What better way to promote your high-end VR headset than to bring players face-to-face with Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil: Village herself?
The demo was part of Capcom’s Tokyo Game Show 2022 event, which brought Resident Evil: Village back to life with all its wacky gimmicks, this time on PlayStation VR 2.
But Lady Dimitrescu is the star.
He first sneers at you, taking a sip of your blood, and then dangles you from a couple of meat hooks for a very sickening VR sequence. All the time she is in your face, constantly impressing you that she is very, very tall. In fact, it is huge.
Some of the most impressive to be found on any VR device today, PSVR 2’s 4K OLED displays make it even more impressive. We have recently told you our impressions with PSVR 2, and it is worth taking a look if you want to know the details of the technology of the platform. Suffice it to say that PSVR 2 is a true achievement on console and that Resident Evil Village looks amazing on the device…
Straight to the point.
The fact that my head came out of Ethan’s torso had a hint of ghoulish horror, but it also shows how far VR has to go with ambitious action games like Resident Evil Village. Being a port, Resident Evil Village obviously has its limitations, and in any case there is still time to polish it. But as I futilely waved my knife at a handful of undead enemies, I felt like I was somehow still stuck in 2016 and nothing had really changed. The same could be said for the intense motion sickness imparted by continuous movement, which at one point forced me to take a break to recover from the wave of nausea that washed over me.
In fact, PSVR 2 is still an enigma for me. There’s no doubt that it’s a huge improvement over the original PSVR, which in hindsight seems to have been made from aftermarket parts, but I still don’t know who it’s for. With a projected $500 price tag, it’s likely to be too expensive for casual gamers and not suitable for hobbyists who value the flexibility offered by other devices.
Resident Evil Village VR looks like a win for Capcom
Even so, There’s no denying the appeal of Resident Evil Village in VR. Its predecessor was one of the best VR experiences of the previous generation, leveraging technology to drastically improve its feel of terror, and Resident Evil Village is more of the same. As I walked past a series of charred corpses to Dimitrescu’s castle, the first thought that popped into my head was, “This is how Resident Evil Village should be played.”
The VR experience also offers a number of gameplay improvements compared to the original version, which should serve to refresh the experience of those who have already defeated Lady Miranda and her lords. For example, it’s now possible to wield two weapons, which should give the humble knife a bit more utility (or you can use a shotgun instead, whichever you like). The haptics of PSVR 2’s Sense controllers are put to good use when, for example, you’re taking your hands off Lady Dimitrescu’s meat hooks or firing your pistol at an approaching werewolf. Even the hull itself can shake now.
But none of this can compare to the sheer excellence of visual effects, which can be found in everything from the twisting corridors of the castle to the fluid, naturalistic movement of Lady D’s vampiric daughters. Using a technique called “foveated rendering,” much of the visual fidelity of the original is achieved when rendered areas of peripheral vision with lower quality, reserving its power for what is right in front of you. The result is impressive. Capcom isn’t often mentioned at the same time as other tech powerhouses, but the power and flexibility of the RE Engine never fails to impress. Add to that Capcom’s impressive art direction and we have some of the most compelling games on any platform.
Even as a game over a year old, Resident Evil Village does what it needs to do to sell gamers on the capabilities of PSVR 2. It’s also an exciting time for Resident Evil Village fans as they see their saga favorite returns to an area in which he excels. Like many other Capcom franchises, Resident Evil has been in a real moment of glory lately, and Resident Evil 4 Remake is supposed to add to that moment when it releases this year.
As for PSVR 2, it’s an undeniably intriguing piece of hardware that brings all the benefits of VR to console. Where the original PSVR felt like a tangle of wires, PSVR 2 is sleeker and much more refined, with PS5’s advanced haptic technology adding even more of a sense of immersion as Lady Dimitrescu lifts you up like a rag doll. Will it be enough to make Sony’s latest entry into the VR space a success? Backward compatibility with the original PSVR would have helped its chances, but we’ll have to see.
In any case, Lady Dimitrescu finds her ultimate form in Resident Evil Village. PSVR 2 may not end up being a win for Sony, but it certainly looks like a win for Capcom. We’ll know more when both PSVR 2 and Resident Evil Village release in early 2023.