The recent release of Resident Evil 2 has seemingly revitalized the survival horror franchise the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 2005 release of Resident Evil 4. While questioning the subjective nature of which Resident Evil game is truly the “best” is a waste of time, I can’t help but notice the massive potential the RE franchise now has. After the 2015 release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, the RE series had been injected with new life thanks in no small part to a serve stripping down of most of the crazier elements the series had now become known for. Gone were the over the top, mustache-twirling villains of the modern age and gigantic, kaiju-level enemies that could be put down with the power of Chris Redfield’s biceps. While every Resident Evil game has a giant monster to slap around by the end of the game, Resident Evil 7 went back to trying to scare players instead of trying to make them awestruck. But as much as RE7 helped the series, Resident Evil 2 brought the series back to 1998 and a whole new generation of gamers saw what all of the fuss was about when some would talk about the OG PS one trilogy.
Thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response to the Resident Evil 2 remake, as well as the three million units shipped worldwide, I think Capcom should take the series back to its horror roots and scale back everything, including the clock, and shift their plans for Resident Evil 8 (if there are any) and treat RE2 as a jumping off point for a brand new phase of the franchise.
Resident Evil 3
Nemesis should be the next game in the series
While Resident Evil 2 was great, I couldn’t help myself from thinking what RE3 would look like under this remake banner. Seeing how Capcom’s development team nailed the daunting task of taking everything about Resident Evil that seems silly today and updated it for a new generation and made it a scary, tense and exhilarating ride from start to finish. Everything from the characters no longer being superheroes to item-based puzzles making sense to the over-the-shoulder camera being a accepted by series veterans, everything made sense and every design decision was made with the intent of making players feel scared and underpowered. Now imagine if you take everything about RE2 that worked and you applied it to the Nemesis, arguably the most popular villain in the entire RE series. The Nemesis is a nigh-invulnerable monster that hunts down rogue STARS members. It’s a remorseless killer that doesn’t care how many doors you run through or how many bullets you have, if he is after you, you run or you die.
On top of the Nemesis’ involvement, you would have the continuing adventures of fan-favorite STARS member Jill Valentine and her hopeless trek to escape Raccoon City. While RE3’s timeline is…fluid at best, taking place both before and after Resident Evil 2, you could have Jill’s plight be about the first wave of the zombie outbreak and show her and perhaps other STARS members trying to aid in the city’s evacuation attempts. Or you could have Jill trying to escape the city as an impending nuclear strike is about to befall the city. Imagine only having five hours to complete Jill’s campaign. What if you had a interconnected, serpentine map of Raccoon City to cover, with many avenues connecting to others. While some could lead to the end of the game or game changing scenarios, other avenues could lead to a dead end forcing you to retrace your steps and become more aggressive in your playstyle to beat the clock.
Resident Evil 3 could clear up a messy timeline
As much as I love Resident Evil, it’s hard to accept that certain things will have to change. Spoilers for Resident Evil 7, but at the end of the game, our hero Ethan is save by series protagonist Chris Redfield. Redfield tosses Ethan an ultra-powerful pistol that he took from the villainous Albert Wesker. While this may seem like a nothing reference to some, if not most, players, just the fact that Chris hands Ethan Wesker’s old gun has lore implications that is sadly and understandably lost on most people that were introduced to the RE series with RE7. Resident Evil 3 could change all of that by streamlining the story and keeping the focus on only a few characters. Perhaps instead of Jill being alone throughout Resident Evil 3, she is trying to survive with the help of fellow STARS members Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers. The inclusion of other fan favorite characters that haven’t been seen much throughout the series lifetime would makeus care more about Jill’s adventure out of the city. While I think Jill should be the focus of Resident Evil 3, I do believe that having characters from previous games that have had proven longevity would entice the player to become even more invested in seeing Jill survive. Perhaps the players’ performance could affect who would or would not survive, much like our willingness to look for important objects in the first Resident Evil did.
In 2015, Capcom released the Resident Evil Remaster, an HD version of the remake released for the Nintendo GameCube back in 2002. Back in ’02 the RE Remake was viewed as a return to form for the series and the perfect palate cleanser for the eventual Resident Evil 4. While Resident Evil 4 had set the series in a new direction, Resident Evil 2 could set the series in motion to capitalize on mistakes made and lessons learned from the past sixteen years of the franchise. By going back an proving what they can do with an established entry in the series, Capcom could keep impressing older fans who have been won over by the one-two punch of RE7 and the RE2 remake, while also introducing a new generation of player to a series that inspired and arguably created an entire genre of video games.
No one has done this before…I think
As much as I love the Resident Evil franchise, even I have to admit that the timeline has gone on too long with very little changes throughout its life. While I may be wrong, it seems that Capcom has been more interested in creating new monsters and higher stakes than focusing on the characters and their doomed fight against the soulless Umbrella Corp. By bring the franchise back to the late 90’s does more than satisfy nostalgia, it challenges the developers to restrain themselves and adhere to the rules established by late 90’s Capcom while finding clever ways to establish a new continuity and push the series forward in ways we wouldn’t expect. What if Jill doesn’t make it out of Raccoon City? What would that do to a character like Chris Redfield, a guy that would be convinced that she would’ve been alive today if he had been there instead of jumping the gun and heading off to Europe to investigate the Umbrella HQ? What if Barry’s family didn’t make it out of Raccoon City? What if the Nemesis took out all of the members of STARS, leaving Chris the alone in his fight against Umbrella?
To my knowledge, no other series has truly hit the reboot button. Instead, most reboots find clever ways of telling you the same story over again, like DmC or Mortal Kombat 9. In Resident Evil 4, the world finds out that the outbreak in Raccoon City is because of experiments made by Umbrella, and the company dissolves almost immediately. In reality though, would that actually happen? Would anyone believe that Johnson & Johnson was responsible for what would be considered a terrorist act? I doubt it. Umbrella should be too big for just one act to destroy them; their armor too thick for one man or even one extremely motivated team of soldiers to take out. Chris, Jill and even Leon and Claire’s quest for justice should be doomed from the start, ultimately making them the heroes they deserve to be, the heroes players that have stuck with the franchise for over twenty years know them to be. But to me, the stakes should always be small. Capcom shouldn’t feel the need to compete with franchises like Call of Duty or Silent Hill, and they should feel like they have to emulate the look and feel of the Resident Evil film franchise either. Arguably, the Resident Evil series went as crazy as it did because the films really took off with the worldwide success of the RE film franchise. Resident Evil 3 can learn from this and only look to compete with itself, as well as the Remaster released in 2015 and the most recent remake released just a couple of weeks ago. Rebooting the series would almost guarantee a slam dunk with critics and fans as long as Capcom doesn’t get too greedy or stretch themselves too thin. Go back to what made the PSone era of Resident Evil titles so great and just update them for modern audiences. I know that is easier said than done, but if RE2 can hit as big as it has so far, than Resident Evil 3 Nemesis can return the series to crown jewel status over at Capcom and remind the world of how important a series Resident Evil is.