Why Resident Evil 6 Failed

Here’s how Resident Evil 6 worked: the main story consisted of four different campaigns, each starring a familiar franchise character. More importantly, each campaign emphasized a different style of gameplay. For instance, Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper’s story was an action-fueled romp similar to the design of Resident Evil 4 and 5. Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans’ section was closer to a modern military shooter. Jake Muller and Sherry Birkin starred in an Uncharted-esque adventure. Finally, Ada Wong went solo in a campaign that harkened back to 1996’s Resident Evil with its emphasis on survival and puzzle solving.

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Rather than try to craft a prix fixe menu designed to highlight the skills of the chef, Capcom opted to turn Resident Evil 6 into a buffet. That way, everyone could find something to like no matter what they were looking for. The thing about buffets, though, is that there’s always something a little off about their offerings. The chicken is just a tad overcooked. The ice cream’s texture varies from flavor to flavor. There’s a roach on the salad.

True to form, there was something a little off about every campaign in Resident Evil 6. Muller and Birkin’s story did an admirable job of emulating the linear levels of Uncharted, but it was clear that the campaign’s designers lacked Naughty Dog’s flair for creating truly memorable setpieces. The puzzles in Ada Wong’s mission felt removed from the grand design of the story and lacked a sense of purpose.

Capcom’s decision to not commit to any one play style meant that each of their chosen methods suffered from a lack of attention. If anything, having the campaigns stacked on top of each other only served to agitate the people they were meant to appeal to. Even if the format occasionally gave you exactly what you wanted, it also forced you to play through someone else’s ideal Resident Evil game to get to it. Actually, you could make the argument that Resident Evil 6 could have succeeded if Capcom had only tried to please all Resident Evil fans. Instead, its true downfall stems from Capcom’s desire to appeal to those who weren’t franchise fans.

It gets worse. Regardless of which campaign you play in Resident Evil 6, you’re going to have to endure a painful amount of quick-time events and scripted sequences. While Jake and Sherry’s story relies on these elements the most, nearly every meaningful moment in the game is designed to either limit or remove your control of the situation. For a sequel seemingly designed to utilize as many styles of gameplay as possible, the game’s reliance on these non-interactive elements is a bizarre choice. If all the stories were going to be tied together by one aspect, why wasn’t it horror?

The short answer to that question is, “Capcom no longer believed that people cared about horror.” In 2012, series producer Masachika Kawata told Gamasutra that he felt the “series needs to head in that (action-oriented) direction,” especially as it relates to “the North American market.” Capcom believed that the implementation of these Call of Duty-like aspects was the way they were going to achieve Call of Duty-like sales figures. Producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi even admitted that the development team only put zombies in the game because “they’re popular” and the developers “tried to respond to the [fan] requests and put them in this game.”

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