So what if Resident Evil 6 wasn’t survival horror?
A lot of people are hating on the Resident Evil franchise lately. It’s all centered around those two words: survival and horror.
Let’s be honest here, Resident Evil is not the same thing it was back in the 90′s and early 2000′s. However, it’s always been on a growing patch. Capcom is essentially splitting the franchise into three different directions to capture three different audiences.
The Main Series
The main series is headed in a more accessible action-y direction. Which makes sense for the way the story is going. This is no longer a story about Raccoon City. The Resident Evil is no longer resident, it’s global. The viruses and tragedies are worldwide and getting worse and worse. Not only that, the factions that appear in the games are getting better and better at melding the viruses with the human body and allowing them to continue thinking correctly or be controlled completely.
This leads into a ton more creatures being introduced every game and a lot more threats to combat. Many of which are looking more and more human. It all started with the Lickers in Resident Evil 2. They looked somewhat human in shape and the Hunters in Resident Evil 3 evolved from that design-wise. This came full circle with Resident Evil 4 where you not only had to deal with Krauser, a human infused with a virus, but also Regenerators and Iron Maidens (freaky bastards…).
The series has been gradually working towards more human enemies infused with viruses to make the combat more than just shooting something down before it reached you. Now they can shoot, use melee, grab, and throw you. This isn’t your old school Resident Evil, this is the concept Capcom had all along. We weren’t going to just be fighting against slow or somewhat fast paced zombies along with your occasional bio-creature. Things were going to get ugly and quick. That’s exactly what happened, too.
Think about it, we started out in the Arklay region which spilled into Raccoon City. That was a localized event. Fast forward to Code: Veronica where the incident began to travel outwards. Even with some of the side games, like the Gun series, we see the virus on cruise ships and other places. Then we hit Resident Evil 4 and we’re in a different part of the world fighting a more evolved form of the biohazard threat. It just gets bigger and bigger. Why? Because the world is filled with nasty, evil people. Of course the viruses are going to be sold on the black market. Of course the incidents are going to get bigger and more widespread.
By the time we hit Resident Evil 6 we see that not only have the stars of the franchise and their factions failed in stopping the viruses’ spread, the threat is now worldwide and in different forms. It is literally impossible to have Resident Evil, at least the main series, be a survival horror game now. The threat is just too big. The enemies get more creative. The viruses are getting more advanced and adaptable. Resident Evil is more action-y because it makes sense to be. The story isn’t about surviving through city streets or mansion hallways with little ammo. It’s about throwing everything the human race has at a growing epidemic to help keep humanity existing.
The Side Series
There has been a side series of Resident Evil games since 2000 with Survivor. Since then they have evolved from gimmicky games into full fledged games like Operation Raccoon City and Revelations.
While Operation is not canon and is just for fun and “what if” scenarios, Revelations is canon. What’s more is that Revelations is an old school Resident Evil game. This is a survival horror game in every aspect. While the gameplay is modern, the experience can be terrifying and suspenseful. Basically, Revelations is what a portion of fans want more of.
This is what Capcom should be doing with their side games in this franchise: keep them as close to survival horror as possible. Obviously the side games aren’t going to tell the main story about the large incidents. We may not even get to play as key stars such as Chris, Leon, Jill, or Claire but there’s a good reason to stick to a Revelations-like formula here.
The side games should be telling smaller stories that involve survivors, or other key characters not present in a main series game, during an incident trying to survive and figure things out either for themselves or a faction like the BSAA.
This is where Capcom can keep the portion of fans not happy with the main numbered games. While the worldwide crisis gets front and center attention with the main series, the other normally untold stories get featured in the side series.
This keeps the fanbase with the franchise and the only arguments you should hear are: “why are the survival horror games only side games” and “why isn’t this side game for this console”. That’s a lot better than constantly hearing “Resident Evil is dead”, “Resident Evil isn’t good anymore”, and other damning comments. Cater to the audiences, Capcom. Dedicate your side games to survival horror experiences and keep doing what you’re doing with the main games.
The Arcade Series
This isn’t going to be populated by a lot of games but when you look at the Chronicles series, Mercenaries 3D, the old Gun series games, and hell, maybe even Outbreak, you could view them as Arcade-like experiences.
The Chronicles series is an on-rails motion shooter just like Time Crisis. Mercenaries 3D basically takes the arcade-y survival feature from the main games and makes it the main attraction. For those who like Mercenaries this is a great way to get that gameplay with a ton of characters and replayability.
The old Gun series games, which mostly sucked, were arcade-y and have morphed into the Chronicles series. Outbreak felt arcade-like in the presentation. You had to survive stages like in Left 4 Dead, which I always viewed as an arcade-y FPS almost like Army of Two.
Looking at all of that, arcade experiences have always been a part of the Resident Evil franchise. With Mercenaries 3D and the Chronicles series, Capcom should continue to give these experiences to fans. It takes us away from the expected doom and gloom and gives us a ton of fun in a universe we enjoy. We get to have intense on-rails fights with the Tyrant or run through wave-by-wave of enemies with Albert Wekser or Hunk. Those are nice “getaways” from a series that always brings us to the darkest parts of the world during the darkest of times.
Resident Evil needs to continue to have these kind of experiences just so fans so step away from the dark action of the main series and the survival horror of the side series. These are our guilty pleasure of the Resident Evil franchise.
Keep It Up, Capcom
Far be it from me to actually defend Capcom, as I’m a huge Mega Man fanboy, but I can’t see where all the hatred is warranted against Resident Evil. As you can see in this article, the franchise is splitting off in three directions and Capcom is just making it more accessible to other gamers and having a broader range of experience covering action, adventure, on-rails, arcade, survival horror, and who knows what else is coming up on the horizon.
All I’m saying is that while the numbered, main series may not be the old school experience you once knew, that doesn’t mean you can’t find it in other places baring the same franchise name. You don’t have to leave Resident Evil to get your survival horror intake. You don’t have to hate the main series because it isn’t the genre you most enjoy, either.
Enjoy the main series for what it is: the continuation of a storyline us fans have been invested into since 1996.