Hearing that RE7‘s demo (available now) had updated for the last time, I decided to check out the final version before the game launches in January because they’ve just added the long-promised VR mode!
You can check out the video of my playthrough below, and then please join me further down for some thoughts on the subject of VR control schemes. Specifically, how frustrating it is that developers force a strange, immersion-breaking ‘turn using your head’ system into VR games.
Whether it’s Here They Lie, Robinson’s Journey, or now with Resident Evil 7, developers cause themselves trouble by creating bizarre and jarring movement systems designed around the premise that people should always be looking at the place they’re walking towards — and they’re all awkward.
I’m not sure why they’ve gone down a route that asks players not only to to turn in 30-degree pie slices, but to constantly have to recenter themselves, or to be unable to glance to the side or backwards without running into a wall. Not only are these systems cumbersome to use, they run counter to the natural experience that VR is supposed to be providing.
How is it so difficult to understand that my controller should be in charge of my character’s body, while my head is free to look wherever I want? Developers understand this just fine in vehicle games — Battlezone on PSVR plays like a dream since I can move my tank and aim the cannon in any direction I like while glancing around to my heart’s content. The moment I’m asked to step out of a tank and move into the FPS realm, however, developers decide that I can’t be trusted to look around freely while walking straight down a hallway.
Perhaps they think that this is some sort of hedge against motion sickness, but I have to say that it’s had the opposite effect for me. The only times I’ve ever been close to queasy playing a VR game is when the game world ceases to follow the normal operations of the physical world it’s simulating. Specifically, when pressing forward on a controller suggests I should be walking in a straight line, only to have the slightest turn of my head make my course go wobbly.
This isn’t simulating how people walk, it’s the opposite, and it’s a terrible solution to a problem that didn’t exist.
Resident Evil 7 doesn’t come out for another month, and between now and then I hope that the developers see fit to offer a classic FPS-style control scheme. Move with the left stick, turn with the right stick, and give me the freedom to look and aim independent of what my body is doing. Is that really such an ask?