Resident Evil Village has completely and utterly sunk its hooks into me. Between PS5 and Xbox Series X, I'm currently preparing for my sixth playthrough of the game and I easily see several more completions on the horizon.
While later Resident Evil titles like Resident Evil 5 through 7 heavily incentivized multiple playthroughs with new weapons and rewarding unlocks, none of them perfected the formula quite like the newest entry. As our resident Resident Evil nerd, I just can't stop playing. Here's why Resident Evil Village has the best replayability of the entire series and why it's on track to be the game I've beaten more times than any other.
The history of replayability in Resident Evil
Resident Evil has always been a franchise willing to reward its most hardcore audience. Even the earliest games offered fun and outrageous post-game content. Resident Evil on PS1, for example, allowed players who completed the game to change their outfits via a special bonus room and provided the infamous unlimited rocket launcher for players skilled enough to complete the game in under three hours. The unique challenges and unlocks in Resident Evil 1 set a precedent that would continue through every single mainline Resident Evil title.
This ingenious balance of fear and fun would be part of the reason why Resident Evil became one of the most beloved horror franchises. Fans like myself adored these silly alternative ways of re-experiencing games that were inherently designed to be stressful and horrifying. it was like the game was rewarding you for getting through the sometimes horrifying main game by adding some fun.
With more eyes and attention on every subsequent release, the team at Capcom seemed hellbent on ramping up the rewards with every sequel. Resident Evil 2 retained the unlimited rocket launcher unlock, but also introduced a suite of additional post-game bonuses like the gatling gun. Then there was the absolutely ridiculous Tofu Scenario, which tasked players with running through the streets of Racoon City as a giant brick of tofu.
With the release of Resident Evil 3, Capcom shifted the focus from weapon unlocks to a host of bonus costumes for Jill Valentine. As this entry drastically ramped up your firepower from the get-go, rad additions like Regina's outfit from Dino Crisis served as powerful incentives to chase the higher completion rankings. However, with the release of Code Veronica on Dreamcast, fans who completed this entry were treated to the first bonus game mode the series had seen. In Battle Game, players chose from one of five characters and completed a series of timed, arcade-influenced challenges. This post-game content had a unique collection of unlocks, which offered even more replayability for folks who just wanted any excuse to keep playing.
Then Resident Evil 4 dropped and things changed forever. Serving as a spiritual reboot of the series, Leon's escapades in Resident Evil 4 completely reimagined and ultimately redefined what a Resident Evil game was. Tense survival horror took a backseat in favor of over-the-top action and slick gunplay. Fans and critics seemed to agree that this was the ultimate Resident Evil experience and post-game content as well as a staggering focus on replayability played a huge role in this.
The bonus weapons of Resident Evil 2, the extra costumes of Resident Evil 3, and the bonus game mode from Code Veronica (which was rebranded as The Mercenaries) were all repurposed and re-envisioned with Resident Evil 4. This incredible title essentially served as a tribute to the greatest parts of all the Resident Evil games that came before it.
The massive success of Resident Evil 4 certainly went to the heads of the team with the releases of Resident Evil 5 and 6. Understanding the overwhelming praise the series received for its shift to more action-oriented gameplay, Resident Evil 5 doubled down on wild, Michael Bay-esque action sequences and almost completely abandoned any shred of its survival-horror roots.
While this was absolutely a big criticism for some, Resident Evil 5 set the new gold standard for replayability in the series. With fully upgradable weapons, a universal character inventory, amazing co-op, and collectible treasure, Resident Evil 5 quickly became one of my most played games of all time, despite my complaints regarding its genuinely dumb storytelling and character building. Resident Evil 6 doubled-down on RE5's action-focused double-down and ultimately ending up disappointing many long-time fans, leading to the much-needed refresh that came with Resident Evil 7.
What makes the replayability of Resident Evil Village so incredible?
Much like Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil Village serves as the greatest hits for the series. I even see Resident Evil Village as the spiritual reboot of Resident Evil 4. With a compelling balance of survival horror, inventory management, and over-the-top action, Resident Evil Village manages to recapture some of the potent magic that made Resident Evil 4 such a defining moment. And just like the 2005 classic, the latest entry boasts a robust catalog of engaging and exciting endgame content including unlimited ammo, Challenge Points, and The Mercenaries.
Challenge Points and The Extra Content Shop
I really enjoyed my first playthrough of Resident Evil Village, but even deep into my initial run, I didn't quite see myself inclined to finish the story five more times. That immediately changed when I completed the game and unlocked Challenges, Challenge Points, and the Extra Content Shop.
Supplemental playthroughs were now being rewarded in ways the series had never seen before. A massive collection of over 70 Challenges incentivizes weapon experimentation, speed runs, and gathering collectibles. Completing these Challenges provides Challenge Points, which can be used to purchase new weapons, unlimited ammo, and extras like concept art. With tangible rewards for basically every additional playthrough, I found myself obsessed with trying to tackle every Challenge available.
New Game+ and higher difficulties
While the Challenges certainly provide plenty of reasons to replay Resident Evil Village, the biggest hook for me was the robust options for New Game+. All collectibles, weapons, upgrades, and resources carry over between runs, giving you this ever-increasing sense of power. Remember those obnoxious daughters early on in the castle? Well, now you can make quick work of them with one bullet from your M1851 Wolfsbane. What about the horrific encounter with Lady Dimitrescu? No sweat. A few well-placed shots from your grenade launcher should wrap that fight up rather easily.
Resident Evil Village doesn't shy away from letting the player completely break the game and because of this, it stands firmly as the most fun entry since Resident Evil 5. Even the higher-level difficulties like Hardcore and Village of Shadows allow you to bring over outrageous weapons, making these otherwise grueling achievements more obtainable for the average player. And if you decide you want to experience a truly terrifying challenge, you can simply turn off unlimited ammo in the options or even start a completely fresh run with no existing equipment (which, subsequently, is a Challenge you can complete).
The Mercenaries and its new rogue-like elements
For players who want even more post-game action, the arcade-inspired bonus game mode The Mercenaries delivers a frantic way to re-experience some of Resident Evil Village's most iconic locations. For the uninitiated, The Mercenaries is a timed collection of challenge maps where players are tasked with eliminating enemies as fast as possible. The updated take on this long-running Resident Evil forgoes character selection in favor of a new skill system that adds some mild rogue-like elements to the experience.
As this mode adds even more challenges that can unlock wild extras like a double-sided lightsaber to the story mode, I found myself playing The Mercenaries far more in Resident Evil Village than I had with previous entries. If you're someone like me who loves the feeling of perfecting each run, you'll also spend way too much time with this post-game content.
Why I can't stop playing Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village is easily one of the best games of 2021 so far and I'm honestly a bit surprised by how much fun I'm still having even six runs in. Like Resident Evil 5, this isn't necessarily one of my favorite Resident Evil entries, but it's worth applauding Capcom for how much care they put into rewarding the time investments of its players. I'm not typically a hardcore completionist when it comes to most of the games I play, but the perfectly balanced amount of additional content and unlocks has me all-in on Resident Evil Village.
While I've beaten most Resident Evil titles several times each, I've never put this many playthroughs into any other game so close to launch. So once again, I tip my wide-brimmed hat to this team for delivering the best replayability the series has ever seen and realistically, some of the best replayability I've ever enjoyed in a video game.
How many times have you finished the game? Sound off in the comments below. Resident Evil Village is now available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Stadia, and PC. And for even more scares, be sure to check out our list of the best Xbox horror games.
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