Resident Evil 6 Public Demo Impressions

The public demo for Resident Evil 6 went live on Tuesday and, in between rounds of Borderlands 2, I’ve had a chance to give it a couple of run throughs, so it is time to discuss it. Resident Evil 6 is one of the most anticipated games coming out this holiday season, and has had two demos. The first demo was released to those who bought Dragon’s Dogma. This demo is not relevant as Capcom has tweaked the game due to response from fans, notably changing how the camera works. The public demo is, as it sounds, a demo open to the entire public and is in a much more finished state, so it is clear that what we receive here is what we will be getting this October. The demo is split into three sections, much like the game, and the gameplay in these sections varies considerably so this overview will deal with each section independently. Before this, we will be looking at the basic gameplay that is shared between all of these segments.

As long as you can spell numbers with gunk, Capcom will be just fine.

Have you ever played a Resident Evil game?  If you answered yes, do not expect this game to be any more familiar to you than someone who answered no from a gameplay perspective. The first three and Code Veronica have a very unique and specific style, which was abandoned in Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 5 was heavily criticized for adopting Resident Evil 4’s style without changing anything at all. This game truly changes this up, for better or for worse. Mobility is the name of the game and all characters have total freedom of movement in contrast with the traditional “tank” controls the series is known for. The game is consequently much more flighty. It is much twitchier and feels less precise than the Resident Evil 4 style, and getting headshots, while moving doesn’t come naturally. The dodging system is also very finicky. When you get it right, you look like a total badass, but it is very hit or miss, and the legitimate usefulness of it is suspect.

Yes Chris, now you too can move while shooting. I know, crazy right?

From a weaponry perspective, all of the main players are back, including pistols, magnums, and knives. Ammo is plentiful in all chapters and it would be very hard to compare this game in any way to the original survival horror games. On the other hand, the gunplay works quite well, and popping zombie heads is always fun. Melee has been reworked, and it is as broken as ever. Melee takes stamina to use, but can be used at a press of a button and doesn’t require a prompt. The system is very robust and there are many different forms of melee attacks, some of which are counters and contextual attacks. Stamina is used to avoid overuse, but it is still very easy to abuse as long as you are facing less than four enemies at once. I actually had more fun running through Leon’s chapter with only the knife than when using the gun, making Resident Evil 6 the first time in Resident Evil history where a knife run was fun and not tedious as hell.

This guy is begging for a suplex.

Co-op is back and it is as useless and unnecessary as ever (What, you have friends?). Resident Evil 6 seems to take the Lost Planet 2 approach and has the game constantly on, meaning pausing isn’t really going to happen. This is to facilitate online play, but it is poor design to not accommodate single players. On the other hand, there have been massive improvements to the way that AI partners work, which makes the co-op far less frustrating for the single player than in Resident Evil 5. You no longer need to keep your partner alive, if they die, they will just be out of commission for a bit. Also, your partner will be given unlimited ammo, so they will no longer steal all of your ammo if you decide that you want them to be useful. The AI is still dumb as ever, but it doesn’t affect the player nearly as much, so it is a massive improvement. I still find co-op horribly shoed into the game, but this is the best way to get around it.

The best part is that the co-op partner isn’t as completely useless as Sheva here.

For the campaigns, I will discuss them in the order presented by the game, beginning with Leon’s story. Leon has the most fun campaign plain and simple. He travels through dark corridors and encounters real zombies, meaning the enemies are slow, shuffling idiots that are useless unless in large numbers. Melee prevails here, and you really get a chance to see how much the game relies on its melee engine. The environments are not interesting, but they are very, very dark, which makes them far scarier than they have any right to be. It is very easy to not see a zombie until you are right over them, which makes going into a new room sort of exciting. Gunplay eventually becomes necessary as hordes of zombies show you that melee has its limits due to the stamina bar. While Leon’s game invokes feelings of the old survival horror games, do not be fooled, it is still very much an action game, it is just the only campaign section that actually tries to be creepy. Leon’s partner and possible player character Helena is boring, but it looks like she will be used in the plot a bit, which makes her much better than Chris’ partner.

Now kiiiissss hiiiimm!

The second campaign we are going to be looking at is Chris’. This campaign was clearly inspired by Call of Duty, and is probably what the developers were thinking about when they said they were trying to get the Call of Duty crowd. What you get is a pretty basic third person military shooter. The enemies are not zombies and are more akin to the plagas from Resident Evil 4. They are fast, talkative, and carry guns. This is not a major jump as los plagas carried crossbows and gatling guns even, but it still seems a little weird. The environment is the same war torn third world nation scape you’ve seen a hundred times, and the quasi boss battle feels a lot like it came straight out of the Resistance series. Actually the whole thing could have been from a Resistance game. This chapter also introduces the useful use of the cover system, which is very poor and never really explained. The finicky cover system aside, the chapter is fun and all of the shooting elements work, but it is nothing we haven’t seen before. As a final note, Chris’ partner and possible player character is total fodder and might as well have been a different coloured Toad he is so bland. With no real personality, and no attachment to the story, he is the epitome of a character added solely for the sake of co-op.

This is Piers and I pity whoever has to play as him. 

Finally there is the campaign for the newcomer Jake. This campaign was the most surprising. It plays a lot like Chris’ with the same kinds of enemies, but it is a lot more run and gun and a lot less tactical shooter. This is in part because of the added guns, part because of the more mobile enemy mutation, and partially because of the environment. Nevertheless, it is far less dull than Chris’ even though it consists of very similar gameplay. Jake is a very different character. He acts more like Devil May Cry’s Dante than you would expect and he comes across as totally likeable and a serious badass. Jake’s partner is Sherry Birkin, who was last seen as a child in Resident Evil 2. Sherry is not just added in for co-op and her dialogue with Jake is the best in the demo, hinting at a real relationship being built between the two of them. This campaign has a much lighter and fun tone than the others, with both characters providing snappy quips at opportune moments. This was completely unexpected and makes this campaign one to watch.

Jake is a hardcore badass and it works surprisingly well in this game. 

The public demo shows me that Resident Evil 6 will be unlike any other Resident Evil game. This is a good thing, as all series should continuously evolve. Whether it will be better or not remains to be seen, but it looks like they can do a lot with the concept. The story looks like regular Capcom crazy, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. What the demo doesn’t show is whether there will be any weapon customization or RPG elements. There are score drops, but it is unclear from the demo what these are for. All in all, I am very impressed with how Capcom has taken a risk with the series, and it looks like it will pay off. The only risk that I am very concerned about is that the developers will provide three half assed, short campaigns instead of one excellent and lengthy one. It is still to early to tell, but it is a major risk and could completely undermine the game. Ignoring that, the game looks to be in good shape.

– Mistranslation for the Modern Gamer

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