When it comes to horror games in general, my mind tends to wander to Resident Evil. This is a series that’s truly had its ups and downs. Going way back to the classic iterations, there really wasn’t much like it at the time. Capcom wonderfully blended several gameplay elements together that would go on to produce terrifying and captivating experiences at every new release. The item management was spot on, puzzles were innovative, the jump-scares were as freakish as they come and the general atmosphere was near outstanding.
This formula, however, only got the series so far. Granted, the classic iterations of Resident Evil ran for quite some years and spanned a large number of titles, but evolving gameplay and newer hardware pushed Capcom into reinventing the concept. This lead to Resident Evil 4, one of the highest regarded games in the entire franchise. Resident Evil 4 traded fixed cameras and adopted a third-person view, which made the whole ordeal much more personal and involving. It helped, of course, that Capcom retained that survival horror feel.
Sadly, this is where shit went downhill. Resident Evil 4’s two immediate sequels, Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, did very little but annoy the fan-base. Both of these entries took a massive step away from horror and a huge leap towards action. They also implemented a ridiculously tedious co-op system that allowed for two players to run through the entire experience in unity. Sounds appealing on paper, right? Unfortunately it was the polar opposite in practice. What didn’t help, mind, was that this system was very poorly created.
The addition of a second player meant that when a player was playing solo, AI would fill the boots of the player’s companion. Not only was the AI as derpy as they come, but the gameplay didn’t do anywhere near enough to bolster the co-op experience. Much of the gameplay consisted of; pushing a button to open a door for the second player, holding a doorway open for the second player, and, occasionally, being separated for small lengths of time. By and large, it was one of the biggest criticisms across both Resident Evil 5 and 6.
Then, something happened, Capcom once again returned to the drawing board to reinvent the series. This led to Resident Evil 7, a first person survival horror that easily stands as one of the best games of 2017. What’s more? No stupid tacked on co-op functionality, leaving the player to truly feel isolated and alone once more. But, should we write off a relationship between co-op and Resident Evil altogether? I’m not entirely sure. Let’s all cast our minds back to one of the most under-appreciated games in the series, Resident Evil Outbreak.
Resident Evil Outbreak and Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 were the first games in the series to offer co-op play and online support. Both games were based in the iconic Raccoon City and took place between the events of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2/3. In the face of the Resident Evil 2 Remake, and all of the Resident Evil remasters that Capcom are releasing this gen, I cant help but think that a new Outbreak game, or indeed a remastered version of the first two games would go down very well with the crowd. I certainly would welcome these.
The gameplay allowed for up to four players to take to that classic Resident Evil formula, spread over several scenarios and tiers of difficulty. Each scenario came with lore, a checklist, and a 100% completion system. Sadly the games didn’t quite get the attention nor the support that they deserved, or certainly not the same level found in the Japanese versions. The difference between the multiplayer in Outbreak and (let’s say) Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, is that the former actually fed well into the gameplay systems within.
Whereas Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, the co-op functionality was far too bare. Also, it goes without saying that Outbreak was a much more distinct and unique experience. Take the Wild Things scenario, for example, in which all four players are taken through Raccoon City Zoo whilst being pursued by an array of undead animals, including that of a devastating zombie elephant. This is just one example out of several that goes to show that at one time, co-op worked extremely well in Resident Evil. I could go on and on, but I wont spoil it here.
Again, Capcom are no stranger to remasters or remakes, and given how accessible online gaming is now in comparison to what it was like back in the early 2000’s, Outbreak and Outbreak File #2 would have a better chance to shine today, then ever before. What about you? Did you ever play any of the Resident Evil Outbreak games? Would you welcome their return? If so, would you prefer straight up remasters or something brand new and from the ground up? If you have got anything to share, feel free to hit the comment section below.