Resident Evil 4 on the Oculus Quest 2: Immerse Yourself in Horror


In game photo by Victoria Tillinghast

By Victoria Tillinghast, News Editor

Originally published November 1, 2021.


Resident Evil 4 (RE4) was released on Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 VR headset on Oct. 21, probably to the chagrin of all parties involved given the horrendous PR month Facebook (excuse me, Meta) has had. Despite my personal qualms with Facebook as a company, I’ll freely admit that this game is the reason I own an Oculus headset. In fact, purchasing and downloading RE4 was the pinnacle of my Oculus’ use since its purchase back in June.


RE4 was originally released in 2005 for the Nintendo Gamecube, and later ported to multiple platforms. Despite the name, RE4 is the sixth installment in Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise and is often described as a classic survival horror, (up until now) third-person shooter.


While not the first Resident Evil to be introduced to virtual reality, Resident Evil 7 (RE7) was released earlier this year exclusively to Play Station VR, amplifying what is arguably the tensest and horrifying Resident Evil installation. RE4 on VR was highly anticipated amongst fans, as the game ranked high in nostalgia value for lifelong fans.


Fans had their feathers ruffled earlier in the month over censored content in the re-release VR version of RE4. Aside from touched-up textures and VR formatted controls, a few lines of dialogue have been cut from the game. These lines were mostly flirtatious or sexually charged in nature, involving protagonist Leon Kennedy and other female characters such as Hunnigan and Ashley Graham. According to Game Rant, Facebook supposedly made these changes to appeal to the wider, more female-based audience that the Resident Evil games now draw.


These changes were explicitly frowned upon by fans, who have learned to love and look forward to the awkward cheesy one-liners that most Resident Evil protagonists are known for. As a female gamer myself who bought Village on release day because Lady Dimitrescu unleashed a sexual awakening in me for tall women who want to harm me—I don’t think I would’ve minded or noticed a little casual flirtatious dialogue. But, nonetheless, I digress.


In game photo by Victoria Tillinghast

See, I either have the added advantage, or disadvantage, of not being a long-time die-hard. My history with video games is convoluted, as I was one of the poor unfortunate souls who had to log an hour of “educational gaming” for every hour of non-educational games I played on my first console. My parents were also very strict about violence, so shooters were a no-no. My mother famously opposed Pokémon because she was worried that it would desensitize me to animal abuse. That being said, while my own logged play time is far and few, much of my love for gaming comes from a history of participating as an on-looker. While my own folks debated whether Spyro would lead me straight to satanism, others in my social circle were free to explore this entertainment genre more freely—and I was happy to watch and occasionally fill in as player two where applicable.


Likewise, when the pandemic hit, and new content came to a screeching halt, I became an avid viewer of let’s plays. So, while I’ve watched and enjoyed all the Resident Evil games, RE4 is only my second-played experience after Village.


And while Lady Dimitrescu served as a sexual awakening, playing Leon Kennedy helped me fall in love with the genre even more—and the VR experience.

In game photo by Victoria Tillinghast

My first concern was with motion sickness, as I confess some first-person shooters on console put me over the edge. RE4 VR comes with a multitude of comfort adjustments, as well as immersion options. While I brazenly tried free form movement for five minutes, it proved to be too much. However, the transportation movement setting allowed me to play for hours on end with no issue.


More so, the immersion options for weapon selection made combat a blast. I found that sitting in a spinning office chair would be the best option, as turning in-game bothered me very little. Grabbing at my hip for my revolver, or over my shoulder for my shotgun—which required pump-action in between rounds, as well as manual reloading—offered an edge-of-my-seat experience that was both thrilling and well thought out. I should also mention, to my pleasant surprise, that for the first time in my life this game offered left-handed options that made the gameplay better for me—not confusing. It turns out when a left-handed person has controls formatted for them that work, that first-person shooters are much, much easier and enjoyable.


Being in a highly immersed VR environment with the classic 2005 touched-up textures overloads the senses with a childlike sense of nostalgia. It doesn’t look perfect and the bushes are awfully flat, but when a game’s load screen gives you a reason to pause and look around, you know that it is the experience you only dreamed of as a kid.


More so, from this experience, I’d argue that all Resident Evil games are a perfect fit for the VR environment, not just RE4 and RE7. While the Ganados are slower moving than the Lycans in Village, I can see all the games eventually being welcomed and enjoyed in the VR format. Mob ambushes are doable and fun even with transportation movement in VR, and with the solid circle strategy most Resident Evil bosses require, the boss fights could be as well.

In game photo by Victoria Tillinghast

While not every encounter was a thrill, the Del Lago fight felt a little forced with comfort movement settings—I was surprised how not scary it was. Maybe I’m desensitized like my parents feared but other than slicing into a few crates and finding a snake, I had very few jump scares. That being said, if we ever see Village or other Resident Evil games in VR, I’m sure that there will be situations in which I am, at the very least, deeply uncomfortable.


To anger die-hard Resident Evil fans even further, I also didn’t mind Ashley as a companion. I mean, she isn’t Elizabeth from Bioshock 3, and I was disheartened when she immediately walked into a bear trap unprompted shortly after I initially rescued her, but she isn’t terrible (though she is loud.) That being said, it’s fun leaving the president’s daughter in a dumpster while you take care of business.


Finally, to echo the voice of the majority, I feel like the Resident Evil games have high replayability value. You can continually challenge yourself, unlocking difficulty levels with each playthrough. Equally, there is a multitude of weapons and strategies to employ in the games. There is even knife-only combat for the more brazen, which does feel slightly overpowered in RE4 VR, especially with Leon’s finishing moves. If it wasn’t for the Oculus 2 headsets’ tragically short charge life of two hours, I could easily see myself settling in for a daylong VR experience on a rainy Saturday time and time again.