Recently, as many already know, Capcom made an announcement in which they stated that they were finally listening to feedback from the fanbase. Eurogamer has a nice article on the news, but pretty much Capcom has stated that after sales for Resident Evil 6 began to go on a downslide after launch (so much to the fact that Capcom is lowering expectations for the title in the fiscal year), they would now be making more careful steps in the series’ future and taking in fan feedback a bit more closely now–possibly even going back to the series’ roots in survival horror.
Along with this announcement, Capcom (specifically Masachika Kawata, producer of RE: Revelations who worked on some other RE titles) also said that there was the possibility of a reboot to the franchise and that one of the ideas that they are possibly considering is the idea of making an open-world game. This is where I start to have some concerns with the direction that they might be taking the next game.
I will be honest and say that the idea of having a Resident Evil game in some sort of open-world format would be intriguing, but after some thoughts I started to have doubts. Mainly because of a particular quote from Kawata:
“If we did [go with an open-world], we would want to preserve what Resident Evil is and what makes it appealing to fans, while also making it accessible to new players.“
Part of the reason why this bothers me is because I feel the whole thing about “appealing to fans, while also making it accessible to new players” is kind of what they attempted to do with Resident Evil 6. After all, Leon’s scenario was meant to be more appealing to fans since it was the one that came closer to that old feel, but then Chris and Jake’s campaigns were designed around being more appealing to a crowd outside the older fanbase.
Originally, I thought that maybe the open-world concept would be dealt with similar to Silent Hill: Downpour - where exploration was more open than other titles, but there was still a major focus on the plot. However, I couldn’t imagine Resident Evil taking the route of Silent Hill: Downpour, since those are two different styles of horror game. Silent Hill: Downpour was meant to portray you as a person in an unknown environment where you had a limited amount of tools to use, especially firearms, against any enemies, thus making you feel less empowered.
Not saying that Resident Evil didn’t do this in the past; the older games didn’t have large quantities of ammo readily available so even with powerful weapons like a shotgun, you still felt slightly vulnerable. But I go back to that part of the quote where Kawata said that they needed to make it more accessible to non-fans. While placing a large emphasis on having firepower certainly isn’t the only way, it’s certainly the easier and obvious way since many of the best-selling AAA titles are shooters. If it did go that route, I feel it would just repeat the mistakes of some of the past games.
If the game had a scope like GTA games or Red Dead Redemption, I don’t know necessarily how well it’d come across if you didn’t have access to firepower. I’d imagine that the games would have you doing mission styles like saving civilians and the like and a situation like that might call for that type of gameplay. While you could also put the puzzles of older games into an open-world style, that’s typically not the general appeal of those types of games and you could just put the puzzles into a smaller package.
Open-world style aside, I know that Capcom will be looking at how Revelations sells and the reactions that they will be receiving from that. However, I’m still a little bit on the questionable side with this as Capcom has stated before that it isn’t necessarily reviews they look at. Of course, this was before the sales for their latest game began to drop. Still, the fact that sales are what caught their attention rather than a general distaste in critical and commercial reviews makes me question if they really will pay attention to reactions from Revelations. After all, the game received a marvelous amount of critical reception, but it currently sits at 680,000 units sold. Compare that to Resident Evil 5, a game more focused on the action gameplay rather than horror, that sits around 6 million units sold. Seeing as how the top-selling game in their franchise is purely action-shooter (and it received praise), part of me wonders if they might just turn around and look back at that title for inspiration into the future games.
Of course, this is all pessimistic speculation (as per my article title), so Capcom may surprise me, and us, for their future endeavors in their classic horror series. Do I think Resident Evil is completely dead like some people out there? No, not at all. Resident Evil 6 may have left a bad taste in people’s mouths, but I feel like Capcom can still pull out of that wreckage. Releasing Resident Evil: Revelations on consoles was a good first step and you’ll see me buying that this May. However, I’m still a little bit on the fence with some of the comments regarding thoughts on future games. I just hope Capcom carefully considers how they go about the future of the Resident Evil games because I’d like for the series to still stay around a little longer.
What do you all think? Do you think I’m wrong in my assessment of an open-world Resident Evil game? Do you think Capcom will make good on their promise that they will start listening to fan reception around the release of Revelations? Also, what would you like to see in future titles?
[“Game Pessimism/Optimism” is a new article that will make occasional appearances by me: Joshua Hugo. In these opinion pieces, Hugo will take a topic, typically current news but it could end up being anything as long as it’s covering something yet to happen, and will express views on it in either a pessimistic way or an optimistic way. There may be times in where I mix it up as well.]