Fans of the undead and tall, powerful women were given a treat today, as Capcom finally revealed more details for the much-anticipated Resident Evil Village. The eighth numerical installment in this iconic horror franchise, viewers finally got to see gameplay and gain new information about this game’s setting, characters, and combat. While this was certainly the highlight for many, Capcom also decided to reveal the existence of RE: Verse. This multiplayer game (mode?), which has actually had a closed beta going since January 14th, is another attempt at trying to give this series some semblance of footing in the multiplayer space.
The basic premise is players will control one of the franchise’s iconic characters like Jill or Leon and battle to the death in a six-person Deathmatch. As you compete you will score points, with the person obtaining the most being crowned the winner. RE: Verse’s big gimmick is users can collect virus capsules which allows them to transform into terrifying bioweapons such as Nemesis when they die. These capsules will be scattered around the map and the more you acquire, the stronger bioweapons you’ll become. Similar to Resident Evil 3 Remake’s Resistance mode, this will be a free inclusion for those who purchase Resident Evil 8.
Capcom, look at me.
I realize that the Resident Evil games are filled with rich lore and iconic characters, but constantly trying to stuff them into a multiplayer format has, historically, barely ever worked. Throughout this franchise’s history, we have had numerous attempts with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, coming the closest to something resembling a compelling multiplayer experience. Following in this game’s gore-soaked boots is Umbrella Corps, a game so unremarkable that you completely forgot it existed until right now. Then there’s Resistance which was a novel idea but felt clunky and unbalanced at the best of times.
This isn’t to say multiplayer cannot work in Resident Evil. In fact, cooperative experiences like Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles are often quite enjoyable. Shooting the undead with a friend is always a good time and Capcom often does a great job with making the second person not feel shoehorned in. Problems arise when you ask players to start shooting at one another. The Resident Evil franchise is known for a lot of things, but competitive gunplay is not one of those. Weapons often take time to precisely aim and movement is typically less fluid than a lot of other third-person games.
In a single-player setting, this isn’t noticeable, simply because the series is built around this design. It’s a horror franchise, so all of these restrictions can elevate a sense of panic or fear in chaotic situations. Translating that to a PVP scenario isn’t ideal, even if I can barrel over my opponent as a Tyrant. This isn’t to say PVP couldn’t work or that RE: Verse is doomed to fail, but history isn’t really on Capcom’s side with this one. Who knows, it could be a smash hit and a memorable multiplayer experience that becomes a staple of the series…
…But I kinda doubt it.