When Capcom dropped their P.T.-esque Resident Evil VII demo during E3 back in June this year, the public scrambled to play it. But E3 attendees had the opportunity to try something wholly different: the same experience, but in VR. There’s nothing wrong with cross-content games that have both VR and normal components, at least, when it’s done right. The problem that arose with Resident Evil VII’s VR exercise was that the developers didn’t seem to do their research at all. In fact, it made people sick, a massive faux-pas for VR. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, series veteran Jun Takeuchi even misguidedly attributed the motion sickness felt by members of the press and others as being caused by “jet lag.” But it’s not jet lag, it’s bad VR design.
Turning back to its pure horror roots
Despite a scapegoat of an excuse for the demo’s failings, Takeuchi and the rest of Capcom are working to make the VR version of Resident Evil VII a far more compelling—and less dizzying—experience. In the new and improved Resident Evil VII, player movement has been moved to a slower pace in an effort to orient the player so that VR movement will feel more natural, and not jarring to the point of motion sickness. Also, contrary to prior Resident Evil installments, Resident Evil VII is doing away with cutscenes, sticking to real-time progression for all of its narrative.
Resident Evil VII, at least from what was hinted at it with its not-actually-in-game demo, is taking a quieter approach to horror. Something minimalized, more akin to the weaponless horror hits of recent years, like Outlast (2013) and Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010). Rather than the action-oriented pace held in the series from Resident Evil 4 (2005) onwards, Resident Evil VII is turning back to its pure horror roots. As Takeuchi told Bloomberg about the series’s shift to VR, the move to the immersive platform made sense for Capcom. Plus, “player[s] screaming out in terror is the sweetest music to our ears,” he said.
These changes all make sense for the VR landscape. In fact, they’re necessary. Resident Evil may be the first major AAA property stepping into the sphere of VR, but they certainly won’t be the last. Hell, even Square Enix is making a pointless VR experience for Final Fantasy XV, so it’s already happening. Let’s just hope the next developers that take on the potentially nauseating hardware test it out a bit more first, so we have less “jet lag” excuses in the future.
Resident Evil VII releases worldwide in January 2017 for PS4, PS VR, Xbox One, and PC. Remember to bring your barf bags, just in case.