Resident Evil 4 VR succeeds in making a 16-year-old gaming experience feel completely brand new and delivers Oculus Quest 2 its first killer app.
Resident Evil 4 is one of the most critically-acclaimed games ever made, and so it’s no surprise that Capcom has worked to bring RE4 to as many platforms as possible. Since the original GameCube release, Resident Evil 4 has made its way to PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo Wii, with an HD version released for modern consoles. While it’s readily available on virtually any modern gaming platform one could think of, Capcom has decided to port Resident Evil 4 yet again, this time in the form of Resident Evil 4 VR on the Oculus Quest 2 headset.
Since Resident Evil 4 has been re-released numerous times over the years, one would think that Capcom had already squeezed everything it could out of it, but Resident Evil 4 VR genuinely feels like a brand new experience. Resident Evil 4 VR drops the third-person, over-the-shoulder camera that was so innovative and influential at the time of RE4‘s original release in favor of a first-person viewpoint, and that alone fundamentally changes the entire game.
Resident Evil 4 hero Leon S. Kennedy being able to freely aim at any enemy body part was a revelation in 2005, but giving players complete freedom of movement takes things to the next level. Resident Evil 4 VR is significantly more action-packed and intense than the console versions of the game, as players are able to move around their environment much faster, aim more accurately, and swap between weapons at a quicker rate.
Weapon swapping and actually using the weapons is far more involved in Resident Evil 4 VR. Instead of fumbling around in menus to reload weapons, Resident Evil 4 VR players have to manually reload their guns. For pistols, this includes taking a clip out of Leon’s ammo pouch, pushing it into the gun, and pulling back the slider. For shotguns, players have to add shells one at a time, and physically pump the weapons after firing a shot.
This level of interactivity extends to all of the weapons Leon has at his disposal, and it helps make the game more fun and immersive. To use grenades, Resident Evil 4 players have to pull the pinout of them and then throw them at the enemies. Using the knife requires players to grip the blade and then swing at whatever they’re trying to break or kill. As a result, Resident Evil 4 makes all of Leon’s basic actions become more entertaining.
What’s more, the game doesn’t bog players down with tutorials to explain how everything works. A common problem in virtual reality games is that they like to over-explain all the mechanics, and while Resident Evil 4 VR has optional tutorials, they aren’t necessary. All of Leon’s actions in the game make sense logically, so anyone should be able to strap on a VR headset and figure out how everything works without much trial and error.
Oculus Touch controls are used in other aspects of Resident Evil 4 VR as well. Motion controls are used for Resident Evil 4‘s quick-time events, and they’re also used when solving puzzles in the game. Players can use motion controls to open doors, type their names on the savepoint typewriters, pull bear traps apart, and much more. Along with the first-person viewpoint, the new motion controls in Resident Evil 4 VR are a big reason why the game still feels like a fresh experience, even though its core is 16 years old.
While Resident Evil 4 VR plays differently than any other version of the game that’s come before, it retains the same layout, story beats, and important moments from the original. However, these moments are enhanced in the switch to virtual reality. For example, Resident Evil 4‘s famous village scene from the beginning of the game, where players are tormented by a horde of armed villagers and the terrifying chainsaw man, is not only more action-packed in VR, but it’s also scarier.
The Oculus Quest 2 VR headset has directional audio that will leave players feeling a cold sense of dread whenever they hear a Las Plagas-infected enemy shouting out their location or when they hear a chainsaw rev to life. Moments like Resident Evil 4‘s lake monster jumping out of the water and eating Leon are more effective than they ever were before. So not only does VR enhance Resident Evil 4‘s gameplay, but it also breathes new life into all other aspects of the game.
Resident Evil 4 VR is tremendous from a gameplay standpoint, but content-wise, there’s no denying that it lags behind its predecessors. Unfortunately, Resident Evil 4 VR is missing content, including the popular Mercenaries mode as well as the Ada Wong side missions. The lack of Mercenaries in Resident Evil 4 VR is especially disappointing, as the mode would’ve allowed fans to immediately jump into some fun enemy encounters without having to go back through the story.
Some fans may also take issue with Resident Evil 4 VR‘s cut dialogue, though it’s hardly missed. Resident Evil 4 VR doesn’t do anything special with cut-scenes, instead pulling players out of the game world and having them watch a large screen like they’re sitting in a movie theater.
Resident Evil 4 VR‘s Oculus Quest 2 exclusivity means that it has an incredibly limited audience right out of the gate, and it’s hard to recommend someone buy a brand new VR headset to play this one game. However, hardcore Resident Evil 4 fans may want to consider biting the bullet and doing that anyway, as VR completely reinvigorates the game and succeeds in making a 16-year-old experience feel new.