As one of the all-time greats, I’ve made a bit of a habit of replaying Resident Evil 4 almost every year, and thanks to its release on the Meta Quest 2 in 2021, I’m almost certain to pick the VR version as the preferred way to head back to face Las Plagas. Better yet, developer Armature Studios has already given me the perfect incentive to return with the brand new Mercenaries update.
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The Mercenaries was a mode that existed in the original game that was sadly missing at launch, a fantastic post-campaign arcadey shooter fest as you try to survive until the timer runs out while racking up as high a kill combo as possible. Indeed, the gunplay is so compelling that you actually want to extend your time in order to get a higher score.
The pace of this mode also transforms what had already been a transformative experience going from 2D to VR. It certainly feels like you have to perform actions much quicker, especially with reloading or switching weapons, in order to keep on top of the overwhelming Ganados coming from you from all directions.
Maybe it was because it had been some months since I last picked up the Quest so it took a while to adjust and remember where I was supposed to reach on my virtual body to pick up my equipment. Having to quickly reload or reach for another weapon led to more than a few coordination cock-ups as my hands would knock into things in the real world.
To be sure I was picking up items, which include the all-important hourglasses that increase your time, I also found myself pulling them real close, basically beating my chest each time, which happens a lot when you’ve massacred a horde of enemies that have all dropped item pick-ups. Now I’m starting to feel the pain of players who had reportedly been punching themselves in the boob.
One other major change for me was switching movement from teleporting to FPS-style free movement with the left stick, which feels like you’re just gliding along the ground, but ultimately felt better for keeping up with the frantic pace. But once I got used to it, I could just focus on lining headshots and making a dash for it when I heard the whirring of a chainsaw.
The best part of this update is that Armature didn’t just bring over Mercenaries but added 20 exclusive themed challenges that offer excellent variety, from the very beginner-friendly first mission where you’re toting a tommy gun with unlimited ammo to playing as Leon’s arch rival Krauser with just a knife (though you do get to charge up his killer special attack).
You’re also hugely encouraged to replay these to get a better score as the medals you’re awarded will unlock a bunch of extras that can be used in the campaign. A special shout-out goes out to the Big Head and Golden Gun modes, which totally channels the silly cheats of 90s classics like GoldenEye.
I already said before that Resident Evil 4 VR is an essential purchase for Quest owners, and now this free update makes that doubly so. Who knows, maybe Armature might even include Ada’s missions in a future update? I’ll buy it… at a high price!
Resident Evil 4 VR is available on Meta Quest 2.