Resident Evil has not had the most illustrious of outings as a multiplayer title. From the online enabled Outbreak on PS2 that wasn’t, well, online in Europe, to more recent endevours such as the woeful Operation Raccoon City, the phrase ‘multiplayer’ tends to get the RE fan in me setting my expectations low. Resistance is by far the best attempt yet by my measure, though it’s also not anything that’s likely to really have me coming back too often.
For starters, actually trying to find a game is somewhat difficulty right now. It has improved in the week since launch, but even just a day or so ago I was queued for over 12 minutes before backing out and trying again. Rarely was I able to find a game in less than a few minutes, which is supremely frustrating not only because it feels like a waste of time, but a fair amount of the rounds I did get to play lasted less than the wait time…
Being a 4v1 affair, teamwork is essential. Sadly, as is the way with playing with randoms, actually getting people to co-ordinate with any real success proves nigh-on impossible. First comes the rush to grab a favourite character; if I loaded last into a lobby, no doubt I’d be left with a character I hadn’t levelled up or put any time into. Then, when the game starts, chances are high that at least one or two players will sprint off and get into trouble, while the rest of us slowly catch up as we clear the defences put down by the Mastermind. These issues aren’t really the games fault, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less annoying. Perhaps more co-op focused features would have helped? A ping system is sorely lacking, and being able to show a preference for a character in the lobby before everyone starts choosing might help there. Basically, just do what Apex Legends does…
What makes these issues more frustrating is that when I did get a game and some decent team mates I had a pretty good time. Standing shoulder to shoulder with a few others as we mow down whatever the director throws at us while progressing towards the objective managed to feel like a true RE game at times. Pelting Mr.X with everything we had after he rounded a corner unexpectedly was just as terrifying as in RE2, though depending on the player controlling him he can seem a little too swing happy!
Each character has their own specialities, such as Martin Sandwich’s ability to disable or place his own traps, or Valerie, who can highlight hidden items and heal the whole squad – and is pretty much an essential member of a team for this alone. These abilities slowly recharge over time and come in handy, especially when trapped in a corner. They also start out with slightly different weapons, though new ones can be purchased using the shared currency from item boxes at the start of each wave.
Controlling them feels very similar to the main line games, with the camera placed in the over the shoulder position. This can prove to hinder things at times, the cluttered corridors and tight spaces either pushing it too far in, or obscuring my view entirely. It does keep the tension high though – as in the single player, when we’re locked into solving a puzzle, the unseen enemies heard approaching get the adrenaline flowing. Zombies, and the accompanying crew of bio-weapons, are just as tough as before too, taking multiple head shots to down. I’m not a big fan of the numbers popping out of them as they’re hit à la titles such as Destiny or Anthem, but I get the inclusion for the sake of seeing an appreciable increase in upgraded characters.
Stages take the form of 3 waves, each requiring a more elaborate methods of escape. From simply finding 3 puzzle pieces (which is randomly changed each round, so we’re not always looking for the same 3 things) to having to destroy rock solid bio-canisters, I enjoyed the ramp up in difficulty in this way. Again, with a good team there’s just the right amount of challenge on offer, having someone to watch our back and revive people when downed. A map shows us where everyone is, though we need to toggle this on and off as it covers the entire screen when in use. It’s also a little unclear who has the required maguffin at times to progress – the seconds stage needs a key card taking to 3 points around the map, but only the player holding it can do so. At one point I had it but got downed and my team spent the entire rest of our round time seemingly running around like headless chickens rather than come collect it or revive me.
But playing as the survivors in only half of the package. We can also take control of one of the series’ iconic villain’s as the Mastermind. This is arguably the most fun part – and the one that’ll cause the longest queue times. Each character, from Albert Wesker to Annette Birkin, have their own options for attack, as well as access to the series big bads to use – Annette gets to bring her mutated husband William into the fray, for example. We drop enemies in using the multiple camera around the arenas. Each have a specific cost, in the vein of a CCG such as Hearthstone, and when one has been used a random card is drawn in its place. We also have cards that cut down the cool times on these, or enhance the attack power of enemies. Flicking between cameras, we’re able to place enemies and traps ahead of them, or trap them in rooms alone. Again, depending on the team work of the team, it can be a bit too easy as the Mastermind, with one game seeing me able to trap a lone survivor in a room with an endless supply of zombies to fend off as the timer ran out. Doors can be locked and lights switched off too, further disorientating them.
No matter the side, I enjoyed the gameplay for the most part, but I also don’t see myself checking in all that regularly. The long lobby times play a part, but without some buddies to team up with it can be too hit and miss whether the wait will be worth it. A levelling system will reward players with extra slots for items and perks, but I find this to be more of a deterrent knowing that unless I regularly play I’m likely to be under powered fairly soon, making the wait times even less worth while. New cards, items and perks can be equipped once certain levels are reached, but in my time playing I barely managed to unlock even the most basic ones. I think the levelling and unlocks have been skewed to ape more popular titles, and at moment it’s far too much of a grind to get anything that will truly change a play style. RP (XP) boosters that can be bought with real world money aren’t forced upon players – yet – but the fact they’re there at all suggests even more chances to be left behind. Seeing as it’s included with the excellent Resident Evil 3 Remake, I’m hopeful that going forward things will improve and a decent community will spring up around it, but for now I wouldn’t recommend picking up the package for this alone.
Clearly the best multiplayer outing for the Resident Evil series yet, it is nonetheless held back by some long lobby wait times, lack of ability to non-verbally communicate with team mates and an overpowered Mastermind suite. When things come together the gameplay is fun, though nothing revolutionary, and it even manages to carry over some of the tension found in the main games, so I really hope a solid community builds up going forward.
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
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