It’s safe to say that fans of the Resident Evil franchise weren’t too happy when Operation Raccoon City was announced. A third person shooter with little to no horror elements set in the Resident Evil universe? That just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Well, as it turns out, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was critically panned but saw a healthy commercial run, which can only mean that the loyal followers of the horror video game franchise didn’t shy away from an all-action new Resident Evil title.
Fast forward three years later, and now Umbrella Corps, a spiritual sequel of sorts to ORC, is about to release in June. Umbrella Corps offers many similar elements to 2012’s spin-off, like the competitive multiplayer aspect, two sides to choose from, and a story that stems from the original arc of the series, dealing with the aftermath of Resident Evil 6.
There’s little to no doubt that the Umbrella Corps video game will sell very well, given the franchise’s track record, so there’s no point in debating there. The question that arises from this debacle is whether the Resident Evil franchise as a whole should just split up into two branches: the main saga, composed purely by survival-horror entries like 1, 2 and 3, and a spin-off saga where all the action-oriented video game titles would fall into, like the aforementioned two Resident Evil spinoffs.
Think about it: the Resident Evil purists would simply limit themselves to the primary entries, and may occasionally try out a spinoff or two to satiate their hunger for action shooters, while the newer fans of the franchise who are used to shooting and dodging for cover at every minute can just buy the secondary entries and still feel like they’re part of the Resident Evil fanbase. It’s quite honestly a thought-provoking idea, and one that may unite gamers who love Resident Evil no matter the newest game’s direction.
The final two entries in the main story arc, 5 and 6, were met with a lousy reception by both fans and critics alike, especially the latter, whose heavy focus on action meant keeping the survival horror elements at a minimum. That “unforgivable flaw” was considered vital in the game’s failure, more so by the fact that Capcom had previously claimed the saga would return to its survival horror roots, which sparked fans’ hopes only to painfully let them down when the product was finally released in 2013.
Should this serve as a warning that fans don’t enjoy relentless action when they’re experiencing a core entry in the series? Would Capcom be better off just leaving the heavy focus on combat for the smaller, alternative new Resident Evil titles? That way, the two sectors of the divided fanbase would each have something to look forward to every two years or so.
No one is saying that both of these branches of video games should offer exclusively horror or action elements, meaning it might be a good idea to thrown in some cool shooting set piece into the main entries or a twisted, horrific sequence into the spinoffs, which might help add some variety into the mix. However, both story arcs should be definitively marked by horror or action depending on the type of game, be it a core game or a secondary one.
This idea might not be enough to save Resident Evil, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction for a franchise that stood its ground at the pinnacle of survival horror and has since fallen from grace at the hands of bad decisions and questionable strategies.