve ever downloaded to the Quest, coming in at almost 8 GB worth of data. It shows though, because the visuals actually look better on the headset than they did when the game launched back in 2005. It’s not Resident Evil VII – not even close – but it’s nice to see an additional layer of polish in a Quest conversion when we’re used to a visual downgrade instead.
What’s also impressive is that the UI has been overhauled to be less dependent on things like inventory screens. Instead, you get easy access to your primary and secondary weapons and ammo through motion controls, with your primary being right next to you and the other one available by reaching over your shoulder. You’ll need to switch things out once your arsenal grows and there’s no escaping a bit of inventory management there, but there’s also a secondary input method where that’s solved elegantly with an in-game overlay rather than having to hit pause and navigate a bunch of menus.
Other changes include improved quick time events, which no longer strictly rely on button presses but involve motion controls – a bit like the Move version of Heavy Rain did, but less gimmicky and more immersive. Having to physically shake yourself loose is a lot more fun than just hammering X to do, and there are several of these moments where motion controls are being put to good use.
The upgrades for VR and motion controls are noticeable and generally work well, but Resident Evil 4 does show its age. As mentioned, it’s not as visually impressive as something like Resident Evil VII, and the narrative design is a bit old in its lack of nuance and oversimplification of characters. These don’t stand in the way of this being a really good time with a lengthy 12+ hour campaign, but despite all the VR goodness it’ll still feel like you’re playing an older game – especially when another 2D cutscene kicks in.
We’re okay with that though, because this is a true classic and the VR upgrade it has received makes it even better than it was before – both visually and in terms of an interactive experience.