First of all it is to note this article will have huge spoilers about Resident Evil 5 in it.
All of the following information and images are provided by, “The Art of Resident Evil 5,” book and if you would like to learn more about the game and it’s development, check it out. You can find it on many online stores and it definitely is worth a purchase. This article is about the beta of Resident Evil 5, meaning completely scrapped ideas and as such we’ll only be covering those and providing select images where it is helpful. To find all of the concept art and all of the information and interviews with the creators about the game, purchase “The Art of Resident Evil 5”.
Resident Evil 5 wasn’t always a co-op game. In fact in much of the development (which started in 2004) the assistant characters, co-op idea, and who your partner was changed dramatically. However through all stages of development Chris was the main character and Wesker was the villain, that fact remained true all the way until the game’s completion. Originally Sheva was not a member of the BSAA or Chris’s partner, but an NPC character who you would meet later in the game as part of the local militia. The town had become a bio-weapon war zone of sorts where people had barricaded themselves into homes and shelters and to enter these areas Chris would have to manually get rid of the barricades himself. Chris was always to be a big muscle man since the beginning, in fact, his muscles were even bigger in the beta. He’s muscular because he had been training to defeat Wesker.
Since the beginning of the game’s development they had planned Jill to have “died” at the game’s beginning, still with the scene we see in the final game of Jill jumping out of a window with Wesker and falling down a large chasm. The only factoid they took out was that originally Jill was going to stab Wesker in the eye which became Wesker’s one and only true weakpoint where he got a glass eye to replace his stabbed one.
Jill was going to survive still to appear another day inside the game. However, in one version of Resident Evil 5 there was going to be a story branch where if the story progressed in a certain way, Jill actually would die for real. Even though the game was planned to still be single player at this stage, there was a time where Jill was planned to be Chris’s partner after finding her being the lead of a squad of BSAA members, and in another build after being rescued she’d be Chris’s partner. There even came an idea where they planned Chris to journey to Africa with Barry Burton instead and the two of them would save Jill!
Before the Majini were introduced as the enemy force in Resident Evil 5, they actually had planned the game to be featuring a T-Virus outbreak and zombies to be the main enemy force inside the game. The Public Assembly stage was originally supposed to be three times larger than the final since the player would have to barricade themselves away and survive a swarm of zombies. Public Assembly went over three complete overhauls before settling on the final one. The game started with Chris arriving in Africa when he was suddenly attacked by Uroboros, who was just a regular BOW at this point in development. You’d start the game by facing Uroboros and it escaping, meanwhile Irving and Excella would be watching from a building above. Cameras were to be set all around the African village in hidden areas monitoring your progress. At this point in development Irving also was not a big honcho but actually an experiment, even having a number imprinted on the back of his neck. The boss ending off the African village area was going to be a transformed Irving.
The town would be deadly silent after the fight until a train full of zombies passing by derailed and crashes, sending the whole town straight to hell as it soon would be swarmed by the undead. There was going to be a scene where you went through a palace-like building and when escaping you would jump out of a window onto a pillar. A horde of zombies would be below shaking the pillars as Chris had to jump from pillar to pillar, and if the player wasn’t careful they’d fall and die a gruesome death. The earlier mentioned barricaded areas could also house the merchant, in fact the very merchant from Resident Evil 4! Players would need to get rid of the barricades of the door and then an option to knock the door would come. The game would switch to a first person mode as the Merchant opens a slit in the door and ask if all the zombies were taken care of (in the area) and if Chris was friend or foe. If all the enemies were cleared and you hadn’t killed any other merchants or stole from any other (originally you’d be able to steal weapons and ammo from the Merchant’s shop but doing this would close all future Merchant shops for you) and if both applied you could come in and purchase weapons from him (and upgrades). There also would be more powerful zombies that were capable of running but not confirmed if these were Crimson Heads or not.
Jill originally wasn’t going to be a Test Tube subject and instead Chris would find her in Africa as leader of a BSAA squad unit (originally Chris was a lone wolf and not a member of the BSAA) though the details of why Chris believed her dead and such are not explained. Chris would become a member of the unit to help them out with the outbreak of zombies, helping civilians and themselves try to escape the city. One area in the game would include a swarm of zombies attacking you in an area full of exploding barrels and you’d have to be careful as setting one off would set them all off, killing you.
Chris and the team would almost be out of the city when the worst possible thing would happen; Tricell (which was still the enemy force in the game) would release 10-15 El Gigantes into the town as Jill had to return power to the train station to get energy working so that they’d be able to open the mechanisms to get some trains in the locked-down station and escape out of town on the train. A section of the El Gigante invasion included protecting Jill as she tried to return power to the place.
Eventually the team would escape to the train which is when Irving would of come into play, as he was one of the experimental Uroboros weapons and would become so large he would engulf whole parts of the train while Chris jumped from car to car fighting him.
Wesker, Excella, and a third member which was the male CEO of Tricell early in development but is unnamed would be the enemy force after that point for Resident Evil 5. Excella was not the head of Tricell as she was in the final and instead was Secretary for the CEO. Wesker and Excella would be intimate still but both would be in a way “using” the other to obtain what they wanted, believing there to be gain by manipulating the other. The CEO would be the one watching Chris through the cameras scattered around the city. Later the CEO would be killed by Wesker and Excella in cold blood so Wesker could be “assigned” as the head of Tricell. Later he would take his ultimate lifeform, Tyrant, the project he had also been developing at Umbrella, and order it to kill Excella. Wesker it seems used the Tyrant as his project instead of Uroboros and had installed control mechanism and machinery on the Tyrant to make it controllable, intelligent, and lethal.
Before all of this though, after the train ride Chris and Jill would stop by in a nearby African Town surrounded by desert in the middle of the night. This is where they would meet Sheva and a group of local militia defending their town with primitive weapons from an onslaught of monsters. The town would be in a different part of Kijuju but there’d be a high watch tower in the middle of the town where you could look out at the whole Kijuju region.
Zombies and an El Gigante would show up as Chris, Jill, and the BSAA team tried to defend the local militia. The area would soon be timed as they contacted a BSAA helicopter to come in and rescue them. Chris and his partner, which at this point of development they were unsure if they wanted it to be Jill or Barry as they were planning to replace the earlier Jill scenes with Barry instead so Jill could be the enigma character who was believed dead and was actually in a test tube, would help protect the group (as well as Sheva) while the town was overrun by not only zombies but a new and more powerful enemy, Lickers. The helicopter would come but unfortunately would be taken down in an cinematic cutscene by a new force of flying enemies, a new type of BOW.
Ultimately given no choice, Chris, Sheva, Barry, and the surviving local militia and BSAA would go over a large Desert stage where enemies would pop up from under the sand until meeting a Merchant in a large abandoned boat in the location of a dried-up lake. This stage was later scrapped because when Majini were introduced there was no cover and it was just a large desert in the end with little detail.
From the boat the players would go from the desert to a marshland which hosted a pyramid inside of it and the local Ndipaya tribe (the tribal enemies who ate the Ndipaya flowers). In this version of the game though the entire Ndipaya civilization was wiped out by an overdose of the Ndipaya flower. The Marshlands were to be the stage before the ruins and when they finally got to the ruins of the Ndipaya (the Ndipaya Kingdom as it’s called), Chris and Sheva would get separated as Chris walks onto fragile ground, collapsing under him making Chris falls down to it’s depths but safely landing in water inside of the Ndipaya Kingdom. Sheva meanwhile tries to find a way around to get back to him, and instead finding a secret Umbrella lab. The Ndipaya Kingdom is quite possibly the most changed area in the whole entire game, with a much different design. The Ndipaya Kingdom was going to be filled with a lot more puzzles and traps though they got rid of the idea when co-op was introduced as it got too confusing with two people. The Ndipaya Kingdom would be half submerged under the water and they were going to include a way for Chris to swim under the water to get to area to area and have to find air pockets before drowning. The design was also completely different, being a lot more spherical.
The whole Ndipaya kingdom was going to be a huge area for Chris to explore. Using water routes and twisted paths, the area was like a giant abstract painting and maze-like. The player would be alone in the dark and the area instead of being filled with swarms of zombies would have had less enemies but more powerful ones, including a new variant of Hunters and giant insect monsters!
The Ndipaya only got stranger as Chris went on and had some interesting early designs, being one of the most changed in the game as previously mentioned. Files and scriptures from the old Ndipaya Tribe could be found talking about an Ancient BOW (created by the Ndipaya Flowers which is the source of the T-Virus) that slept within the ruins. Ultimately Chris would get to the “Garden” area that still exists in Resident Evil 5 (where Umbrella tents and equipment lay in the final). Here Chris would come face to face with an unexpected foe, as Wesker reveals himself to Chris at the Garden! This would be their first encounter in the game and let Chris know that Wesker is indeed alive.
Chris and Wesker would fight in the Sun Garden, with Wesker having the upper hand until three NPCs showed up (Sheva and two unknowns, one might of been Barry) to help Chris out. Sheva reveals that when Chris was exploring the ancient ruins, she’d found where Jill was, stored in a tube where they had her captured (the earlier scenes were to be changed for Barry to replace Jill’s earlier roles at this point)
Wesker outnumbered leaves while triggering the ancient BOW to awaken. Wesker escapes as Chris and the other NPCs fight the ancient BOW. It’s not said who the ancient BOW is but determining what you fight in the regular Resident Evil 5 in the chapter you reach the Sun Garden in, as well as the water and insect theme to go with the Ndipaya Kingdom theme, it is not out of the question to think U8 might have been the original “Ancient BOW”. He could fit the role. Chris and the few NPCs run after Wesker to get Jill but Sheva gets separated from the team and kidnapped by Excella.
Some enemies in the final, like the Reaper, existed even in earlier builds. The Reaper itself was made to make a “classic-feeling Resident Evil BOW” for the lab area and it does it’s job. Ultimately after the lab areas Chris would get to Jill and rescue her. She would reveal she stabbed Wesker in the eye (told through flashback) and he was weak there. After falling, Wesker had took her and had stored her in these labs as a subject. After sharing back stories they would go to rescue Sheva who was being hung from the ceiling and hung up by Excella’s men.They rescue Sheva as Jill and Sheva thank the other, bu on their way out Jill would be shot by Excella. As Excella escapes, Chris would run alone to end game leaving Sheva to care for Jill.
We’d reach end game where Chris would finally go up against Wesker, Excella, and the CEO. Wesker at this point betrays the CEO by shooting him in cold blood and a bit later unleashing his Tyrant and, as said earlier, commands the Tyrant to kill Excella.
After defeating Tyrant, Wesker would do his whole, “The Right to be a god is now mine” flashback with Chris and get into a fight with him in the airship chamber. The Air ship is not explained what it is for at this point in development as Uroboros was not the main plot point. Sheva would come to aid Chris and shoots Wesker in the eye (where Jill revealed was his weak point was earlier) but ultimately gets knocked out by Wesker and Chris and Wesker would have a one on one fight with each other through the airship chamber and into the depths of the volcano itself (it’s revealed this lab is built inside a dormant volcano it seems).
They find themselves in the volcano (which Capcom used to show this was the final battle) and Wesker and Chris fight one on one, ending with Wesker knee deep in the magma and as Chris is about to go under, he is saved by the earlier seen airship piloted by Sheva and Jill. Sheva would aim the ships missiles at Wesker as Chris would step onto the Wing of the air ship with a Rocket Launcher with Jill and they would all fire and kill Wesker in a big explosion of magma.
The game ended with Chris, Jill, and Sheva (it seems Barry was scrapped at this point or something unmentioned happened, maybe he split up like Josh does in the final game?) landing safely back on ground and Chris walking away from the jet into the sunset.
And that was what Resident Evil 5 originally was. There are more details such as enemies and a few specifics I didn’t cover, but you can check out the book yourself if you want all the fine details. Two scrapped areas also include an abandoned fort and a shopping center. Lots of this was changed when the game switched to co-op and the developers switched to Majini from zombies as the zombies ended up not being a big enough role through the game and the Majini would be able to stay a threat all the way till the end of the game, and Majini are more adverse in their abilities and swarms besides being mindless eaters. Instead of having Barry or Jill as the partner, Sheva became the partner when racial controversy came up for the game. Other changes came such as making Uroboros a bigger role (Wesker was even at one point able to control Uroboros with his mind!), making Wesker mutate for his final battle (this was to make Wesker seem desperate as opposed to his natural arrogance and cool), changing the final battle to co-op when that came in and changing the solo Chris sections to allow co-op, the tanker ship was introduced, and a lot more among other things. Even before the game was finished it went through a lot of changes. Enemies went through lots of design changes, from dogs to Lickers to Reapers to Majini. The Tanker was originally supposed to be fully explorable and players could go to every inch of it freely. Other areas in this later stage were also cut including one where Chris, Sheva, and 12 BSAA members in the swamp would have to infiltrate and survive a fortress full of Arrow Majini and other kinds there. Still our focus is Resident Evil 4.5 and the above is about a complete overview of what Resident Evil 4.5 was before lots of changes. These changes seemed to have started somewhere in 2006-2007 or so. The first trailer shows Chris alone and those running enemies could of been the running zombies mentioned. The next trailer however brought in Majini though the areas are vastly different from the final. Whatever the case it’s interesting to see what once existed in Resident Evil 5 and what it could of been before co-op was introduced. It seems the game changed a lot in development more than some people may have imagined though many elements also made their way to the final but in often lesser forms (like the El Gigante fight in the town at night might have been where the timed Licker fight was supposed to happen once). If you want more images, information, and other tidbits about the beta of Resident Evil 5, check out “The Art of Resident Evil 5” now on sale.