Way back in 2019, when this column was just some cardboard stapled together with dreams, we took a look at Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil: Revelations 2. Yet in that exploration, we never truly tapped into the Revelations series’s best, yet rarely discussed, feature: Raid Mode. Given Resident Evil: Resistance was a flop and Re:Verse looks about as pleasant as receiving a tongue bath from a Licker, it’s time the true celebration of everything Resident Evil got its due.
For years, fans of Resident Evil had the favorite bonus mode Mercenaries to crack into after battling through the latest horror campaign. Players would face off against ever-escalating waves of foes, racing the clock and chasing after high scores with the promise of a handful of precious unlocks like new skins and power weapons. While a blast for completionists, most only toyed with the mode before moving on. Raid Mode is a direct evolution, offering an experience for everyone while still rewarding those seeking the edge for Mercenaries.
Drawing from a pool of the series’s most iconic heroes, Raid Mode remixes the entire saga into an ever-escalating series of gauntlets, bringing a wide array of foes full-bore against you and a friend in co-op. Between every bout, your hard-earned rewards allow you to expand an arsenal of weapons, skills, and characters to charge into the next battle. Upping the stakes further, medallions that can unlock additional stages task you with everything from never healing to manually lowering your character’s level to par or below with the mission’s enemies. It’s a fight for survival reframed in the vein of Destiny, and there’s really nothing quite like it.
Rather than letting numbers decide everything, Raid Mode is remarkably well-tuned to give players a real challenge. Likewise, dodging enemy attacks, the handling of weapons, environmental effects, and the unique weak points and mutations of opponents all function organically. Numbers purely reflect how potent each blow traded between you and the monsters that surround you is. Skill remains king above all else.
That same edge-of-your-seat challenge is there in every encounter, just with more variables in play. By remixing scenarios both classic and modern, Raid Mode is free to swerve between retro homages against brutes who can shake off a hundred bullets in the vein of Nemesis or send you rushing through an action-horror gauntlet straight out of Resident Evil 6. All the while, major heroes and villains are yours to toy with, with everyone from Jill Valentine and Leon Kennedy to Wesker offered up, with some unique surprises for each iteration of the mode.
Dispatching an opponent is one thing — doing so with masterful style while conserving resources is another bioweapon of mass destruction entirely. The Revelations series has always towed the line between the action-oriented and pure survival entries of the series, so you’ll regularly harness the best of both for Raid Mode.
Artful dodging and careful ammo conservation can win the day, whereas elemental attack grenades and a trusty knife can be just as devastating. It’s a question of what works best for each situation, rather than a single approach repeated ad nauseum. No weapon is perfect for every encounter, and with a limited number of lives that refill each day, it pays to plan ahead. You fall into a rhythm of experimenting, running the pair of daily missions, and escalating your arsenal against the onslaught.
Revelations’ Raid Mode also handles progression well, opting for weighty, meaningful choices that benefit your entire arsenal of weapons and heroes. Every character has perks, some like Hunk and Wesker boasting special perks you can unlock for the rest of the cast, rewarding players that don’t just stick to their favorite. Leveling perks doesn’t simply boost damage, but range, length of status effect, and utility. Instead of simply being more powerful, you’re more capable, granted additional options that enhance an already sharp move set for each character. You also earn more experience if you let recently played characters rest on your roster, encouraging you to explore the full glut of what’s available. For all its RPG and free-to-play-inspired elements though, it’s remarkably anti-grind.
Obviously there are benefits to maxing out abilities and fine-tuning your armory, but you can experience everything while playing at a modest pace. By not being a live-service experience, Revelations Raid Mode instead stands as a complete, standalone experience no matter where or how you play it. Each mission is a bite-sized test of skill that throws in some new wrinkle, granting enemies as many modifiers as you do. While at first it’s fairly intuitive to tear through opponents, tougher fights demand careful planning, knowing what makes each enemy tick. If you find yourself in a rut, the game naturally grants you additional resources and skill points to be applied to any character. It creates a satisfying ebb and flow, keeping you trying harder on each go without burning you out.
Plus, it’s totally single-player-friendly. While Raid Mode is a great co-op experience, you’re not required to team up with anyone. You can ignore the online features entirely and still get the complete experience. Not since Avengers has soloing a game of this caliber been so intuitive, let alone welcomed with open arms rather than begrudgingly permitted. It all begs to be explored more in future Resident Evil games.
Raid Mode could’ve been incredibly forced and artificial, cramming in needless elements to draw out the experience or block key features. Outside of a small smattering of DLC for Revelations 2, Raid Mode is one of the most player-respecting action RPGs I’ve ever experienced, and its excellent use of Resident Evil’s core gameplay shines. Never before has it been so easy to embody your favorite Resident Evil heroes and villains in pitched battle, let alone team them up to face ever escalating fights.
Resident Evil is known for trailblazing all sorts of remarkably multiplayer experiences. Capcom has done things with online play that other studios still struggle to match. It’s for that reason that I’d really rather see Capcom expand upon one of its greatest works in lieu of a simple deathmatch mode. We know Revelations’ Raid Mode works. It grew substantially between its two iterations, gaining a story that foreshadowed something greater on the horizon, following in the vein of the story of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer.
As great as some competitive Resident Evil experiences have been, there’s no reason Raid Mode can’t make the leap to the mainline entries. Mercenaries has been out of action since Resident Evil 6, and if Capcom has no interest in reviving Mercenaries, then now is the time to let the new kid step up to the plate in a bigger way. With both Revelations games available on every platform, it’s the ideal time to explore the full potential of this game within a game. In the meantime, if you want to blast some B.O.W.s, it’s never been easier to pick up and play Raid Mode in the excellent Revelations duology.