Now there’s one thing you should know before you continue with this opinion piece (yes, this is very much an opinion piece), Resident Evil 6 was my GOTY for 2012. That, and every other staff member at Dusty Cartridge thinks I’m an idiot for having that opinion. Now, let’s begin.
When I first saw the announcement trailer for Resident Evil 6 I remember thinking how ludicrous the concept looked. All I could see was Capcom further deserting the survival horror genre, (especially after Resident Evil 5), and warping the Resident Evil universe to fit with an action adventure style of play. Overall, I was still a bit interested. Resident Evil 5 is one of my top co-op games of all time, and as the sequel flaunted an improved co-op system, I definitely wanted to enjoy the fun with a pal again. Along with co-op, the story in the Resident Evil games has always fascinated me – I was curious where it would go now that Wesker was done and gone.
The first thing that struck me when playing Resident Evil 6 was how well it captured pure and utter chaos. While playing through the tutorial, immediately followed by Leon’s campaign, my jaw was on the floor with wonder. Previous Resident Evil titles, and not to mention countless zombie games alike, have placed you in the middle of an outbreak – the setting is nothing new – yet none have been able to capture the authentic feeling of complete and unorganized terror. The first hours, yes hours, of the game have Leon and Helena just trying to escape and survive. You, the player, have literally no idea what to except. All you can do is go where there’s a valid path and try to live. After completing Leon’s story, I would have been 100% satisfied if the game ended right there. That campaign alone was enough to warrant the price tag, and it still would have received the same praise on my part. However, they gave me more.
As Resident Evil 5 introduced us to Sheva and created the possibility for her to stick around, Resident Evil 6 brought in Jake, Helena, and Piers. While not all the new characters made it past the credits, their legacy will. I don’t mean to get all corny, but what I’m getting at is that Chris’s character was changed from losing his partner in the final moments of his campaign, and hopefully we can see that change in his character moving forward. I’m excited to see where Jake’s story goes, and it’s great to bring Sherry Birkin back into the fold as well.
But all this sounds standard, right? Ok, the game had some awesome levels in it and it introduced us to new characters, you’re still on crack, Justin. Maybe. But just take a step back and really think about what Resident Evil 6 did to the franchise. It changed it. It took everything we know, love, and hate about Resident Evil and flipped it all on its head. There is no longer one single enemy; Umbrella isn’t the only problem for our heroes to conquer. There are BOWs all over the place, Umbrella nut jobs on the loose, and who knows what else will pop up in the future? Literally anyone with enough motivation could become an enemy in the next Resident Evil. We now get to play, fight, live, die, and love in the world that has been created by the events that have taken place. There’s a real sense of history beginning to happen in the franchise, and it’s a history where the player has been involved every step of the way.
The mechanics have changed for the better as well. Ignoring the fact that while playing you really got four entire campaigns, each campaign had entirely different gameplay styles and goals. Leon’s campaign was true survival horror, Jake’s campaign was all about escaping, Chris’s campaign pitted you against hundreds of enemies in full-blown action combat, and Ada’s campaign had you hiding in the shadows to uncover a mystery. What Capcom has done here is opened a door to anything and everything moving forward. They can literally go anywhere with the franchise, do anything, introduce anyone, all because of what they created in Resident Evil 6. The restraints are off, and it’s time for this franchise to wow us in ways we can’t even dream of.
I’m unsure if the writers and developers created Resident Evil 6 the way they did with the goal of literally “changing the game” moving forward, especially with the news that Resident Evil 7 will be returning to a more familiar style of play, but I hope they realize the opportunity they have here to really make something great. In a perfect world, I see the Resident Evil franchise branching out and giving us multiple stories with new characters, villains, and gameplay styles. I want Capcom to further expand the genius world they’ve created and never let me pick my jaw up off the floor.