As I was jumping back into Resident Evil 7 to play the Not A Hero DLC, I thought about just how long this series has been running and that it has spawned so many spin-offs. Titles such as Operation Raccoon City, which had a cool concept of playing the villains but the execution was just bad, or the various light-gun titles such as the Survivor series, which weren’t bad but were never going to compete with the quality of other established franchises. The prominent spin-off that stood out for me was Outbreak, which featured online co-op and 8 playable characters.
Outbreak was the first title in the Resident Evil series to be online only and it was a bit of a weird experience. The eight controllable characters each had their own starting inventory with some actually having a weapon and others having items to combine. There were 5 different scenarios and the difficulty was pretty much random. You could breeze through a particular section or get absolutely walloped because of enemy placement. One of the unique features in Outbreak was the Virus gauge, every character was infected so it required players to think and act quickly. It was a lot of fun and could be immensely stressful depending on the player you chose. I started with Kevin, because he was RPD and would start with a handgun and a useful kick move that would clear space if an enemy got too close.
The online component is what made Outbreak fun and unique. Players could play single player, it would buddy you up with three other AI to survive the scenario or you could attack scenarios with other player controlled characters. You don’t spawn near one another, but once you link up it was in your best interest to work together to survive. The unfortunate part was that there was no voice chat, which is unthinkable in today’s climate but this was an early online title and for whatever reason Capcom decided not to add this critical feature. Players would communicate by set prompts and you could also tell the status of a player based off their movement. Items could be exchanged or hoarded based off your preference, although when fending off the tougher enemies it was better to stick together than go it alone.
Surprisingly, Resident Evil Outbreak spawned a standalone expansion that added more scenarios and featured the ability to move while shooting. While this mechanic is simple and is practically a requirement today, up until this point in the Resident Evil series, you would be stationary while shooting. It would ratchet up the tension because players would have to pick and choose their battles, but it was unrealistic and slightly frustrating. This feature was honestly surprising because I thought tank controls would be the status quo in the series for the long term future. With that being said, the expansion was as fun as the original even though it still didn’t feature any online chat which boggles the mind. Imagine screaming in the mic at your buddies because a licker or a hunter is stalking you, then again they’d probably leave you to die because resources were scarce.
In the sea of spin-offs the Outbreak series would be an interesting revival. Online capabilities have seen tremendous advancements so a an online Resident Evil game shouldn’t be out of the question. It would be a battle-royals of sorts, seeing who would survive the different scenarios in Raccoon City. Theres already a foundation for cooperative gameplay in the Resident Evil series, why not take another stab at an online only game. Oh wait, there was the awful Umbrella Corps, but even I can forgive that horrible entry…maybe. I’m just saying, with the battle-royals genre exploding and the surge of online-only title hitting the market, you shouldn’t be surprised if Capcom throws in Resident Evil’s cap into the ring. Surviving the horrors of the viral outbreak with friends sounds fun, betraying them sounds even more so, maybe take a look at it Capcom?
I’ll just be here waiting patiently for the Resident Evil 2 remake.