Resident Evil Resistance is full of interesting ideas but simply isn't worth playing right now
Interesting core ideas can't fix the many, many issues this experimental multiplayer title suffers from.
While Resident Evil 3 is out now the subject of much discussion, there's another Resident Evil game that released on the same day. Sure, it's included with the purchase of Resident Evil 3 but make no mistake, this is a separate game. It has a different list of achievements or trophies, a completely different install and isn't connected to Resident Evil 3 in any way.
I'm talking of course about Resident Evil Resistance, the asymmetrical 4v1, non-canon multiplayer game that started its life as Project Resistance. Resident Evil Resistance is based on what-if scenarios of Umbrella experiments, as a Mastermind attempts to kill four Survivors through sinister traps, zombies and more. If the four Survivors escape before time runs out, they win. At its core, there's a lot of fun ideas here, with particular potential given Resident Evil's rich history that is available to draw on. Unfortunately, in its current state, it's just not worth the hassle.
There are myriad issues here, but let's start at the top. The netcode right now is lackluster at absolute best and borders on unplayable at times. I have yet to get into a match as a Survivor where the large warning "Unstable connection with the Mastermind" (who is also the host) wasn't displayed constantly throughout. Stutter is extremely frequent and enemies will consistently react two to three seconds after being shot, creating a jarring disconnect.
If you want to be the Mastermind, good luck even getting into matches right now. It's taken at minimum about ten minutes to find a match, often far, far longer. I've seen people post online about not finding a match even after an hour. While this isn't the most egregious wait time for a multiplayer game ever seen, it's a little concerning considering Resident Evil 3 hasn't even been out for a month yet and so in theory, the multiplayer population should be at around its peak potential right now. Things just haven't started off well despite all the interesting elements.
Technical issues can be solved but there are far more problems here. Right now, the game simply isn't well-balanced. If you have a competent team of Survivors, you're going to win. Because the Survivors earn more time on the clock for beating the various enemies or traps the Mastermind throws their way, the only way for the Mastermind to win is through overwhelming force of combos, usually through the Ultimate ability, like Birkin's G-Virus infected husband.
Balancing asymmetrical games certainly isn't easy. Looking back over the past several years, many prominent games that offering the promising setup of a team of adventurers or hunters against one big bad simply hasn't worked. Take 2015's monster-hunting game Evolve, which started off well with a prominent marketing campaign, numerous awards at E3 and other trade shows and was even the second best-selling game of February 2015 per NPD. By September 2018, after an attempt to go free-to-play, Evolve was shut down.
Meanwhile, Fable Legends promised a world of adventure where one player could be the villain and four heroes could try to stop them. This game never even made it out of testing and Lionhead closed.
Compounding the problem here is some nonsense with RP boosters. Even improving the netcode, making it easier to find matches and improving the terribly imbalanced gameplay isn't going to fix everything. While it's not quite pay to win, anyone willing to fork over some cash is going to be at an advantage. RP boosters increase the rate at which you earn RP while playing a match. While you'll occasionally earn some as a reward during challenges, the main method of acquiring them is through just purchasing them. If you're constantly buying and using boosters, you'll find yourself upgrading far faster than anyone who isn't.
Playing a match and trying a new level one Survivor or Mastermind, only to find yourself up against someone who has a bunch of improvements already, results in a less-than-pleasant experience. As a result, anyone trying it out is more likely to be turned off, assuming they can even find a match.
It's a shame really, because in theory there's a lot to like. Manipulating a group of frantic survivors with deadly traps and creatures sounds really cool and is a devious idea I'd love to embrace. In practice, it just doesn't work.
No multiplayer game should be completely written off, as turnarounds are always possible pending post-launch support. Capcom has notably said Jill Valentine will be added as a Survivor on April 17, which is nice. There's also more content coming after Jill, though we don't have any exact specifics right now, which is a shame. There's so much to draw from in Resident Evil and the binding of canon has no effect here, so the team should feel free to go nuts! Just off the top of my head, Lucas Baker would be a fantastic Mastermind addition, bringing Molded enemies and wire traps straight from Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
Above all, don't take any of this as me hoping for the game's failure. On the contrary, I would like to come back to it in a few months and see some very positive changes. The fact is however that things don't seem great out the gate and it's going to take a lot of work to get this initially-promising multiplayer title into a place where it'll see success.
We'll see what happens over the next few months. The remake of Resident Evil 3 is worth your time and money. Unfortunately, its multiplayer compatriot simply isn't, at least not right now.
Related: Our full Resident Evil 3 review
Get out of the city
Resident Evil 3's story follows takes Jill Valentine's escape from Raccoon City, but the game also includes the completely separate, non-canon multiplayer title Resident Evil Resistance.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.