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Hands on with Umbrella Corps, Capcom's Resident Evil-themed shooter

Capcom's Resident Evil series has long been an unusually malleable franchise. Resident Evil started as a "survival horror" game on the original PlayStation. Resident Evil 4 added a strong focus on third-person shooting and action, RE5 added co-op, and RE6 was a terrible mess that brought shame to the families of its development staff. We've also seen RE spin-offs like the light gun-style Umbrella Chronicles, the disappointing third-person co-op shooter Operation Raccoon City, and the surprisingly good Revelations 2.

Hot on the heels of the recently-released Resident Evil Zero remaster, Capcom will soon release a new competitive third-person shooter simply called Umbrella Corps on Steam and PlayStation 4. I recently played Umbrella Corps at PAX South and came away impressed with its team-based multiplayer, fast pace, and AI-controlled zombies. Read on for our detailed impressions and developer interview and gameplay video!

Big pharmacy goes to war

Resident Evil Umbrella Corps

Although Resident Evil has been done as a shooter before in the Slant Six-developed Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Umbrella Corps marks the first pure shooter developed by Capcom's own RE development team in Osaka, Japan. It's also the RE series' first and only competitive shooter to date. Capcom hopes it will become an esports fixture, not unlike CounterStrike: Go.

Umbrella Corps features only minor single-player elements and won't include a single-player campaign, but still boasts a premise that fits right in with traditional Resident Evil storylines. In-universe, the evil pharmaceutical corporation known as Umbrella started the zombie plague thanks to its nefarious and illegal genetic research.

The Umbrella Corporation officially ceased to exist in 2003, and yet its legacy of bioterrorism lives on. In the president day, much of humanity has been wiped out by zombies and other genetically-engineered monstrosities. Powerful corporations still exist, though. These corporations wage war against each other for the remnants of Umbrella's research. But the places with this valuable data are infested with all manner of deadly creatures…

Mercs takes on other mercs (and monsters)

Resident Evil Umbrella Corps

In Umbrella Corps, you and your team will play as mercenaries sent to recover Umbrella's research and samples. Two teams (Alpha and Bravo) of three players will compete against each other in close quarters environments based on locations from throughout the Resident Evil series.

Although the general objective is simply to kill the members of the other team, both teams must deal with zombies and other BOWs (Biological Weapons) as well. The Umbrella Labs stage we played at PAX South simply features groups of zombies that would emerge from the ground at various intervals. Initially, the zombies won't attack our players – there's a good reason for that.

Each merc wears a Zombie Jammer backpack that renders him invisible to the undead creatures. No one is truly safe from monsters in the Resident Evil series, though. If someone shoots your backpack (and they will), the zombies will quickly attack en masse. The mechanic of shooting someone's pack to entangle them in zombies lends some welcome RE authenticity.

Resident Evil Umbrella Corps

Other Resident Evil elements include the arsenal of weapons our protagonists carry into battle. Naturally, the mercs pack guns from the RE series. For close quarters encounters, they wield the Brainer – a powerful melee axe designed to penetrate enemies' skulls. Brainer kills look particularly vicious. Mercs also wear an arm-mounted Tactical Shield. This lets them grab a zombie, which can then be used as cover. Hey, the zombies are unlikely to complain.

You'll be hiding behind more than just zombies here – combatants can take cover against walls and behind objects à la Gears of War. But Umbrella Corps' cover system, called 'Analog cover,' is a bit more advanced than Gears.' After taking cover, players can lean out to varying degrees. The farther they lean out, the greater their accuracy as they fire.

With small stages (called 'compact battle zones') and small 3-person teams, Umbrella Corps becomes a truly fast-paced first- or third-person shooter. Our mercs have very few places to hide, resulting in a brisk pace – rounds can last as little as a minute. Matches consist of multiple rounds, though, so nobody will complain if you finish up too quickly.

Modes and maps

Resident Evil Umbrella Corps

Capcom hasn't announced how many maps or modes Umbrella Corps will consist of yet, but here are the ones we know about so far.

Modes:

Umbrella Corps is an online multiplayer focused game, but it also includes a minor single-player component in The Experiment mode. From what we know of it, solo players will be able to visit some or all of the multiplayer maps and battle against waves of AI-controlled zombies and monsters. It sounds a lot like a single-player horde mode, which is fine with me – though I'd prefer co-op support as well.

The PAX South demo featured the One Life Match game type. As the name implies, each merc gets only a single life per round. Should you be killed, you'll have to watch helplessly as the battle continues. But the one-life system (not unlike Gears of War's Elimination mode) shouldn't frustrate too much. Rounds end very quickly, so downed players won't have to wait long before returning to the action.

Another mode called DNA Hunt has been glimpsed in Umbrella Corps promotional materials. Little is known about this game type. Will it involve killing the AI enemies to harvest their mutated DNA? I'd certainly like to see a multiplayer mode that explicitly rewards zombie killing.

Confirmed maps:

  • Umbrella Lab: Shown in our video, the laboratory that spawned the dreaded T-Virus features zombies as enemies.
  • Resident Evil 4 Village: Battle villagers infected by the Las Plagas parasites.
  • Tricell Office: The evil Tricell Corporation officially entered the series after Resident Evil 4.
  • Resident Evil 5 Village (Teased but not confirmed): Should feature villagers infected by the Majini parasites.

Umbrella Corps will likely feature more stages from modern Resident Evil games. As Revelations 2 showed us, Capcom has a habit of reusing existing high-resolution environments rather than creating or remastering environments from past Resident Evil games.

Still, it would be a huge shame not to have a stage based on the original Resident Evil mansion! Downloadable content for RE5 featured a version of the mansion, though, so those newer assets could be reused if necessary.

There's life in this Corps

Resident Evil Umbrella Corps

A competitive multiplayer shooter might not sound like the most natural extension of the Resident Evil brand, but the game looks and plays great so far. The lack of a campaign will disappoint some RE fans, but Capcom has wisely decided to charge $29.99 (£24.99 in Europe) for Umbrella Corps rather than a full sixty bucks. It will be released exclusively as a downloadable title.

The only disappointing thing about Umbrella Corps so far is that it will only be coming to Windows and PlayStation 4 – NOT Xbox One. Considering that the game uses the Unity multiplatform engine, Capcom's decision to skip a major console (with a sizable audience of shooter fans) makes little sense. The snub recalls Street Fighter V's PS4 exclusivity. Let's hope it's just a timed exclusive.

Still, if you have a computer that can run the game or a PlayStation 4, Umbrella Corps is a shooter to anticipate. You won't have long to wait, either – it launches this May.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

50 Comments
  • Genuinely baffled at no Xbox release. The home for competitive gaming on console. I'm disliking Capcom more and more.
  • Capcom has completely lost the thread. I used to be the biggest fan of theirs... until all the PS exclusivity. Just disgusting.
  • theres a reason why they are dying.
  • It's the way it works now. They try to get exclusives to sell their consoles. And overall I think Ps has the better exclusives.
  • At thus moment in time Xbox has far mire and hugged quality exclusives. It would be nice if Sony could try and release some.
  • Yeah, Sony has a much stronger lineup of exclusive this year than it did last year, so things could turn out different. Xbox One easily had more strong mainstream exclusives last year.
  • Yes. Exclusives literally nobody cares about. Both platforms need to quit with the exlusivity thing to shift hardware because it obviously isn't working. PlayStation 4 has literally **** all decent exlusives. People bought it because it was the stronger of the two lame ducks leading the spastic race that is this gen's console war. 
  • Anyone can see that several people here do in fact care about exclusivity, so it's highly inaccurate to say literally nobody cares about it. If console gaming doesn't appeal to you, better to sit out discussions than behaving antagonistically.
  • Paul...please do think before making erronious statements. Xbox was skipped because its sales are miniscule compared to PS4...I don't own either...I'm a PC gamer so this isn't a fanboy comment. Xbox One has sold very poor compared with the PS4...why waste money porting it? More will follow suit with time. But in the end both consoles of the current gen are underpowered piss-poor shadows of their forefathers. 
  • Even if Xbox is outsold 2:1, it's still a "sizeable chunk" as the article suggests.
  • Exactly.
  • That's just bull.
  • Xbox's 19 million to PS4's 35 million isn't miniscule. Actually a higher percentage in the U.S. when you consider Japan has never supported a foreign console system and Xbox sales there are nonexistent.
  • You're stupid, and get the award for the most idiotic comment of the year early! The Xbox hasn't sold that little for them to skip it, yes the PlayStation sells more, but the Xbox also sells a lot! Get yourself some help please because you need it. Just saying.
  • Says the raging fanboy.
  • doesnt make it less true. ignoring 20 million gamers aint smart.
  • Doesn't make it any less false Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Lumia 950 XL
  • Problem with that is that Xbox gamers spend more on games the. Ps4 players bought the console but u have more games per console on Xbox
  • Microsoft give your money to capcom so we won't have to buy another console...
  • Why would they do that? You'd buy a PS4 for this? Not Uncharted, Bloodborne, Littlebigplanet etc?
  • i could just get it on pc steam i will pass.
  • I like zombies, but never cared for resident evil. Looks interesting, but just no motivation to play it.
  • I think you should try Resident Evil 4. Many ppl think it's the best in the series, but if you have a friend you should play 5. You'll have fun. Trust me.
  • Resident Evil has been off for almost a decade.
  • Nope. The revelations series is actually good.
  • Resi 6 was dogger.
  • SP sounds like Raid mode. I hope it has co-op
  • It's interesting how much more Capcom invests in the PC platform than they do the Xbox platform.
    Those exclusive l4d characters were pretty cool. The PC game industry seems to be one big family at times with all these crossovers.
  • well ill check it out on ps4 might get it but the lack of xbox one support its disheartening
  • I'd buy a ps4 for street fighter v and king of fighters...
  • Meh.  FPS or nothing.
  • I tink its great comeback
  • It looks interesting, not really read much about it until now. I have a PC, PS4 and XBOX One so I'm not backing a particular horse in the race so to speak when I say this but I think Capcom might regret not doing an XBOX version in the long run. This is the second Capcom game I've read about that won't be coming to XBOX and gamers have a long memory. I don't think many people expected the PS4 to dominate sales as much as it has when you look at the huge popularity of the XBOX 360 last gen and that could swing back the other way in the next generation of consoles. Gamers have a long memory and if that happens Capcom might find themselves with a PR mountain to climb.
  • True, i have the Ps4 wii u and Xbox One. So I have the same stance as yours. I think its Street Fighter and RE by now right. They really are making a mistake, thats pretty true. Perhaps because Ps4 packs a bit better of graphics i guess.
  • Capcom Please make RE3 Nemesis HD Remake I want to see Nemesis in Action again in HD
  • Cool, my brother's a big fan of RE from part 1; Chris and Wesker. Just shared this article to him.
  • "RE6 was a terrible mess that brought shame to the families of its development staff" LEL
  • Well PS4 have much more stable FPS ... Unfortunately but ONE have a big lags to PS4
  • Weird enough the picture looks nicer than in the video lol! lets hope it will release soon on Xbox One.
  • This looks like an interesting take on RE. Horror isn't my favorite genre but I'll keep my eye on this one.
  • Not for Xbox One. First street fighter 5 now this. **** you capcom Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • They'll never reach the pinnacle of perfection as they did with RE 4. That game was, is and will always be, the bomb.
  • This game's not trying to be the next big Resident Evil. It's just a spin-off for the multiplayer crowd. I do hope RE 7 gets announced and proves to be a return to form though. (RE5 is my personal favorite, despite the dumb story.)
  • And the racism allegations. Those are always fun.
  • I see the concerns there. Japanese developers aren't known for their racial sensitivity, though I'm sure they meant no harm with the RE5 setting and enemies. I just really like the co-op, inventory management, and metagame/unlocking aspects of the game. You get more powerful the more you play and the game gets more fun as a result. Shame that RE6 botched most of 5's ideas (other than the co-op) and had an even more idiotic story.
  • You get more powerful in 4 too. You can suplex zombies with the gained power. The inventory and meta are natural progressions of the foundation from 4. Plus the Red 9 handgun and the "broken butterfly" magnum revolver from 4 are two of the best weapons in gaming.
  • Anything that isn't Xbox is a nearly a pass for me. I can play games on my computer via steam but older games run decently . I wouldn't trust my video card to handel new titles. I wont be buying a ps4. I dont need 2 devices on my tv. As paul says I do need a 2nd xbox. lol ​maybe next gen were 2 years in this one with 4 more years to go.
  • Hopefully it's a timed exclusive. Looks pretty decent and I too would prefer a co-op (couch and online) for the horde mode.
  • Resident Evil succeded until Outbreak 1 and 2. So I don't care if it's an exclusive for PS4 Capcom ruined the franchise time ago.. Hopefully I have RE0 and RE1 remakes to play and rememba how good they were.
  • A lot of the newer games are quite fun. You just have to be able to accept that most of them aren't trying to play like the old ones. Story-wise, though - take the series out back and shoot it. Boy the plots have gotten bad.