Resident Evil 6 & Resident Evil: Revelations 2 evolved multiplayer

Co-op was always meant to be part of the very first Resident Evil game, but the series has never had much luck with the feature. Resident Evil Outbreak has its fans but never hit mainstream success, and Resident Evil 5 was even more divisive. The two entries that harnessed multiplayer the most were Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil: Revelations 2, which were critically panned and largely ignored respectively. Today, they get a much deserved reexamination.

Resident Evil 6 isn’t scary. It’s definitely gory and horrific, but you’ll never quiver in fear. Honestly, you’re not supposed to. The game is The Avengers of the Resident Evil universe, gathering characters from multiple entries to unite against the resurgent Umbrella Corporation. It also had some of the most forward-thinking multiplayer designs of the seventh console generation.

Before everyone was taking notes from Dark Souls, Resident Evil 6 was first to borrow FromSoftware’s idea of campaign invasions. Anyone could infiltrate your game as any enemy with the potential to completely derail you. This feature worked in every chapter of each campaign, with custom controls and measured out spawn placements. You could disable the feature if you preferred to avoid it, but it was balanced well enough that not many players did.

Resident Evil 6 not only boasted four full-length, two-player cooperative campaigns but four-player crossovers. This was over two years before Destiny would popularize the idea of shared-world experiences where you could wander into other people’s games. Like a comic book tie-in, two completely different stories intertwined, with each pair of characters boasting unique mechanics and abilities that clicked together seamlessly.

Chris Redfield’s campaign was a military cover shooter. Leon S. Kennedy’s was a foreboding hybrid of Resident Evil 2 and 4. Sherry Birkin’s combined a brawler, shooter, and stealth game and even had vehicle sections. Making all of those elements play together under one control scheme was an incredible design and logistical feat. Most games would have made the four-player boss fights DLC or side content. Instead, they’re front and center, pushing multiple plots forward each time they intersect.

Resident Evil 6 also preceded Destiny 2’s Gambit mode by over half a decade with the introduction of Onslaught mode. While it’s only 1 vs. 1, the same core principles apply. You fight AI enemies to charge up a meter, and when that meter fills, you send those enemies your opponent’s way. If they’re clever, they can eliminate them and return the favor. Neither of you directly attacks the other, making the match a race against time and a test of skill.

You can taunt when melee-executing enemies, sending them over sooner with higher aggression. It’s a competitive take on the series’s staple Mercenaries mode that rewards players experienced with fighting AI rather than humans.

The rest of Resident Evil 6’s competitive DLC was also miles ahead of its peers. Predator mode pitted five human players against a sixth player as the indomitable Ustanak boss character. It evoked the same asymmetric cat-and-mouse survival multiplayer later found in Evolve and Dead by Daylight. The only difference is that in Resident Evil, the mice bite back.

This asymmetry grew deeper still with Siege mode, which had players work with AI survivors to defend against biomutants controlled by an opposing team of players. It used all the groundwork from campaign invasions to build a dynamic search-and-destroy mission that emphasized constant movement.

Rounding things out was Survivors, which is arguably the only mode that didn’t break any boundaries. However, it did have a unique respawn system where players became a biomutant after they died until they eliminated another human. I’d like to see that sort of respawn system applied to a battle royale game at some point.

While Resident Evil 6 wasn’t the game fans expected, it pushed the envelope in ways few contemporary developers could dream of. Unfortunately, none of that innovation applied to the two-player co-op. The characters had unique abilities and gear, and the AI partner system worked well, but it paled in comparison to what would come next.

Revelations 2 came at a time when series fans were dubious of Capcom’s future installments. It flew under the radar and into obscurity. It’s a shame the title’s release was caught in the shadow of Resident Evil 6, as it turned its predecessor’s foundations into a gripping survival horror title.

Revelations 2 explains what Claire Redfield and Barry Burton were up to during Resident Evil 6, since they were two of the only no-shows to the biomutant melodrama. It turns out that they were both caught up in the scheme of an evil scientist working on an isolated Eastern European island. Luckily they weren’t trapped there alone.

Where Resident Evil 6 focused on campaign variety, Revelations 2 instead focuses on its characters. When playing as Claire and Barry’s daughter Moira, the campaign resembles classic Resident Evil, with a hefty dose of towering biomutants. But Revelations 2 also surprisingly features some design elements found in Super Mario Galaxy.

A childhood gun mishap in Moira’s home makes her refuse to use a firearm for the entirety of the main campaign. Instead she wields a flashlight and crowbar; to balance this she can’t be instantly killed and regenerates health automatically. Meanwhile, the veteran survivor Claire isn’t as spry as she used to. Clair can only heal with a limited supply of green herbs and first aid kits, but her arsenal expands over time.

This interlocking asymmetry shifts how you approach every encounter. You actually want Moira in front, as her flashlight can stun enemies and find valuable bonus items in the environment. Plus, if she takes a hit, it’s not a permanent hindrance like it would be with Claire. You start setting up combos with your partner, chaining stuns with melee hits to eliminate foes without wasting a bullet. There are even team finishers that require both Claire and Moira to strike to deliver the most damage.

Resident Evil 6 & Resident Evil: Revelations 2 evolved multiplayer

Your teamwork only grows stronger through inventory management and the implementation of a full skill tree. Moira can be buffed and unlock additional cooperative moves. Her support focus makes her a perfect character for players that are new to survival horror. They can focus on finding supplies and solving puzzles while their more genre-savvy partner fights off waves of undead.

Barry’s Revelations 2 campaign is set six months after the events of Claire and Moira’s, and he faces all-new challenges. Barry effectively incorporates both Claire and Moira’s ability sets, wielding a full set of weapons and a flashlight from the start. But the game’s foes have also evolved.

Threats that can eat bullets or turn invisible linger around every corner, just waiting to pounce. Luckily Natalya, a young girl Barry saves, is a psychic who can reveal the creatures to Barry. She can even spot their hidden weak points, which helps him take down foes as quickly as possible. This may be the first survival horror game where a pointing function is critical to navigating certain sections. Just like Moira, Natalya can help Barry solve puzzles. Plus, her small size also makes her great at exploring the environment.

The resulting gameplay dynamic has been compared to The Last of Us, but that’s selling Revelations 2 short. The Last of Us’s AI partners were certainly helpful for brief moments, but on average they’re little more than thematic set dressing. Revelations 2 makes each character fundamental to surviving its torturous challenges. Each pair is a matching set that snaps together perfectly. While it might not boast the budget or scale of bigger titles, Revelations 2’s story stands shoulder to shoulder with the main Resident Evil titles.

It’s appropriate that the newly announced Project Resistance is a hybrid of these two spectacular multiplayer experiments. The title promises four player co-op with unique characters boasting special skills, all facing off against an antagonistic Umbrella player. That Umbrella operative commands not only zombies but bosses. It could very well be the summation of Capcom’s years of bold experiments. However mutated Resident Evil might’ve become over the years, Capcom’s willingness to adapt has kept the series on the cutting edge.

Elijah Beahm
Elijah’s your Guy Friday for all things strange and awesome in obscure gaming. He spends way too much time talking about such things on Twitter @UnabridgedGamer and his YouTube channel The Unabridged Gamer.

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6 Comments

  1. Unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy a lot the multiplayer options of RE:Rev2 as they were capped in the PC version, however in RE6 they were awesome, with some elements to improve, like the exploit bugs, and the matchmaking design, but definitely provided me hugely tons of fun hours.

    Even though, I´m not optimist yet with the new Project Resistance, I don’t see many elements of RE6 there, but instead it reminds me more to spin offs: Umbrella Corps and RE: Operation Racoon City, which I didn’t enjoy despite being more oriented to the multiplayer focus than RE6 and RE:Rev2.

    1. I wouldn’t be too worried. Raccoon City was outsourced, and Umbrella Corps was, confusingly enough, meant as a teaser for RE7’s big twist at the end. PR looks like they’re basing it off the R2make engine, so it should retain that one’s higher quality mark. I think it’s fair to say even Capcom regrets UC XD

  2. Resident Evil for better or worst has become a brand that puts an emphasis on experimentation, but games like 6 are still just bad regardless. It’s another example of the series taking the wrong lessons from 4, which started with 5, but 5 at least has the benefit of being a fun co-op game that wasn’t too off the deep end.

    Like, despite what 6 tried to do with the multiple campaigns, it’s still all pretty painfully generic and riddled with obnoxious design choices. i.e. the excessive, unnecessary quick time events for one. Getting through 6 felt like a chore, and seriously just became boring more often than not even though it aims to have a ton of spectacle.

    I still feel 4 is the best in the series because like Yahtzee so perfectly described, it’s a nigh perfect blend of splatterhouse ultraviolence and B-Movie camp. An attitude RE’s goofy ass should have adopted sooner. And this is on top of just being brilliantly paced, and fun to play even to this day. I also have quite a bit of love for 7 because it was the first time I could sort of take RE seriously as a more genuine horror game, and had some much needed personality injected back into it with characters like the Baker family.

    The RE 2 remake was fine, but whenever Capcom moves on to RE 8, I really hope they don’t forget what 7 does. It’s another reinvention of the series that deserves to continue regardless of how people feel about RE 2. This is if Capcom doesn’t just fuck it all up again.

    1. That’s a really negative way to look at things, bud. Plus, I’m not really sure how a game with invisibility zombie snakes and four different (if we’re counting Ada) style of gameplay can be “generic”? It sounds more like it just wasn’t your thing, which is fine, but generalizations can be dismissive of other perspectives.

      Also, did you read the rest of the post? Because it sounds like you really would enjoy Revelations 2 as well.

  3. The only thing those RE games transformed for me was the disregard I had for the franchise as a whole and the gutter it was stuck in at this point.

  4. Yes, if you had friends to play with, these games were great. They also offered tons of stuff to do, unlike Re7, which had no replay value.

    Both 6 and 7 aren’t great for mainline titles, but 6 is saved by coop and 7 by atmosphere, but 8 really should be better. Remak2 was quite good and unlike 7 actually fun on replays.

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