There has been online co-op Resident Evil games before with the Outbreak games, the fifth and sixth entries. Both Revelations titles had dedicated modes for bringing a friend to shoot up some B.O.W.s online.
With Resident Evil 3 (2020), Capcom chose to cut the single player survival mode from the original, and instead created a new kind of asymmetrical multiplayer experience for their venerable horror franchise.
The Resident Evil games has had gamers assume the role as hapless survivors trying to escape out of dire situations for decades. With Resident Evil Resistance, get ready to play as the villain.
Resident Evil Resistance
Developer: Capcom, NeoBards Entertainment Ltd.
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Release Date: April 3rd, 2020
When Resident Evil Resistance was first unveiled, everybody rejected it. Like Umbrella Corps, it was something no fan wanted. The core appeal of the franchise has mostly been on the single player experience, because this was always more effective at creating tension and horror atmosphere.
Fans were concerned that Resistance would only divert resources away from Resident Evil 3. It remains to be seen if this was true or not, but as it stands, Resistance manages to be a surprisingly well constructed multiplayer horror game.
Where Resident Evil 3 disappoints with its lack of substance and rushed narrative (you can find our review here), it is Resistance where Capcom has placed all their bets. Sadly, it will be overlooked, and it seems even the publisher recognized the negative reception and made both games as separate applications.
Gameplay is divided up between two main modules; survivors and a mastermind. Four players assume the roles of six possible survivors (seven counting Jill), and will have to navigate levels that are overseen by a player who is the mastermind.
Playing as a survivor is mostly straightforward Resident Evil gameplay; fighting monsters, exploring and solving some light puzzles. Sometimes characters will have to make use of their unique abilities to negotiate some of the precarious situations that will be meticulously planned by the game’s mastermind.
Mastermind gameplay is the interesting gameplay flourish that makes Resistance so unique. There are elements of Deception, with some tower-defense, and Resident Evil 6‘s Agent Hunt mode mixed together in one big itchy-tasty stew.
Masterminds are tasked with being the director of every stage. They can place enemies and level them up. Every mastermind gets their own set of unique abilities and their own distinct boss monster. The real joy is when you get to play as these monsters.
Survivor are capable of taking out a mastermind’s camera feed which disable’s their view of that specific room. The mind games that players can do to each other is limitless, since it’s very easy to lure survivors into a false sense of security and paranoia.
It is not completely one-sided, since monsters like William Birkin or Mr.X might be able to one-shot most characters; survivors like Becca can get an infinite rocket launcher to even things out. Masterminds have the advantage early on, but high level games switch the paradigm completely around.
This is why the mastermind gameplay is so apparently the core experience, since it is the module that rises in difficulty the more progress is made. The more survivors level up and upgrade themselves, the easier it is for them to completely foil the mastermind’s game.
Playing as a survivor is mechanically similar to Jill’s gameplay from Resident Evil 3, but with a huge pool of abilities to learn. Each of them has their own quirks to how they handle as well, so it is worth trying them all out, since some excel in some areas better than others.
Certain survivors are also more effective at countering specific masterminds. Valerie’s load out is geared towards taking on Annette Birkin, whereas January’s hacking is best suited against Spencer.
Anyone who suspected that Resistance might have taken up resources away from Resident Evil 3 will likely feel exonerated when they witness the new locations. The Casino, theme park, and the Raccoon City downtown areas are all stages that should have been in Jill’s story.
Playing in these levels is bittersweet, and only sparks the imagination of what could have been. They are superbly designed, and have that soul of the original 1999 Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
The three locations are large and sprawling, making each session feel lengthy. Situations play out like a 90s horror movie, as somebody in the party is probably going to get separated and killed off. Resistance can often feel like a comfy and cozy nostalgic trip to 90s horror cinema.
Sessions can sometimes be drawn out as survivors exploit camera blind spots, causing masterminds to have to guess what to do next. This is a thinking-man’s multiplayer game, and demands players to think through their actions since everything comes at a cost.
All characters and threats have a very methodical pace to their actions. When you have to carefully consider every action, then every little thing becomes all the more important. Resistance does an excellent job at building tension this way, and is a more effective horror experience than Jill’s game.
The only thing that is holding Resistance back is that it is an online only multiplayer game. This was something that the Resident Evil audience did not want, and so it has an anemic community playing it.
What this needed was an offline mastermind mode that had a sense of progression. Like a Raid or Arcade Mode, but for masterminds only, since it’s foundation is so strong it could carry itself as a game.
Fans of the franchise had a good reason to be put off by Resistance, since it probably was why Resident Evil 3 (2020) ended up much shorter and paired down compared to its source material. You can see so much in Resistance that would have made Jill’s escape much richer.
Resident Evil Resistance is likely going to fall by the wayside like the repugnant Umbrella Corps, and be remembered as that thing nobody wanted. For years fans have wanted a new Resident Evil: Outbreak and sadly, they are going to miss something that manages to be as good as it.
Resident Evil Resistance was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Capcom. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
Images: Resident Evil Resistance official website