The player controls the protagonist, Ethan Winters, from a first-person perspective. Unlike most previous Resident Evil protagonists, Ethan is a civilian who does not offer much in terms of combat skills. Despite this, he has access to a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns, axes, flamethrowers, explosives and chainsaws at his disposal against enemies including the Baker family, and a newly introduced type of creature known as the "Molded".
The gameplay opts for a more traditional survival horror experience. Unlike many of its recent predecessors, the game focuses more heavily on horror than action. Other notable mechanics of previous Resident Evil games, including puzzle-solving, resource management, healing herbs and item boxes also play a vital role in the game. Quick time events, on the other hand, are entirely absent. The PlayStation 4 version of the game is also playable from start to finish in VR using the PlayStation VR headset, with the core gameplay mechanics remaining identical between both modes.