Thoughts on co-op Resident Evil

Turo602

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When it was first revealed that Resident Evil 5 would have co-op, I was just coming off of beating my first Resident Evil game, being Resident Evil 4. I had followed the series from the beginning by watching my brother play through the games and I was still too young to have played any of the classics without any major help, so I was absolutely proud of myself for completing Resident Evil 4 all by myself.

So when news broke that Resident Evil 5 was co-op, my brother and I were excited at the idea of being able to play a Resident Evil game together, especially after the glimpse RE0 gave us into that possibility. We didn't question much about the series then, and we had a total blast playing through Resident Evil 5. It was a very different thing for not just the series, but gaming as well.

But by the time the hype for Resident Evil 6 had settled, I started to feel a disconnect from the series. I started to analyze things, see the way things have been changing and where they're going and I found myself disappointed. I had realized that despite how fun it was to play a Resident Evil game with someone else, it just wasn't Resident Evil.

And while the Revelations games were primarily single player, it still felt like they hadn't fully abandoned that co-op mentality. You were never completely alone, with an a.i. partner always following you around, and it never really felt like true survival horror.

And despite how I feel about RE7, I will say, it was definitely refreshing to see the series ditch co-op and return to complete isolated single player horror and then done completely right with the RE2 REmake. This is definitely what I want from the series moving forward, but lately, I've been feeling a little nostalgic for RE5.

I think it's just the similarities in gameplay I've noticed while playing RE2 REmake and realizing how much RE5 got right that RE6 and RE7 didn't. Not to mention, how amazingly the game still holds up graphically after 10 years. It's just been popping up in my head so much lately, and maybe it's the lack of Resident Evil games lately, but I just feel like I could really go for another co-op Resident Evil experience.

It sounds hypocritical as a long time survival horror fan who has been begging for a return to single player, but I also never hated co-op and now that it's gone, it just doesn't feel right. Like, I totally wouldn't mind if the Revelations series became pure co-op games, but like RE5 and not too over the top like RE6 or boring like Revelations 2. They should still lean more towards horror, but with great action set pieces and big boss battles designed for co-op.

I think that's really something to think about as well. Co-op doesn't necessarily have to mean action either. If they could manage to make a survival horror co-op game work really well, I'd love to see it. But I also want it to be distinctly Resident Evil. As in traditional Resident Evil gameplay, characters, and story rather than some meaningless co-op spinoff that's just set in the Resident Evil universe but feels like an entirely different game.

So what are your guy's thoughts on the co-op Resident Evil games? Did you enjoy them? Did you have someone to play with? Was forced co-op really that awful? Are you glad the series is single player focused again or would you like to see co-op return in some capacity?
 

UniqTeas

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I have enjoyed all of the Co-op RE games I have played to varying degrees.

When it comes to my first foray in to RE Co-op, that has to be RE Zero. I turned 18 in 2005 when I first played it, then I beat the game again last year at the age of 31. I didn't buy it when it first came out despite loving EVERY RE game before - but people and reviewers were actually condemning the franchise for being too stale at the time. I mean, we had gotten similar RE titles repeatedly for the past decade and people were not happy. Sales for REmake and RE0 were abyssmal compared to what CAPCOM expected and favor for these games were low at the time. And what a mistake I was to fall for the hype, because as soon as I played RE0 - I loved it. I mean, it did have the stale RE elements that people were tired of, but at the same time, the puzzle solving was NEXT level. And having the varying differences between Rebecca and Billy made the game fun. In my opinion, this game had the best use of the partner/ co-op feature because it made it integral to the story. Even just entering new rooms, you had to plan to be Rebecca or Billy depending on ammo or skill set. ZERO does have my second least favorite character designs after Revelations 1 - but that's hardly an issue.

RE5 was scrutinized before it even came out for having a Co-op feature. And in truth, having two main characters did make the game less scary. And then having it played in the daylight made it less scary. And then making it even more of an action grind made it less scary. But I don't hate the partner AI as much as other people. For the time period, the AI is actually really good. The RE4-RE5-RE6 trilogy are known for having less puzzles and having a partner in these moments is unnecessary for the gameplay - but I liked having Sheva at my side despite what people say.

RE6 is my least favorite RE game due to the over the top action pieces, the convoluted story, the final boss for Leon having too many non-sensical transformations, and ESPECIALLY the cliche Chris amnesia storyline. WHY? But having a partner in what is an essentially RE Arcade experience made it a bunch of fun. That is the most redeeming quality of the game. It is damned fun. And since it was never going to be particularly scary - it makes sense for the game. Helena is the worst character in the game and doesn't add anything really. That's all I have to say about that.

If I could grade the games based on the success of their Co-op experiences (or partner AI depending on the game and playthrough), I'd have to say that RE0 did it nearly perfectly (9/10 in terms of Co-op use) - RE5 did it well (8/10 in terms of Co-op use) and RE6 had it, but it wasn't as necessary (6.5/10).
 

KennedyKiller

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I don't want co-op in my mainline games. It just takes the scare factor out. Even if it's not action, having another person "There" just makes one feel safer inherently. Whether it's AI or not. Now, let's say this did a single player main game, like RE7 or RE4, but then did a co-op Mercenaries mode like in RE5 and RE6, I think that's fantastic. Go for it. Or non-canon spinoff games, go for all the co-op you want. But I want my main games to be terrifying single player experiences with just me. No friends. No AI.
 
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Jonipoon

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Haven't played RE5 yet, but it's on my bucket list after Revelations 1 and RE4.

As a huge fan of Revelations 2 however, I did find the game scary several times. It's actually not so much co-op as it is a choice, since Natalia is a child and Moira is... well, Moira. The co-op is more puzzle based than action based, and that's why it works in my opinion.

With the exception of RE7, RE games aren't that much about isolation anyway. Even in the original from 1996, you enter a mansion together with other team members and it's very much grounded in that aspect. And in the second and third game you're in a city full of survivors here and there. When you're saying that "RE7 returns to complete isolated single player horror" it sounds more like you're comparing it to the Silent Hill series. I don't agree that the RE games are completely isolated single player horror experiences. That title goes to the Silent Hill series. There are absolutely aspects of RE games that focus on isolation, but I wouldn't call it the core of the series.

That being said, I wouldn't mind co-op to return in a main installment, as long as it's optional and not required.
 

Turo602

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With the exception of RE7, RE games aren't that much about isolation anyway. Even in the original from 1996, you enter a mansion together with other team members and it's very much grounded in that aspect. And in the second and third game you're in a city full of survivors here and there. When you're saying that "RE7 returns to complete isolated single player horror" it sounds more like you're comparing it to the Silent Hill series. I don't agree that the RE games are completely isolated single player horror experiences. That title goes to the Silent Hill series. There are absolutely aspects of RE games that focus on isolation, but I wouldn't call it the core of the series.
The classic Resident Evil games have always been about isolation. You are alone for the majority of the game. That's what makes horror immersive. Just because you meet characters or interact with them every so often, doesn't mean you're not isolated throughout gameplay.
 

KennedyKiller

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I gotta agree with @Turo602 here. "Isolation" in terms of gameplay doesn't mean there's no other characters in the story. For horror games, the term invokes the notion that there's no one there to save you when you're at your most vulnerable. Which the OG Resident Evil games did perfectly. Yeah, we may know Carlos is out and about somewhere...Doesn't make us feel any less isolated when Nemesis is chasing us around. Same for RE2...Leon may be out and about somewhere. Doesn't do Claire, and by extension us the player, any good when Claire is taking on Chief Irons...You're definitely isolated in the original trilogy.
 

Jonipoon

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Perhaps I'm not doing the OG3 justice when comparing it to Silent Hill then, because in my experience there are just too many instances of other characters sticking around in Resident Evil for it to qualify as truly isolated. In the first game for example you have Barry and Rebecca showing up countless of times, and you encounter other team members whether dead or alive along the way. Of course I'm very well aware that, in terms of gameplay it doesn't mean there's no other characters in the story, but that's not the point. It's about the experience and feeling, and how that isolation is executed. Comparingly, in Silent Hill 2 you're traversing into a completely abandoned town that's disconnected from reality, almost in a dream state of sort - that is the epitome of isolation.

I'm not trying to start a debate between RE and SH here, I really love each of their respective take on survival horror. I'm simply trying to point out the differences.
 

UniqTeas

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To be fair to that point Jonipoon, you do meet some other people in SH2: Maria, Laura, Angela, and Eddy. And while we cannot be sure they even exist and their ties to James are all very loose (and in psychological terms very CLOSE to him) - there are some other characters to break from the loneliness in the games. But I do agree that you do feel more at odds with people and much more alone. Hell, in SH2, it could all be in James' head oorrrrr not?

RE has less loneliness for sure, but I'd say overall, you should feel fairly isolated. A little more empowered, but isolated nonetheless.
 

KennedyKiller

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Perhaps I'm not doing the OG3 justice when comparing it to Silent Hill then, because in my experience there are just too many instances of other characters sticking around in Resident Evil for it to qualify as truly isolated. In the first game for example you have Barry and Rebecca showing up countless of times, and you encounter other team members whether dead or alive along the way. Of course I'm very well aware that, in terms of gameplay it doesn't mean there's no other characters in the story, but that's not the point. It's about the experience and feeling, and how that isolation is executed. Comparingly, in Silent Hill 2 you're traversing into a completely abandoned town that's disconnected from reality, almost in a dream state of sort - that is the epitome of isolation.

I'm not trying to start a debate between RE and SH here, I really love each of their respective take on survival horror. I'm simply trying to point out the differences.
But again, you're not using "Isolation" properly in my opinion. Isolation, in reference to Horror Games is about "Gameplay" and not "Story." You have equal gameplay isolation in both games more or less. Using my previous definition, ""Isolation" in terms of gameplay doesn't mean there's no other characters in the story. For horror games, the term invokes the notion that there's no one there to save you when you're at your most vulnerable," they operate pretty much the same. Yes, we can probably make subtle, nuanced arguments to who did it better. But at the end of they day, they both are Isolation based games. And the point here is that your statement, "With the exception of RE7, RE games aren't that much about isolation anyway. Even in the original from 1996," is objectively false. Not necessarily who did what better. But that this statement, is factually wrong in terms of what isolation is as a gameplay aesthetic.
 

Jen

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Hmmm.

I genuinely don't know what my opinion is on this. Like you, @Turo602, I was crying out for a return to single player Resident Evil because the co-op aspect of the games before RE7 did deaden the isolation, as mentioned above.

Since I didn't have someone to play RE5 and 6 with, I just played with AI, and I do feel that that ruined the feeling of isolation. There was always the fallback of giving Sheva a herb or first aid spray in RE5 and knowing that if things went spectacularly wrong, she would be on hand to fix you up and you're ready to go again. I think even if you have a totally useless partner, like Ashley in RE4, you don't feel the same isolation.

That being said, it's probably because the games with co-op were more geared to be action focused. If the atmosphere were more horror geared, co-op could potentially work. I'm not saying necessarily that it would be better than a single player experience, but it could work. And it's always fun to share your gameplay experience with someone else (unless it's online and they totally suck :razz:).

So yeah, I think co-op could still work if the atmosphere of the game were more scary. I still think I'd prefer a single player focus, though.
 

Jonipoon

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But again, you're not using "Isolation" properly in my opinion. Isolation, in reference to Horror Games is about "Gameplay" and not "Story." You have equal gameplay isolation in both games more or less. Using my previous definition, ""Isolation" in terms of gameplay doesn't mean there's no other characters in the story. For horror games, the term invokes the notion that there's no one there to save you when you're at your most vulnerable," they operate pretty much the same. Yes, we can probably make subtle, nuanced arguments to who did it better. But at the end of they day, they both are Isolation based games. And the point here is that your statement, "With the exception of RE7, RE games aren't that much about isolation anyway. Even in the original from 1996," is objectively false. Not necessarily who did what better. But that this statement, is factually wrong in terms of what isolation is as a gameplay aesthetic.
But you can't break a game down solely based on gameplay though, especially not when talking about such a complex thing as isolation. Going by your words, any game where you're left alone vulnerable with noone around to save you would quality as "isolation" even if you're Super Mario in a well-lit room made out of rainbows and chocolate. Gameplay is all about experience, and something as complex as isolation isn't created simply by making a character vulnerable and left alone. It's the combined effort of environmental design, character interactions, music, sound, lightning, atmosphere, story AND gameplay. And that's just to name a few. You can't dismiss something as being "objectively false" when you're not doing a justified comparison.
 

Turo602

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But you can't break a game down solely based on gameplay though, especially not when talking about such a complex thing as isolation. Going by your words, any game where you're left alone vulnerable with noone around to save you would quality as "isolation" even if you're Super Mario in a well-lit room made out of rainbows and chocolate. Gameplay is all about experience, and something as complex as isolation isn't created simply by making a character vulnerable and left alone. It's the combined effort of environmental design, character interactions, music, sound, lightning, atmosphere, story AND gameplay. And that's just to name a few. You can't dismiss something as being "objectively false" when you're not doing a justified comparison.
All of that is a given, which is all true for Resident Evil, which is why no one would describe a Mario game with the word isolation. The point is, story doesn't take away from isolation as you were claiming earlier. In a video game, the gameplay is the experience, and when you're powerless like you are in a Resident Evil game as opposed to a Mario game, the fact that you're alone and left to your own devices is what makes it isolating.
 

Jonipoon

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Which is precisely why we can't base it solely on gameplay, which is what KennedyKiller suggested at first. Isolation can be a quite abstract term and when taking all things into account, I would say that the isolation aspect of Resident Evil isn't the core. You're never really alone in the Resident Evil series, as I always feel other people are around the corner somewhere. In the first game, many boss battles are even fought together with other team members.
 

Turo602

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Which is precisely why we can't base it solely on gameplay, which is what KennedyKiller suggested at first. Isolation can be a quite abstract term and when taking all things into account, I would say that the isolation aspect of Resident Evil isn't the core. You're never really alone in the Resident Evil series, as I always feel other people are around the corner somewhere. In the first game, many boss battles are even fought together with other team members.
Nobody is basing it solely on gameplay though. We're just saying the story itself doesn't take away from the fact that you're isolated in gameplay. That's what's important here in Resident Evil. Gameplay makes you isolated, not story. I don't understand why the term isolation is being discussed outside of the context of Resident Evil, because everything else is a given considering its survival horror nature.
 

KennedyKiller

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Nobody is basing it solely on gameplay though. We're just saying the story itself doesn't take away from the fact that you're isolated in gameplay. That's what's important here in Resident Evil. Gameplay makes you isolated, not story. I don't understand why the term isolation is being discussed outside of the context of Resident Evil, because everything else is a given considering its survival horror nature.
Lol...Thank you Turo. I felt like I made it obvious that it wasn't solely about gameplay. In fact...That's why I used the term "Gameplay Aesthetic" at the end. Trying to convey that it wasn't about controls or anything...But the design of the game not pertaining to the story
 

Hel

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What has always bothered me about RE5 is that Chris and Sheva play exactly the same - no differences in stamina, weapon handling or inventory capacity, and although it sometimes seems like Sheva runs slightly faster, that may be just because she's making smaller steps. Of course, having two identical characters can avoid the potential arguments between players about who gets to control the "better" character, but it also makes it seem like co-op is only there for the sake of being there. Is there anything gameplay- or story-related that RE5 really needed it for? Nope, the partner doors would have had only one switch to pull if Chris had been alone, and it's almost comical how every other person the pair meets in cutscenes completely ignores Sheva.

I actually like the co-op system in Revelations 2, even though it has been described as boring in this thread. The idea of controlling several characters with their own strengths and weaknesses to escape a hostile environment together is what co-op should be about in my opinion, and the way it's implemented in Revelations 2 shows that a game can have it and still be scary at the same time. I never felt as overpowered controlling Claire and Moira as I did with Chris and Sheva, or better yet, Chris and Piers and their entire testosterone brigade. Co-op is neither good or bad, just like money is neither good nor evil, it's the execution of the idea that can make or break everything.
 

Turo602

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What has always bothered me about RE5 is that Chris and Sheva play exactly the same - no differences in stamina, weapon handling or inventory capacity, and although it sometimes seems like Sheva runs slightly faster, that may be just because she's making smaller steps. Of course, having two identical characters can avoid the potential arguments between players about who gets to control the "better" character, but it also makes it seem like co-op is only there for the sake of being there. Is there anything gameplay- or story-related that RE5 really needed it for? Nope, the partner doors would have had only one switch to pull if Chris had been alone, and it's almost comical how every other person the pair meets in cutscenes completely ignores Sheva.

I actually like the co-op system in Revelations 2, even though it has been described as boring in this thread. The idea of controlling several characters with their own strengths and weaknesses to escape a hostile environment together is what co-op should be about in my opinion, and the way it's implemented in Revelations 2 shows that a game can have it and still be scary at the same time. I never felt as overpowered controlling Claire and Moira as I did with Chris and Sheva, or better yet, Chris and Piers and their entire testosterone brigade. Co-op is neither good or bad, just like money is neither good nor evil, it's the execution of the idea that can make or break everything.
The reason I said Revelations 2's co-op is boring is because Revelations 2 feels like a single player experience that can be played cooperatively, whereas Resident Evil 5 is a co-op experience that can be played alone. While I do agree that it would have been cool for the characters in RE5 to have had unique attributes, the characters would still be the same mechanically whereas in Revelations 2, Moira and Natalia are more or less just assist characters.

I'll tell you right now, as someone who has been player 2 their whole life, there was no way in hell I was gonna ruin my experience with Revelations 2 by holding a flashlight and throwing bricks the whole time. The game is much more satisfying when you control both characters, which I feel was the intention of the game.

Resident Evil 5 on the other hand is designed with co-op completely in mind, and is best played that way as well, which is why you can't just remove Sheva in single player. There are lots of moments in the game that take 2 characters to get through. From taking separate paths, to helping your partner from afar, or simply controlling different aspects of a situation. Both players are constantly doing things the other is not, but can also easily switch roles without any special advantages or unfair disadvantages.
 

UniqTeas

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I agree that Revelations 2 managed to make you feel horror and dread despite having 2 characters at all times. The secondary characters feel like they're dead weight a lot of the time and while they are delightful and useful, you feel like they could be destroyed at a moment's notice. That fragility adds to the horror experience. I guess it is hard to say what makes Revelations 2 so successful in that regard.

However, I can say that the beginning Found Footage intro to RE7 was perhaps one of the most horrific moments in gaming in general. You had your crew with you, but you still felt alone. The threat was omnipresent and horrifying!
 

Turo602

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I agree that Revelations 2 managed to make you feel horror and dread despite having 2 characters at all times. The secondary characters feel like they're dead weight a lot of the time and while they are delightful and useful, you feel like they could be destroyed at a moment's notice. That fragility adds to the horror experience. I guess it is hard to say what makes Revelations 2 so successful in that regard.

However, I can say that the beginning Found Footage intro to RE7 was perhaps one of the most horrific moments in gaming in general. You had your crew with you, but you still felt alone. The threat was omnipresent and horrifying!
Weren't Moira and Natalia invincible characters? They can get downed, but I don't think they could actually die. If anything, I think their presence made the game easier because they're just essentially extra abilities you can exploit beyond the core gameplay.

And eh, the found footage just feels like an interactive cutscene. Nothing happens. Felt like any other walking simulator horror game that you'd find on PC or VR.
 
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