This year, the Resident Evil franchise turns 25. Aside from making me feel incredibly old, this is a pretty big deal as just a few short years ago the future of the franchise looked dire. Despite huge sales success, entries five and six were largely derided as taking Resident Evil in an undesired direction, too much action and not enough survival horror. Thankfully, RE7 and the recent remakes of RE2 and RE3 have brought the series back to not only its roots, but have managed to raise the bar in the genre in an excellent way. Indeed, RE2‘s 2019 entry is easily in my top five of all time now. Resident Evil has always been at its best as a slower paced, single player affair offering tense gameplay, huge monstrosities to fight and some overly cheesy, yet entertaining, acting.
So, what better way to celebrate this milestone than *checks notes* an online, PvP multiplayer game? Of course, this is being bundled in with the excellent looking Resident Evil Village, but it still seems an odd choice to make. I was as sceptical as anyone from the brief trailer shown off recently, but now I’ve had time to go hands on and…well, it’s not terrible.
To my knowledge there hasn’t been a PvP RE game in this manner before. We’ve had titles like Operation Racoon City, which could pit two teams of four against each other (and was largely looked upon as really rather crap), and the asynchronous Resistance mode bundled with RE3 last year, but solely PvP action is new to the series.
As a bit of fan service there is certainly stuff to enjoy here. I got a kick out of seeing all my favourite characters (and Hunk) appearing on the title screen together, and the main art piece up top is a thing of beauty, bringing those good and bad into one epic montage. Setting the arenas in fan favourite locals is awesome (though only the RPD is available in the beta) and each character has unique traits in game that long time fans will recognise.
As a game? Well, it’s alright I guess. Action is played out in third person much in the vein of RE2 and RE3, though things are certainly a bit faster paced. We have a dodge roll ability governed by a stamina meter that refills pretty quickly, and there’s no need to worry about inventory management either so it’s all out action.
Each character begins a round with two weapons; an unlimited ammo pistol, and a personal weapon. This tends to fit the character in question, so Ada Wong comes packing a crossbow, while Leon. S. Kennedy brings in a shotgun, and Hunk his powerful assault rifle. These have limited ammo that can be replenished by pickups around the level. There are enough of these that mean the pistol is really a last resort mind, very rarely did I fully run out of ammo.
Powerful, single use weapons are dotted around the level as well, ranging from the Sparkshot, to Rocket Launcher, and Chem Grenade Launcher. As implied, we only get one shot with these before they are discarded and they are also lost upon death so it pays to use them quickly. They also spawn only once or twice a round so finding them can be hard.
Actual combat is fast and frantic. The guns all have a good amount of impact to them, and dodge rolling around helps lessen damage for a second. It’s not uncommon to stumble on a fight and see two Chris’s, a Jill and Claire all firing and rolling about the place. Health is presented in the standard RE way with Good, Caution and Danger states. This can make knowing just how far you are from death a bit vague as Danger could mean one hit or three, but in all honesty the speed of gameplay meant that was rarely a big worry. There are plentiful green herbs around too, and just like weapon and ammo these are picked up and used automatically.
The thing is, as action-packed as it is, the gunplay lacks much personality. At present there’s very little in the way of audio feedback other than some squelchy noises; I’d like to hear little quips from characters when they kill someone occasionally, or have the guns sound a bit beefier to represent the good amount of damage they do. There’s some very generic music in the background playing and little emphasis on any other audio work such as footsteps or the like. It’s also quite sterile in the visual department, with a kind of semi-cel shaded look that both brightens up the game while at the same time robbing it of that classic RE feel. The environments are static, and there’s currently no mantling or such, which feels at odds with the fast gunplay.
But we will die at some point and it’s here that Re:Verse starts to inject some more personality to things. Rather than simply respawning, we drop to the floor and mutate into one of several bioweapons from the series history. Dotted around the levels are Biohazard containers; depending on how many we hold upon death, we mutate into one of a few different levels of monster. No canisters turns us into a Fat Molded (the weakest of the bunch) while one will have us form into the Gamma Hunter or Jack Baker. Two meanwhile is the maximum in the beta and has us take control of either the Nemesis or Super Tyrant. Naturally these are the most powerful forms, capable of dealing out huge damage. The Super Tyrant is a little OP right now thanks to a jumping attack that stuns us for longer than it takes their attack to recharge, meaning we can get caught in an inescapable loop quite easily. Each variant comes with two special attacks, in addition to a melee one, that are on cooldowns that vary in length in relation to how strong they are. Some, such as Jack Baker’s grab attack, also double up as cool looking finishers (he delivers a killing punch complemented by the famous “Welcome to the Family” line). These bioweapons are strong, but also lose health constantly in addition to being attacked meaning even those equipped with a Super Tyrant can’t go on game-long streaks with it. It’s also random who we get (depending on the amount of canisters we hold too).
I’m hoping the final release will see a few more varieties added in both human characters and bioweapons. It’d be great to see people like Barry Burton, Wesker, Rebecca Chambers, and Steve Burnside for the human side, and the original Tyrant, Dr. Salvador, or even a form of El Gigante appear.
Overall then I came away from a couple of hours with it having had some fun. It’s great to see all these characters brought together in one game, and the fan service on display is pretty great. Playing as the Bioweapons is good fun and if there are more varieties in the final release then things, as they say, can only get better. With only a few months before release I doubt much will change in the way of the human side of combat though, and it’s here that things fall a little flat. Again, each survivor has their own skills and weapons but everything just feels uninspiring, from the fairly bland feedback to a lack of character in fights. That this is coming with Village means it’ll get a good reach of potential players, but much like Resistance I’m not sure many will stick around for long.Become a Patron!
This game was previewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.