Last weekend, Capcom unleashed the first in a series of time-limited demos for Resident Evil Village. First up, we got to see the Village demo for PS4, Pro and PlayStation 5, with the promise of a Castle demo next week on the same systems, followed by a multi-platform release for both segments the week after. We took a look at the initial demo to see how Capcom plans to scale the game across the generations, what the ray tracing looks like, and how performance stacks up. Going into this, the developer told us to expect 45fps on certain consoles and game modes - confused messaging we can clear up having gone hands-on.
So, one demo, three systems and a total of five different play variations to get through - but that proved relatively easy. The truth is, there isn't much to the Village demo. There's a small exploration segment to begin with, but we quickly segue into what is effectively a series of cutscenes linked together with the most minimal of player interactions. The demo is effective in demonstrating the power and versatility of the RE Engine, it gives us strong indications of how beautiful the final game will be but as an actual sampler for the experience, it's minimal.
Let's kick off with PlayStation 5, which renders at 4K resolution, albeit with evidence reconstruction via checkerboarding. CBR artefacts only present on foliage and hair and they're barely noticeable and the impression is of a game that looks really good on a 4K screen. Run with ray tracing off and the experience is totally locked to 60fps. Turn ray tracing on and effectively it's the same thing - albeit with some drops into the 50s. It's not the 45fps Capcom mentioned, but this may represent a worst case scenario. Really, RE Village runs with an unlocked frame-rate across all modes and all systems.
Is ray tracing worth the performance hit? We'd say no based on what we've seen so far. RT offers up low resolution reflections and a diffuse GI pass (which also replaces screen-space ambient occlusion), along with some additional smoke in the fire sequence, but there's definitely the sense that RT is a bonus add-on grafted onto what is very much a cross generation experience.
PlayStation 4 Pro? Obviously, there's no RT there, but there are modes for prioritising performance or quality. The latter mode is one to miss: Capcom suggests we'll get 30fps there, but what we're really getting is an unsatisfactory 30-40fps experience with 2160p rendering achieved by lower grade checkerboarding compared to PS5. The performance mode is the one to select - it operates at a native 1080p but locks to 60 frames per second. That leaves the base PS4: that's a true 900p but again running with an unlocked frame-rate that essentially varies between 40-60fps, mostly operating at the mid-point there. An optional 1080p30 mode with a capped frame-rate would have been a nice counterpoint there, in additional to a similarly locked 2160p30 mode for the Pro.
Ultimately, this was a nice but simple sampler for the full game and demonstrates a game that's visually more complex than its predecessor - but there's so little to do that you're left hungering for more. And that's exactly what we'll be getting next weekend, where the action moves into the castle. Beyond that, we'll certainly be interested to see how the experience shakes out on Xbox consoles and we'll report back on that when we can.