Resident Evil’s approach to multiplayer has been a bumpy ride. The series’ first foray into cooperative gameplay was actually rather successful. Although not particularly critically acclaimed at the time, Resident Evil Outbreak and Outbreak File 2 have gone on to become cult classics.
The games were essentially traditional old school Resident Evil of the PS1 era, but with a new lick of paint thanks to the PS2 and allowed the player to team up with others online. It was novel, and when it worked it was a ton of fun. PS2 online multiplayer was basic back then and most Outbreak players were forced to play the game solo with AI characters instead of real people.
The game (on PlayStation anyway) was perhaps a little ahead of its time. Not being able to play with other people, despite that being the intended way to play, hindered the games potential. So much so that years later fans have set up their own servers to play the game as Capcom originally intended. All this has added to Outbreak’s legend and made Capcom keen to capitalise on it.
While some of the main entries in the Resident Evil series, namely 5 and 6, have dabbled with online cooperative play, these have been fast paced shooters with a bit of horror thrown in. Not atmospheric survival horror experiences where teamwork and resource management are essential to one’s survival.
Resident Evil has made other multiplayer spin offs over the years, first there was Operation Racoon City in 2012 and Umbrella Corps in 2016. Both were critically derided and it’s a wonder how anyone at Capcom quality control could have ever green lit these as finished products. So, when Capcom initially teased a new game that was focused on online play many fans were dubious, and rightly so.
Online multiplayer title Project Resistance was revealed back at the 2019 Tokyo Game Show. The game places an emphasis on teamwork instead of solo horror or fast gun play and may be the game Outbreak Fans have been waiting for, it will also utilise the engine seen in the recent Resident Evil 2 remake.
Resident Evil has returned to form in the past few years, with Resident Evil 7 taking the series back to its survival horror roots while simultaneously breathing new life into the stagnant series. 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake also managed to modernise a classic while remaining true to what made the original so beloved in the first place.
So there are reasons to be optimistic. Hopefully Capcom will get this one right, creating an authentic survival horror experience where resource management, teamwork and cooperation are essential to surviving the nightmare. This is what survival horror multiplayer should look like.
Here’s hoping that Project Resistance is the true spiritual successor to Resident Evil Outbreak and not another cynical disaster like Operation Racoon City or Umbrella Corps.