The Resident Evil PS5 upgrades have a secret weapon – and it's got nothing to do with Umbrella

Resident Evil movie reboot
(Image credit: Capcom)

The Resident Evil 2 remake PS5 upgrade, and its Resident Evil 3 counterpart, are the extension of an ongoing trend. As most recently illustrated by The Last of Us: Part 1 – the fully-fledged Last of Us remake PS5 players are set to welcome later this year – nostalgia in the horror genre is popular. So popular, in fact, that you might have spied me heralding the current influx of throwback scare 'em ups as the golden age of horror remakes. Which is hardly a controversial take. Resident Evil 4 is being remade from the ground up. As is Dead Space, Layers of Fear, and System Shock. There's even rumors of Silent Hill 2 being redone some 21 years since its first arrival. And, of course, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 have already been brought in line with modern standards over the last few years. 

Better still, the RE2 and RE3 remakes of 2019 and 2020 have now been given a further makeover, with scaled-up versions now available on PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles. Free-of-charge for existing owners, the games now feature 4K resolution, ray tracing, higher frame rates, and 3D audio. If you're playing on the former hardware, you can also expect haptic feedback via your DualSense controller. And that, for me, is the real star of these reanimated horror shows.

Feeding back

Resident Evil 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

Before I continue, let me say: I'm not big on gimmicks. Even with the beauty of hindsight, I still think the Nintendo Wii was just okay. The Kinect, on the other hand, was pants. The PlayStation Move was worse. I loved my 3DS, but played exclusively with its three-dimension depth slider fixed to OFF. I've sampled VR in its various living-room-friendly forms over the last 30 years, and remain unconvinced the technology has even come close to realizing its potential as it relates to gaming. And yet, I absolutely love the DualSense control pad's haptic feedback features. 

Sure, it's as gimmicky as it gets. The idea is, in essence, an evolution of something first popularized by the N64's Rumble Pak in mid-1997, and iterated on since the arrival of the PSOne's first DualShock pad later that year. But while I've played and enjoyed both the RE2 and RE3 remakes with their bog-standard vibration settings, the DualSense's haptic feedback gives every zombie a little extra bite, every red barrel explosion a little extra oomph, and every run-in with Mr X or the S.T.A.R.S.-slaughtering Nemesis a little extra slice of abject run-for-your-bloody-life fear. Seriously, fleeing danger and feeling Jill or Claire or Leon's heart rate accelerating at a rate of knots by way of haptic buzzing in the palm of your hand is enough to send you (me) cowering behind the couch for a lifetime.

Resident Evil 3

(Image credit: Capcom)

"I would say I can't wait for the Resident Evil 4 remake, but the thought of how it might handle haptic feedback in relation to the Chainsaw Ganado or El Gigante has put me off my lunch."

When I first got my hands on Grand Theft Auto 5's next-gen glow-up earlier this year, I said GTA 5 on PS5 has two crowning features – load times and DualSense haptic feedback. Unreasonably long load times have blighted GTA 5 and its multiplayer offshoot GTA Online in all of its guises – PS3/Xbox 360; PS4/Xbox One; and PC – therefore cutting those down topped the list of improvements players expected in 2022. Visually, Rockstar's pseudo slant on Los Angeles has never looked better (without the use of player-made mods on PC), but, again, that was a given considering the power modern consoles harness under their respective hoods. Haptic feedback, however, was, for me at least, a totally unexpected boon – something that improved everything from shootouts, to driving, and even cycling through weapon wheels and selecting radio stations. 

There's an argument to be made that haptic feedback works even better in horror games, where tone and atmosphere are tense by default. Fumbling around in the dark only to have a shambling, T-Virus-infected soul lunge at you from behind an old wooden bookcase is scary enough, but when you feel the thud of the undead's laboured footsteps, of the bookcase crashing to the floor, of the monster's teeth sinking into your exposed neck, the terror of the whole ordeal is ramped up significantly. In combat, the weight of each shotgun blast feels heavier, while the punch of each dot sight-equipped handgun discharge feels precise. And I can't even think about the haptic pulsing tied to RE3's Drain Deimos parasite infections without physically wriggling in my chair. 

Resident Evil 3

(Image credit: Capcom)

In bigger picture terms, the Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 PS5 upgrades have given us cause to revisit two brilliant third-person horror games. Both look stunning in 4K, and, with Resident Evil Village's Shadow of Rose DLC set to be fully-third-person when it lands on October 28 this year, replaying two adventures set in the same wider universe, in the same style mechanically and aesthetically is a decent primer for what's still to come. 

Alongside Rose Winters' story – one that's set 16 years into the future – RE8's upcoming expansion will let players re-experience Ethan's Village tale in 'Third-Person Mode', which, of course, ties everything mentioned here together nicely. Add this to the fact an over-the-shoulder Resident Evil 4 remake is on the horizon, due on March 24, 2023, and it's a horrifyingly exciting time for Resi fans the world over. I would say I can't wait, but the thought of how that game might handle haptic feedback in relation to the Chainsaw Ganado or El Gigante has put me off my lunch. 

Resident Evil, of course, holds its own in our best horror games list. 

Joe Donnelly

Joe Donnelly is a sports editor from Glasgow and former features editor at GamesRadar+. A mental health advocate, Joe has written about video games and mental health for The Guardian, New Statesman, VICE, PC Gamer and many more, and believes the interactive nature of video games makes them uniquely placed to educate and inform. His book Checkpoint considers the complex intersections of video games and mental health, and was shortlisted for Scotland's National Book of the Year for non-fiction in 2021. As familiar with the streets of Los Santos as he is the west of Scotland, Joe can often be found living his best and worst lives in GTA Online and its PC role-playing scene.