I literally gasped when the Resident Evil logo came up at Sony’s E3 press conference. A big budget horror game in VR?! My dreams came crashing down to Earth after playing it in VR, unfortunately. Right now, it’s a mess.
This isn’t a critical analysis of the demo’s content, or a musing on what it means for the future of Resident Evil. (I’ll save that for later.) Rather, this is a guttural reaction to what it’s like to play Resident Evil 7 in VR.
In short: Resident Evil 7 made me feel awful.
VR doesn’t tend to elicit a nauseating reaction from me, despite the many hours I’ve spent with games across a variety of genres on a plethora of devices, some of them years away from being ready for consumers. And Resident Evil 7 isn’t my first time with a first-person horror game, but it’s definitely the the first time I almost took off a VR headset and tapped out.
In VR, a flashlight is controlled by moving your head around, but players can independently move with a controller. This means it’s possible to move in one direction while looking in another. That’s not a shocking combo for VR—lots of games use it—but the moment I did both at the same time, the banana I had at Starbucks was saying hi in my stomach.
There were two different moments where I had to stop moving around, take a deep breath, allow my stomach to settle, and return to the game. It proved incredibly distracting from the otherwise effective horror teaser, and showed how quickly poor VR implementation can hurt immersion.
As for why this happens, it’s unclear. Digital Foundry’s analysis of the non-VR demo shows the game running at a solid 60 FPS. The problem may be that VR operates best when games are running at 90 FPS, while Sony only requires developers to hit 60 FPS in order to ship on PS VR.
100ft Robot Golf designer Dan Teasdale, whose game will also support PS VR, says it’s a little more complicated than frame rate:
I’ve asked Capcom what steps the company is taking to mitigate nausea.
Update 12:56pm : Capcom released a brief statement: “The title is still in development and is still being optimized across all aspects, including for VR. The development team’s priority with VR is ensuring that players’ comfort and ability to enjoy the game to its full potential is realized.”