E3 2016 is interesting. Despite its size slowly going down- folks attending the show has reported to have good mobile reception and wider walking space, something not seen during the peak of the events- the quality of games being shown, surprise announcements of new games and sequels kept the show being something exciting to those that are paying attention to it.
One of the ballsiest move was seen at Sony’s excellent E3 press conference, after announcing the Playstation VR’s price and release window, a VR game was shown.
Turns out that The Kitchen VR demo Capcom showed last year was actually going to be released on January next year. This creepy-looking first-person game’s name?
Resident Evil 7.
Some went screaming in joy, while most RE fans cry out:” This isn’t a Resident Evil game!”
This situation, of fans calling a certain entry of a game series not worthy of its name, has happened before. Let’s discuss the issues revolving around this conundrum
The Big Franchise Dilemma
As discussed before, big game franchises that has established themselves into a particular formula or building block that ties all its game, can be a blessing or a curse. Having a solid fanbase that will stick around to each entry of the series, despite the sequels not bringing many new innovations to the established formula, is a safe bet. The game will just sell, as the fans are just content with having more of the same. Not exactly the same, mind, but the same set of mechanics the fans love to engage in , but backdropped in a new setting, or advancing the plot they have grown attached to.
The Call Of Duty series has been surprisingly successful with sticking with a very similar formula time and time again.. until the latest announcement that the latest entry of the series, Infinite Warfare, will be set in space with sci-fi elements.
However, certain franchises managed to get a pass. Final Fantasy can afford to have 15 series of games that all play differently and vaguely has similar themes since the series is all about a new set of world, gameplay hook and characters for each mainline entry.
For Resident Evil 7 (full title: Resident Evil 7 biohazard), the backlash from core fans due to it being very, very different. Not only that, the fans are clamouring a retread of the good old days of Resi 1-3, where survival horror means something.
Listening To Fan Demands
On that note, the fans crying for old-school survival horror is reasonable. A lot of the current horror titles, whether it’s the indie scene or from AAA titles, not many games out there try to replicate the classic survival horror formula. The tight, claustrophobic space, resource management where you have to manage limited space for limited ammo, healing items and even puzzle items and items for saving the game. Even the clunky tank controls and fixed camera angles did the game a favour of increasing the sense of dread and difficulty to emerging safe from all the horrors such characters have to face.
Resident Evil isn’t in a great place after Resident Evil 6. A serviceable action game at best, but it lost all the nuances of the past games have been built on. As such, fans wanted something more faithful to the series for its next entry. What we have currently, is Capcom trying to chase the first-person horror stuff games like Outlast and the legendary P.T. demo for the unfortunately cancelled Silent Hills game.
Despite some nods we have seen to classic Resident Evil games: Resi 7 takes place in just one mansion like the first game, puzzle solving involving collecting items and placing them in the right place, but a lot of elements iconic to the series is seemingly not present. Where’s the cast of characters the fans grown to love? Where’s the combat? No third-person camera? Where’s the zombies?
It could be argued that Capcom is working on satiating the fans of classic Resident Evil with them working on Resident Evil 2 Remake, but since there’s no news of when taht is coming, and Resi 7 is set to release early next year, the ridicule is all focused there.
But, maybe some changes can be reasonable.
Gotta Shake Things Up
Hearing a fan of a game proclaiming the latest entry of a series not worthy is nothing new. But sometimes, shaking things up can lead to better success.
Need For Speed Underground, at its time of release, is a far cry from the sereis used to known for. All the exotic cars and cop chases were removed to focus on tuner culture. I was there saying “This isn’t Need For Speed”.
Despite the drastic change, it was a huge success, picking up new fans and a good number of sequels were dedicated to focus on the tuner cars angle, with later games slowly incorporating back exotics. It’s an interesting twist of events when in 2010, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit was released, calling back to the older days of the franchise, and seeing the post-Underground folks to be proclaiming “that isn’t Need For Speed”.
Red Dead Redemption did not build up as a direct sequel of Red Dead Revolver, a fun western-themed shooter that had a troubled development. Instead, the next game of the series went GTA by going open-world and is very, very different from the past game. The new God Of War that was unveiled in the same press conference received almost universal approval.
However, this is not to say this works all the time. Fans of Fallout 1 & 2 still lament on how the series has lost its RPG roots. Capcom themselves experienced the backlash coming from Ninja Theory’s take on Devil May Cry.
The High Expectations
Resident Evil 7 in particular has something else not in their favour. First is due to it being directly compared to the many firs-person horror experiences out there, like P.T. So far, some sites are not that keen on seeing Capcom’s take of the genre due to the high standards of that highly-regarded demo. Being so removed from the namesake from what we have seen so far isn’t helping either.
Adding to the recent disappointments Capcom has been releasing, like the way they are handling the release of Street Fighter V then Capcom is fighting an uphill battle to impress the people, and win back their fans. As mentioned earlier, Resident Evil isn’t in a strong level where a change in tone is the right way to go, Resi 6 changed the tone to be very more action-oriented, and them changing again to something completely different instead of going back to good old survival horror isn’t doing them any favours.
Resident Evil 7 may not be a faithful Resident Evil game, but seeing it being the big game that is going to be playable fully in VR is a huge risk. Sure, the idea itself isn’t as bold- more like seizing an opportunity in an emerging trend, but it’s probably better to not write it off so soon just because it should’ve been an entirely new IP.
Frankly, Capcom is clearly responding to the reactions, saying the demo available on PS4 currently won’t be part of the game, and confirming some elements of the series, like herbs, will make a return.
It remains to be seen if it’s even a good game. But hopefully, Capcom’s gamble will pay off. It’s okay to remain skeptical, but don’t write it off just yet.