Resident Evil was once a beloved franchise to gamers that grew up in the mid-90’s. The name synonymous with survival-horror provided a thrill in the gaming world that few others could match at the time. Unfortunately, in this console generation of games, the franchise has suffered a major setback. Neither Resident Evil 5 nor 6 have been meet with much critical acclaim nor have hardcore fans enjoyed them either. While I’m not a game developer or designer, I’d like to think that as a fan of the franchise, I understand why these games have fallen from their previous heights. In this article, let’s explore those reasons and how to rectify them.
5) New Faces
The Resident Evil series has been going on for more than 15 years. Yet for the most part, we’ve had returning characters take up the main character roles repeatedly. There’s nothing wrong with having characters return in these games, but when someone as generic as Chris Redfield is your go to guy for missions, you know you’re lacking good ideas. More new faces, those still innocent and oblivious to the true effects of bio-terrorism (which is admittedly kind of hard now with how the story has taken a global approach) would be nice. That way we get to meet people facing a new fear, rather than veteran zombie killers who don’t bat an eye at shooting zombies in the head. At least we’ve had some new characters with Sheva and Helena and such, but they are always babysat by veteran folks. And they always seem readily capable of battling a zombie horde.
4) Less Cheesy Story
The story and characters in Resident Evil were never top-notch to begin with, but lately, it has taken on a whole new level of being over the top. International conspiracy plots, bio-terrorism and super-human characters just to name a few. It’s sad, because at least the story was engaging and you were able to follow it before. I used to love reading memos and notes left by ex-humans detailing how events unfolded through their eyes. Now it’s all over the top. Even the bosses have gone over the top, essentially to provide a cinematic experience over a gameplay experience.
3) More Puzzles
Part of the Resident Evil charm was solving puzzles. Maybe they weren’t the best puzzles in the world and they certainly were not at Portal’s or Catherine’s puzzle levels, but they were a fun distraction. In the recent games, the puzzles seem more of an afterthought. No longer do they provide a sense of history to the atmosphere or setting of the game, but they merely serve to delay the players progress. They aren’t even challenging anymore (if they ever were), with puzzles now being solvable the moment you come across them (as opposed to the older games where you’d have a few puzzles that needed solving before you could find what was needed to pass one). It would be nice if the puzzles could reach the levels of Portal or Catherine, but at the very minimum they should improve on the current set.
2) Solo Campaigns
As fun as playing co-op is, survival horror is more atmospheric when played alone. I don’t personally think that it is impossible to have a good survival horror co-op game, but definitely not in the vein that Capcom are presenting us with. As such I feel that Resident Evil should return to solo campaigns. Capcom can always chuck in co-op for multiplayer campaigns and such if they want to. Better yet, since I do find that co-op can be really fun, why not just make a spin-off from the Resident Evil series that focuses on co-op gameplay. That way, you can cater to both sets of fans. But by and large, please bring back solo campaigns for now.
1) Tactical, Not Reflex
The biggest issue with recent Resident Evil games, is that they’ve become too action oriented. But what does that mean? Essentially, it’s a difference between tactical gameplay and reflex gameplay. In the older games, the reflex skills required were simply shooting at the target, pointing up to get head shots when enemies were close enough or pointing down when they were on the floor. That’s really about it, with maybe running around during boss fights. Most of the tension from a gameplay perspective in older Resident Evil games came from the fact you had no idea how much ammo you would be able to carry. You had no idea whether you should conserve it or waste it on a bunch of zombies guarding a narrow hallway. You had no idea what lay ahead either. In recent games, none of that matters. Ammo tends to be plentiful, but even then, melee attacks have become too strong in the series. Thus any tactical nuance in the gameplay is now gone, replaced by reflex gameplay of the player essentially shooting accurately at enemies. Quite a few of us find that boring. That should be the domain of pure action games, hell they do it much better anyway. A return to tactical gameplay would undoubtedly provide Resident Evil with a major boost. Oh, and while we’re at it, get rid of pointless QTEs too.