After months of speculation, follow by more questions after the trailer launch, Capcom finally provided some long-awaited answers to what you can expect from Resident Evil 6. Make sure you check out the Captivate trailer (if you haven’t, already) to get your head in the right place. We got plenty of information during an hour-long presentation at the event last week.
So, what do you need to know about Capcom’s newest sequel? Look no further…
It's out sooner than initially expected
As you may have noticed from the end of the Captivate trailer, the date has changed. Originally, Americans looked to be playing an RE game and running the risk of revisiting Thanksgiving dinner. However, it looks more like Canadians will be doing that, since the game has moved from November 20 to October 2. We and Capcom figure that no one’s really going to object to that.
The game is oozing random shout-outs to its PlayStation legacy throughout. You won’t be able to miss the autosave prompt, which includes an active typewriter. You may have also noticed the first trailer, in which the zombified President of the United States looks up from munching on a victim with the same glare seen back in 1996. These will likely be the tip of a very huge iceberg.
Three stories, one game
This element, more than any, seems to ape Resident Evil 2. Remember the A and B games for Leon and Claire Redfield, and how each version gave you reasons to go back and replay to see how things went differently? We’ve seen Rockstar use it to good effect in Grand Theft Auto IV, and it should be an interesting method in RE6. Capcom revealed that you can play them in any order, since no matter how you start, all of the action ends up in Lanshiang, China. It’s also the first time you’ll ever see Chris Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy cross paths in an RE title.
Leon’s story puts him in the shoes of fugitive, alongside with Helena Harper, a Secret Service detail who knows more than she’s telling. According to Capcom's Eiichiro Sasaki, the trailer sequence in which Leon shoots the President comes on the heels of the POTUS showing up in the town of Tall Oaks to speak at its university against the use of biological weapons as military tactics. The President and other staff are then attacked with a virus that turns them into zombies, which, as we’ll point out later, means another important wrinkle in the game…
Chris’ tale will, according to Sasaki, be one that puts our excessively muscled hero into a position more uncomfortable than smiting possessed villagers. He’ll be working with BSAA sniper Piers Nivans. Prior to the events that drive the game, Chris encounters something that is life-changing and completely colors the rest of the game. It’s apparently heavily traumatic. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t mean shooting a Zombiefied Claire.
Introducing Jake Muller
Jake Muller is the new hero, and mysterious mercenary from the initial reveal trailer. His section takes place amidst a civil war in the fictitious Eastern European country of Edonia. He’s there to earn money for his family. He’s the son of the late RE villain Albert Wesker –though he neither knows nor cares who his father is-- and as a result of Wesker’s self-induced genetic experiments, Jake has immunities to bio-weapons that he has inherited. So has his partner, Sherry Birkin, who long-time fans will remember helping cure from the effect of the G-virus in RE2 when she was a young girl.
Horror is back
Producer Yoshi Hirabayashi says that the series is going to make a dramatic return to its horror roots. It was especially noticeable as Capcom fired up a 15 minute demo of the game in action. Leon’s section finds him investigating Tall Oaks University after shooting the President. We’ll dive into the small details later, but there’s a strong sense of the same uncomfortable silences, creaky floorboards, and creeping dread that made the original games so tense. The University echoes both Arklay Mansion and the Raccoon City PD buildings from the first two games.
Even with RE4/5’s trademark action shooter mechanics, there’s a real lingering sense of uncertainty and fear in each room. It’s evident that whether the team acknowledges it or not, Dead Space 2 has raised the bar, and RE6 may well be Capcom’s response.
Monologues aren't inner, anymore
The content from the old games has become a more organic part of the experience. Remember how characters would stumble on something, and text would pop up that would indicate their internal monologue? They articulate it out loud in RE6. As Leon takes mental notes, he thinks aloud. At one point, he declares “this feels just like Raccoon,” which prompts a short dialogue with Helena about the events of RE2. We imagine that if retro-style puzzles are part of the equation, this sort of dialogue will go part and parcel with it.
Tying up loose ends?
Aside from the visual throwbacks, RE6 will revisit old plot threads. One hopes it doesn’t get into Metal Gear Solid 4-level convolution (look, we all love MGS4, but still…) as the legacy of these virulent viruses manifest in a new generation, between Jake, Sherry, and the C-Virus. It’s a salute to those who’ve been playing since 1996, and it appears to be another good resource of lore to mine.
Meet the J'avo
There’s a fusion of old and new in the bestiary, too. Jake is up close and personal with a J’avo, genetic mutants that can regenerate strength quickly and regrow limbs. These will be your new headache.
What'll hatch from it?
Chrysalides new viral pods, gestate new creatures --not unlike Chestbursters-- and Capcom’s wording seems to hint that they’ll hatch out unpredictable creatures. No word on how much that’ll affect the bestiary beyond the monsters we already know about, but rest assured we’ll find out soon.
Guess who's back?
Everyones’ favorite cannon fodder will be back, at least (as of now) in Tall Oaks. But these undead will have more abilities than in the past, as they can run and jump.
Zombies in Tall Oaks have the muscle memory of their pre-viral lives, so if they transitioned while fighting off a horde, they’ll still swing pipes and bats at Leon. Those weapons can, of course, be used against them. In the demo, we watched Leon pull a knife out of a zombie’s chest and drive in under his chin and through his brain. And we winced. It was pretty brutal.
New additions to familiar gunfire
New shooting mechanics mean that we can argue about tank controls all day (older gamers mean “PlayStation-era Resident Evil,” younger gamers interpret it as “Dead Space”), but RE6 will allow its three heroes to not only move and shoot (finally), but also shoot from the ground. Shooting from the ground comes with risks, as some enemies will be programmed to make life harder for those looking to shoot from lower centers of gravity. Also, there’s a meter that indicates how much you need to waggle an analog stick when a creature gets in your face.
Resident Evil 6’s co-op options are richer than before
The game’s split screen is slightly smaller than half the screen, and player one’s view is shifted more to the top left corner, while player two’s is in the lower right, which is far less visually confusing.
And just in case anyone gets mixed up, the game will allow you to customize HUD placement on your section of the screen. It’ll also have canned commands and gestures (“Thanks,” “Follow,” “Move,” etc) for you to communicate sans headset much like you have in several other online games. The cherry on top is confirmed drop-in/drop-out co-op online. RE5 forced you to load from the last checkpoint when someone joined your game. That won’t be the case in this sequel.
We could’ve sworn we saw some first-aid sprays around, but Resident Evil 6 is revamping the herb system. Now you’ll play chemist and combine them into herb tablets (supplements?) that you can pop in case of emergency. And with the new 3D HUD, you’ll have a quick-heal option that keeps you in the action, even as death looms perilously close.
Mercenaries is unlocked from the beginning
One of the biggest reveals from Captivate was that Mercenaries mode is unlocked from beginning of the game. While you’ll have the option to jump right into the mode made popular in RE4, Capcom's Yoshi Hirabayashi joked that he hopes everyone will clear the game before timing their smiting skills.
Our take? We want to see more!
After seeing what Resident Evil 6 will offer, we’re excited to see how the other sections of the game will either share in Leon’s tense return to survival horror, or if we’ll get a grab bag with moments of horror spliced with Chris shooting everything in the face. One thing’s for sure: we’re not expecting Capcom’s sequel to have many dull moments.
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