Are we headed for another Cyberpunk situation, or should we be more confident in Capcom’s abilities?
Remember back when we brought up the question of whether or not we should be concerned about Cyberpunk 2077 on last gen consoles? Well, the unfortunate truth is that we apparently had every reason to be concerned. Even a huge triple-A studio like CD Projekt Red had some major issues with launching their game that was in development for over 5 years on last gen consoles. That’s not to say they won’t make good on the promise of making the game better and fixing it up – I’m sure they will – but the launch ended up being a disaster by any reasonable measure for base PS4 and Xbox One owners. Sony and Microsoft were flooded with return requests and even the PC port even had more than its fair share of issues despite that version easily being the best one in terms of performance.
Well, here we are again. Again we see a triple-A studio with a long-anticipated game that has an unrealistic amount of hype attached to it and again we see them trying to launch it on multiple platforms – including last generation consoles. Obviously, Capcom and CD Projekt Red are very different studios and Cyberpunk 2077 is a very different type of game than Resident Evil Village. But it’s hard not to compare the two situations in a general sense given the outcome of recent events.
So what exactly are the differences? Well first of all, Capcom is a very different company that CD Projekt Red. While the latter is a somewhat newer company founded in 1994 and has a little over a thousand employees and has largely focused its efforts on one franchise for the last decade, the former has twice the amount of employees, has been around for a couple decades longer, and have published a ridiculous amount of top-tier games including the Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Monster Hunter… the list goes on and on. So given that Capcom is a large studio with several decades of pedigree and variety behind it, that could be a reason to trust them with Resident Evil Village’s last-gen versions. It’s also worth noting that Resident Evil Village is not nearly as ambitious as Cyberpunk 2077 – at least in terms of scope.
You could argue it’s even more ambitious than Cyberpunk in other ways though. General detail and fidelity will probably be greater in RE8 with the insane amount of depth that the RE Engine provides for those using it. Even Resident Evil 7 still looks outstanding, and better than many newer open-world games, so with RE8 looking to match if not exceed that with this release, that could pose some problems for them with making 5 different versions at once. It’s also worth noting that Resident Evil Village is likely to be one of the longer titles in the franchise. Likely not longer than the 20-ish hour campaign of RE6, but still probably longer than 7. The longer the game and the more there is to it, obviously, the more opportunity it opens itself up to for things to potentially go wrong.
And therein lies perhaps the biggest hill Resident Evil Village has to climb; the fact that the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X and PC version are all launching simultaneously. This is unlike how CD Projekt Red handled Cyberpunk, where they decided to separate the PS5 and Series X versions of their game from the last gen versions by many months, and even then it didn’t work out well. Capcom will be putting the newest chapter of Resident Evil out at the same time on everything.
You could argue that the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro versions complicate the matter even further, but we’ll have to wait and see what advantages – if any- those versions get or if they’ll just be ports of the base versions. What we already know is more than enough to perhaps take a step back from RE8 and look at the situation in its entirety though. Releasing anything across multiple generations is always a feat in and of itself, but with games being as complicated as they are today and with the mid-cycle refresh consoles also being in the mix, Capcom certainly has their work cut out for them if they are going to put out 5 different versions of the game at the same time.
Cyberpunk isn’t the only thing we can compare this project to though. Another could be The Evil Within. Also a linear horror game, also with the backing of a major publisher behind it, and also attempting to launch on past and current generation consoles on top of PC. The Evil Within wasn’t particularly ambitious in the graphics or gameplay department but it was a rather good action horror game that took a lot of pride in its atmosphere. That atmosphere however was regularly broken by the last gen versions’ frame dips and screen tears on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Some of these issues were patched up over time, but many of them weren’t which ultimately made those last-gen versions of The Evil Within the demonstrably inferior ones.
The time it would have taken to iron everything out in those previous versions probably wasn’t really worth it to Bethesda. Those last gen versions had already been sold and made the money they were going to make, so Tango Gameworks was likely incentivized to go ahead and move on to the production of the sequel rather than stick around on development for the original. The sequel was a better game as a result of lessons learned from the original, but it’s also likely it turned out better because it was only launched on one generation of consoles. That time that would have normally been spent on making four versions was instead spent on making two better versions of a game.
It’s also worth noting that Resident Evil Village will launch with an online component, Re:Verse, and that could also leave their product open for problems as they try to get this multiplayer portion working across generations in a satisfactory way. Black Ops 3 – also a cross-generation title, and also a title with a hefty multiplayer component, totally dropped the co-op mode as well as the entire campaign for their last-gen version in order to make the cross-generation launch work out. And that is with the backing of one of the largest video game publishers of all time- Activision.
None of these points are necessarily reasons to go out and cancel your pre-orders today or start ignoring Resident Evil Village as it is. Although, if you haven’t pre-ordered it yet I would perhaps nudge you in the direction of not doing so just in case, and waiting for our review, but even that I would say isn’t particularly set in stone. what we have seen of the game so far does seem to look like a project that has been managed well and is coming along accordingly. granted the footage that we have seen is likely from current gen consoles if not a souped-up PC, but that’s par for the course with these sorts of things and doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re hiding anything from last-gen versions like CD Projekt Red so clearly was with Cyberpunk 2077.
Warning signs I would keep an eye out for though: any additional delays that aren’t explained very well, an announcement that the multiplayer component is being pushed back past the launch of the game, or reviews being forced to use pre-approved footage and vertical slices instead of genuine gameplay. The first two aren’t necessarily death sentences, but that last one is a pretty big red flag at this point. and the game could still launch with problems if none of those things happen, so it’s just something we’re going to have to keep our ears to the ground on and tread lightly when it comes to buying on day one or pre-ordering – which is something you should probably be doing anyway.
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