Multiplayer in Resident Evil may work, but RE:Verse ain’t it
We can all agree that Capcom has (mostly) knocked it out of the park with its handling of Resident Evil of late. Sure, it’s fair to argue that the recent remake of Resi 3 was somewhat lacking owing to its short length and content cut from the original game, but the stellar pacing and presentation of Resi VII, Resi 2 Remake, and now Village have successfully revitalised the classic survival horror series for a new generation of players. Coming face-to-face with a horde of flesheaters suddenly feels scary again!
Perhaps scariest of all, however, is Capcom’s insistence on infusing the classic series with some form of multiplayer. It’s a baffling route to want to go down, seeing as horror games are almost always at their best when played alone. That said, Capcom has had some minor wins with Resident Evil multiplayer in the past. And I can only assume its dedication to making something like Resident Evil: Resistance or RE:Verse work is because there’s more to do with this concept of social scares.
Resident Evil: Resistance – released in tandem with the Resident Evil 3 remake last year – had a lot of promise. It was built as an asymmetrical survival game in which four civilian characters must foil a mastermind’s plans and traps, and trying to complete a series of challenge rooms while fending off zombies was thrilling. Was it as polished or inventive as, say, Dead By Daylight? No, but as a free add-on it had its perks. Issues arose the more you played, however, and the maps lost their lustre. Capcom proved early on that it wasn’t willing to give it the necessary ongoing support.
Flash forward a year, and we learn that set to launch alongside Resident Evil: Village was another standalone multiplayer component called RE:Verse. Duking it out across a range of familiar locations as iconic heroes like Leon, Chris, and Claire sounds like fun, but it was clear from the beta that this Resident Evil take on PvP was about as bland as the simple deathmatch setup gets. Instead of launching a new multiplayer platform, why didn’t Capcom build upon the foundations it had already laid with Resistance? Sure, the latter wasn’t perfect, yet at least all the playable characters handled differently and encouraged co-ordinated teamwork.
There’s a sense that Capcom never really had much belief in these multiplayer offerings, not least because each was tacked onto a mainline game. If the publisher believed in making online survival horror, why not give Resistance’s existing community more reasons to stay active? This could enable it to grow far beyond the free extra to Resident Evil 3 it originally was, into something that represents great value on its own.
Unfortunately, just like a wall-crawling Licker that won’t stay down, RE:Verse is destined to re-emerge for players who picked up Village. My only hope is that when this happens, there’s a lot more to it than the beta led us to believe. If not, Resistance deserves to live again!
Duking it out as Leon, Chris and Claire sounds like fun.