Have you ever wondered who would win in a brawl between Nemesis and Jack Baker? This is the sort of argument that should have no clear answer. It should exist hypothetically, as a discussion designed to keep a divisive fandom engaged eternally in the online era. To celebrate Resident Evil's 25th anniversary, Capcom has sought to put a pin in this debate – and every conceivable variant of it – once and for all with Resident Evil Re:Verse.
In the recent Resident Evil Re:Verse open beta, we were given the opportunity to crown a victor in the fight between some of the series' most famous heroes, villains, and those that straddle the line between the two. Sadly, if our time with the beta is any indication, the answer is certain to underwhelm. Spoiler Alert: the ultimate Resident Evil character is whoever can mash the attack button the fastest.
Enter the death match
Like so many of the Resident Evil multiplayer experiments that Capcom has carried out in the last decade, Resident Evil Re:Verse is light on survival and lighter still on horror. Combat is weightless, ammunition is plentiful, and respawns flow freely. In fact, the scariest thing about Resident Evil Re:Verse open beta just might be how quickly it is able to expend your attention.
Re:Verse is styled around five-minute deathmatches, and that certainly works in its favour. Rounds rarely outstay their welcome, with six players typically sticking around until the countdown concludes, rather than quitting out as soon as the leaderboard turns against them - though there's little reason to keep diving back in for more. Re:Verse asks little of you and, as a result, I had had my fill of the game pretty quickly.
If you stick with it, Re:Verse settles into a surprisingly predictable rhythm. Firefights are frantic and quick to conclude; hit-boxes are large, making combat feel somewhat haphazard; and the skill-ceiling feels disappointingly low, even for character models that are so comically oversized for the environment that they occupy. Typically, whoever pulls the trigger first will win. As a result, there is very little to learn here and Re:Verse is, at best, cumbersome and chaotic. Fun in short bursts, but ultimately lacking the depth and nuance to convince you to play for longer. Whether that's something Capcom can tighten up between the game's open beta and full release remains to be seen.
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Stars like Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong, Jill Valentine, and Chris Redfield each come equipped with their own unique abilities and signature weapons, but the characters are virtually identical beneath your fingertips. The basic movement, dodge, and firing mechanic has little discernible variation, and can make it feel as if you are in control of a weightless mannequin stitched into a hyper-stylized Resident Evil costume.
There's more of a distinction between the six bioweapons, which you reanimate into once you perish, giving you a short window of time to chase down your assailant. They are fun to take command of, but your success as a super-powered entity is dependent on who can hit the attack button the fastest. The R.C.P.D has hosted many horrors, but nothing as weird as multiple Hunter Gammas tail-whipping each other in the station foyer as two Ada Wong clones fire crossbow bolts into the fray from adjacent staircases.
Resident Evil Re:Verse doesn't reflect the tempered action or claustrophobic atmosphere of the mainline games or recent remakes, but that isn't reason to discount it. That Capcom feels it is in a position to once again experiment with the brand indicates that it is in good health, but I can't help but wonder whether there were other better, more thematically appropriate, ways to celebrate the 25th anniversary. My concern is that the Re:Verse open beta has revealed a game with – potentially – very little staying power, which means we could well have yet another Resident Evil online experiment that will fade from view as quickly as it emerged.
Resident Evil ReVerse is going to launch alongside Resident Evil Village on April 22 for PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.