Having liked RE4 and RE5 (with the understanding they’re very different games from the ones before), and with great caution from the reviews, I picked up RE6. This is an early feel based on playing chapter 1 for Leon and Jake, with no plot points to discuss.
I’m going to start with the negatives, since everytime I get to the positives my power cuts out so I’ll separate them out. But in a nutshell, the positive is it’s got a decent frantic feel, more so than the last version, and that’s kinda exciting. Still hasn’t hooked me the way 4 or 5 did though.
- Is this a mistake with my copy, or is there really no freaking manual/instruction booklet with the game? Sometimes a quick cheat sheet is nice when you haven’t played the game in a while or your friend wants to start on level 1 instead of the tutorial. Dude, that’s just plain cheap of you.
- If your game is going to have an extended sequence where there’s nothing for the player to find or do other than move forward, make it a freaking cutscene. Tutorial levels are fine, but the opening far-too-long of Leon’s chapter involves nothing but him getting from A to B with nothing to find or do. It’s not building suspense when he can’t draw his gun or attack.
- Making the tutorial level basically a massive QTE I guess made sense, given that "massive QTE game "appears to be the theme for the rest of the game. Capcom doubled down on that part, and given that was one of the less-liked parts of the previous games, I’m not sure why.
- I expect progression to be linear, but at least make the battle scenes take place in some sort of open environment. Compared with RE4 and RE5, where there’s lots of mini-villages with nooks and crannies to retreat to, barricade, etc. Most of the extended combat sequences here take place in a glorified hallway or small room. Maybe this will change in later levels, but given that in RE4 and RE5 chapter 1 has the “hook” level in a nice varied environment, I’m not holding my breath here.
- The game can be hard, but it shouldn’t be cheap. Being killed by a scripted event multiple times because there’s no warning or QTE is just plain stupid. There’s a battle where a van just shows up, careens across 1/3 of the battlefield and kills everything in its path - no cutaway showing it’s coming, no warning, no nothing. Boom, you’re dead. While maybe this is a artistic statement on the ephemeral nature of life, it’s rage-inducing in a video game.
- Speaking of cheap, zombies that are unkillable until they stand up is lazy game design, and incredibly cheap when they basically get a free shot in on you because they only “activate” when you get near, causing them to tackle you and doing 40% damage if you miss the QTE, and 35% if you make it. Sorry your “surprise” zombies are so predictable, but that’s just stupid; I’m pretty sure in a zombie apocalypse anything not moving would have its head removed by default just to be sure, so really, it’s not like you didn’t predict gamers would be attempting pre-emptive head-shots on them.
- Now that I’ve seen how tight the inventory is, I guess the pill system makes sense, at least. Still, it seems clunky.
- Maybe I’m just not used to it, but the cover system is really flaky. Lousy for aiming, or sometimes you just stand there like an idiot in the open. You fixed “move and shoot” and even “shoot while knocked down”, but RE5 seemed to have a pretty workable cover system, why’d you break it?
- If you talk about skills and points, perhaps you should explain skills and when you get them at the same time as you introduce them. I started button hunting to figure out how to use these points, and found nothing, so I checked my manual and… oh wait, I didn’t get a manual, never mind.
- Pacing wise, all-action-all-the-time is as monotonous as long stretches of doing nothing, which you have both of. Again, maybe this is Chapter One speaking, but the other games seemed to pace themselves better, while this one (to borrow from a review I saw) feels like a Michael Bay movie: either ignorable non-action or MICHAELBAYEXPLOSIONSKABOOM all the time, and little in between.
- Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the chapters are too freaking long, and could have easily been broken up. I swear it’s like LOTR with how many times I assumed it was done, and then another segment came up. I don’t know if your progress is saved mid-chapter if you leave, and I’m afraid to find out, but seriously, I replayed chapter 1 on easy, a fair amount of ammo and the shotgun from start. Not exactly speed running, but not exactly exploring either and it still took me a bit over an hour to play it. Both Leon’s and Jake’s stories had incredibly obvious places where you could have split it up a bit, but instead of being a thrill, by then end of a level you’re like “okay, I just want this chapter to be done”. It’s not like there’s any story you’re losing out on - the entire info set in Leon’s chapter takes place in the opening conversations, with no plot at all from there, so we’re not losing subtle nuance here.
So, that’s the game design points of contention I have with this game. I recognize on some level all the RE games have their own clunky flaws, but this one just seems to be a result of lazyness, or designers going for big things but not bothering with the fundamentals. Anyone playtesting this should have noticed these frustrations right away. I’m hoping some online co-op with friends will make it a fun experience anyway, but yeah, there’s definitely some rough edges that somehow three years of design didn’t deal with.