Resident Evil 7 is one of the best titles for the original PSVR with the added immersion provided by the headset taking the experience to a new level – despite using the same DualShock 4 controls as the standard game. We now have PSVR2 support for Resident Evil Village and this time Capcom has embraced the new Sense controllers, fundamentally changing the core gameplay. So how do the visuals hold up in VR and what sacrifices were needed to make it happen – and how do the new Sense controls influence the experience?
VR support in RE Village can be accessed via a downloadable patch and once installed you are prompted to choose between 2D and VR when starting the game. VR has its own savegames and does not support trophies. The game’s intro plays on a floating virtual screen, but then the game switches to full stereoscopic 3D – including cutscenes. That’s cool, but the preset camera movement and animation of these footage might trigger motion sickness in some users, but the good news is that a more stable alternative is available, as you can choose to view the cutscenes in a floating screen if you prefer.
Once the gameplay starts properly, it’s clear that Village looks a bit different than it does on a 2D screen. Ray tracing isn’t present here, naturally, and the game seems to run at 60fps rather than the 90fps or 120fps achieved by less visually demanding PSVR2 titles. However, your head movement is tracked at 120Hz with asynchronous time distortion, so the experience remains reasonably smooth.
Here’s the full video review, demonstrating the difference between the 2D and VR versions of RE Village.
Compared side-by-side to 2D gaming, there’s a hit to resolution – likely due to the wider field of view demanded by VR presentation. This is mostly masked by the game’s eye-tracking foveal rendering; essentially, the game is rendered at a much higher resolution wherever you look, lowering the resolution elsewhere to compensate. It works like a charm and seems impossible to fake, which makes the game much sharper than Resident Evil 7 on the original PSVR. This rosy perspective is mitigated somewhat by the presence of extremely noticeable specular aliasing in some scenes, which creates highlights and shimmers on the glossy edges. You might also notice that the game relies on cube maps for reflections, which are more obviously unrealistic in 3D thanks to the system lacking any parallax depth.
Despite the loss of image quality and these few visual phenomena, the overall visual fidelity of the rendering is preserved and the game is as beautiful as you remember it. The environments are beautifully detailed and a joy to explore in full VR. I’ve often found VR to be the most immersive when it comes to small spaces and Village has plenty of those.
The translation of the visuals to VR is certainly interesting too – Lady Dimitrescu has always been a towering figure in the standard game but her presence is downright disturbing in VR as she is absolutely gigantic. I’ve always felt like the characters in RE7’s VR mode were oddly scaled, appearing almost inhumanly small, but that’s definitely not the case here.
VR mode versus pancake mode – can you see the differences in resolution and FOV?
The headset’s ability to handle deeper contrast through its OLED panel pays off – particularly in darker scenes which now appear truly black and walking around under the castle is particularly strained in VR. The presentation isn’t quite perfect though, as I noticed some underlying image grain in the OLED panel. This was more evident in RE Village than in other games I’ve tested, but honestly PSVR2 is still much better than other VR headsets I’ve tested in terms of displaying rich black levels.
Beyond the new headset, the RE Village gaming experience is turned upside down by Sense controllers and the new interface built around them. Each Sense controller acts like a single hand, with the controllers’ capacitive surfaces determining the position of your fingers in the game world. Compared to non-VR mode – which uses simple button presses to select items and weapons – Village VR instead integrates these features onto your virtual self. The knife, for example, rests in a sheath attached to your left arm – you simply hold your arm and grab the knife to use it.
There are also several options related to keeping objects. By default, hybrid mode requires you to hold down the button on the handle to hold items in your hand – this means that if you lose your grip, you drop whatever you were holding. The solution to this is a clever one, though – once you drop an item, it respawns in its original position, so you’re not constantly on your knees to pick up dropped weapons. It also has some cool side effects – you can now throw knives, smash objects, and damage enemies in the process. That alone is great, but thanks to the item respawn system, you essentially have infinite throwing knives in VR. It doesn’t do enough damage to enemies to ruin the balance of the game, and it’s a fun addition.
Eye-tracking foveal rendering ensures the game always looks high-res, but watching the game outside of VR reveals how the resolution is strategically degraded to improve performance.
Other weapons are virtually mounted on your invisible torso – your gun sits at waist height by default, so all you have to do is bend down, hold the grip button, and now the gun is in your hand. Each weapon also requires real manipulation to reload – on the gun, you press the circular button to eject the magazine, then reach for your pouch to buy a new one, push it into the gun, then pull the slide mechanism. With the shotgun you have to insert each shell one at a time and after each shot you have to build up the action of the shotgun to eject spent casings. It’s pretty awesome.
What really elevates this is the extra tension added to combat – when fighting an enemy, reloading your weapon now requires a lot more finesse, which completely changes the experience. There are accessibility options available if you don’t want to engage with these systems, but I think that adds a lot to the immersion.
Other items include the flashlight and first aid potions. To access it, simply open your virtual jacket with one hand and grab the item with the other hand. In the case of the flashlight, it even has three distinct usage modes – you can toggle your grip position or attach it directly to your body, like RE7 in VR. Holding a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other is nice, that’s for sure.
Half-Life Alyx is the biggest AAA VR title we’ve seen so far – so it’s an honor for Resident Evil Village that the game feels in the same league.
All of these features end up feeling comparable to dedicated VR experiences like Half-Life Alyx – the only thing really missing here are accidental physical interactions. Aside from a handful of specific environmental objects, most objects in the world do not react to your hands. You cannot pick up bottles or random items in Village, which reduces immersion slightly. That said, Capcom has reworked some puzzles to use manual tracking – for example, letting you push a flaming brazier to light torches. You also directly interact with inventory items such as keys when you unlock doors or open drawers. Heck, the whole inventory and shop system has been changed and is now presented in full 3D with the controllers behaving like 3D pointers. He feels good.
Capcom includes a bunch of other tweaks you’d expect in a VR game such as speed, type and degree of spin but, even still, this is intense VR gaming. If you’re prone to motion sickness, it can trigger nausea, even on the mildest settings.
Speaking of VR settings, I want to mention another option directly related to the PSVR2 headset itself – specifically, the brightness setting accessible from within the PS5 operating system. For most games, I use the headset at maximum brightness, which slightly increases the prevalence of persistence blur, so turning it down a few notches can improve motion clarity. In RE Village though, I would suggest setting the brightness to the minimum setting. This squashes shadow detail in some scenes, but in exchange you get a much darker and creepier game – the flashlight becomes vital as darker hallways are now bathed in shadow. I think it’s worth a try, so give it a few minutes and see if it grabs you – for me, I couldn’t go back to the standard setting.
If you missed RE Village when it first released, here’s DF’s full tech review to get you up to speed.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the audio element. RE Village makes incredible use of spatial audio – as you’d expect from a horror game. If you try to stand near a noisy object and close your eyes, you should be able to pinpoint the exact location of said object by sound alone. It’s so effective. This feature greatly improves immersion, and being chased by an enemy becomes much scarier.
In the end, I think Capcom did an exceptional job with this update with just a few caveats. The visual side of things is extremely faithful to the graphics viewed on a normal TV screen, with a small knock on image quality but a generational leap forward from RE7 on PSVR1. The clarity and sense of place is very engaging. Everything feels much more grand and immersive, making it a fantastic way to revisit the game or play it for the first time. The headset certainly helps a lot on its own – the improved comfort and superior head tracking make for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
For me though, it’s the Sense controllers that steal the show. The addition of full hand tracking is a real game changer that PSVR1 owners never really got to experience. I was surprised at how well integrated this VR mode is. Aside from the lack of physics-based objects, this feels like a game that was designed with VR in mind – and heck, maybe it was!
The most promising aspect is the fact that a standard game like this can feature such a robust VR mode. I don’t expect to see too many high budget PSVR2 games, due to the device’s smaller market share, but if developers can produce VR iterations of their games at this level of quality, I think PSVR2 becomes much more convincing.
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Article source https://www.eurogamer.net/digitalfoundry-2023-resident-evil-village-psvr2-tech-review-superb-visuals-game-changing-controls