Resident Evil 6 tried to take the franchise in a different direction, but that strategy backfired, as players didn’t take long to consider it the worst game in the series. Capcom made Resident Evil 6 with multiple campaigns, and playing through all of them gives the game a respectable playtime. The problem comes in the quality of that playtime rather than the quantity.
Resident Evil 6 is more action-oriented than its predecessors, losing some horror elements for which the Resident Evil franchise is known. With multiple campaigns to play, RE6 has a familiar character in each one with a new character as a companion, the exception being Ada Wong, whose campaign is meant to be played alone. Capcom created an expansive story that has players travel the globe, but that takes away the essential isolated feeling of Resident Evil games.
Capcom made RE6 too big and action-oriented, which ends up being detrimental to its reception by players. Rather than taking place in one location, such as Raccoon City or Spencer Mansion, RE6 takes place across several locations on multiple continents, making it cover a global biohazard threat instead of a somewhat contained threat. The fast pace for fighting and frequent changes of environment make it clear that Capcom tried to imitate Call of Duty for RE6, but doing so alienated its core fanbase.
Resident Evil 6 Lost Its Survival Horror Roots
Resident Evil helped define the survival-horror genre with its first title. After the first game, the subsequent titles have differences that make them unique in their own ways, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better. For RE6, one of the biggest changes is the loss of horror. One of the worst enemies in RE6, the J’avo, aren’t frightening or threatening. At most, they’re annoying and frustrating to deal with due to their speed, ability to mutate, and the number of them that appear together. They aren’t suited for a survival horror game, but they make sense to include in a game that’s focused on action.
Of course, the enemies aren’t the only aspect that strays from the classic RE survival horror atmosphere. The story and environments of RE6 don’t instill a lot of suspense or fear in players since Capcom made each campaign different and with inspiration from various genres, but all except one focus more on action than on horror. Only Ada Wong’s campaign holds onto original RE elements. Even though it features fan favorite Resident Evil main characters, RE6 fails its attempt to appeal to the wide variety of players Capcom targeted by not committing to a single style. Players loyal to the survival-horror franchise were no longer the target audience with RE6, which was created to appeal to the players of fast-paced action games like Call of Duty.
Co-op In Resident Evil 6 Feels Forced
Aside from Ada’s, where the second player can only fight, every campaign in RE6 is designed for co-op, featuring returning characters from previous games partnered with new characters. RE6 falls into the same trap as RE5 where the AI for the co-op companion is lacking to the point that playing the game without another human is frustrating, but the story is written to include the second character, so playing with the AI can’t be avoided if a player doesn’t have anybody else to join them. There’s potential for the co-op (Resident Evil 5’s co-op system was fun), but if a player decides to go solo, the AI they’re paired with is more of a hindrance than a help. Playing with a friend is great, but needing a friend to play the game can make it feel like a chore.
On occasion, games make fun of their own flaws, and it’s entertaining when the creators have that level of self-awareness. Intentional or not, RE6 feels like a parody with how big the developers went with the story and action scenes. At the same time, the game takes itself very seriously even in its most ridiculous moments and with its villains who seem a bit extreme. For example, Leon crashes every vehicle he drives in the game, including a helicopter, and the scenes are over the top and complete with Michael Bay level explosions. By the second crash, it’s difficult to tell if the situation is supposed to be serious or a joke. Meanwhile, Chris Redfield plays the role of a serious leader for the BSAA with a campaign that doesn’t fit in a survival-horror franchise.
Capcom has since poked fun at RE6 itself with an Easter egg poster in Resident Evil 3 Remake. RE6 receives a lot of negative feedback from players and critics. In many ways, it would have been a great B movie, which makes it a disappointing experience for players expecting a AAA title. While there’s enjoyment to be found in playing RE6 with a friend, the best part of the game is that it made Capcom return Resident Evil to its survival-horror roots with RE7 and RE Village. Instead of ignoring criticism, Capcom listened and made changes to the games following RE6.
Resident Evil 6 is controversial to say the least. Some players go into the game and enjoy it with a friend without expectations, but it doesn’t have the essence of a Resident Evil game. Capcom took a risk to attract players who enjoy a wider range of genres, but in this case, the risk wasn’t rewarded. Instead of having elements to appease everybody, RE6 ends up feeling disjointed and unsure of which genre it’s supposed to be part of. As Capcom releases more Resident Evil remakes, it’s possible it might revisit RE6. The remakes have been reimagining the stories of past games, so Capcom could use it as a chance to scrap and recreate RE6.
However, not only negative results came from RE6’s identity crisis. It’s the reason that new protagonists have been introduced, and the franchise once again takes place in more contained areas instead of trying to have a global scope for the story again. Resident Evil as a franchise has been revitalized because of Resident Evil 6, even if the game will undoubtedly go on to live in infamy.