Wait… Don’t open… that door!
By door we mean the door to online experiences, something the Resident Evil series has never had a good time with. Now don’t get us wrong, we are long term RE fans and have been with the series since day one. From way back to the slow-paced zombies and tank controls of 1996 to the body-snatching, pirate merchant romp through Europe of 2005. We even tackled the Michael Bay wet dream that disgraced our consoles in 2012 before relearning the benefits of having spare underwear to hand in the nightmare from Emmerdale Farm in 2017.
That’s right, Resident Evil has been through many phases and we have to tip our hat’s to CAPCOM, they are always looking for new ways to reinvent and update the franchise to avoid it going stale. Some of these offerings have not always had the desired effect, most noticeably the online outings. RE is an experience that is best kept to single-player stories full of claustrophobia, tension, atmosphere, scares, Arnie quality dialogue and more deranged stalkers than Hollywood boulevard. When things get thrown into an open chaotic realm of online, all that gets lost in the shuffle and the pant browning immersion of creepy mansions, freaky castles and sinister ships just falls apart. It was odd, though not a complete surprise, that CAPCOM have announced yet another attempt at RE:Online. Honestly, these guys are persistent, they fail more times than a genetically altered lunatic that dresses like David Bowie but still keep coming back to try again.
RE: Verse is an online shooter that will be free with RE:Village, similar to how RE: Resistance came free with Nemesis last year. The game allows players to take control of their favourite characters from all across the RE timeline. Want to play as Ethan Winters in the GCPD? Or run around the Baker Compound as Leon? Perhaps you want to visit the Spencer Mansion as Jake? Just joking, no one want’s to play as Jake! But you can do all this while shooting at other players and along the way and even turn into a bioweapon to wreak additional havoc! So how does all this come together, grab a herb and join us as we once again step into the world of… mindless shooting.
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The first item we have to point out is an unfortunate one as the beta itself was a bit of a shambles, the servers were almost constantly down so the hands-on experience was minimal at best. That being said, we did have enough time to see what the Beta was all about, which as it turned out, wasn’t much.
We began with a brief tutorial, the basic controls are similar to the ones found in the RE2 and Nemesis remakes with the exception that you can now perform dodge roll by holding any direction and pressing X (PS4). Primary weapons can be switched between with left and right on the D-pad and any special weapons collected EG: Rocket Launcher, can be accessed by pressing up on the D-pad. Health can be refilled by collecting Green Herbs though you don’t have to manually administer them, just walk up to them for instant use. From here it was straight into matchmaking.
Several characters were available to us in the beta, among them were series favourites, Leon “The Boyband Hair” Kennedy, Chris “The Biceps” Redfield and Jill “The Sandwich” Valentine. Each character has their own loadouts and special abilities, Leon, for example, can perform a powerful roundhouse kick or swap to dual-wielding pistols to give himself some Devil May Cry flair. These abilities are activated with L1 and L2 respectively and have a cooldown effect after use. Chris, on the other hand can eat a tin of spinach, expand his biceps and punch boulders at people. Ok, we lied about that one but it wouldn’t be a bad unlockable. We imagine some of the “newer” or lesser-used characters will also make an appearance, characters like Sheva Alomar and Parker Luciani would be great additions, just leave Ashley Graham out of it.
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Resident Evil may have some of the most beloved and memorable heroes of any franchise but let’s be honest, the thing we all remember most about each entry in the series is its villains. We can’t think of any series that has managed to provide such a wide range of crazies and monsters for us to deal with and thankfully, they are here too! But the hook is, we the player have to become them!
Though RE: Verse is little more than a deathmatch experience for four to six players, it won’t just be a case of gunning down our fellow good guys. When someone is slain, they mutate into a bioweapon and can take another crack and revenge in whatever grotesque form they turn into. To start things off we turned into basic bioweapons upon death but if we managed to collect virus canisters that spawned throughout the map, we mutated into vastly upgraded creatures and villains, from Jack Baker waving his scissor blades around all the way up through Tyrant levels to even become handsome Mr Nem himself! Though not having the ability to manually growl “STAAAAARS” was a missed opportunity.
The stage of bioweapon you’ll become depends on how many virus capsules you manage to collect before death. Health, special weapons and virus canisters spawn throughout the map which in this case was the GCPD. This helps keep the action moving as players are on the lookout almost welcoming death in order to turn into a Dolph Lundgren lookalike and stomp around battering other players. We can only hope the spawn locations are random to help prevent players from memorising locations and constantly dominating matches. Each bioweapon also comes equipped with its own primary attacks alongside a selection of special abilities to utilize, once you die as a bioweapon, you then respawn as your hero and carry on until the match has reached its conclusion.
Where’s everyone going? Bingo?
So it’s safe to say that when the servers work, the premise for RE: Verse is, Okay. There is nothing here that will blow anyone away and it is far from a true “Resident Evil” experience that fans know and love. Much like RE:Resistance, which accompanied the Nemesis remake in 2020, there is fun to be had but it will likely be very short-lived and we find it hard to envision anyone putting serious time into this especially when it is here to accompany the much anticipated RE:Village.
Though the beta only provided us with one map, the layout was a good size for the number of players and it will be fun to run around some favourite locations when the full version is out. The core problem we found was the whole experience is based around one match type, we are not sure if CAPCOM have plans to introduce more modes down the line but Deathmatch will wear thin quickly especially with such heavy competition from other well established F2P titles available.
The visual style is likely to put some players off too, though we must admit, it didn’t bother us as much as we thought it would from seeing the trailer. RE: Verse has taken a somewhat comic-book approach to presentation almost as if this is a title that was going to be aimed at the mobile audience rather than the big consoles. It all look’s fine and gives the title its own identity and perhaps we will see it appear on mobile or switch down the line, though we would much rather see RE:Mercenaries make a come back for the Switch!
RE:Verse is nothing to get excited about, yes it’s free so by all means play it when it comes out, the single-mode with a five-minute time limit will be good for pick up and play if you have some time to spare, but for long gaming sessions, we doubt this will hit the mark. Though the idea is fun in concept, we think we speak for all Resident Evil fans when we say to CAPCOM, if you are that focused on making RE online, bring back RE:Outbreak!
For more information, you can visit the official website here.