While some companies play it safe with big franchises, Capcom likes to experiment when it comes to its premiere horror series Resident Evil. Part of this experimentation has seen Capcom attempt to create an engaging online multiplayer-focused Resident Evil game, but so far, the company has had little success, with promising games like Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps failing to hit the mark. However, I think if Capcom really wants to deliver a quality online Resident Evil multiplayer experience that keeps fans engaged for the long term, it needs to revisit a concept used in a pair of spinoff games from the PS2 era.
Even back in the days of the PS2, when online gaming wasn’t nearly as commonplace as it is now, Capcom was trying to create a successful online multiplayer Resident Evil game. In my opinion, Capcom accomplished its goal with the Resident Evil: Outbreak, which allowed players to connect with each other online to battle the undead and survive the horrors of Raccoon City.
Capcom’s idea for Resident Evil: Outbreak and its sequel was right on the money, but the games released at the wrong time. Had the Outbreak games launched during the seventh generation or later, I’m confident that they would have been more popular, as online console gaming became much more prevalent with the introduction of PS3 and Xbox 360. So, with Capcom’s latest online Resident Evil effort, the poorly received Umbrella Corps, not meeting expectations, I think now is the perfect time for the company to revisit the Outbreak concept.
Outbreak could be revived with a brand new third game in the franchise built from the ground-up to take advantage of current-generation hardware to deliver an even better gameplay experience than its predecessors. For example, an even larger number of players could play together online, and if the player count was increased, the enemy count could be increased as well. Imagine an online Resident Evil game with thousands of zombies cluttering the screen at once, Dead Rising-style, and that’s what I think a new Outbreak game could be like.
The PS2-era Outbreak games had decent visuals for the time, but they both look pretty dated by today’s standards. A third Outbreak game could have much more impressive graphics, which could go a long way in building an effective, tense atmosphere.
Another important way a completely new Outbreak game could be great is that players would probably be allowed to talk to one another in parties or through in-game chat. In the older games, players had to use an archaic system of choosing from pre-set phrases, which isn’t exactly ideal for a game of this nature. I think part of the reason why Capcom went with a system like that was due to most PlayStation 2 owners not being properly equipped to communicate online anyway, but now game consoles come bundled with mics, so that shouldn’t be an issue if a new Outbreak game were to be developed.
For the reasons outlined above, I think a completely new Outbreak game would be nice, but considering Capcom’s preference for HD remasters, it seems an Outbreak HD Collection would be a more realistic scenario. I think such a collection would be best if it bundled all the maps available in the first two games into a single package, which would allow for more variety when matchmaking.
Alternatively, Capcom could simply bring the old games to new-gen platforms with restored online support. Outbreak and its sequel could join the lineup of PS2 games on PS4, which would mean 1080p visuals and trophy support, but again, online play would also need to be restored, and no PS2 game on PS4 has featured online to date. If Capcom could somehow restore Outbreak‘s online functionality, then this potential route to bringing the games to new-gen consoles should also be considered.
Regardless of how Capcom chooses to revive the Outbreak games, I think that it will probably happen eventually. After all, Capcom seems to love re-releasing Resident Evil games on every console imaginable, with the bulk of main series Resident Evil games now playable on current-gen consoles, with even more to come: Resident Evil 4 is coming to PS4 and Xbox One next month, and Resident Evil 2 is getting a full-fledged remake.
With so many other Resident Evil games either re-released or remade on a regular basis, I’m honestly surprised Capcom hasn’t already tapped the Outbreak games in some form. The games still seem to be at least somewhat popular with the Resident Evil community, evident by a recent Resident Evil 2 mod adding some of Outbreak‘s characters to the game. If fans are vocal enough about wanting to see the Outbreak franchise return for the new generation of gaming consoles, and if Capcom runs out of main series Resident Evil games to re-release on the latest hardware, maybe we will one day see a Resident Evil: Outbreak game again.