Why Resident Evil Still Defines VR Horror
Yesterday was the second anniversary of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard’s launch, and as most of you are probably well aware today sees the arrival of Capcom’s remaster of Resident Evil 2. This has prompted VRFocus to take a look back at one of the best virtual reality (VR) horror titles and ask why more hasn’t been done to bring this seminal series to head-mounted displays (HMD).
There are a number of videogame genres that work particularly well in VR, and near the top of that list has to be horror. Whether you’re a fan or getting the shit scared out of you or not, any VR enthusiast worth their salt will have tried at least one spine-chilling experience. From psychological thrillers to outright gore fests, VR’s unique immersive qualities ensure that the jump factor is turned up to maximum, providing heart-thumping experiences that make standard TV horror titles pale in comparison.
Consumer VR was still finding its feet in 2017, with developers experimenting with what works and doesn’t work in VR. By then Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR were all available and looking for that AAA videogame that would sell VR to the masses. One title initially revealed in 2016 with the series pedigree to do that was Capcom’s Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, splitting from its brethren with a first-person perspective.
That change highly benefited Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, not only giving long-time fans a fresh look on the far more action-oriented instalments of recent years but also lending itself very well for the purpose of VR. As we now know the launch of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard on 24th January 2017 was a success, with Capcom’s ResidentEvil.net website noting almost 10% of users worldwide had activated the PlayStation VR option within the first week. The title proved how well a series like this can work in VR, with VRFocus commenting in its review: “Resident Evil VII biohazard is a definite return to form for the Resident Evil series”…“for fans of survival horror, it is an absolute must.”
So what has happened since then? Nothing, absolutely nothing. The VR version of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard was initially touted as a PlayStation VR exclusive before it was officially confirmed to only be for 12 months. PC users got to play the normal version but after 12 months – and now 2 years later – there’s still no sign of the videogame ever coming to Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which is a shame quite frankly.
A faint glimmer of hope arose during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2018 when a leaked document mentioned not only Resident Evil 2 but a PlayStation VR ‘mode’ for the title. This was dashed the same month when Capcom producers confirmed that Resident Evil 2 would not feature any VR support, namely because of the over-the-shoulder camera perspective.
Once again, a series that could help define VR horror is shackled to standard TV and PC-monitor output. The reasoning is most likely purely financial when it comes to developing a new Resident Evil experience with VR in mind. But with Resident Evil 2 now out and what seems to be glowing reviews across the board, how about making Resident Evil 7 Biohazard more widely available Capcom? VRFocus is sure there must be enough PC-VR users who would love a go.