Resident Evil 6: Staying Fresh
It happens every year around this time. Gamers around the world turn their attention and convene at the Los Angeles Convention Centre to look at what the industry is going to wow us with in the near future. Every year in the months leading up to E3, rumours fly and speculations swirl around the web about the latest console and game announcements, not to mention wish-lists by many a fan. Each of us has something in our heads that we want to be revealed at E3. Like in the film, A Christmas Story, all the kids flock around the shop windows to look at what the season has to offer. Some kids want…a football, but there’s only one thing that tops this gamer’s wishlist.
Resident Evil 6 plz?
There’s been a lot of PrE3 speculation surrounding Resident Evil. Resident Evil 5 was the end of an era—it saw the death of one of the most bad-ass villains in video-game history. The rather unsavoury conclusion (some of us have come to accept it…sniff) left many gamers looking to the future to see what loomed on the horizon for their favourite series. For the most part, we’ve been left in the dark as to what’s in store.
However we have some simple words to fall back on.
Back in February, producer Jun Takeuchi said that Resident Evil 5 would likely be the last of its kind. This is something that has been reflected by series creator Shinji Mikami, who pretty much told us that “Resident Evil 6 will have to reinvent the series with another full model change or else it won’t be able to keep on going.” Words that might excite some—but to others, they’re more frightening than the series itself.
Resident Evil is no stranger to reboots, either. The series has toyed around in almost every style of game on the market and there’s very few genres out there worth exploring with this kind of game. We’re not saying that the other genres suck, but some things work, and some things don’t. So what on Earth could Mikami have meant by a full model change?
What made the Resident Evil series different from all the other series was because it was just that—different. When Resident Evil for the PSX and Sega Saturn was released, gamers had seldom seen anything like it before (save for maybe Alone in the Dark, but that was for the PC…and at the time, how many of us owned an expensive rig for PC games? Hmm?). Off the heels of Resident Evil 1 was Resident Evil 2 and 3—each game offering more scares, better visuals and answers to an ever-twisting, ever-turning storyline that left many of us in the dark.
By the time Resident Evil 4 came around, the series needed to evolve or risk becoming stale. Sure, Resident Evil Zero and REmake were available to satiate the old-school Resident Evil hunger, but Resident Evil 4 was there to take the series in new directions. To make it accessible to people who weren’t particularly fond of all of those hallmarks of The Classics. As a result, we have a game now that rests as the pinnacle of last-gen games—a game by which the others would imitate. To the chagrin of the fans, Resident Evil 5 closely mimicked Resident Evil 4 (but you know, some of us still love it). But what was fresh and new in RE4 wasn’t so in RE5. So the series is now at a crossroads. How do you keep the series fresh?
What was supposed to be another defining moment in gaming was crippled by the hardware of the PS2. Resident Evil: Outbreak, Files 1 and 2 had many of the game play and level mechanics of The Classics, but sought to bring the series to the online arena. Unfortunately, combined with technology, Outbreak had its fair share of shortcomings. The online mode was not only hampered by slow connection speeds and the fact that many people were dicks, you couldn’t adequately communicate with your teammates. Only simple requests, commands or pleas were all you got.
And as mentioned before, people were dicks about that. Kevin all the way in the back? Screw him, let’s board up the hole in the wall with him on the other side, trapped in a locker with a zombie pounding on the door and no ammo. Thanks guys…appreciate it.
However, it’s in these shortcomings that did made Resident Evil: Outbreak intense. The game could be difficult to finish on your own—you needed to rely on those other players for support. It was definitely hard to make it on your own. But for the most part, RE:Outbreak’s online experience was forgettable.
Resident Evil 5 did multiplayer right. Just ask anyone who’s played with another person, rather than Sheva’s A.I. Easy set-up, easy, full communication and a good set of puzzles that don’t make the multiplayer feel tacked on (Deadly Silence, anyone?). Also, easy interaction between characters—you could give them ammo, but no weaponry. Sounds fair, right? The game also isn’t a pushover when there’s two people playing, either. The difficulty level is still there whether it’s one player or two.
Odds of Multiplayer in Resident Evil 6: Very High
Multiplayer is key in most games on the market today. There are very few games out there that don’t have a multiplayer mode. While it might seem a bane for some, for others it’s a fun and memorable experience. Done right, multiplayer has a nice niche in Resident Evil—so long as it doesn’t come at the expense of the single-player campaign.
One of the complaints of the current line-up of games is that the enemies stray too far from their original source. The T-Virus, while considered a failure, turned humans into the walking dead. Dead as in shuffling, moaning, groaning zombies that used their fists and teeth to kill you—not axes (or worse yet, guns!) to get you down into a fine slurry for easy digestion.
Parasites are what control the enemies now—Ganado and Majini had been infected (so to speak) by gigantic parasites that impossibly inhabit their bodies yet let them retain a portion of their intelligence. The Lickers and Hunters of the past have turned into Licker Betas (progress!) and Reapers. As a substitute for a gigantic Great White, we now have a gigantic…whatever the hell that thing was.
Odds of Enemies of The Past Returning for Resident Evil 6: Unlikely
Fans of the series clamour for the days of yore when ammo was limited and enemies were few. Looking back in the hallways, there was the occasional zombie, maybe two or three of them hanging around a location and you could dispense appropriate punishment fairly quickly. They didn’t come in droves like they do in the modern titles. Even in REmake we saw a steady increase of the difficulty level of even the low-level zombies with the Crimson Head. Enemies need to evolve just as much as the rest of the game to keep it relevant.
Slow moving enemies are a push-over. Majini and Ganado move at a relatively brisk pace—and they can keep coming. In some areas (before you’ve completely mastered the games) you could never fully feel safe because enemies would continuously show up. While this happened once you completed certain checkpoints in The Classics, and Remake upped the ante with Crimson Heads, you were fairly safe once you wiped out a particular enemy in a room.
T-Virus infected elephant?
Imagine if we were to take the slow, shuffling enemies and put them in another title? Left 4 Dead for example—how much of a challenge would that be? A game is really only as fun as the challenge it offers.
As mentioned before, Resident Evil has toyed around with various styles before, from FPS to on-rails shooter, to over-the-shoulder action (that’s…pretty much all of them right there). What possible route could the series take next?
Don’t laugh, it’s not completely out of the question. Games like Fallout 3 and Mass Effect have proven that the RPG has evolved well beyond your Final Fantasy stereotype. Remember the status affects of being poisoned in the classics, or the ‘Bleeding’ status affect in Dino Crisis? Resident Evil 5 was supposed to take more of these kinds of factors into consideration, but it’s something that never came to fruition. Things like heat and light were supposed to alter game play. Much like the stress meter in Metal Gear Solid 4—these have RPG elements in them and can be integrated into the game play—but could they make an appearance in Resident Evil 6?
Odds of RE:6 being an RPG: Unlikely
It would be fun to think about how Resident Evil could be a role-playing game. Not necessarily with the same characters, not necessarily even in the same place…but the odds of it actually happening are so unlikely it’s almost not worth the effort to imagine.
If you’re an avid reader of the site, you’ll notice that we do a lot of speculating on what the series will bring us. Give us a tidbit of information and our imaginations can go pretty wild. Resident Evil: PSP was announced last year, but we haven’t exactly heard anything about it. Could this be what Takeuchi and Mikami were talking about when they said RE: 6 would be completely different?
The PSP isn’t too big on multiplayer games, however there’s a big nostalgic throw-back of old multiplayer games. Sitting next to your friends looking at a tiny screen while playing in ad-hoc mode—it makes us wonder if RE: PSP could be something similar to RE: Outbreak. As mentioned earlier, Outbreak had some excellent ideas going for it, but the technology wasn’t fully there. Throw in some updated graphics (or even don’t) and the PSPgo has Bluetooth capabilities, so throw on a compatible headset if you’re not in the same room as your teammates and you’re good to go. Just so long as the communications scheme isn’t crippled like the last time.
Odds of RE:6 being an Online Only Game: Probably not
These games sell well on the PS3 and the PC, but the PSP is barely treading water. But at the same time, it’s hard to tell whether this could be RE:6. Here’s hoping that E3 sheds some light on the fading PSP. An online-only game for the PSP would be a hard-sell, but that’s not to say that a game like this couldn’t exist on the PS3, Xbox 360 or PC.
The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles showed us that Resident Evil could indeed be done in a rail-shooter style. Unfortunately, once the game has been played, unless you’re a 100% completionist, there isn’t a whole lot of fun to be had in the game after you’ve completed it. However, the new control mechanisms only add to the experience.
Odds of RE: 6 being On-Rails: Hard to Tell
Developers have previously stated that games like The Umbrella Chronicles, The Darkside Chronicles, and even Dead Space Extraction do not sell well on the Wii, the console of choice for most of these entries. However with Microsoft Natal and The Playstation Move on the horizon, this could quickly change. While DSC and UC are ‘retellings’ of the original game in the sense that they’re familiar, it wouldn’t be a stretch for RE:6 to be one of these. At this point it’s unlikely, but hard to tell either way.
The Survivor series didn’t sell exceedingly well. This style ties closely in with The Chronicles series, except without the rails. It’s growing in popularity, especially in the horror department. Games like Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, FEAR, System Shock, BioShock 1 and 2, they all tell us that the horror genre can definitely be done through a first-person perspective. So where does that leave Resident Evil 6?
Odds of RE: 6 being a Shooter: Likely
This seems like the most obvious choice for the series to take. With home consoles now rivalling (and often times excelling) in the shooter department, this is really one of the only paths left for Resident Evil to take. Sure, the Survivor series was forgettable, and the thought of our beloved franchise turning L4D crazy on us kind of makes us sad, but Mikami said it himself. In order to stay relevant, the game needs to evolve. Rumours that Silent Hill 6 might also be a FPS could definitely push Capcom and company to cater Resident Evil 6 for a more modern crowd. The crowd that likes FPS.
The next STARS team
Okay, while not a genre in itself, there’s a possibility that Resident Evil 6 might take an old-school approach. Resident Evil 5’s DLC: Lost in Nightmares gave us a view of what it would be like to visit an eerily similar Spencer Estate with updated visuals. Fans of the series clamoured for the old puzzle-themed, sparse enemy style, but fans of the newer action-oriented style longed for something more.
Odds of RE:6 being Classical Style: Probably not
Many fans look at this like Final Fantasy 7 fans so desperately want a remake. They want it. Badly. But suffice it to say, there’s limited appeal in taking two steps backwards in an industry that thrives on innovation. Capcom, having successfully changed the series for what many claim was better with Resident Evil 4, seriously compromises the likelihood that they would go back to the way things were before, even with updated visuals. Lost in Nightmares, while an entertaining piece of DLC unfortunately felt out of place, very anachronistic of the games industry today. Perhaps this reveals a rather painful truth about the game-play style it revolved around?
Contrary to popular belief, some people at this site ‘like’ RE5. The episodic structure of the game make for easily digestible (this is the second time we’ve used that phrase in this article….) sessions and the enemies and play pose significant challenges. And while Resident Evil 5 might not have been a huge hit with a lot of the old fans, it sold decently well. As a matter of fact, it’s still $49USD on Steam—so it’s probably safe to assume they did something right.
Odds of RE:6 being Action-Based: Likely
Yes, and even risk becoming complacent. Resident Evil 4 and 5 worked well for Capcom. The two games still have a thriving fan base, and Resident Evil 4 is the most ported game of the series, perhaps the most ported game in the history of ports (or…perhaps not). The style of play that inspired Gears of War and Dead Space, and the style in Silent Hill Homecoming is popular. It could be quite possible that this is the style we’re going to see more and more often, like it or love it.
Perhaps the overhaul will be not in the way the game is played, but in the form of new characters, new locales and new enemies? A new start, so our favourite characters can finally enter a well-deserved retirement.
A lot to think about, for sure. What do you want to see in Resident Evil 6? Keep the discussion rolling in the comments section and in the forums. And who knows? We’ve been good this year, maybe in a few days we’ll get that Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle?
Zack Ward played Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. He also played Nicholai Ginovaeff in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.