I knew it was a stunt as soon as I saw it, and yet it worked perfectly on me — Lady Dimitrescu in her eight-foot VR glory, towering over me as her vampiric daughters danced nearby.
It’s the logical conclusion for Resident Evil Village’s legacy, which found fame in part because of its “very tall vampire lady,” and an amusing start to the life cycle of the PlayStation VR 2. What better way to promote your high-end VR device than to put players face-to-face with Lady D herself?
The demo was part of Capcom’s Tokyo Game Show 2022 event — the same one that was shown as part of Sony’s PSVR 2. It dwells at length on the game’s setting, which in so many ways resembles a deadly amusement park ride with its traps and slides.
But Lady Dimitrescu is the star.
She first leers down at you, taking a sip of your blood as she does, then hangs you on a pair of meat hooks for an extra disgusting VR sequence. All the while she’s basically right in your face, constantly impressing upon you that she is indeed very, very tall. Humongous, even.
It’s made extra impressive by the PSVR’s 4K OLED screens, which are among the cleanest you’ll find on any VR headset. IGN Tech Editor Bo Moore recently took a deep dive into the PSVR 2, and it’s well worth a read for anyone who wants to know the finer points of the platform’s technology. Suffice it to say that the PSVR 2 is a real accomplishment on console and Resident Evil Village looks amazing on it…
To a point.
My head popping out of Ethan’s torso had a bit of a macabre horror sensibility to it, but it also shows how far VR still has to go with ambitious action games like Resident Evil Village. Being a port, Resident Evil Village obviously has its limitations, and in any case there’s still time for more polishing. But as I uselessly flailed with my knife at a handful of undead foes, I felt as if I was in some ways still trapped in 2016 and that nothing had really changed. The same could be said for the intense motion sickness imparted by the continuous movement, which at one point forced me to take a break to recover from the wave of nausea overtaking me.
Truthfully, the PSVR 2 remains an enigma to me. There’s no doubt that it’s a massive upgrade over the original PSVR, which in hindsight feels like it was jury-rigged out of spare parts, but I’m still at a bit of a loss as to who this is for. With some projecting a $500 price point, it’s apt to be too expensive for casual players while also being a poor fit for hobbyists who value the flexibility offered by other devices. Lady Dimitrescu looming over you in 4K only takes you so far.
Resident Evil Village VR looks like a win for Capcom
Still, there’s no denying the appeal of Resident Evil Village in VR. Its predecessor was one of the best VR experiences of the previous generation, leveraging the technology to dramatically enhance its sense of horror, and Resident Evil Village is more of the same. As I walked past a series of charred corpses up to Dimitrescu Castle, the first thought that popped into my head was, “This was how Resident Evil Village was meant to be played.”
The VR experience additionally offers a host of gameplay upgrades over the original release, which should serve to refresh the experience for those who have already defeated Lady Miranda and her lords. To wit, it’s now possible to dual-wield weapons, which should lend quite a bit more utility to the humble knife (or you can just use a shotgun instead – whatever floats your boat). The haptics in the PSVR 2’s Sense controllers are put to good use when you’re, for example, prying your hands out of Lady Dimitrescu’s meat hooks or firing your pistol at an approaching Lycan. Even the headset itself can shake now.
But none of this compares to the pure excellence of the visuals, which can be found in everything from the twisting hallways of the castle to the flowing and naturalistic movement of Lady D’s vampiric daughters. Utilizing a technique called foveated rendering, it manages to retain much of the original’s visual fidelity by rendering areas in your peripheral vision in lower quality, reserving its power for what’s right in front of you. The results are suitably impressive Capcom is rarely mentioned in the same breath as other tech powerhouses, but the power and flexibility of the RE Engine never fails to impress. Add in Capcom’s consistently impressive art direction and you have some of the best-looking games on any platform.
Resident Evil Village – PSVR 2 Screenshots
Even as a game that’s well over a year old now, Resident Evil Village does what it needs to do to sell players on the capabilities of the PSVR 2. It’s also an exciting moment for Resident Evil Village fans, who get to see their favorite series return to an area in which it excels. Like many other Capcom franchises, Resident Evil has been on a real tear lately, with Resident Evil 4 Remake figuring to add to that moment when it’s released this year.
As for the PSVR 2, it’s an undeniably intriguing piece of hardware that brings all the benefits of room-scale VR to console. Where the original PSVR felt like a cobbled together tangle of cords, the PSVR 2 is sleeker and far more refined, with the PS5’s advanced haptics technology adding still more to the sense of immersion as Lady Dimitrescu lifts you up like a ragdoll. Will it be enough to make Sony’s latest entry into the VR space a success? Backward compatibility with the original PSVR certainly would have helped its chances, but we’ll just have to see.
Either way, Lady Dimitrescu finds her final form in Resident Evil Village. The PSVR 2 may not end being a win for Sony, but it certainly seems like a win for Capcom. We’ll know more when both the PSVR 2 and Resident Evil Village release in early 2023.