It’s safe to say that now is the perfect time to be a fan of the resident Evil Games. Resident Evil VII breathed new life into a franchise that was drowning in third-person shooter rehearsal, and Resident Evil Village has taken the horror world by storm with one of the finest examples of the genre in gaming. Players who had never touched a resident Evil game before have flocked to these flagship titles and experimented with remakes of series classics along the way. Now the critically acclaimed 2005 title resident Evil 4 is getting a remake, with fans rejoicing to know that their long-held prayers have been answered. However, one element has long been lacking in the series lately: its multiplayer elements.
That’s not to say Capcom’s editors haven’t tried. Dating back more than a few years, titles like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and umbrella body failed to make an impact. And came Resident Evil Resistancewhich was packed with Resident Evil 3 (2020), a remake of a title of the same name released in 1999. However, Resistance was plagued with inconsistent matchmaking, poorly balanced asymmetrical gameplay, and a slew of exploits and hacks, especially when player counts began to drop. On October 28 of this year, players will have the chance to discover Resident Evil Re:Verse. From early trailers and beta hints, this new multiplayer experience appears to feature player versus player battles where players take control of the franchise’s heroes as well as their many villains. The performance of this new multiplayer game is unclear. but is Team Deathmatch’s gameplay really what fans have been asking for? Maybe big fans of “The Mercenaries” game mode, but the majority of the fanbase is still firmly rooted in a love of survival horror
Since Capcom has launched remasters and remakes of their beloved old titles, an alternative presents itself. If Capcom were to devote its resources to remastering or revamping a certain series, the one often requested by resident Evil fans on social networks, they could leverage a proven product to appeal to those looking for co-op horror experiences online. The game series in question is Resident Evil outbreakreleased worldwide in 2004, with a sequel titled Epidemic: File n° 2 arrived in the West in 2005. Known as Biohazard Online in Japan, the main title chart was traditional resident Evil gameplay with a group of up to four players.
In Epidemic, players take on the role of survivors inhabiting Raccoon City during the city’s T-Virus outbreak, which sees monstrosities engineered by the Umbrella Corporation unleashed on the unsuspecting mountain town. Instead of a fixed story to follow, the Epidemic The series features isolated “scenarios” set in different parts of Raccoon City, including a bar, the city zoo, a burning hotel, the Raccoon Police Department, and several Umbrella Corp facilities. Players can choose from eight different survivors (as well as unlockable NPCs who used their ways), each with their own distinct traits. For example, Kevin Ryman, an RPD cop, has a faster run speed and can kick enemies while using pot shots to improve his accuracy with pistols. Meanwhile, Yoko Suzuki has a backpack that increases her inventory slots from four to eight, allowing her to collect more items. Other characters have more eccentric talents such as Jim Chapman, who can toss a coin into his pocket for a chance to force enemies to ignore (or specifically attack) him.
Epidemic features gameplay similar to the remake of the original resident Evil, but with a cooperative aspect. Players explore scenarios, collect items, solve puzzles, and fight a variety of enemies and bosses. However, to ensure players don’t rest on their laurels, the game introduces a virus counter. This meter starts at zero and slowly builds towards 100%, increasing faster as players take damage. Once the counter reaches 100%, the player dies, concluding the storyline in single player or resurrecting the player as a zombie in online multiplayer. Since voice chat was a luxury at the time, players can use an “ad hoc” system, where button presses allow characters to voice contextual dialogue relating to their current situation. Using ad hoc it is also possible to call specific teammates or issue commands.
To further complement the cooperative gameplay, Capcom provided the ability to use a PS2 Ethernet modem and connect to the Internet via dial-up or broadband. This provided multiple ways to connect to multiplayer instead of relying on just one type of connection. Online, players can play each scenario in order or participate in a “free play” mode where they can choose specific scenarios, difficulties, and additional settings. Because the placement of objects and enemies in scenarios changes with difficulty, they are considerably replayable. Additionally, each storyline features character-specific cutscenes and “SP items” that can only be found by playing a certain character. In fact, there are exclusive online game endings depending on which players are taken to the final scenario and if they have successfully cured themselves of the T-Virus.
File #2 improves upon the original gameplay by introducing five additional scenarios and the ability for characters to slowly move forward or backward when firing their weapon. The inline netcode is also enhanced to the best of Capcom’s abilities. However, even network changes simply could not mitigate the fatal flaw with the Epidemic series. For the vast majority of gamers in the early 2000s, internet technology simply wasn’t reliable enough to depend on console gaming. The first dial-up and broadband connections saw sessions of EpidemicGameplay is littered with random disconnects, network lags, and dramatically long loading times. While lovers of the series persevered, it wasn’t long before Capcom shut down the servers for File #2 in 2007. This wouldn’t shrink the fanbase, as they banded together to form Outbreak Server Resurrection in 2014, which mimicked the online connectivity of both games and could be played on modern hardware. The server project continues to this day, but its player base is relatively small compared to what the official servers once sported. It almost feels like a certain company should give this beloved online series another look, doesn’t it?
It’s not hard to see that remastering games is much cheaper and safer than betting on the success of a new title. For starters, many remasters simply clean up gameplay issues and bugs while giving the graphics a high-res facelift. For many remastered games, there is also a built-in fan base waiting behind the scenes for its release. Capcom wouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel here, they would just need to do Epidemic and File #2 playable on current hardware. Improve visuals to 2022 standards, rework networking aspects to fit modern internet hardware, and ensure ports are optimized for consoles and PC. The Epidemic fanbase will carry these games on its back, just like they currently do with the server relaunch project.
A Epidemic remaster would appease longtime fans, and it might even attract some fans new to the franchise who have only played titles like Resident Evil Village. They can get a taste of the more classic gameplay of resident Evil before it begins to go through its gameplay evolution. It could be argued that the gameplay would feel too dated, but past remasters of resident Evil (2002) and Resident Evil Zero did well in sales, proving that traditional gameplay holds up well. So what exactly does Capcom have to lose? If the remaster fails, the company will have spent a lot less money developing it. Additionally, dedicated Epidemic fans can simply return to the fanserver project if they wish. The risk is fairly minimal, but the potential reward for Capcom is huge. They can reap benefits with one hand and fine-tune their true multiplayer experience with the other.
Gaming’s current trend of remaking and remastering classic titles isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Capcom is also fully committed to riding this wave. Given the love and dedication that the existing fan base still has for these two online titles, it would just be a shame to overlook them when so many resident Evil the titles return to the front of the stage. Resident Evil outbreak has been buried long enough, and it’s time for it to rise again and hide in the 2020s to show it still has a lot to offer.