New Umbrella Corps. DLC Is… Actually Pretty Okay
Trust me, nobody is more surprised than I.
Umbrella Corps., the multiplayer shooter set in the Resident Evil universe that released a few months back, is terrible. It did have a few neat ideas buried deep down, but it was overall a pretty awful experience for Jorge and I when we reviewed it. I was equally underwhelmed by the free Spencer Mansion DLC when it released, which took the first and second floors of the mansion from the original Resident Evil, put a few holes through the walls, and called it a multiplayer map. While it was largely pretty faithful to the REmake version of the environment (save for some bizarre layout on the 2F East hallways, which all revolve around the taxidermy room strangely), it was marred by being set in the daytime for some mind-boggling reason and was overall not very well suited to the fast-paced multiplayer shooter thing.
So I had more or less written Umbrella Corps. off entirely, leaving it on my PS4 hardrive just in case I felt the need to get real sad for some reason. Every week or so it’s been updating itself, with bug fixes, new weapons, and general tweaks. The Spencer Mansion map was in one of these updates, and it appears this is how all of the game’s DLC is to be delivered. It’s free, and automatic, which is nice. A new update just hit the other day, containing the new map Lanshiang, from Resident Evil 6, as well as an all-new mode, something the game desperately needed more of on launch day (when it only featured two modes, the near unplayable One Life mode, and the only marginally better Multi-Mission). I was stunned by just how much this new mode, called 4 Survivors (a clear nod to the classic The 4th Survivor mini-game from Resident Evil 2 and The Umbrella Chronicles), improves the experience. It’s still Umbrella Corps., don’t get me wrong, but it’s much better than the base game.
4 Survivors is a deceptively simple gametype: four players fight to stay alive, and the longer you survive, the more points you earn. You can earn more points by killing enemy players and zombies/Ganado/Majinni, but you’ll lose all of your points if you die. You can counter act this by picking up “supplies”, which spawn randomly on the map, and “save” all of your accumulated points at a typewriter, just like the old days. Well, sorta- it’s still super dangerous due to the super long input time (and over-the-top goofy animation) and you can be killed pretty easily while “saving”. Staying put in one place is just as dangerous as trying to move around, since infected enemies will just spawn near you, and this game type limits your spawn weapons to a pistol and grenades, and replaces the Brainer weapon with an old-school knife (although there really isn’t much of a difference between the two, except you can’t scale walls anymore like you can with the Brainer). There are, amazingly, weapon pick ups on the map in this mode (another element that was sorely missing from the base game) which can help you out big-time in getting a higher score. You also no longer spawn with the “zombie jammer” (which makes the infected unable to detect you until it’s broken), as it is now a pick-up, which actually makes for some better tension.
On top of this mode, which is genuinely fun to play due to how strategic it is, playing it also gives you a tremendous amount of new ancillary content as well. All of the maps that were previously daytime, (The Village, Kijuju 12, and the Spencer Mansion) have been switched to nighttime, and it’s amazing just what a difference it makes to atmosphere. Especially on Kijuju 12, I suddenly found myself… feeling tension? Feeling a little freaked out? What? The nearly pitch-black nighttime is delicious to fight through, as your flashlight only turns on when you hard-aim (that’s holding down L2) your weapons, and the map is otherwise only lit by BSAA jeep headlights and the occasional lamp. The mansion as well is only lit by the candle light of the original REmake version, and it adds a whole new layer of ambiance. Even more welcome than that is the inclusion of classic music to these maps, from RE5 music on Kijuju 12, to the original PS1 version of the Mansion’s theme during gameplay (you know, this one). There are also a few classic sounds, like picking up that aforementioned “supplies” will net you the old-school pick up sound effect. It’s awesome, and ups the level of Resident Evil atmosphere up ten fold. It actually feels like an RE game now. Well, sorta. Okay, not really.
Like I said, it’s still Umbrella Corps., and all of the gameplay problems it had at launch are still here, and while the new mode is much better and the tweaks to it (like no longer being able to just climb up walls and the zombies will actually attack you now), all of the other problems can’t be avoided. There’s a few new lines of dialogue from D.C. Douglas, both playing the player character (which results in some aggressively cringey dialogue- upon getting a kill he’ll occasionally say “Stupid Scrub” which makes me want to crawl into my own butthole and die) and as Albert Wesker, who ha”s been promoted to the full-time announcer of this mode, congratulating you on victories and dismissing poor performance. More fuel to the maybe-Al-is-back camp, I guess.
This new update is by no means a game-changer. It’s still a terrible game, riddled with problems and has an ever declining user-base across both PS4 and PC, but if you already bought it, this might be a good enough reason to come back to it and get your money’s worth. A few more updates like this one, and Umbrella Corps. might actually become a game worth picking up.