Should You Play ‘Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’ in VR?

by David Jagneaux • January 23rd, 2017

Sitting in the audience of the Sony press conference at E3 2016 was a special moment in the VR industry for me. It was the last major event before the launch of the PlayStation VR headset and the stage featured footage and announcements for several VR games over the course of the evening. During that show is also where Sony revealed Capcom’s Resident Evil 7 for the very first time and announced that the entire game would be playable in VR.

Now the wait is finally over. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard [Review: 9/10] releases tomorrow, January 24th, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC with optional PS VR support on PS4.

If you’ve got a Rift or Vive, it won’t support those platforms at launch, but that could change sometime next year. But if you’re playing it on PS4, then VR is an option on the table immediately. While seeing it through your own eyes in a virtual reality headset is an incredibly intense way of experiencing the world of Resident Evil 7, it isn’t for everyone.

You can read our full review for the final verdict on the game as a whole, but this article aims to answer one big question: Should you play RE7 in VR?

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If You Get Motion Sick Easily, Then No

Motion sickness is, thankfully, not something I have to grapple with. I’ve played all manner of seated, standing, room-scale, motion controller, gamepad, and other types of VR games and I’ve only ever felt a bit dizzy once, which was primarily due to the fact that I was intentionally pushing myself in testing an app. During standard play, it’s never bothered me. Following E3, reports started coming out that motion sickness was a major concern for Resident Evil 7, as it affected lots of different people.

In the wake of that news, Capcom instituted several measures to try and combat those issues. While playing the game in VR, you can adjust your movement speed, you can set rotations to degree turns instead of smooth movement, and you can even toggle on and off FOV dimming, similar to the tactic seen in Eagle Flight.

However, despite all of that, if you’re sensitive to motion sickness issues, this game may still bother you. Luckily, you can reload your save file and switch between VR and non-VR at essentially any time, making it easy to swap in and out of the headset and take frequent breaks. But consider yourself warned that it may not feel great if you don’t have well-established VR legs.

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If You Love Being Scared, Then Yes

After playing the entire game in VR and replaying several bits outside of VR, I can confirm that it is absolutely more terrifying inside of Sony’s headset. The 3D spatial audio will have you checking over your shoulder at all times while the immersive 3D visuals surround you in darkness. I found myself slowly creeping forward and peeking around corners much more than I did outside of the headset.

It’s also a great way to play the game if you’ve got other people around. If they don’t care for horror games, they can watch something else on TV while you play, but if they enjoy these types of games, it’s so much more entertaining to watch someone jump inside a headset.

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If You Are Easily Frightened, Then No

A good litmus test for whether or not Resident Evil 7 in VR would be too much for you is to give Until Dawn: Rush of Blood [Review: 7/10] a try. That’s a PS VR-exclusive on-rails shooter. It’s full of action and lots of shooting with a handful of creepy moments and solid jump-scares to keep you on your toes.

If that game is too much, then you probably can’t handle Resident Evil 7 in VR. With RE7, you’ll spend more time ripping the headset off, hands shaking, than you will actually playing the game. It’s slow, deliberate pace is a far cry from the fast-paced intensity of Rush of Blood. If you’re determined though, then give our Coward’s Guide a look for some advice on how to get through the nightmare.


If You Have Trouble Aiming a Gun With a Gamepad, Then Yes

This revelation wasn’t expected on my end, but it shouldn’t have came as such a surprise. I’ve never been good at aiming in shooters while playing with a gamepad. My right thumb just doesn’t seem to possess the subtle dexterity needed to excel in those sorts of games and I’ve found that I always perform better with a mouse in my hand for that type of precision. As it turns out, my head is a capable replacement.

When playing RE7 in VR, the right thumbstick can be used to control your horizontal movement, but not vertical (this is to help avoid motion sickness). While holding down L2, an aiming icon appears on-screen and you can move it with the right analog stick. But when the headset’s on your face, you can also tweak the aiming with your actual head movement too. This lets you fine-tune your aiming and make small, but impactful adjustments to alter your aiming ever so slightly. It helped me land many more head shots than I would have otherwise.

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If You Want The Best Graphics, Then No

While Resident Evil 7 is more immersive in VR due to the simple fact that you feel like you’re part of the game world instead of just looking at it on a screen, the actual visual fidelity is a bit lower. Resolution is noticeably decreased with a minor screen door effect and some textures suffer from obvious pop-in issues. Shadows were hit-or-miss in some areas as well.

Outside of VR is a different story. Visuals were crisp and detailed with well-balanced light and shadows. It’s reminiscent of P.T., the cryptic teaser released by Hideo Kojima and Konami for the now-canceled Silent Hills. Any way you look at it though, outside of VR provides the better visual experience in terms of graphical power.


If You Want To Be Immersed, Then Yes

Despite that fact, VR still feels like a more immersive way of enjoying the same game. When you’re hiding around the corner from a big bad guy stalking you, it feels incredibly realistic to poke your head out by physically leaning over in the real world. I still get goosebumps thinking about the way this game made me feel.

When an enemy picks you up off the ground and gets in your face while you’re wearing a VR headset, it’s as if you can really feel yourself being lifted off of the ground. The creaking doors, disgusting growls, and creepy slithering sounds around you are certainly enough to shake even the hardest of gamers.

Do you plan on playing Resident Evil 7 in VR? Are you going to wait until next year to hopefully try it out on the Vive or Rift? Let us know what you think of the game in the comments below!

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