Review: Resident Evil RE:Verse

Resident EvilResident Evil RE:Verse is bad. Let me get that out of the way up front. It’s a bad game on a design level, a technical level, and a content level. Aside from the brief, monkey brain stimulation of big kill numbers flashing up on screen and the thrill of coming in first, there really isn’t much that can be said positively about Capcom’s latest attempt at trying to force competitive Resident Evil to happen. There’s a lot more to it than just being bad though, and a lot of it hangs on the fact that this game took so long to finally release. After the game was delayed to follow the launch of its single-player counterpart, Resident Evil Village, and then further delayed until we eventually went a full year without hearing about the game again, one might expect that some major work has gone into addressing the criticisms surrounding the game’s Beta from last year. You might be shocked to hear that the answer is, in fact, no.

Backing up a bit, Resident Evil RE:Verse is a competitive multiplayer FFA game, meant to serve as something of a celebration for the franchise’s 25th anniversary (last year). Starring survivors from across the most recent RE Engine titles (Chris, Jill, Claire, Leon, Ada, and HUNK), players are thrown into an arena where they duke it out to try and get the most points before the match is over. Each character has their own unique weapon loadouts and abilities (Jill has landmines, HUNK can turn invisible, etc) giving them a tactical advantage in each one on one combat scenario. Getting kills is the only way to rack up points, and being killed takes points away, which keeps combat frantic and consistently keeps the deck on who’s at the top and who’s at the bottom shuffling until the very last moment. 

Getting killed isn’t the end, however, as you’ll be reborn as one of five iconic B.O.W. monsters (the Fat Molded, Jack Baker, Hunter γ, Super Tyrant, and Nemesis). Just like the survivors, each of these creatures has its own unique abilities and attacks, that in theory can completely “reverse” the course of a scenario. Jack Baker can swing his mighty scissor-saws in a spiraling arch, Nemesis can deal major damage with his rocket launcher, and each has its own unique finisher moves as well. It can seem extremely fun for a few minutes, but the excitement wore thin after about a dozen matches for me. A big part of the problem here is just how much RE:Verse encourages the player to disengage from combat, and not play.

Resident EvilBecause of the way leveling up BOW transformations work, the “dominant strategy” in RE:Verse is more often than not hanging back from the chaos of combat. Leveling up your BOWs requires collecting “Virus samples” that spawn around the map. While not always the case, these samples are off the beaten path, encouraging you to step away from the action and go hunting for them. You can see a biohazard marker letting you know where they are when you get close enough (although it can be difficult to tell what side of a wall they’re on), but it’s still drawing your attention away from the actual fighting. Leveling up in order to transform into more powerful monsters being such a totally separate action from fighting as a survivor can often turn matches into feeling like you’re in a ghost town, going 30+ seconds without seeing another player as they all cluster in some far off corner of the map, fighting.

This problem is exacerbated by the way scoring works. As previously mentioned, the player will only score points upon successful kills, with modifiers to those kills (finisher, multi-kills, revenge kills, etc all stacking) earning even more points; being killed yourself will cause you to lose points. Dying a couple of times in a row could potentially see your #1 spot “reverse” to the bottom of the list, which in theory should keep matches frantic and exciting, but ends up instead becoming frustrating. Racking up an amazing chain of kills only to have it be undone by getting sniped multiple times in a row while you’re just trying to even find other players on the weirdly huge maps starts to run the fun a little dry after a while.

Resident EvilPlayer skill doesn’t factor much into the twitchy design either, while using your skills can be a big help in close encounters, they don’t do much against snapshots or long-distance sniping with the very unbalanced feeling pistol. Turning into a BOW doesn’t necessarily help you rack those points back up either, as scoring for BOWs is slightly lower than it is for survivors, and all of your more powerful moves can be blocked pretty easily, leaving you open to more damage. 

This ends up posing the question of why you should engage in combat at all, really. At least directly. Hanging back and observing gives you an opportunity to pick your battles, and ultimately, kill steal. Is it the nicest thing to do? No, not really. Is it the best strategy in the game? Absolutely. Players begin to develop a red haze around them once their health reaches “danger,” signifying it’s your time to strike.

As either a player or a BOW, swooping in and snagging an unearned kill is the name of the game if you’re playing to win. Getting the kill nets you 100% of the points, after all, as the player that had been doing most of the damage won’t get assist or damage points out of the fight (and is probably already weakened, opening them up to another kill for you), and the dead player has, of course, lost points. In just a few seconds, you’ve bumped yourself up a rank, and two more players down. Again, is this the right, non-toxic thing to do? No, of course not, it’s frustrating for other players and makes you a huge dick — but also, the game design objectively encourages it, so that’s on the game. 

Resident EvilNow those are just game design problems, what about the rest of it? As stated before, the game has added almost nothing of value since its Beta back in 2021. All of the content and design seen in that Beta remains (save for Chris being swapped from RE7 to RE8 Chris, clearly the highest priority), with the only real new additions being one extra map (the Baker estate) and a pathetically sparse collection of cosmetics. No leaderboards, no additional modes, and unlocks are restricted to specific characters (with several only being available as paid microtransactions), and in Jill and ALL the BOWs’ cases, no costume cosmetics at all. It is shockingly shallow for a year’s worth of waiting. 

It’s also worth mentioning that, if you’d been excited to see HoundWolf Squad and the Village map that was shown in the launch trailer, you’ll just have to keep on waiting for all of that as none of it is included in this initial release. Even more damning, those things were datamined from the Beta last year — so these aren’t things they’re working on, they’re things deliberately left out of the launch to try and entice you to come back, and maybe spend money on their stupid “premium battlepass,” which locks specific cosmetics until you’ve paid for the pass.

Resident EvilIt’s also disturbing to consider RE:Verse’s announced road map, which seems to indicate only one more map is ever coming, and only three more characters. RE:Verse’s lack of content screams a level of disinterest and missing value (people can keep defending the game as being “free”, but since it is not free, I’m disregarding that defense) is bewildering and makes me wonder why the game was made in the first place.

So now we’ve established the game certainly wasn’t delayed to add more content, then what was it delayed for? It certainly wasn’t to fix the game’s miserable balancing, netcode, or bugs, either. Hit detection is scattershot and vague, from both survivor weapons and BOW attacks, with some massively powerful hits seeming to sail right through your target. Other times, a survivor can be staggered into next week as they play out a lengthy animation of them falling over and struggling to get up, and none of this with the added benefit of I-Frames to help make it feel even a little bit fair. These animations were designed for the Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes, where they had I-Frames, and were meant to be used during fights with AI opponents, not human adversaries whaling on you for that whole time. 

Resident EvilPicking up items is also a bit of a crapshoot, as instead of hitting a button to pick up herbs, ammo, BOW samples, and power weapons, you just sort of bump into them. Good in theory, keeps the action going without having to mash buttons, but much like dealing damage, the hit detection on picking these items up is vague at best and can lead to frustration when you need that herb to keep fighting, but find that you just aren’t running up against it from the exact right angle you need to be, and get killed in the middle of it. 

Character balancing is virtually non-existent, with Chris and Ada being so hilariously overpowered it’s almost worthless to play as another character if you’re playing to win. Ada’s crossbow can kill survivor players in two hits, and her special attack (which sends an explosive arrow) can stun a BOW for what feels like days as she continues to fire normal arrows, carving your health away in a matter of seconds. Chris alternatively has an almost 1-hit kill melee attack, that combines with the ability to become invincible for a few seconds, which breaks the game beyond repair and makes fighting him a chore.

The net code is still very rough, with matches dissolving halfway through, or never materializing at all. I’ve had multiple matches that were hit with sudden lag spikes that made play impossible, leading to not really having anything to do while I wandered around the map just sort of looking at the world, as pulling the triggers did nothing and other players ran into walls. These lag spikes were rare to be fair, but not rare enough that they didn’t happen more than once during my playtime.

There are many other parts of Resident Evil RE:Verse that range from perplexing (only 12 trophies/achievements, most of which can be unlocked in an hour of play), frustrating (often difficult to tell where you’re actually taking damage from despite an on-screen indicator), to tiresome (the only piece of music that plays is Resident Evil 2’s Looming Dread, on a loop, forever), but it really just comes back to how I opened this review. Resident Evil RE:Verse is bad. It’s easily the worst multiplayer offering the franchise has ever had, falling short in terms of balance, design, and content, and it’s honestly shocking that this game received no substantial overhaul after a year of waiting. It breaks my heart too, since I’ve seen many on Twitter campaigning for this game, hoping that maybe we all just got a bad read on it, or that the beta wasn’t a good representation, but now even the most diehard supporters are having trouble defending the state of the final product.

Just about every aspect of it feels unfinished, lacking polish, or just plain poorly thought out. A chaotic mess at its best, a frustratingly broken nightmare at its worst, I’m left with almost nothing to recommend. If you’re looking for a way to partner up with your friends as a host of classic Resident Evil heroes in arenas inspired by locations from multiple games in the series, I highly recommend Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, from 11 years ago.

Don’t even bother downloading RE:Verse, and if you do, certainly don’t reward Capcom by buying into this “free” game’s microtransactions. It’s not worth it, and the game will be dead six months from now, never to return or even be mentioned again. By the time Resident Evil 4 Remake releases, half of you won’t even remember this game exists at all.  

1 out of 10 stars (1 / 10)

A Massive Failure

Rely on Horror Review Score Guide

PlayStation 4 Review code for Resident Evil Village, and thus Resident Evil RE:Verse, provided by the publisher

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