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Resident Evil 9 is heading for another soft reboot but will it be open world?-Adam Starkey-Entertainment – Metro

Capcom’s flagship horror series has reached another milestone moment but where does it go after Resident Evil Village?

Resident Evil 9 is heading for another soft reboot but will it be open world?-Adam Starkey-Entertainment – Metro

What’s next for Resident Evil? (Capcom)

Capcom’s flagship horror series has reached another milestone moment but where does it go after Resident Evil Village?

Resident Evil might be ubiquitous as gaming’s tentpole survival horror series, but it’s never been more terrifying than in 2017’s Resident Evil 7. Past games have had scary moments, from jumping dogs to creeping lickers and the unstoppable Nemesis, but in the modern era it’s tended to lean more towards action rather than horror.

Like Resident Evil 4 before it, which gave the series new creative life by switching to a third person perspective, Resident Evil 7 amplified the anxiety by switching the series into a first person view for the first time. It was hardly a bold new idea, but as with most Resident Evil titles, the execution made it feel fresh and suffocating – pulling from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Blair Witch Project to form something of a creative reboot.

If Resident Evil 7 was an act of rejuvenation that lent on scares, Resident Evil Village felt like a celebratory retread of everything the franchise has oscillated between up to that point. There were labyrinth locations like Castle Dimitrescu, gung-ho action set pieces with Chris Redfield, and concentrated scares in House Beneviento. It was perfectly entertaining, but only in flashes was it ever truly thrilling – a tour through Resident Evil history after its predecessor felt like a confident push forward.

How things will evolve is the big question hanging over Resident Evil 9, which was recently confirmed to be in development. Even the director Koshi Nakanishi, who led Resident Evil 7, admitted that it was ‘difficult to figure out’ the direction of the franchise after the former, before stating the idea they have landed on for the ninth entry ‘feels substantial’.

While we don’t know anything else about Resident Evil 9 officially, the next entry feels like it has to be significantly different to avoid becoming stale – at a time when the series continues to capitalise on its past through seemingly ongoing remakes. While fans yearnning for ‘classic’ Resi is being satiated through shiny revamps of old titles, what can Resident Evil 9 do to make itself not look like a redundant, glossy version of what we’ve already played?

According to reliable insiders, the key change for Resident Evil 9 is an open world pivot, building on technology used in Dragon’s Dogma 2 and the upcoming Monster Hunter Wilds. Resident Evil Village may have contained the starting blocks of this experiment, with its central hub area you gradually open up over the course of the game, although it was very small and not very interactive.

Resident Evil 7 is the series at its most terrifying (Capcom)

Other horror games have toyed around with open worlds before, even if the execution has been a mixed bag. The Evil Within 2 has permanent enemies which stalk an open town area between tightly orchestrated sequences, while Dying Light uses a day/night cycle to instil dread into its living world – both of which you could imagine Resident Evil moulding into a more polished form.

If an open world is the main hook, a more exciting route might be something closer to The Forest – where you scavenge for survival in an unpredictable, hostile area, while building up supplies for the next main mission. Historically, Resident Evil is at its best in tightly designed spaces, like frantic chases around the Raccoon police station, but there’s perhaps a way to play up the survival aspect with some more organic elements between these concentrated *classic* sections.

Capcom could even play up the Blair Witch inspirations seen in Resident Evil 7, with linear sections connected by VHS tapes or recordings scattered in an open environment. Resident Evil 6 was a mess, as it attempted to juggle between multiple characters, but there’s perhaps a way to make it work, where you’re piecing together the paths of Chris Redfield or Leon Kennedy as part of a survival experience.

Whatever this ‘substantial’ new concept is, Resident Evil needs another reinvention if it wants to remain the king of survival horror. That is, after all, how it’s managed to stay relevant all this time. Perhaps open world gameplay is the way forward or perhaps the rumours have it wrong, but with the tale of Ethan and Rose Winters apparently ended it feels like Resident Evil is heading for another soft reboot, in terms of both story and gameplay.

Could The Evil Within 2 be unlikely inspiration for Resident Evil 9? (Bethesda)

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