Resident Evil 7: What's Next for the Franchise?

Capcom has taken the Resident Evil series back to basics, but where does it go next?

Article by Mike Williams, .

Last week, Capcom delivered its latest entry in the Resident Evil franchise. Following the critical and fan reception of Resident Evil 6, Capcom decided to revisit what "survival horror" meant. Resident Evil 7 is the result, a game that looks different from any other entry in the franchise, but plays like classic Resident Evil titles. The major difference is a focus on horror, over the action that marked Resident Evils 4, 5, and 6.

"Resident Evil 7 definitely draws influence from its predecessors, but probably has most in common with the original game. At its core, RE7 is also like the other RE games in that it is still a game centered on elements of fear and being able to overcome it," Resident Evil 7 producer Masachika Kawata told VentureBeat.

So far, Resident Evil is off to a solid start. According to the official Resident Evil site, the game has 948,388 players one week after launch. Capcom also announced that it has shipped 2.5 million copies to retailers. That's far below the lifetime sales of other Resident Evil games, but it's a good foundation to build on.

Where does the franchise go now?

We still messing up mutated things.

Sticking To The New (Old) Direction

Resident Evil 7 works largely because despite the drastic shift in perspective to first-person, it still plays like a Resident Evil game. General combat, exploration, puzzle-solving, and that B-movie narrative style are all strong in the title. Are there some issues here and there? Sure, especially in the areas of enemy variety and exploration.

The Bakers are strong villains and the Molded are initially quite scary, but Resident Evil 7 overall lacks the enemy variety of some previous entries. Especially given the Louisiana Bayou location, there was more room to play around with the local wildlife to create some new classics. Mutating Molded versions of alligators, snakes, coyotes, or even the plant life would've been welcome.

Likewise, the game's exploration aspect is very strong in the first half of the game, but tapers off whe it's time to explain what's happening and deliver the climax. I can't say this is only a problem with Resident Evil 7, as older Resident Evil titles have also offered up a convincing illusion of non-linearity, only to drop that towards the end. I understand that building strong tension is sometimes at odds with letting a player explore randomly. I just wish Resident Evil 7 had a bit more exploration.

Capcom will likely continue with what was started here. I think they could have something really special if they crafted a Resident Evil 2 to RE7's Resident Evil. Something bigger and beefier than what was delivered here. I liked much of Resident Evil 7, I just wanted more of it. More space to explore, more escape room action, more enemy variety. To me, that's a sign of a good game and it's something Capcom can deliver on.

Plus, I still need to know what's going on with Ethan, the ongoing biocorporation conflict, and perhaps a check-in on some veteran Resident Evil characters.

Action Is The Way To Go

Let's be perfectly honest, it's likely that an action focused Resident Evil would've had a larger audience than one focused on horror. Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 may have disappointed some fans of survival horror (the latter more than the former), but their sales cannot be denied. Resident Evil 5 is Capcom's best-selling game of all time, with 7.1 million copies sold. Resident Evil 6 sold 6.6 million units. Even Resident Evil 4 is up there with 5.9 million if you add up all the various versions released (GameCube: 1.6 million, PS2: 2.3 million, Wii: 2 million).

In contrast, the highest selling of the horror strain of the franchise is Resident Evil 2 with 4.96 million. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has 3.5 million sold, followed by Resident Evil with 2.75 million. The rest of the games float around 1 to 1.5 million. Hell, even the action-oriented Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is within spitting distance of the horror side with 2.5 million copies sold, and that's not a great game.

Even Capcom acknowledges that Resident Evil 6 was a commercial success.

"From a business perspective, Resident Evil 6 was a success, but we had pushed that style of Resident Evil gameplay, with the big storyline and the hero characters, pretty much as far as we could," Kawata told "It was a blockbuster scale of game. That almost left us with no choice but to change the series in order to keep it alive, because where do you go after that size and scale of game?"

Resident Evil 7 was a play for the soul of the franchise, instead of a financial consideration. It's possible that a more action-oriented (third-person?) version of the game might be the way forward. That style certainly has its fans, and it's likely Capcom could make more money heading in that direction or making a spin-off in that style. They even have the Revelations line of gamesjust sitting there if Capcom wants to keep making action games. It'd be an odd switch given that Revelations carried the DNA or RE1, 2, and 3 forward, but the subtitle is available, so why not use it?

It's not a Resident Evil game, but it's a lot like some Resident Evil games.

It's worth noting that former Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4 director Shinji Mikami is currently offering that style of game from his own studio, Tango Gameworks. The Evil Within is the spiritual successor to everything that Resident Evil 4 was. I think, like Resident Evil 7, that the game stumbled, but it's also fertile ground to build on. The Evil Within launched in 2014 and had the highest-selling first month sales for a "new survival-horror IP". (It was dethroned a year later by Dying Light.) We are about due for a sequel to that game and Bethesda Softworks president Pete Hines has said the game sold well enough for another entry.

"I do think both The Evil Within and Rage did well enough that we could make sequels," Hines told Finder.

So there's hope for that style of play, if that's your poison.

Imagine... [Screenshot via XCOM 2 mod.]

Something Completely Different

This is unlikely, but there's also option to make something completely new. The direction of the franchise is rather open, depending on how Resident Evil 7 performs in the end.

Capcom could keep the first-person viewpoint, but aim for far more action, bringing it closer to something like Monolith's F.E.A.R. They could carve a new niche out from the hardcore Dark Souls fandom, building a tougher game with deliberate combat based around guns and modern weapons, instead of medieval weapons and magic. The online-only Umbrella Corps flopped hard, but there's nothing saying Capcom couldn't try again in that space.

Like many major franchises, Resident Evil is rather malleable. There's room to go in different directions. I want more of Resident Evil 7, you may want more of Resident Evil 6, and someone else may be hoping for an XCOM-style game based in the Resident Evil universe. I can take bets on where the franchise will go next, but honestly, it's anyone's guess.

What would you like to see from Resident Evil in the future?

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Comments 11

  • Avatar for mattcom26 #1 mattcom26 A year ago
    One thing I'm not sure I've seen pointed out when people question the choice of first person is that there seems to be a big VR push behind this game. The first person perspective certainly lends itself well to a VR horror experience... I'm Interested to know if that was an early consideration or it just conveniently worked out that way.Edited January 2017 by mattcom26
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  • Avatar for CipherStone #2 CipherStone A year ago
    @mattcom26 that's a good point. I wonder if there was a point in time when this game was planned to be 3rd person before they decided to make it VR compatible, or if VR was always part of the plan at all.
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #3 KaiserWarrior A year ago
    Honestly, I'd love seeing more RE7.

    It was, in almost every way, a Classic Resident Evil Game, But First-Person, and that's right up my alley. They did extremely well with the visual and sound design. It could have done with a touch more enemy variety, yes -- but in retrospect, the first Resident Evil game didn't have terribly much variety either: Zombies, Dogs, Spiders, and Hunters comprised the overwhelming majority of the encounters in the game, with Snakes, Crows, Sharks, and Chimeras making single-room cameo appearances and basically being non-entities because of that -- none of them were worth fighting, and any interesting differences they may have had from the Big Four were effectively nulled because you just ran right past them.

    I'll gladly take the Bakers and their various unique gameplay segments over another set of enemy types to run past.

    Ultimately, I'm hoping that Capcom can do the sort of thing they did with Megaman Legends, where the first game (if we take RE 7 to be the first game in "the new way to do RE") is almost a prototype, proof-of-concept kind of thing for the sequel, where they really ramp up the depth and variety now that they've gotten their feet wet.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #4 Kuni-Nino A year ago
    I would like to see them ditch the FP view. Playing RE7 offered absolutely nothing new to the franchise. Everything you did in the game could have been accomplished by putting the camera over the shoulder.

    Really, RE7 isn't anything special. It's actually closer in quality to the Revelation games with their weird plots, lack of combat and enemies and spookier atmospheres. Shit, you even raid a ship in both Revelations 1 and RE7.

    Personally, I found the balance between in exploration and linearity just about perfect in RE7. The last hours are by far the strongest in the game with cool plot twists and some decent combat thrown in there.

    If there's one thing the games could improve upon, it's ditching the dull, static environments. I hate how you can only interact with the things the games let's you interact with. Imagine an RE game where you pick up a couch and use it to block a door to prevent enemies from coming inside. Or having the abilities to blow up a wall to carve a way out.

    Mechanics like that would be pretty interesting and could lead to more organic tension rather than resorting to jump scares and monster closets to scare the player.

    Well, that's it for me playing amateur designer. Whatever the next RE game is, I'll be looking forward to it. I love the franchise.
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #5 KaiserWarrior A year ago
    @Kuni-Nino That's the sort of thing I'm talking about with the MML comparison.

    There are hints of that kind of depth in RE7. The very first encounter with Jack where he can really tear up the dining room area if you have him chasing you for a while -- smashing through a wall and annihilating the dining room table, that kind of thing. And the encounter in the garage can actually play out in a couple of different ways, depending on whether or not you find your car keys and can lead Jack far enough away from the car that you have time to jump in and start it up.

    These sorts of things could certainly be expanded upon in future installments, until we've got that kind of dynamic experience. It feels like they were playing it safe and conservative with 7, as it's their first time trying this sort of take on the series.

    I also disagree that the view doesn't bring anything to the series. RE has certainly had mega-enemy encounters before; RE3 was pretty much entirely about it with Nemesis. But Nemesis, as with every other Tyrant-style enemy in the series, is a set of combat encounters. The enemy shows up, and you either fight it (to get the goodies it drops), or run. But either way, you are always engaging it. RE 7, with its FP view and focus on immersion (whether you feel it succeeded or not is personal, of course), allows for playing cat-and-mouse with its mega-enemies. It's entirely possible to do the Marguerite segment with her never being alerted to your presence. While Jack's not as stealth-focused, you can in fact lose him if you're squirrely enough in the house, at which point he starts roaming the halls searching for you.

    This sort of thing could probably have been done in the classic games, but I think that it works better in 7's choice of viewpoint.
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  • Avatar for JiveHound #6 JiveHound A year ago
    I don't think comparing the old horror Resident Evils sales to the more action based ones is particularly fair or accurate when you consider the fact that the latter were released on consoles that had far a far bigger install base.

    The horror ones mainly launched on the Playstation One era which amassed 100 million lifetime sales. Saturn had a version with 8 million console sales.

    The modern action ones launched on Gamecube and PS2 with a combined of almost 180million between them in console sales.

    That's quite a difference. Resident Evil 5 and 6 launched on last gen which combined amassed 170million.

    Going by these figures it looks like Resident Evil has sold at a pretty consistent level. I certainly don't think you should be leveraging software sales as an indicator of direction.Edited January 2017 by JiveHound
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  • Avatar for Outrider #7 Outrider A year ago
    The thing I'm wondering about is: what are they going to do with the Resident Evil 2 remake? That's still happening, right? If so, is it going to mimic the old horror-style games like the original REmake (my preference), are they going to make it like the third-person action games like Revelations, or are they now going to make it a first-person game like RE7?
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  • Avatar for reptilio #8 reptilio A year ago
    I am so excited to play this game. I'm going to make sure I buy it NEW to support Capcom's decision to go back in the horror direct. 5 and 6 were not good resident evil games. Sorry but the action packed titles sucked
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #9 brionfoulke91 A year ago
    @Outrider I certainly hope RE2 will choose the REmake route. One thing I'd absolutely hate is for the series to keep going down the first person route. It just feels completely wrong.
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  • Avatar for christoro01 #10 christoro01 A year ago
    Mike Williums, aren't there enough actions games out there?

    Saying the franchise should have a heavier emphasis on actions are dangerous words. Sure, the games sold well, but speaking from a fans perspective, they didn't do well with their representation of what the series was originally.

    This article is steering in the wrong way, Residnet Evil 7 is going in the right direction, im sorry you didn't have your alligators and dogs, but there was significant balance in it none the less.

    The series has sold well, and so have the MOVIES. But at some point, they were both terrible. This is the first time in years that residnet evil games aren't just my guilty pleasure, its substantially good.

    The only wrong here is how often people want more, when we have gotten EXACTLY what we've been asking for, for years. The fact that there is any form of complaining is astonishing to me... Makes gamers seem spoiled.

    The franchise Has gone back to it's roots, you want variety? Buy the season pass, yet another unhealthy trend people have started.

    Capcom and it's team of developers have worked very hard on RE7 and they know you would want more. There are already tons of dlc ready to be launched because of that fact.

    RE1 is the best and true survival horror experience, the action started a downward spiral into call of duty gamers territory. That's all well and good, but it's NOT Residnet Evil. RE7 made me proud with its elements, it put the trend of yelling and explosions to get attention to shame.
    I am fine with what I got, a 9 hour game is just right. With its madhouse mode, its perfect. The season pass will add to the experience, and potentially more story depending on feedback, so keep action out of that feed back and stop stirring the pot.

    Going back to action is a BAD IDEA, people like you start this garbage trend that makes a franchise something it's not. Seeing how the last 2 sequels worked out with the games quality, why on earth would you type those terrible ideas? Any dirty deed would be good for bussiness, but they shouldn't all be done.

    Capcom has pulled enough bs over the past 5 years, resident evil's IP shouldn't suffer for the good of the company. That's moronic to even consider, I was let down by residnet evil 5 and 6, because it was pretending to be resident evil.

    Capcom, do not return to action. He was just kidding, Mike had a little too much to drink while playing resident evil 4.

    The systematic looting and item sorting along with upgrades, worked for resident evil 4, making it responsive and easy to play for long periods of time. It is a superior game, but it is not residnet evil.

    Residnet Evil is finding a key to unlock a door, being scared of what is behind that door, and saving up ammo to kill it. Re4 is shoot good and get good fun, not resident evil. It could have been it's own IP and capcom could have kept resident evil afroat.

    Shinji Mikami birthed and killed residnet evil in a sense. Koshi Nakanishi is reviving it and did a Jesus Like job at it, considering how much was messed up in the leaving of Mikami, the guy just changes an entire IP and leaves.

    Residnet Evil 7 is fine the way it is, please stop posting these insane ideas.
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  • Avatar for christoro01 #11 christoro01 A year ago
    @KaiserWarrior Completely agree, Residnet Evil 7 is a well balanced and impressive survival horror sequel.
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