What do you want from Resident Evil 6?
Well, it’s here. We finally have confirmation that the sixth main entry in the Resident Evil franchise is coming (well, it’s actually Resident Evil 17, not counting ports and the remake, but who’s counting?).
Resident Evil 5, while not being a bad game by any stretch, left kind of a sour taste in a lot of RE fans’ mouths, and more than a few of you are contemplating giving up on the series altogether because of it. Resident Evil 6 is looking to get back those fans that may have left after RE5, and it’s looking to bring back some long-lost elements back into the main series, too.
The game’s debut trailer showcased a lot of content, and has left our site, and many others, buzzing with exciting rumors and interesting theories. So, the main question is: what are you hoping for from this new entry? What do you want in the game? What is it about Resident Evil that was so thoroughly missing from the last numbered entry? I’ve written down a couple of key points that I think RE6 is going to have to cover if it wants to get the fans’ collective attention back.
Once again entering the world of survival horror
It’s been a long time since any of the Resident Evil games could truly be described as horror anything. While fun shoot-em ups like the two Chronicles games and Vin Diesel-style action games like RE5 and The Mercenaries 3D are undoubtedly a blast to play, none of those games have really captured what it is that got Resident Evil popular in the first place: horror.
RE always took a very different approach to horror than some of its contemporaries, namely the one other big name in the horror game marketplace, Silent Hill. Resident Evil never really did much with psychological horror like Silent Hill constantly does, and instead focused more on visceral horror, for instance: William Birkin, and his mutated form, G.
Resident Evil 2 had its fair share of jump fright moments, from a giant claw ripping through the roof of the tram you’re riding in. Blowing a zombie clean in half with your shotgun, only to have his upper half come crawling after you. Leaving Mr. X behind, breathing a sigh of relief as you run down a hallway, only to have him come crashing through the wall right in front of you. But not all of RE’s horror has been about stuff like that.
Take into account REmake, or RE4, which derive a lot of their horror from ambiance, something that was severally lacking in RE5’s overblown, yet somehow under-detailed environments. The original Resident Evils weren’t able to wow the player with enormous 3D environments, or gargantuan exploding set pieces, and had to make do with what they had in the limited scope of the static camera angles. Specks of dust, floating in the moonlight shining through a window or the music-less sounds of the woods, the rustling of the leaves in the wind, and the occasional howl of one of the hideous, infected dogs. Flickering light from a candle or a fluorescent bulb may seem a bit clichéd, but it worked.
A big part of Resident Evil 4’s fear factor was the fact that, well, we entered it with a blank slate. Resident Evil had, by that time, well established its entourage of scares and freaks. Sure, everyone still loved the rotting, shambling messes that came trudging after us in dark hallways, and the giant, sexless soldiers that seemed to come in endless waves, but RE4 threw all of that out the window.
I distinctly remember my first play-through of Resident Evil 4, and immediately feeling off-balance. From the spooky music, to the ever upping ante (“Oh, crap! These guys are throwing stuff at me! Oh CRAP! They’re climbing ladders, breaking down doors, using chainsaws, what’s next!?” I remember playing with a friend late at night, and him asking me if the Ganado used guns or not, and me replying “No, they don’t seem to. Thank god for that, I don’t know what I’d do-” And that’s when the Ganado with the mounted turret popped out of the floor in the castle.)
Resident Evil 5 made the mistake of copying RE4’s formula down to a T. It wasn’t just the over-the-shoulder aiming; it was the story flow and environments (Start in a village, move to a themed area- Castle for RE4, African ruins for RE5- and end in a military lab complex). The fear of the unknown was gone, and I felt like I was just doing a step and repeat of the previous entry. Capcom needs to re-instill that fear of the unknown, and the creepy ambiance and level of detail to the environments the classic games had.
What do you mean, “classic enemies”?
Resident Evil 5 had a lot of rumors circling about it before it was even released, one of which was that it would be bringing back classic RE enemies. We got some Lickers and a couple of zombies that did little more than try to hug you. Now, the fear of the unknown and all that can still work, even with older enemies, as we’ve never fought them like this before. Auto-aiming on a Mr. X isn’t the same as having to strategically aim for his weak points as he comes barreling down on you.
We’ll get to see what fighting classic enemies is like with the new game play style in the coming months with the squad-based shooter “Operation Raccoon City”, but think of what a huge impact it would make to suddenly have a Tyrant drop into a game without expecting it! Think of the U-8 boss fight, from just slightly after RE5’s mid-point. Think of how insane that fight WOULD have been if say… one of the holding tanks that’s dumping bodies down the elevator shaft instead dropped a Tyrant or two on the turn-table.
The generally static U-8 is one of the easier boss fights in the game, not to mention the least interesting, but throwing the increadibly fast, and very mobile Tyrants into the mix could have made that fight a lot more desperate, and frightening. To be prepared for some random, BS RE5 enemy, only to be faced with one of the original series’ most iconic creatures would have really brought that game up on its feet, instead of giving us a couple of lickers, which I’d honestly had my fill of after seeing them in half the movies and killing about a million of them in the previous year’s “Umbrella Chronicles”.
Less linear… everything
Resident Evil has a lot of back-tracking. It’s part of what the series is. Or was. You start in a sort of central hub (RE’s Mansion main hall, RE2’s R.P.D. Main hall, or RE3’s Central Street tram) and branch out, looking for various pieces to various puzzles. There’s a lot of “there’s a carving of a shield” stuff on doors in the old games, and sometimes it could be two, three hours into the game before you finally got the right key and head back. But RE5 totally abandoned that, and even made back-tracking impossible. Even RE4 had a certain amount of running around looking for things, but 5 kept it as “THIS DOOR IS LOCKED. THE KEY IS… I dunno, over there somewhere. Under the mat. I don’t care.”
“It looks like there’s an order to these pictures”…
Resident Evil is a very puzzle heavy series. Whether it’s pushing buttons under paintings, figuring out how to correctly filter water through the treatment machines or linking pretty lights on a board to turn on an underground factory’s power, RE always had lots of puzzles. Some of them where easy (Pushing statues over vents), some of them where mind-bendingly hard (the previously mentioned water treatment puzzle, which randomly generates and doesn’t inform you that you are supposed to be doing the puzzle upside down). But they where a big part of the games. And one slip up, and poison gas could fill the room, or adders could drop from the ceiling!
Resident Evil 5 had one puzzle, and that was the light-laser puzzle, which takes about 8 seconds to solve, has a very easily memorized combination. We need classic puzzles back, with greater risks than “you might get hit by a magical laser that will send you back to your last checkpoint 30 seconds ago”.
The second malformation of G
Music has always been a big part of Resident Evil, with easily recognizable themes like the aforementioned second malformation of G (which is by and large the overall theme for Resident Evil 2) or “Music Box” from Code: Veronica (which is essentially that game’s theme as well), and creepy ambient pieces like Resident Evil 0’s “Training Main Hall” theme or Resident Evil 4’s “A Strange Pasture.” Resident Evil 5 did the intense action music very well, with Wesker’s theme dominating the show, but the game totally forgot about ambient music.
That creepy sound of being watched that the older games captured , and the sorrowful, peaceful save themes of previous games offering up a respite from the action were unfortunately missing. But due to the fact that safe rooms had been totally eliminated, and the in-between chapters theme didn’t really cut it. Music helps tell a story, and RE5’s score helped tell an action story. RE6 has to get back to the spooky music, the kind of creepy sound that kept players to afraid to open that door, but propelled them foreword never the less. Actually, listening to the Resident Evil 0 soundtrack as I write this is really making me want to go play 0 again xD
You can save your game with this. Will you use an ink ribbon?
I already discussed this on the podcast, but I really do think that RE6 needs to get back to a save point system over a checkpoint system. RE5’s save-every-time-you-do-anything system released almost all of the tension from anything the player was doing. Games like Dead Space and Silent Hill still use traditional save-station systems, why not Resident Evil?
Dead Space 2 really proved how integral a save-station system really was. Towards the later sections of the game I was in such a desperate need of saving that I would end up back-tracking to get to a previous save station out of fear that the next save station would be crawling with enemies, and my RIG was so low I could only just barely see the little nub of red light at the bottom. Now, in Resident Evil 5, if I was hurting for health, I’d just leave the game (I just had a check point ten seconds ago) and return to the main menu, where I would go and buy a whole bunch of F. Aid Sprays from the weapons menu and then head back to game, problem solved.
It’s that sense of desperation that was really missing in 5. I truly think we need to get back to typewriters as the method of saving. Now, as far as ink ribbons are concerned… I don’t think we need those any more. Of course, if the game kept RE5’s item-box style of item storage, you could totally do it, but to go with a more RE4 style system but actually have to keep an ink ribbon on you to save might be a bit hard. Of course, if a Merchant where implemented instead of RE5’s system, and that Merchant had a storage system (a la Dead Space), then we might be talkin’. “What are you STORIN’ stranga?”
So, what do you think? What do you think RE6 needs to bring the series back after Resident Evil 5? Voice your opinion below!