Resident Evil 4 VR IS A PORT OF THE CLASSIC 2005 GAME THAT STILL HOLDS UP TO THIS DAY. HERE’S OUR REVIEW OF THE SPECTACULAR VR EXPERIENCE.
Updated July 2022
Truly a classic
Resident Evil 4 is undoubtedly one of the best from the series. So when it was announced that the GameCube classic was making its way to VR, fans of the series rejoiced. The game wasn’t just getting a simple cookie-cutter port either. Developers Armature Studio brought RE4 to VR wonderfully. It feels fresh, and the level of detail brought to the VR version gives the game an opportunity to shine in a whole new light.
I originally played the GameCube version back in 2005 with a friend. We were young, and although the game isn’t filled with as many jump scares as some horror games are today, it still required me to bring a friend along for moral support. Playing RE4 in VR brought back so many great memories, and I’m happy to say that playing it in VR was not only a nostalgic way to revisit the game, it was a whole new way to experience this classic masterpiece.
Story (Spoiler Free)
If you’ve never played RE4, you play as Leon Kennedy, who is now a federal agent, six years after the events in Racoon city. Leon originally debut in Resident Evil 2 as one of the two playable characters. In RE2, Leon was a rookie police officer that arrived in Racoon City just in time for the T-Virus outbreak — which obviously turned people into zombies. In Resident Evil 4, the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, gets kidnapped by the sinister cult Los Iluminados. Leon travels to Spain in order to rescue her and discovers a plot that threatens humanity along the way. Although the game references events in other entries of the series, you don’t really need to know what’s going on. It’s a great entry point and the plot is exclusive to the game itself.
After arriving, things quickly ramp up as Leon encounters villagers that don’t seem quite right. They’re also hell-bent on ending his life, which is a pretty good indicator that something is afoot — not to mention they don’t die easily.
The story isn’t too complex but I think it adds to the charm. You don’t need to overthink it too much and as the game progresses everything gets explained quickly. Leon’s ultimate goal, however, remains the same… get Ashley home safe.
If you’ve played the original RE4, you’re in for a treat. Although the game’s core mechanics remain the same, the game is completely reimagined for VR. Guns require you to manually reload and aim, your health is displayed on a wristwatch, and items like herbs, treasure, and ammo are interactable with your hands. The inventory and menu felt great and required no explanation, everything felt very natural and the tutorial provided a quick summary of everything you need to know.
Playing the game in first-person perspective is quite marvelous. You get a real sense of scale in the environment and the action feels better than ever before. Weapons feel great and manually reloading adds an element of pressure in the heat of battle. After playing RE4VR, it’s hard to imagine playing the game on a flatscreen ever again. I can’t remember the last time I was this immersed playing a VR game.
RE4 isn’t an incredibly scary game, but I’m going to be straight with you here, it’s much scarier in VR, that’s for sure. The ambiance is amazing and the action gets up close and personal pretty frequently. There’s a real sense of panic when hoards of villagers are surrounding you and your back is against a wall. The boss battles are equally as intense in VR. Bosses like Verdugo charge at you quickly and the experience was, well, freaky. I could feel myself tense up more than I ever did playing the game on a flat-screen. That being said, RE4 doesn’t go out of its way to scare you for the sheer purpose of doing so. It’s just so immersive, you find yourself reacting to things more naturally, which felt great.
Now that’s not to say that everything translated to VR well, and I think Armature Studio missed some opportunities here. For example, certain actions like kicking a zombie away or moving furniture to block a window put you in a third-person perspective. You can’t climb a ladder which immediately felt wrong in VR. Instead, with the press of a button, you teleport to the top. At first, I found it a bit jarring. I navigated the menu instinctively to see if this was a comfort setting and if there was a way to turn some of these features into a first-person mode, but there wasn’t.
Cutscenes also place you in a dark room, forcing you to watch it on a large screen in front of you. After a while, I started to actually enjoy watching the cutscenes this way though. It gives you a break from the action for a quick second and lets you settle down and just experience the story without any distractions. Quick-time events can both be in the cutscene “room” or while actually playing, and usually just required moving your controllers in one direction or shaking them furiously, which admittedly felt a little silly at times.
Overall, the gameplay is fantastic and where Resident Evil 4 VR lacks some typical VR features, it more than makes up for it with everything it does well. It’s intuitive, fluid, and feels like RE4 was meant to be played this way.
Graphics & Performance
When I first booted up Resident Evil 4 VR and got to the main menu after the One Time Headset Optimization — that definitely wasn’t just “one time” — I just stood there looking around for a while. It looked so clear and noticeably better than other Quest 2 games. That’s because RE4VR renders at a sharp resolution of 1728 x 1904 per eye. It looks great, and trust me when I say even the trailers don’t do it justice. The lighting was impressive for being on the Quest 2 and there were often particles floating around in the air. I was very impressed how they manage to make it look so good, akin to a PCVR game. Salazar Castle particularly stood out to me, I often found myself just looking at art on the walls or taking in the grand halls.
What’s equally, if not more impressive, is just how flawlessly the game performed. I can’t remember a single time the frame rate dropped. Resident Evil 4 VR only runs at 72hz but I never felt like it wasn’t enough, even though I’m fairly sensitive to refresh rate in VR. I never encountered any stutter even in scenes that felt action-packed and dense in effects like explosions. Everything just worked, no questions asked.
I’m a big advocate of the importance of good audio in VR and I’m happy to report that RE4VR doesn’t disappoint. I played the game with both headphones and the Quest 2’s built-in speakers and enjoyed both, although if you really want to get lost in the game, headphones are the way to go. The spatial audio also adds a new depth to the game that previously wasn’t as impactful on a tv screen. Whenever I would approach a door, I always felt it necessary to listen for enemies on the other side. There isn’t anything that would make my heart sink more than when I would be fighting off a hoard of villagers, only to hear more coming from behind me.
The music is good for the setting and manages to set the tone appropriately. RE4 purposefully isn’t filled with music. The absence of music makes the game more eery, especially when all you can hear is the faint buzzing of the Novistador.
Controls and Movement
Resident Evil 4 VR’s controls are intuitive and simple, which fits well with the game’s pace. Reloading your weapons feels intuitive enough without becoming cumbersome in any way. You’re able to equip your pistol and a secondary larger weapon over your right shoulder. All equipable items like your knife, healing items, and grenades are readily available on your person.
Movement for the most part feels good. There are plenty of opportunities to vault through windows or jump across platforms, which moves you forward a few feet rapidly without inducing any motion sickness, but it does feel a bit stiff.
Menus were brought to VR with great detail, yet preserved the original feel of the game. You’re able to grab items from your inventory with a point and grip and navigate the menu with a pointer. It’s actually quite the step up from navigating the game’s original menu with an analog stick.
I have no complaints about either controls or movement, it felt on par with other VR titles. With the exception of certain pre-defined actions that can feel somewhat lackluster at times.
No issues here either. Resident Evil 4 VR lets you play in a multitude of different ways to fit your comfort level. I found it most natural to use smooth locomotion and snap turning. I don’t particularly like smooth turning, but that’s a personal preference. The game does offer teleport locomotion, but I highly recommend playing it with smooth if you are not bothered by it. Walking through the world of RE4 was just something else and awe-inspiring at times.
During the Meta Quest 2 Gaming Showcase, RE4VR received the beloved Mercenaries Mode as a free update which included 20 new challenges. In Mercenaries, players battle wave after wave of enemies and compete on the leaderboards. It includes Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong, Hunk, Jack Krauser, and Albert Wesker as playable characters. Progressing through this mode unlocks additional features that can be carried over to the main game such as Big Head Mode, a black-and-white Classic Horror Mode, and Golden Guns.
Mercenaries is just as great as it was back in the day, and if you’re not ready to put down RE4VR after completing the campaign, it’s a good way to add more playtime.
Store Details, Pricing, and User Reviews
Resident Evil 4 VR is solely available on the Quest 2 for $39.99USD / $45.99 CAD.
The game was released on October 21, 2021, by the developer Armature Studio. RE4VR has over 9000 user reviews on the Meta store with 88% of them being 5 stars. No surprise there.
Review Rating: An Unforgettable Experience 95/100
Resident Evil 4 VR is outstanding. Fans of the classic will love seeing the game through Leon’s eyes and newcomers alike will be blown away by the experience. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy a classic game and I hope to see more ports of this caliber come to the Quest 2 in the future.
The game shines predominantly because of the fact that Resident Evil 4 is a great game all on its own. However, playing the game in VR is probably the most immersed I’ve ever been. Armature Studio did a great job bringing the game to virtual reality. It feels like it was meant to be played this way.
Even though there are a few missed opportunities and some features that we would have liked to see implemented, the game shines in VR and sets itself apart from the rest of the Quest 2 library as a full-fledged game with a campaign that will keep you busy for 15+ hours and then some.
Without a doubt, Resident Evil 4 VR still holds the title of the best Quest 2 game on the platform.