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Resident Evil 4 Is Great, But An RE6 Remake Would Be Capcom's Real Test

The reviews are in: 2023's remake of "Resident Evil 4" appears to be a bonafide masterpiece of action-horror goodness. And why wouldn't it be? The original game is great, too. 

So far, Capcom has played it relatively safe with its newer line of "Resident Evil" remakes. After all, it makes sense to start with the most beloved entries in the franchise. "Resident Evil 2" is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror games of all time (as is its remake), while "Resident Evil 4" is typically considered to have created the modern action game. Everything about the original "RE4" was revolutionary, from the control scheme to the camera view, so it makes sense that it would be given the remake treatment. However, the success of the original "Resident Evil 4" also continued a series trend of introducing more action elements. This carried into "Resident Evil 5," which was a full-on co-op shooter that emphasized explosive set pieces over survival, and then the series arguably hit its lowest point with "Resident Evil 6."

Quite simply, "Resident Evil 6" was a significant creative failure, one that nearly killed the franchise outright. If Capcom continues down the path of reinventing each game in the series, then a "Resident Evil 6" remake might be the greatest test of whether or not the company has learned the right lessons from the successes of "Resident Evil 2" and "RE4."

Making the case for a Resident Evil 6 remake

Look, no one is trying to steal the thunder from "Resident Evil 4" or its remake. Even though it's hard to improve on perfection, 2023's "RE4" seems to have done just that, fully modernizing the gameplay while still leaning into the campy dialogue and B movie aesthetics that made fans fall in love with it in the first place. But that's the thing: The bones of the project were good before Capcom even started work on the remake. It's like building a treehouse inside an arcade; you're ultimately just adding flare to something that is already undeniably awesome.

"Resident Evil 6," on the other hand, is a game that very few fans remember fondly, and for good reason. While some fans gave a side-eye to the increased emphasis on action in preceding entries, "Resident Evil 6" is the game that essentially abandoned the franchise's horror roots in favor of loud (and dumb) popcorn set pieces. The multiple campaigns didn't thread together in interesting ways, the villain motivations were nebulous at best, and there were more quicktime events than you could toss a boulder at. By this point, so little remained of the recognizable DNA that made "Resident Evil" so appealing in the first place, no matter how many cheesy one-liners Leon Kennedy had up his sleeve.

A remake of "Resident Evil 6" could address many of these concerns, salvaging the good ideas and developing an updated take.

A Resident Evil 6 remake could learn from RE4

The remake of "Resident Evil 4" wisely ditched the quicktime events from the original, which would frequently interrupt a lengthy cutscene to surprise players with do-or-die interactivity. Enjoying the story so much that you didn't rotate the joystick in time? Sorry, now Leon's been fatally stabbed. "Resident Evil 6" took those to a ludicrous extreme, packing the game with so many button-jabbing, joystick-twisting minigames that fans revolted and Capcom actually added an option to toggle them off. Any potential "Resident Evil 6" remake should keep this lesson in mind. 

But what other lessons should "Resident Evil 6" take from the remakes that have worked? For one thing, the scale shouldn't exactly be lessened. It was disappointing to fire up the "RE3" remake and discover that iconic locales like Raccoon City Park and awesome monsters like the Grave Digger had been removed. There are ways to streamline the game's unwieldy story without chopping it to shreds. The game's campaigns already overlap in many ways, recycling locations and enemies in ways that don't fully justify the bloated runtime or replay. A revamped "Resident Evil 6" could trim the repetition and have its main character intersect in more meaningful ways, effectively creating a version of the game that's all killer, no filler.

Don't squander Resident Evil 6's high points

One of the stronger aspects of "Resident Evil 6" is that it placed greater emphasis on melee combat (with mixed results). The more recent games in the series have incorporated destructible blades that will break down as our heroes use them on one zombie after another. "Resident Evil 6" could opt for something similar in a remake, replacing the original's absurd bodyslams and flying kicks with more down-to-earth punches and stabs. "Resident Evil" is always most effective when it feels like a small group of human beings are against impossible odds, so stripping back some of the action movie moves would go a long way.

With that in mind, it's also worth remembering that "Resident Evil 6" features some of the biggest, most ludicrously designed monsters in the series' history. It would be a shame to ditch all of them, but the over the top bosses could be leveraged with a renewed feeling of personal danger. Rather than fighting from the dizzying heights of a helicopter, a remake could keep its protagonists on the ground, whittling away at a gargantuan B.O.W.'s weak points. After all, what's scarier: maneuvering around Mr. X on a burning elevator platform or pointing a gatling gun at a squirmy mass the size of a house? There's a reason the finale of "Resident Evil 7" isn't quite as thrilling as the rest of the game, and it's largely because the last act throws intimate scares out the window in favor of a shoot-em-up. "Village" mostly learned from that example, so why shouldn't future remakes learn from "RE2" and "RE4?"

There are still things to like about "Resident Evil 6," but if Capcom really wants to blow gamers away, it should take the opportunity to rescue the reputation of the series' most maligned entry.