MCV has been a regular visitor to Capcom’s E3 booth down the years, and it’s not always been the most spectacular showcase.
We vividly remember the time the publisher devoted its entire E3 presence to Monster Hunter and DuckTales.
The reality is that Capcom is a successful company with many of gaming’s most iconic brands in its stable. Yet even some of its bigger games are not quite huge enough to compete with the sort of noise a Call of Duty or a Halo can make.
2016 was different. This year, Capcom emerged as one of E3’s unexpected winners.
It began during Xbox’s press conference with the reveal of Dead Rising 4. The Xbox One title generated a lot of buzz, partially because it was one of just three previously unannounced games to grace Microsoft’s stage.
Yet the real triumph happened later during the PlayStation press event. The Resident Evil VII trailer was great, subtly obscuring the game’s true identity until the final logo. The crowd loved it.
A demo – Beginning Hour – was released on PS4 that very evening, but the prospect of playing it in VR saw people flock to Capcom’s haunted house booth at E3 – there was even a mini-riot amongst desperate consumers that wanted to experience it.
This was a long way from that DuckTales E3.
It does feel like we were a bit of a centre of attention this year,” says Capcom’s EMEA marketing director Antoine Molant. Which is nice for a change, to be honest. We feel good about it.”
We didn’t know it, but Capcom had been teasing Resident Evil VII for some time. Last year the publisher demoed a PlayStation VR ‘experience’ called Kitchen. It was only playable at shows and was designed to scare the hell out of people – MCV even heard reports of someone fainting whilst playing it.
It now transpires that Kitchen was part of the Resident Evil VII project. It was effectively a test to see how virtual reality might work for the game.
However, for all the VR talk, Resident Evil VII doesn’t require a headset. Xbox One and most PCs are not VR capable at the moment, while Molant observes that PlayStation VR will take time to reach a big install base.
Plus, as MCV discovered, playing Resident Evil VII in VR is not for the faint hearted.
Honestly, I find it a bit too scary,” laughs Capcom’s European boss Katsuhiko Ichii.
"After Resident Evil 6, we asked ourselves what the series’ essence was. Resident Evil VII is our conclusion."
Katsuhiko Ichii, Capcom Europe
It depends on the person. Some people might play part of it in VR, some might play it entirely in virtual reality, and some might play it entirely on the screen. It’s a choice.”
Molant jumps in: When creating the game, the entire development team approached it as a normal non-VR game, and put in plenty of frightening jump moments. Having said that, obviously from a testing stand-point, weare making sure we are not putting people in danger for real.”
Resident Evil VII is due on January 24th next year, which is an unusual time to release a game of this scale. Publishers typically avoid launching a game immediately post-Christmas.
Historically, we have released quite a lot of games in January and it has gone well,” Molant says. To be honest, there’s a development reason – it’s not going to be ready before Christmas, and we don’t want a game that’s unfinished.
Just look at April and May this year, even spring is getting congested. Q1 is going to be mental next year – you saw that from the announcements at E3.”
The positive reaction to Resident Evil VII will be a relief to Capcom, particularly following 2012’s Resident Evil 6.
The last ‘numbered’ game in the series was greeted with criticism from those who felt the series had betrayed its horror roots. From what we’ve seen so far, Resident Evil VII appears to be a reaction to that. Does the series have something to prove?
We know that Resident Evil 6 was a bit of a let down for core fans, but when you consider the whole universe, we do cater for different tastes,” he explains.
For the main series it is definitely a good move to go back into survival horror. But perhaps there’s not a lot to prove exactly, because there have been good games, although not necessarily in the genres that fans wanted.”
Ichii adds: After Resident Evil 6, we asked what is Resident Evil? What is its essence? And what are our fans expecting? Resident Evil VII is our conclusion.”
"There are many different types of Resident Evil games. But the main series will be survival horror."
Antoine Molant, Capcom Europe
Molant again: We’ve been listening more to the community over the last few years. The first Resident Evil was about fear in the face of danger, it was more on an emotional level than on a gameplay or story level. The team in Japan said: ‘How do we recreate that emotional response today?’ So the first person perspective was a natural direction.
We will talk about the game in the coming weeks, and link the game with the wider series. But ultimately Resident Evil is survival horror, and VII is a survival horror game.”
We observed that the ‘survival’ part is what may have been missing from recent Resident Evil games. Whereas the originals trapped players in a mansion or police station or city, against overwhelming odds and with just a few bullets, the more recent titles have turned the heroes into gun-toting zombie slayers.
I won’t give much away, but VII is very much a survival game,” Molant adds. There are lots of different types of Resident Evil titles, and there will continue to be the case. But the main series will be survival horror.”
Ichii concludes: Resident Evil means many things for different people. For some, it’s survival, for others it’s the story. To me, Resident Evil is not wanting to open the door… but having to open the door.”
Resident Evil VII will return to the series’ classic survival horror roots. But even more explicitly, Capcom is going back to (almost) the start with a remake of Resident Evil 2.
That game was absent from E3 because ‘the focus is on VII’. However, the reaction to the Resident Evil 2 announcement was so strong that we had to ask if the firm was considering some other brands for the remake treatment – perhaps a Dino Crisis or a Viewtiful Joe?
Is this where I leak the next line of products for the next five years?” jokes Molant.
We do have a wealth of IP and games that we can bring back, but it is also a market and fanbase decision. Resident Evil 2 has been wanted by the fanbase for a long, long time. And the fans yelled for long enough and loud enough for us to hear that. We wouldn’t bring back everything everyone wants to play, but we do look at stuff and say: ‘The fans love this, so maybe we should consider