The Resident Evil 4 remake is probably my favorite game released in 2023. Heck, it’s certainly the one I’ve played the most. It took me seven actual playthroughs to unlock its Platinum Trophy on PS5. A truly terrifying experience, indeed. But you know what looks a whole lot scarier than my obsession with virtual achievements? Resi 4 in VR.
Capcom revealed there would be a virtual reality mode for PSVR 2 zombie lovers before the game launched. It was a welcome (if hardly monocle-dropping) reveal, seeing as Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 7 had both been treated to excellent VR updates in the past.
Now, RE4’s VR mode is almost upon us, with the free expansion releasing tomorrow on PS5 — Capcom is also generously dropping a demo on the same day. And seeing as this is a project that’s been worked on ever since Leon’s undead-slaying adventure went gold early in the year, it’s clearly no half-assed addition to what’s already a sensational remake.
Speaking to the official PlayStation Blog, Capcom’s Masato Kumazawa and Keisuke Yamakawa (the director and producer behind this project), have revealed exciting new gameplay elements for the VR mode that differ from the main game. And honestly? They sound freakin’ terrifying.
Take the fight against Krauser. In the normal campaign, it’s already a scary scrap, as Mr. Kennedy’s ex-military commander stalks him relentlessly through claustrophobic ramparts; the two doing their level best to slice each other to shreds in tense knife battles.
Knife to meet you
In VR, though, this encounter sounds even more intense, as you can battle Krauser with a duo of blades this time out. “You’re able to use both hands at the same time,” reveals Yamakawa. “This opened up new possibilities for us, and we made sure to incorporate mechanics and actions that leveraged this ability throughout the game as much as possible."
The fact Leon is a grizzled governed agent also made the team at Capcom decide to pivot away from some of the design decisions they’d made in Village’s VR mode. In that game, Ethan Winters is just an Average Joe, desperately doing his best not to become lunch for Lycans as players raise their arms in a frenzy to block attacks.
Seeing as Kennedy is a natural badass with guns, though, Capcom was keen to make firearms feel both more realistic and comfortable to use.
“You can hold or use guns in ways that weren’t possible in RE Village,” says Yamakawa. “Even if it wasn’t directly related to gameplay, we wanted to make the handling of guns feel as realistic as possible.”
Sun's out, guns out
Example? Unlike Village where if Ethan let go of a weapon it would just haphazardly drop to the ground, in RE4’s VR mode, Leon can place guns directly back into his inventory slot with the right physical movements from players.
In another cool addition, your knife — which would deteriorate at an alarming rate when blocking attacks in the non-VR campaign — now regains some of its durability if you manually sheath it back into Leon’s holster. Must. Not. Use. Arnie. “Stick around”. Pun. Damn it.
Another VR tweak is the ability to shoot while crouching. Though that thought makes my increasingly shoddy knees wince if the game physically forces you to bend down to crouch.
Later in the interview the two Capcom employees also big up just how impactful, well… certainly enemies coming across as appearing far bigger in VR mode actually is.
Kumazawa predictably references the iconic El Gigante boss battle here, and he admits Capcom has deliberately given players the option of enabling a third-person viewpoint for certain segments (like when the giant mutated troll grabs you during the fight), to help reduce dizziness while playing in VR.
The new mode also takes advantage of PS5’s unique audio options. “We put a lot of effort into 3D audio,” admits Yamakawa. “So you’ll be able to detect enemy positions from the sounds they make, and you can hear the gun clicking right in the palm of your hands when you’re tinkering with it." RE4 in VR sounds like the perfect opportunity for Sony’s Pulse 3D Wireless Headset to shine.
It’s clear a ton of effort has gone into porting over the full Resident Evil 4 remake experience into virtual reality. PSVR 2 is a great device, but its software library needs all the must-play games it can get at the moment. Luckily for the headset, this hugely generous add-on looks like just the killer app Sony’s VR headset needs.
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Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.