Resident Evil 4 in VR almost feels like a whole new game
The Oculus Quest 2 port looks and feels a lot better than I thought it would, but the cut scenes are, sadly, 2D.
Scott SteinEditor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
The first Oculus Quest 2-exclusive major holiday game is here and it's a throwback: Resident Evil 4 has been ported over to Facebook's standalone VR headset, with graphics boosts that need the newer Quest 2 hardware to run. This isn't the first horror game in VR, or even the first zombie game. It's an extremely common genre, with Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Arizona Sunshine and Lies Beneath already available to jump-scare you while in a headset. But Resident Evil 4 feels like the most momentous and it's a pretty surprisingly great adaptation based on my initial time with it. The VR-based interface makes it feel, in fact, like it was a game made for VR from the beginning.
I don't like horror VR games. No, not at all. (I skipped Resident Evil 7 on PSVR.) Thankfully, Resident Evil 4's best features are more about mood, ambiance and storytelling than pure freak-out twitch horror. I'm thankful for that. What's also weird and interesting is how it made me realize I've grown really comfortable with how most VR games are designed. Much like Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge, or lots of other first-person VR games, weapons and tools are laid across your body in easy reach, in holsters and over-the-shoulder packs, or via a watch I can glance at to see health and ammo. Reaching for a gun or knife and pulling bullets to reload not only makes the experience feel more real, but I also felt I had more control over my circumstances. It was comforting, oddly.
The graphics in Resident Evil 4 look really sharp although at times dated. It's hard to describe: Yes, it feels like an older game and yet, for VR (especially on Oculus Quest 2), this looks a lot better than most games do. It still stands strong, even if you've never played other Resident Evil games. The creepy village setting, with its various rooms to explore and boxes to break for treasure, feels naturally adapted to VR. Credit to how the Quest 2 handles the game's performance, too: I found it easy to sink in and feel immersed, while action is quick and responsive.
Where I felt some disconnect, though, was the game's menus and cinematic scenes. On a game console played on a TV, these would feel like a natural part of the game flow. Here, they pull into a weird cinema-style presentation where the clips are played in 2D. It pulls me out of the game, makes me feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience. These moments happen a lot, too many times in fact. Maybe I've been spoiled by how Half-Life: Alyx or Galaxy's Edge manage to keep everything moving fully in the VR frame without that disconnect. Then again, this is the challenge of porting console games to VR.
But the real takeaway: Resident Evil 4 really, really works in VR and it runs surprisingly well on the Quest 2. If you have a Quest 2 and don't mind horror, it's probably well worth the download (over 7GB, by the way, in case you're curious). It may be one of the best console ports I've ever seen for a standalone VR headset.