Resident Evil Village is one of the best looking games on PS5 to date, and its forthcoming VR version will be one of the best looking games in VR to date. During a hands-on with RE8 on PSVR 2 I found myself entranced by the game’s world which offers up unprecedented levels of detail among VR titles.

Earlier this month I visited Sony’s PlayStation headquarters in San Mateo, CA to see PlayStation VR 2 in person for the first time. Among the four demos I got to play was Resident Evil Village which is being fully ported to the headset.

Check Out Our PSVR 2 Hands-on Coverage:

When talking about the best graphics in VR I’d argue the top title is certainly Half-Life: Alyx. And while Alyx is packed full of detail, much of the game’s scenery is dilapidated buildings & debris or brutalist sci-fi architecture—not exactly the prettiest stuff to look at.

Resident Evil Village, on the other hand, offers up more lively (if sometimes gross and creepy) and terrestrial scenery. Sure, you’ll crawl through dingy tunnels and abandoned basements—and don’t forget the varying monstrosities you’ll face throughout—but you’ll also come across lavishly detailed interiors and excellently animated characters.

In my time with the game on PSVR 2 I was dropped into the castle of Lady Dimitrescu, an imposing vampire matriarch in concert with three evil daughters.

Even in the non-VR version of the game, the lavish interior of the castle is a sight to behold. In VR it’s a genuine feast for the eyes; the interior is packed with a density of detail that is simply unprecedented in VR.

The space is oozing with ornate wooden furniture, extravagant chandeliers, truly beautiful interior architecture, and an array of surprisingly competent artwork hung on the walls of the castle.

In the non-VR version of the game it’s all quite beautiful but most players aren’t going to stop to really breathe it in. In VR, I felt like I couldn’t stop but soak up the tiny details in the environment, even when they have nothing to do with actually advancing the game. Frankly, the space is so richly detailed and interesting to look at that if you removed all the ‘game’ parts of the experience to just let people explore the castle, it would easily stand on its own as an excellent museum-type VR experience.

Photo by Road to VR

Case-in-point: I was wandering down a hallway and stopped to look at a small picture frame on a side-table. In it was a painting of a crow silhouetted by a full Moon. I must have sat there and stared at the painting for at least a minute—easily able to lean in with the headset to see it up close—and it actually felt like I was sitting there appreciating a piece of artwork the same way I would at a gallery. In fact, I found myself impressed with all of the artwork on the walls of the castle. Not only were they seemingly all unique, they were also all genuinely good pieces of artwork.

Beyond the richness of the environmental detail, the game’s lighting is another reason why everything was so visually engrossing. There’s detailed little highlights across all the glossy furnishings that helps sell their shape and materials.

The dark interiors were definitely aided by the expanded contrast range thanks to PSVR 2’s OLED display. And while there aren’t many places where I’ve felt like the headset is truly ‘HDR’ (as Sony claims) I will say that looking into a fireplace did have a more significant sense of brightness to it, and so did looking at a window with its lace drapes awash with sunlight.

Thanks to the high detail of the lace and bright lighting, the drapes felt especially ‘real’ in a way that definitely made me stop and stare at a window that had no relevance to the gameplay whatsoever. I take it the headset’s ‘HDR’ effect works best with white light—which was the primary component of the fire and the sunlit drapes—because all of the sub-pixels are illuminated to make white (which means each pixel is putting out its maximum brightness).

Photo by Road to VR

And I haven’t even talked about the characters…

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  • NotMikeD

    It’s so good to hear that Capcom didn’t go for a half-measure like blacking out all of the cutscene motion like they did with the PSVR implementation of RE7. Even with that immersion-breaking distraction in place, that was still an unforgettable VR horror experience, but I’m commending Capcom here for not watering things down and instead allowing for the full RE8 experience in VR. It’s true this may make a few people queasy at first, but I think it’s going to positively blow exponentially more minds.

  • Ookami

    I’d be curious to see a detailed comparison of the PSVR2 version and the mod by Preydog.

    • NL_VR

      It will be a big difference that many button commands are gone and the weapon mechanics will be quite different

      • Ookami

        I’d imagine so. The official version will likely have more polish.

  • Bob

    Just a quick question Ben; based on your experience with the headset would you argue that the display is as sharp as the HP Reverb G2 but with the enhanced contrast due to the OLED panel?

  • Ad

    Can you hold the guns with two hands? It’s good to hear that they force you along with the cut scenes, that should be more common when a game is supposed to be disorienting.

    • NL_VR

      Yes you can hold with two hands and you can hold 1 weapon in each hand.

      • Brian Elliott Tate

        I believe Ian said that the pistol couldn’t be held by two hands or something. I might be remembering that wrong though.

        • NL_VR

          i think that is correct considering the pistol. but 2 handed weapons like shotguns etc you hold with 2 hands :)

      • Ad

        Two hands is good. I’m not a fan of holding two weapons with one hand each. It’s not just realistic, it doesn’t work in VR either because you can’t really aim them both, which often means enemies have to be slower and less dynamic to compensate.

  • Sean Lumly

    I’m glad that the scornful outlook surrounding hybrid games is finally being put to pasture. Yes, they can work well, and yes, we should have more of them.

    • Luckily the modding community is helping. See what they did with Half Life 2

      • ViRGiN

        worst possible example ever.
        half life 2 used to be native vr, then valve deleted everything.

        i bet the next big pcvr thing is going to be team fotress 2, a game which was again a native vr title 10 years ago

        • Brian Elliott Tate

          They didn’t delete everything. It’s still there, but it’s just so bad, that we scrapped it all when we made the VR port. It did a decent job at basic 6DOF 3D for parts of it, but once you got to the vehicles, most people would vomit with the way it worked. Still cool that they had it, but it was very much an experiment for the DK1 at the time and not something you’d want to play today.

          • ViRGiN

            doesn’t mater; used to have native support; for years unplayable at all (and i don’t count those hacks/glitches enabling vr side-by-side). this shouldn’t have to be done by the modding team – this should come out from valve directly, years and years ago. there is no excuse.

            i bought hl2 on steam to play it in vr. then it was taken away from me. never ever any purchases on steam, never ever any vr from valve – fortunatetly they already gave up years ago, and now it’s all up to meta, frankly always has been.

          • Brian Elliott Tate

            They actually didn’t take it away, like I said, it’s still in the current version. It’s using the old method when the DK1 and Vive didn’t have a compositor and used a virtual “second screen.” There’s still ways now if you emulate that second “VR Screen”, you can still use it (it’ll magically appear in the menu if you just have that old driver). So nothing on Valve’s end was changed or removed, it was just VR headsets progressing to a better standard, the VR compositor.

            I don’t disagree that it would be nice if Valve did update all their games officially for modern headsets though!

      • Ookami

        Judging from the dislike, ViRGiN is sore he can’t play HL2 VR

        • Jonathan Winters III

          or maybe he’s sore, all the time, because he’s a forever virgin.

    • Tommy

      Agreed. Just this week, the new VR Injector mod from Preydog has Poopys Playtime, Minecraft Dungeons, Saints Row 1&3, Stray, and Jedi Fallen Order working in VR and with full motion control support!

    • Alexander Sears

      While I wholeheartedly agree that hybrid games can indeed work well, and without fully understanding the potential hybrid PC/PCVR/Console games had to exist back in 2016 and onward, I will say that it seems like game developers have a lot of plausible deniability in waiting to develop for a new technology that few computers could take full advantage of. Given the rise in popularity of the Quest 2, which more or less should be seen as a boon to PCVR users given the number of users it has added to the Steam VR user charts, users who presumably would not have found their way into PCVR sooner, we should almost certainly start to see more companies take advantage of the demand in consumer oriented VR.

  • Max-Dmg

    Will this require a VR headset?

    • NL_VR

      Not to play Re village no.
      But to play it in VR yes of course

      • Max-Dmg

        Isn’t it a bit racialist that you need a VR headset to play the VR version?

    • Nevets

      Great question!

    • 3872Orcs

      This game is a VR port from the regular game on PS5.

  • Tommy

    My question is this – What is the difference between the Praydog mod and Sony’s mod? Are there any advantages to one or the other?

    • NL_VR

      Yes there is difference.
      Praydog is a (verry well made) mid to a flatscreen game. So there is limitations, like weapon always glued to you right hand etc.
      Re8 VR your weapon will be an actual object which you can pick up and use with which hand you want etc.

  • 3872Orcs

    Was there reprojection in this? And how often does the reprojection kick in? If reprojection is common in PSVR2 games that will be a huge disappointment to me (UploadVR mentioned that it was visible in their PSVR2 demo), I would have thought foveated rendering would make reprojection unnecessary to keep a stable framerate.

    • Bob

      Games are expected to target 45fps or 60fps with the remaining frames “reprojected” to a 90/120Hz cap.

      • 3872Orcs

        Well crap, that is disappointing. Thanks for the info though.

      • NL_VR

        No it can run 90 and 120 native also

  • Sofian

    because all of the sub-pixels are illuminated to make white (which means each pixel is putting out its maximum brightness).

    True for SDR but not for HDR.

    • Ben Lang

      I don’t mean all of the sub-pixels on the display, I mean all of the sub-pixels that make up the white part of the scene.

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    Specific to the VR version of Resident Evil Village on PSVR 2, the game is using the headset’s dynamic foveated rendering feature (which uses eye-tracking to render in high quality only where you’re looking), ostensibly to keep image quality high even with the game’s generous helping of geometric and lighting detail.

    Dynamic foveated rendering based on eye tracking is only one part of what you need for such highly detailed environments. Foveated rendering allows to use higher resolution textures and models at the center of the current view, because less rendering power is wasted in the peripheral view. But getting the required large assets to the GPU in time isn’t trivial, when changing your view by turning can require a complete different set of huge assets in literally the blink of an eye. Ultra graphics on pancake games are limited by the amount and speed of onboard memory available to the GPU, simply because it takes some time to replace the existing content, a problem exacerbated in VR when you could get close enough to a painting to see brush strokes.

    So the other part of the insane level of details equation is the equally insane memory subsystem of the PS5, which a very fast SSD supported by inline texture decompression and other accelerators, meaning it can load 8-9GB/sec on average and up to 21GB/sec for highly compressible content. And in contrast to a current PC, where the content first has to be copied from SSD to DDR4/DDR5 RAM, and then from there onto the GPU, on PS5 the very fast GDDR6 memory is shared between CPU and GPU, so anything loaded from SSD is immediately available for rendering. The combination of the incredible fast data pipe towards the GPU and eye tracking reducing the GPU load is what allows showing this high level of details without the user permanently noticing artifacts from still loading assets during movement.

    Future PCVR games could use the Xbox DirectStorage API that Microsoft first ported to Win11 and then back-ported to Win 10, also allowing faster direct SSD-to-GPU transfers, but it will be some time before other platforms will be able to offer a similar level of fidelity.

    • Bob

      I’m certainly curious to know the specifics of Sony’s approach to dynamic “foveated” rendering. Are they reducing the resolution outside of the user’s gaze, or did they manage to implement one of the techniques highlighted in a past patent (reducing mesh complexity and number of triangles rendered outside of the focus of the fovea). The latter definitely sounds a lot more plausible but it could even be a combination of both?

      • Brian Elliott Tate

        Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m most curious about too. Because if it’s similar to VRSS (even eye tracked VRSS), there’s plenty of PCVR games to test that with and it’s not close to super substantial performance gains (though we’ll take any we can get)

    • Arno van Wingerde

      True… but I wonder whether how all of this would compare to a good PC with say a 3080, never mind a 4090. Looking at the videos, although lovely, the details do not seem high higher than a good Quest2 game, such as Red Matter 2, I suspect we have not seen the best PSVR2 can do either… VR seems to stand to improve in 2023!

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        You can of course configure a PC with a fast GPU and some fast NVMe SSD in a RAID 0 configuration to top almost every aspect of the PS5 besides RAM speed. But that wouldn’t allow you to experience the same level of detail, if it isn’t achievable on a more average PCVR setup and the developers therefore don’t even include the option. If RE8 relies on the extremely high bandwidth for the best detail level, and even including an SSD in the minimal PC requirements doesn’t cut it due to lots of existing SSDs using SATA or not providing enough bandwidth, then they will simply not include that max level of details on PC, as it would come with a significantly larger install size for anybody. That has always been the problem of PCVR: you can throw as much money as you want at it, but that doesn’t improve the graphics if developers mostly target Quest and provide only slightly improved ports for PCVR. VR games rarely utilize the performance of high end rigs, usually these only get higher resolutions, framerates and more supersampling, because nobody invests lots of resources into features only a tiny minority can use.

        And the comparison to Quest 2 seems rather forced: yes, with Red Matter 2 there is now one Quest game with very realistic lighting, but this is due excellent level design, where pretty much everything is confined into small spaces. Highly detailed models are only found in tight spaces, the larger the room gets, the larger/courser the single models become, all to keep the total number of polygons low with mostly baked lights and no dynamic shadows. Basically they managed to remove all the computational heavy parts the PSVR 2/PS5 renders in real time, but directed the player’s focus in a way that the occasional high detailed models give the feeling of very detailed world. Kudos to them as brilliant game developers, but comparing the level of detail on Red Matter 2 to that in RE8 mostly means that their clever diversions have worked, not that the render performance of PS5 and Quest 2 is in any way close. Even without using dynamic foveated rendering, the PS5 GPU is twelve times faster while driving just 1.16 times the number of pixels on Quest 2, and it can handle lots of dynamic lights doing that.

        What makes PS5/PSVR 2 special it that is comes with a well balanced and very high performance baseline even in the minimal configuration, so every single title can be designed for that high level, allowing developers to throw tons of geometry, materials and lighting at it. And thanks to the also always present eye tracking and dynamic foveated rendering, previously unachievable levels of detail become easy to do. On PC and Quest developers have to invest a lot of time to deal with the cases where the raw performance isn’t sufficient, and have to e.g. rearrange levels to ensure that there will never be too many objects visible. The “it just works” improvements on PSVR 2 will allow similar jumps in quality as Unreal 5 Nanite and Lumen will enable in future titles, and to get them to other platforms too, these platforms will have to reach at least somewhat feature parity across a large number of installed systems.

  • Brian Elliott Tate

    I’d be really curious to see this compared to Praydog’s mod from someone who has played it on a better headset (Reverb G2, etc.). Ian from Eurogamer only had a Rift S when he played the mod, so the better headset really made the experience shine on PS VR2.

    It looks like feature-wise, the breakable objects, a few of the objects you can interact with and manual reloading are the main improvements from the official release. Curious if someone who has played both (the mod on a really good system) noticed any other things it was doing.

  • Setebos

    When you’re describing how you “really breathed in” all the little details and walked around checking out everything that is exactly how I felt when I played the game in non-VR. So to me this statement doesn’t make sense. It’s mighty impressive, VR or not.

  • Tailgun

    Now if we can just get a PCVR version of this with some of the more.. colorful mods of Lady D and her daughters this would be a bargain at twice the price! https://media3.giphy.com/media/AsKkJB6JbFGiQ/giphy.gif

    • Tommy

      What a perv!
      I also want the same. ;)

  • ApocalypseShadow

    The point of this hands on is that PS VR 2 is going to be a tour de force in high quality detail. Hybrids or originals. And this is only a launch or near launch game. Over a wire baby. Over a wire. The total package. SSD, Tempest Audio, eye tracking, Haptics, power, etc.

    There’s more coming. More coming.

    And over on upload, it says lumen and nanite are now working in UE5. So very capable developers have another tool to make high end games look great across PS VR 2 and PC. Going to be crazy with high end, high quality VR making a comeback. And not held hostage to mobile.

  • Haha… tell me something I DON’T know from playing this in VR on the PC already! Truly one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in VR. Resi 2,3, 7 and 8 are AMAZING. :)