Though we’re not exactly close to the Tokyo Game Show and there’s no guarantee that Resi will even have something shown, I think it’s time for us to start speculating more seriously about what Capcom might have in store for the next primary installment in the Resident Evil franchise.
With the major success of Resident Evil 2, it’s not impossible that they’ll rest on their laurels and focus on remakes. However, I’m honestly pretty convinced that TGS will have good news in store for us. It’s been over 2 years since Resident Evil 7 released to pretty consistent praise, and key figures have already confirmed that Resident Evil 8 exists.
Now, it’s simply a matter of what it will be.
Resident Evil 7 saw an entirely new cast get introduced, save for the inclusion of our boy Chris in the finale. If the plan is to essentially start from the beginning and build a new ensemble from the ground up, the possibility exists that we’ll see a completely new group of friends and foes, similar to the shift from Resident Evil 1 to 2.
Expecting to see Ethan Winters as our hero again isn’t necessarily the wrong move, but with the introduction of the new Umbrella-like organization The Connections, it might be a better choice for them to further expand their new cast. This would likely mean putting a new protagonist through the brutal ringer all over again.
If you’ll humor me for a second, though, if I could have my way, I’d put Rebecca Chambers in the driver’s seat. While she’s certainly a certified badass (being the first person to actually survive a fight with a Tyrant), she’s gone the way of a noncombatant in the years since the Arklay Mountains. This would make her a prime choice for the “edge of the knife” survival gameplay that 7 was known for.
Though it would be awful to see her go through all of that.
The next important point of speculation is gameplay. With two recent Resident Evil games that have two wildly different styles of play, the question then becomes which of those will hand off the torch.
It may surprise some of you, but I think that they should stick to the first-person perspective that made Resident Evil 7 famous. I love the Resident Evil 2 remake immensely, but I believe that style is better suited for remakes.
To move forward, change is required. I believe I made that sentiment pretty clear when I defended the indefensible and gave 6 a good name. The switch to first-person for this new story arc was a fantastic choice. Keeping the noncombatant air about the game would only serve in its favor. To make noncombat scary, seeing through the protagonist’s eyes certainly enhances that.
That being said, the third-person wouldn’t be awful. I just feel that it wouldn’t match the new aesthetic that this new arc entered on.
This bit is noticeably harder. The series has trotted around the globe, and no environment is off limits.
Perhaps, to contrast the swampy environs of Louisiana, something in the Midwest might be nice. It may just be the Michigander in me, but something set in the snowy woods has immense potential for scares. I’ve been out in those woods at night, and I can assure you, it’s unsettling.
If that’s not in the cards, a visit to the tropics is always a fun ride too. Not a lot of horror games are based on beautiful islands. That being said, a few exist, such as The Forest and some parts of Far Cry 3. However, I think this franchise could benefit from a little of the surf ‘n’ sand treatment.
Only a few years have passed since 7 came out. Generally, Resident Evil games follow reality as far as the timeline goes, but not always.
In the case of 8, however, I think following up from 7 would be best. The Connections have been introduced, and all of the other loose ends have been tied up nicely. Continuing from there would be more satisfying than taking us back and forth. At the very least, the first couple of games in this arc should give us a firm foundation for the conflict to come.
With the concept of “when” addressed, it’s best to next address the “why”; what will be happening for our protagonist?
It’s safe to say that the “crazed family” trope won’t be used again so soon. Capcom has made some goofy decisions before, but nothing like that. That being said, the feel of this new kind of Resi pretty much requires that your opponents present as human easily.
If we go with the suggestion of the Midwest, then I think an interesting route to be taken involves the Wendigo. A Midwestern Native legend, the Wendigo is a terrifying deer creature borne of a human who has partaken of human flesh. They gain great power but are never sated again.
I think an interesting avenue to explore would be something different from the Molded. Instead, perhaps there’s a community in the snowy woods who believes in the Wendigo, and this belief becomes reality through experiments by The Connections, and this community is engulfed in cannibalism and violence.
This maintains the human enemy edge of 7 but is also fresh and strong. It gives a different kind of main villain, one that’s more beastly.
What would bring our hapless protagonist to this neck of the woods, anyway? If we’re talking Wendigo wilderness, then it’s not exactly a primo vacation spot.
I think a good way to bring our character here is to link them to the experiment in some way. It isn’t impossible to have them be a noncombatant, but still have them sent to see what’s happening. If we’re using my Rebecca example, it could be that she’s been called in by the BSAA to look into some strange viral strains found in the woods. If not her, then the new protag could perhaps be a sheriff or investigator. This would give them a reason to be handy with a gun, but not make them an unstoppable badass.
Getting the hero into the fray wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, but retreading the “missing loved one” the ground is unlikely. For the same reasons that the killer family won’t be making a reappearance.
I suppose a lot of what I’ve written, in hindsight, is pretty hard speculation. I’ve postulated some pretty unlikely plot points.
Nevertheless, I stand by my more general thoughts. A noncombatant hero in first-person, a snow-choked mountain community, and a more monstrous main villain.
These elements would differentiate 8 from 7 in as stark of a manner as possible. The new direction of the franchise could continue to grow without sacrificing interesting tales. We’d get a new game, with mechanics we can all enjoy.
In the end, though, the only thing I need from 8 is more of the series I love.