E3 2012 Preview: Resident Evil 6

Three interacting campaigns. Four-player multiplayer.

One of this year’s most anticipated releases, Resident Evil 6 was easily one E3’s biggest highlights. The upcoming mainline entry in the zombie-slaughtering horror series introduces new enemies, new friends, and new action. 

Resident Evil 6 adds a handful of new characters alongside well-loved and familiar faces. This time, players will be able to choose between three interacting character campaigns: Leon S. Kennedy and Helena Harper, Jake Muller and Sherry Birkin, and Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans. There are moments when these three storylines crossover – in these stages, players will be able to participate in a four-person multiplayer mode. If your friends aren’t available, you can fill in each spot with random online players, or allow the AI to control the remaining characters.

The game’s story picks up in 2013, when the current U.S. president decides to reveal the truth about the events of Racoon City in 1998 in an effort to dissipate biochemical terrorism. However, he winds up becoming infected by the C-Virus, a stronger mutation of the familiar T-Virus from prior games. Along with the infestation of zombies that follows, new enemies called the J’avo are introduced, and they are far fiercer than the average zombie. Not only can they wield weapons and work in groups to some level of intelligence, but they can also cure themselves.

With an introduction from the game’s producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, the closed demonstration shown to us introduced a scene where Leon and Helena are in pursuit of a suspicious individual amidst a burning junkyard. Jake and Sherry happen to be on their way to report to the individual Leon is pursuing, causing Leon to get forceful and demand that Sherry spill the details. Sensing tension, Jake protectively defends Sherry, much to Leon’s disgruntled dismay.

Before their bravado overpowers the scene, the J’avo attacks. This particular J’avo has an arm that serves as an apparatus for different weapons. Not only that, he has a cage on his back with room for one.

This stage demonstrates a situation where four-person multiplayer could come into effect. The groups become separated by the J’avo. Meanwhile, Jake is trapped in the cage on the creature’s back. During this demonstration, we didn’t see what Helena was doing, but on the other side, Leon and Sherry work together to put a vehicle in motion to attack the creature and to rejoin their partners.

Gameplay-wise, it’s apparent that many changes have been implemented since Resident Evil 5. For instance, characters can move and shoot simultaneously. The familiar button pressing action sequences are still prevalent, but the actions that take place are far more fluent and exciting. From watching alone, it’s easy to see how the mechanics of their combat have improved and become a more fluid motion. For example, rather than standing to break a crate for ammo, now players can slide, kick, and smash into them in order to keep the battles from becoming static. Along with that, healing your partners can be done mid-battle, without pausing to equip weapons, which is very useful during these intense group fights.

Each character’s combat styles are different. Leon is a powerhouse, and has the ability to wield two guns simultaneously. Jake’s character is known for his talent at sharp shooting, so naturally he is a better sniper. On the other hand, Sherry is the only character who can use the stun gun. The attention paid to each character’s individual traits really helps break Resident Evil 6 from the mold of aim-and-slaughter zombie shooters. It’s also a fun aspect that players can look forward to during multiplayer if they have a preference.

From my own experience, Resident Evil 5 was a clone of Resident Evil 4 as far as gameplay went. But after seeing Resident Evil 6 in action, it seems that that monotony has been broken, and the game looks to be the best in the series yet. The game will launch for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 2, with a PC version to launch sometime after.

If you missed the E3 trailer and screenshots, catch them here. If you missed the 60 minutes of gameplay footage, watch it here.

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