Resident Evil multiplayer needs to ditch PVP and find its niche

Resident Evil: Village and its mysterioussurprise demo, release date, and very, very tall lady rightfully owned yesterday’s Resident Evil Showcase. The upcoming horror title looked like a fair mix of RE7 and RE4 — two of the best entries — with just enough of its own style. Such a fusion was undeniably Resident Evil. Re:Verse, another game officially revealed at the event, was the exact opposite of that, looking more like a fan-made Early Access title than an official release. And this is a problem Resident Evil has had for quite some time; making bad multiplayer games that are not only primed to fail, but miss what makes the series special.

Resisting the series’ core ideals

Resident Evil multiplayer needs to ditch PVP and find its niche

You don’t even have to look back more than a year to see the most recent example. Resident Evil 3 launched alongside Resident Evil: Resistance, an asymmetric competitive title doomed to fail. The messy HUD was obtrusive, the action felt disconnected, and the game never hit a good balance despite Capcom’s efforts.

Collecting items with survivors was a little like Resident Evil, but the heavy action emphasis and so-so presentation could never even come close to the highs of solo entries. And this even applies to RE3, which was already a little disappointing.

There are far worse examples of Resident Evil competitive multiplayer and 2016’s Umbrella Corps is arguably the worst of the bunch. The doomed online title was a Rainbow Six-style spin-off that would be more of a stain on the series if it wasn’t so impressively forgettable. With such a quarter-assed focus on zombies and Resident Evil’s lore, it was almost unrecognizable as a Resident Evil game and makes it easy to see why Capcom didn’t throw the Resident Evil name on this one. Its awful shooting, abysmal visuals, and overall bland style didn’t help either, making this the ugliest abomination in a franchise filled to the brim with ugly abominations.

Co-op has also been divisive as some people swear by Resident Evil 5 (which also has bad competitive multiplayer) and others declare it a soulless RE4 knockoff, but Operation Raccoon City has the worst of both worlds. Its co-op campaign is a mindless, monotonous way to waste a few afternoons and its competitive modes are just boring. It was an all-around painfully mediocre and superfluous package, sunk by its tepid mechanics but mainly by its poor comprehension of Resident Evil.

The latest casualty

Resident Evil multiplayer needs to ditch PVP and find its niche

RE:Verse seems like just another example of this complete misunderstanding of what Resident Evil is. It looks as though Capcom just dropped existing assets from RE2, RE3, and RE7 into environments from those same titles and then painted over them with an ill-fitting comic book-like art style. The dubstep in the trailer did it no favors but that wasn’t even the worst part. Watching the series’ all stars run around the RPD blasting each other like a budget shooter stuck in Dave and Buster’s was more painful than seeing a Resident Evil trailer with an out-of-place thumping beat.

This is all particularly disappointing because of how Capcom successfully revived the series after the disastrous Resident Evil 6. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 leaned on RE4 for inspiration and its co-op, instead of dragging the game down, was a unique way to play the game because of how it evenly prioritized atmosphere and action. RE7 took the franchise back to its single-player, horror-filled roots and was fondly remembered for it. Resident Evil 2 beautifully translated a scary classic without jamming in too much action. RE3 was less successful in that regard but ultimately at least tried to do the same thing to some success.

Getting what Resident Evil is has resulted in the best and most memorable installments and failing to do that has yielded the worst and most forgettable. Tension, darkness, and some sort of supernatural foe are key to that yet the worst games sometimes only focus on that last part at the cost of the other two elements. Capcom can obviously see what makes a good Resident Evil game and PVP multiplayer just isn’t it and it never was.