Disclaimer: Screenshots used in this article (with the exception of the featured image) use the share screen display that the Playstation VR sends to the TV. The quality is lower than what one would see with the headset on.

Since the announcement of the big three names in VR (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Playstation VR), people have been asking about what it’s “killer app” would be – what could possibly drive sales? While there have certainly been plenty of big titles like EVE Valkyrie, Job Simulator, and Rez Infinite, none of them were really considered as the kind of game that could push consumers to buy the headset. Everyone had their eyes on Capcom, though, when the developer announced it was taking the first leap in crafting a full AAA title that could be played from start to finish in VR.

I spent my entire first playthrough of Resident Evil 7 in virtual unease and terror. While the review score still applies for this version, I’d like to go over just how VR alters the experience.

THE GOOD

+ Immersion: With the headset on, the environment goes from being presented on a screen to being all around you – despite really just being presented on a screen. A light vignette focuses the view in a way that makes the lack of peripheral vision much less noticeable, though it won’t keep you from darting quick looks around on all sides. The sense of scale is also that much greater because there’s a stark contrast between seeing a creature lumber toward you on a screen and having to actually look up just to fire into the beast’s face…or look down and run in terror. At the same time, more minute things become apparent due to the sense of 3D. As silly as it may seem, I was enthralled by very simple things like the way a painting frame was hung on the wall.

+ Roleplaying: Perhaps this should fit under immersion, but it’s possible to be immersed in a world and still feel out of place. Resident Evil’s use of the creepy manor had me fully involved in more ways than simply providing a different viewpoint. I found myself peeking around corners more often, or poking my head out of hiding to see if a route was clear. When exploring rooms, I would actually get down and look under tables, sofas, etc. Part of me would always understood that it had no point, because there would be nothing available in VR that non-VR players couldn’t reach. In fact, on more than one occasion I leaned so far forward trying to peek around a corner that part of the next room simply didn’t load because my “body” hadn’t reached the point where it should appear – more amusing than upsetting here. But I was committed to my exploratory role.

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Peeking around corners can be pretty terrifying, too.

+ Aiming: One of the banes of playing with a controller over a mouse – the lack of speedy and precise movement that allows players to get the cursor where it needs to be. With head-tracking aim, that’s no longer an issue. RE7’s enemies move about quite a bit, and it can be difficult to hit the head with every shot, but it’s much, much easier using the new way of aiming, especially when it means that strafing and firing become much simpler. Not only is it great for pulling off the shots you need, but it helps cut down on lost ammo.

+ Functioning UI: Okay, so this one is also available in the regular version, but one of the great “fears” I always hear about when it comes to programming a VR mode in a game is that the UI has to be completely redone. Here in RE7 I never had a problem seeing the inventory screen and reading every item description.

THE BAD

– Out of Body: If you’re like me, you tend to shift a lot when playing games. Sometimes you’re involved and lean forward a bit. Other times, you might just be relaxing, so you’ll lean back. While a VR game makes it rather obvious when you’ve shifted along the X or Y axis, it’s Z that’s a bit more subtle. Several times in RE7, I found myself being affected by things that shouldn’t. Knives that were “in my face” were actually a foot away, but I was still taking damage. Why? I hadn’t reset the camera and thus my virtual body was actually a foot ahead of me the entire time. While the camera can easily be reset to whatever position by simply holding the Options button, it was a bit jarring.

Just a side note, none of this is helped by the fact that in VR mode, your body is literally just a floating pair of forearms.

Oh no, my disembodied forearm has sustained injury!

Oh no, my disembodied forearm has sustained injury!

 

– Movement Issues: Everyone worries about getting sick in VR, for good reason. A few minutes of bad play can lead pretty quickly from light-headedness to nausea and generally ruin your day. In many games, turning can cause this, especially when looking closely at textures. The body is tricked into thinking it’s turning when it’s not, leading to the issues above. RE7 combats this by turning in angles. You don’t so much as turn as get snapped to a new viewing angle. It works well, and your default angle can be reset if you find yourself never quite heading the direction you want, but it takes a lot of getting used to. Of course, now that I am used to it, I find myself trying to do the same thing even out of VR mode.

One final mention on this point, even with the angular turning, it’s highly recommended that you don’t move while looking closely at various textures. The one that always got me was ladders – if you don’t look straight up or down the blurring may make you feel queasy.

THE UGLY

– The Ugly: A lot of care and attention has been put into the Bakers’ house, and a lot of it looks amazing. Unfortunately, a lot of it also looks terrible. The opening few minutes in the bayou are full of awful-looking plants and water that reflects light but doesn’t move…at all…giving it the look of shiny latex. When entering new rooms or areas, it takes a while to load, and then in gradual layers, meaning that slowly the objects begin to look better – sometimes so slowly that you’re in the next room before it gets a chance to finish. There are times when it’s incredibly annoying, like staring at a pixelated clock for a good 20 seconds before being able to read it. Again, this isn’t all the time and there are plenty of areas that look fantastic (though water is always terrible), but it’s something you’ll encounter quite a bit.

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