Resident Evil 6: Is there Cause for Concern?

So here we are again, internet, I’m going to be talking about Resident Evil. We have been getting a lot of news about Resident Evil 6 recently, and, quite frankly, I’m a little worried. There are times where a game is just too big in scale to translate well into a single experience. Resident Evil has a great track record, however. Despite myself not being extremely fond of Resident Evil 5, it is nevertheless a good game, as have been all of the games in the main series. However, only one game in the main series attempted to change the formula, and that was Resident Evil 4. The rest of the series has played it pretty safe. The sixth entry into the franchise seems to be making some pretty big overhauls, but are these the same kind of overhauls as Resident Evil 4, or are these simply the natural evolution of the system from Resident Evil 5? More importantly, is Capcom biting off more than they can chew on this one? Is their glob-trotting, ensemble cast epic doomed to be unfocused and brief, or will they pull off the kind of game that we so rarely see? These are the questions up for today’s post.

I really wish the 6 was below the title. Now I can’t stop reading it like 6 Resident Evil.

The first issue we are going to look at is how much Resident Evil 6 is going to change the basic Resident Evil gameplay formula. Capcom has stated that they are making the series more action-based as, let’s give them credit here, that’s where the money is. While certainly not an olive branch to survival horror fans, this is certainly in the purview of newer Resident Evil games. As part of this initiative, Resident Evil 6 will have far more mobile characters, who can fall back on the ground shooting, and shoot while moving. Shooting while moving is not new to the series anymore since Resident Evil: Revelations pulled it off earlier this year (Mercenaries 3D too, but it wasn’t a full game), but it is nevertheless a big step for the console series. Melee focus will be back from Resident Evil 5, but with the addition of melee weapons. The player will also be able to take cover. The question is whether this amounts to the same level of groundbreaking change that occurred with Resident Evil 4. I would, hesitantly, say it does not. Moving and shooting is a natural progression in the series and even games heavily inspired by Resident Evil 4, such has Dead Space, have allowed it. Lack of moving and shooting was seen as archaic when Resident Evil 5 came out, so it should come as no surprise that it would be included. Other components seem to be lifted from more action-based shooters, which Resident Evil 6 will be trying to imitate more. These are not the same kind of major change as Resident Evil 4. However, there are some major things we do not yet know, such as RPG elements, and enemy variety and how that will affect gameplay, so there is a chance that Resident Evil 6 will take the series into a new direction, but as it stands, it is a safe bet that it will turn out good and not overly experimental.

Above: Overly experimental

The other major focus of the gameplay will be on multiplayer. This too, is simply an evolution of the co-op system in Resident Evil 5. Without a demo, or a lot of time with the game, we cannot assess if the A.I. will be any better than the atrocious A.I. from Resident Evil 5, but it is safe to say that Capcom will have learned a few things since then. There is no doubt that the A.I. won’t be good, but there will likely be more workarounds to avoid common problems in Resident Evil 5. For example, co-op will now allow players to jump right into it instead of having to reset at a checkpoint, which was one of the many complaints stemming from Resident Evil 5. For those of us who were hoping that Capcom would cut the co-op, this isn’t good news, but at very least they are likely to handle it better. Nevertheless, the inherent problems with co-op, including breaking the atmosphere and pacing of the game are likely to be present and that is a significant worry.

Capcom likes co-op so much they forced co-op-like partners into a non-co-op game

Finally in the gameplay department, is the return of The Mercenaries mode. For a game that seems to be trying to take Resident Evil in a different direction, bringing back the Mercenaries game is a little odd. Some multiplayer mode was to be expected, and Mercenaries mode is both popular well done. The truth is that we don’t know the details concerning it so it may be a new experience under the name of The Mercenaries, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Personally, I wouldn’t have seen this as a problem until I played the phenomenal Raid mode in Resident Evil: Revelations. Because of this, I know that Capcom is capable of crafting new extra modes, which are as addictive and fun as The Mercenaries, and it’s a bit of a shame they aren’t showcasing something new this time. However, the only real worry is that they fall back on their success with Resident Evil 5’s Mercenaries mode too much and fail to bring significant innovation to the minigame.

Give me Claire and all is forgiven

Now we get to some of the more troubling developments. Resident Evil 6 is going to have three main campaigns and an unlockable one after completion of two of them. This is very worrisome. I know what you are thinking, internet: “But that is awesome. It means that we’ll have lots of change of scenery and three distinct campaigns so they can vary level design and tone as much as they want.” The downside to this is inherent in almost every game that has had multiple distinct campaigns: focus and length. When it comes down to it, if you weren’t receiving three campaigns the chances are that you would be getting one campaign which was as long as the three of them combined. Note that these are promised to be distinct campaigns and not the nearly identical campaigns from previous Resident Evil. What this means is that all three could be a very different take on the game, but in the end one or two of them may be reduced to make room for the bigger ones. It looks like Chris’ campaign will be more action-based and Leon’s will be more horror, but is it wise to separate styles like this, instead of making one game with a cohesive vision we may end up getting three games. That being said, Capcom may totally pull it off giving us three long, satisfying campaigns that anybody would be a fool to hate.

Horror? Action? Jake Mueller only cares about being as much of a generic jarhead soldier as possible.

Then there is the problem with the ensemble cast. This is a similar concern to the campaigns. Both Leon and Chris are major characters in the Resident Evil franchise with many, many followers. There are enough “I hate/love Leon” topics out there on the message boards to drown a bull rhino. The problem with both of them getting main billing is that there may be a time where one of them is going to pull ahead of the other. Think about ensemble cast movies. They are frequently disappointing with major talent wasted in simple support roles. This isn’t even talking about their partners. In previous Resident Evil games, there were two protagonists, who basically were retconned into partners (Thank you lightgun games). In this game, each of the three protagonists are going to have a partner. How much do you think they can develop these characters? I know Resident Evil isn’t the wunderkind of storytelling, but let’s be serious; aren’t there a few too many characters here? Of course if Capcom pulls the campaigns off well and everyone gets the proper screen time then it may all turn out well, but it is troublesome. I think the winner here is going to be Jake Mueller, who doesn’t have such a rabid fanbase yet. It is possible to do much more with his character and the beginnings of his arc seem fairly compelling. If I were a betting man, I would say that his scenario is the one to watch.

That police zombie is either really in the Leon camp or on the Chris camp. It’s hard to tell with the undead.

The problem with games biting off more than they can chew is that so many of them falter with great ideas, but poor execution or some other major flaw. Metal Gear Solid 4 is an excellent ending to Solid Snake’s journey, but it bit off too much. The huge amount of locations and plot points the game needed to hit left the game short on gameplay and disjointed between acts. However, sometimes games get it right. Looking at Batman: Arkham City before the release was worrisome as well. They were including a ton of new villains, playable Catwoman, and a whole city to explore and glide around. Sure many of the villains were shortchanged, but Arkham City was still a triumph, bringing together so many elements and creating a really wonderful game. Resident Evil 6 will almost definitely be a good game, but what kind of game will it be? Will it bring everything together in such a way that it is the standard game of the genre like Resident Evil 4, or will it be one of those games that you say “It would have been amazing, except for…”. Only time will tell.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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