Resident Evil 6 Won't Happen Again, Survival Horror is Saved?

Capcom promises that the "bloated" Resident Evil 6 is not the direction for the series going forward.

News by Mike Williams, .

Hey, does everyone remember survival horror, the genre that the first Resident Evil gave a name to? Resident Evil 4 marked a highpoint in the franchise, and Resident Evil 6 showed just how far you could fall in a console generation. Resident Evil 6 did cross 5 million in unit sales worldwide, but that was 2 million below Capcom's expectations.

Now Capcom is looking to make things right. A month ago, Capcom senior vice president of marketing Michael Pattison made the transition over to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe as vice president of third-party relations. From his new position, Pattison has told MCV that Capcom has learned its lesson with Resident Evil 6.

"We have obviously seen the consumer response and the PR response," Pattison said. "There was some great positives out of that, but it was a mixed bag, as we saw from the review scores. We have got to take that on-board, we can't ignore that, and we have to take that onto the next game when we make the next Resident Evil."

Resident Evil had three different focused campaigns, each with a different story, protagonist, and playstyle. Leon Kennedy's campaign played more like Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil and Resident Evil 5 lead Chris Redfield went through a campaign more focused on action combat. Jake Muller's campaign played like Resident Evil 3: Nemesis with an ever-present foe dogging Jake's tracks. The problem is that each of the three campaigns were aimed at different types of players. Jack of all trades, master of none.

I hope I can survive this QTE.

"With Resident Evil 6 specifically, we probably put too much content in there, there were comments from consumers that said it felt bloated," said Pattison. "The Leon missions went down very well, and because we did Resident Evil Revelations on 3DS, there was a cry out for us to focus our attention on survival horror, rather than be too many things to all people. You'll find where we go next will likely be more targeted at our core fanbase."

Pattison pointed to The Last of Us and Tomb Raider as titles showing what consumers want from survival games. The Last Of Us sticks closer to what I want from a Resident Evil game, but I enjoyed Tomb Raider as well.

The problem is that big-budget horror games don't tend to stay horror games for very long. EA's Dead Space series, which looked like the heir apparent to Resident Evil, became more action-oriented with each iteration. Now the series is on hold, so we may never see a return to form. Is the horror genre just not big enough for big budgets?

At the beginning of this year, former Epic Games designer Cliff Bleszinski said that the horror genre doesn't work in the $60 disc-based market. He was replying about complaints leveled at Dead Space 3 for being an action title.

"Generally speaking, the scarier a game is the less empowered a player feels. Controls are often clunky on purpose, and the pacing is quite different from an action movie," he wrote. "In the $60 disc-based market horror doesn't fly - it's the ultimate 'Campaign Rental' that's played for two days and traded in and I'm sure EA knows this. When we're fully digital we'll see more true horror games coming back."

Pete talked about jump scares earlier this week, but for me the pinnacle of survival horror, Resident Evil 4, wasn't really all that scary. In fact, 'survival horror' should focus on the first part of that name: surviving. It's a fine line, and being on different sides of it provides a different experience. There's titles like Silent Hill, where they give you just enough weapons to make you think that you can fight back. (Newsflash: you can't.) There's games like Dead Space 3 and Tomb Raider where you have the overwhelming power to fight back - the action survival horror games live here - and most deaths are because you failed to pull off a move.

And then there's a fun balancing point in the middle: you have weapons, but maybe not enough ammo for them. More power requires taking more risks that may get you killed. The sweet spot is that give and take between power and risk. I think the Last of Us erred on the Silent Hill side, but it was a solid shot at my heart. Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space 2 sit right on my sweet spot. Dead Space 3 lost a great deal of it for me because making the modular weapon system work required making universal ammo. I never had any fear - see how that pops up - that I was going to run out of ammo on my favorite weapon because all ammo would work in it.

So where is the perfect survival horror for you? Is Slender and Amnesia more your speed, or do you want the tools to fight back against the dark?

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Comments 13

  • Avatar for Wellman #1 Wellman 4 years ago
    I had hopes after Revelations proved to be a fun experience but I suspect the days of great survival horror console games are over. Companies are aiming toward that Call of Duty/Gears of War/God of War type crowd and the rest of us can die off in our 9 to 5 jobs.
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  • Avatar for d0x #2 d0x 4 years ago
    Capcom still misses the point. Bloat isn't the issue. The issue is they ditched survival horror and went action. Terrible action to boot. They need to return to fixed camera angles with classic gameplay but without tank controls obviously. A free camera takes away from the tension. Not being able to see everything adds a lot to the genre.
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  • Avatar for d0x #3 d0x 4 years ago
    @Wellman well dead space 3 was a failure while the first 2 sold well. Hopefully that sent a proper message. I just bought it in the bundle with a bunch of other games for $5 and I'm glad I didn't pay full price. I killed more enemies in the first 2 min of ds3 than in the first hour of the original.
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  • Avatar for Bla1ne #4 Bla1ne 4 years ago
    Surprisingly, I'm actually inclined to agree with Cliff there... I wouldn't mind at all if a *real* survival horror game was made for, and sold at, a 40$ price tag. If Capcom developed a survival horror, aiming for 3-4 million sales, at a retail price of 40$, and developed it with a reasonable budget to match, then I think the outcome would be great for them. Not only would the real fans of the genre and the series be happy, but Capcom would have a great game to show off--albeit a budget, shorter game.

    As it is right now, Capcom could use a great game of their own to show off...
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  • Avatar for presidentcamacho #5 presidentcamacho 4 years ago
    Resident Evil 4 is the high point for me. Damn near theperfect blend of action and tension, my favorite example being when you walk into the bridge crank room in the castle. No real "Boo!" scares, just that feeling of doom when you see your ammo supply dwindle away while the freaks just keep coming. The biggest hits to the atmosphere and the tension in 5 and 6 were the co-op thing (4 managed to pull it off in the cabin scene) and the inventory sytstem- I never felt isolated or panicked that I was going to run out of supplies. Granted, once you learn some exploits in 4 the tension goes away greatly, but holy hell those first couple plays were amazing.
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #6 curryking3 4 years ago
    Right, so now CAPCOM thinks Resident Evil 6 is bloated... that wasn't the sales pitch pre-release :P
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  • Avatar for docexe #7 docexe 4 years ago
    I think the success of the Last of Us is proof that there is still a market for games with survival horror elements in consoles. Although, ultimately, I think that The Evil Within will be the trial by fire for the genre. If it manages to be not only a good survival horror game, but a commercial success, we might finally see a resurgence of AAA survival horrors in the future.

    As to Resident Evil, RE4 was the high point of the series for me as well. True, it’s the point where the series transitioned from being pure survival horror to a mix of action and horror. But while it was not definitely a scary game, it still retained the tension and sense of dread from previous entries in the series. That was not only a result of a good balance of weapons and ammunitions, but also the fact that you were most of the time pitted (either alone or with a companion that was completely helpless) against hordes of enemies that were relentless in their pursuit, some of which could kill you instantly if you were careless. The scenarios were truly atmospheric as well, and you had to handle the terrain properly in order to fight back and use the right weapon for the right situation. Even if you could later acquire better weapons and upgrades, you still had to work for them and manage them properly, as your inventory space was limited. I think that proper mix of elements helped to empower you in ways that previous games of the series didn’t, but still keep the balance of the game firmly set against the player (at least on your first playthrough), so the end result was still a very exhilarating experience.

    By contrast, I think that later games on the franchise tipped the balance too much in favor of the player at the onset. While I found RE6 to be entertaining as a 3rd person shooter in cooperative mode, and my brother and me ultimately enjoyed playing the Leon campaign in that mode, the fact remains that the series was never meant to be a cooperative shooter as that inevitably reduced the tension. It didn’t help that RE6 is not really that good as a third person shooter, neither how much the Chris campaign was a blatant attempt to pander to the COD crowd. Indeed, in my opinion, the major problem there was that Capcom lost track of what made the series great, and tried too hard to cater to the COD and Gears of Wars crowd. In the process they not only failed to attract that kind of audience but ultimately also alienated the fans of series.
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  • Avatar for Sugoi #8 Sugoi 4 years ago
    For all the problems with RE6 (and there are nearly too many to count, honestly), one thing that they absolutely nailed were the controls. They took some adjusting to and had a few rough edges (dashing the same button to leap over objects? That wasn't ever going to end well), but they were overall very well designed and allowed for an enormous range of tactical movement. It's just a terrible shame that the game itself never gave you any real reason to use all those abilities outside of high level mercenaries play.

    Still, I'd be more than willing to sacrifice those great controls for a more interesting, less horribly linear and slipshod campaign.Edited August 2013 by Sugoi
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  • Avatar for #9 4 years ago
    I'm old and been around to see all home games since 2600 the first time around.
    And I absolutely loved the Resident Evil series as it came out, but they are extremely dated.
    I remember being blown away with RE4 when it was new, but replaying it was good for where we were then. But as games evolve, even these few years later it's clunky and ugly.
    The sad thing is Capcom leaning on the vocal minority of the internet thinking something is wrong.
    They sold over 5 million! That's a hit. I think they had ridiculous expectations, just like Tomb Raider.
    Games sell a little less because the world is suffering in terrible economies and games are a luxury.
    But RE6, I thought was brilliant and generous. Now maybe it worked better for me because I was in a situation of affording two copies on 2 TV's that me and my wife, who I'm lucky enough is also a gamer, could play together.
    The game is built for co-op, and even then you need to play it with the right partner, not some stranger who's going to rush through it while singing into his mic or mocking everything he sees when you're trying to enjoy it.
    But I had the right setup and Cap com could have made just Leon's campaign and some Mercenaries mode and called it a day.
    Instead, they tried a sort of Quentin Tarentino type of different perspectives leading to the same end with various styles, like the article listed, that went from more traditional, to an RE5 style, to and RE3 style to a final mash of all styles.
    And you could pick and choose. You don't like the shooting heavy Chris campaign? You can skip it and still get more than enough content for your money.
    Me, I appreciated them all. I really like the game, especially the fact the controls are finally up to date.
    I'm fully on board for a slower paced game, as well. But I do think RE6 gets slammed much harder than it should.
    They tried to give us an incredible amount of content and different campaigns for fans of different points in the series...and got mocked for it.

    If they do change it up, in answer to the question posed in the article: For me, the best survival horror that's come out is recent. The Last Of Us is the current king.
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  • Avatar for anthonycolacicco21 #10 anthonycolacicco21 4 years ago
    True survival horror is terrific. I liked Code Veronica and all the resident evils except for nemesis and a few others. 4 was great but too easy. 6 was terrible and I did not even play it because I read it was mostly action based. I love true survival horror with a lot of puzzles and the management of inventory and having to ration ammo. is their anything funner than having to ration ammo?
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  • Avatar for Whinybabyclub #11 Whinybabyclub 3 years ago
    I liked RE6,especially co op. Playing three different campaigns switched things up so you weren't doing the same thing for the whole game, i thought it was nice. Maybe they should just create an action RE side series so prople quit getting so butthurt about an RE game not playing like a game from 1995.
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  • Avatar for Whinybabyclub #12 Whinybabyclub 3 years ago
    @docexe i think tlou sold well because of the story, not the survival horror. Really wasn't that scary, and survival was pretty easy once you learn to exploit the enemies.
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  • Avatar for rehmani #13 rehmani 2 years ago
    I as of late learned something very intriguing about computer games. Numerous youngsters have created unimaginable hand, eye, and mind coordination in playing these amusements. The flying corps trusts these children will be our exceptional pilots if they fly our planes.
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