Capcom has a lot riding on its next Resident Evil title. Having launched in 1996 on PSone, the Resident Evil series has gone on to sell around 50 million units. Its high-point was 2005's universally acclaimed Resident Evil 4, which cemented the series' status as king of the survival horror genre, but the subsequent games haven't quite been able to match that, something that's often attributed to Capcom's efforts to appeal to a broader audience.
There have been a number of spinoffs in recent years, while 2009's Resident Evil 5 offered an action-focused take on the series that didn't sit well with some fans. Needless to say, everyone's hoping for a return to form with Resident Evil 6, not least Capcom, which has assembled an enormous staff of over 600 people to work on the project.
Something For Everyone
Resident Evil 6 will offer three campaign sections, each boasting separate but intertwining storylines and different styles of gameplay. Playable in any order, there's a gothic survival horror game starring Leon Kennedy based in the United States, an all-out action shooter with Chris Redfield in a Chinese coastal town, and a dodge and punch melee adventure featuring Jake Muller set in Eastern Europe.
On opposite sides of the world, Leon and Chris find themselves at twin ground zeroes as targeted bioterrorist attacks rock the US and China, turning those infected with a new C-Virus into gruesome monsters. Mutations take different forms, so players will encounter multiple enemy types, from regular zombies to J'avo - a group of brutes capable of using advanced weaponry, healing themselves, and even interacting with each other to plan attacks.
Caught in the middle is a mercenary named Jake Muller, who happens to be the son of Albert Wesker, formerly the primary antagonist of the series but now deceased. Muller's blood holds the cure to the C-Virus, which makes him the most valuable man in the world, and a hunted one - Resident Evil 6's director, Eiichiro Sasaki, has described Jake's campaign as "a story of escape". Capcom has said each of the three plotlines will take around ten hours to complete, and there have been plenty of unconfirmed rumours suggesting that a fourth, as-yet-unannounced campaign may also be in the works.
Return to form?
There's not long to go now until Resident Evil 6's release - the game's launch was recently brought forward from November to October - but Capcom isn't revealing its full hand just yet. Multiplayer is still to be properly revealed, and a drop-in, drop-out co-operative element has been promised too. That said, the game already feels big, highly ambitious, and looks gorgeous to boot.
Our only real concern is whether Resident Evil 6's different storylines and campaign gameplay styles will all mesh together seamlessly, or if the package as a whole will feel as if it's missing a strong identity. Capcom faces a tricky task in trying to balance the best elements of older survival horror games with more modern action ones, but if it succeeds Resident Evil 6 could set a new standard for the long-running series.