At E3 2012, Capcom offered a glimpse of the three different scenarios we’ll be playing in Resident Evil 6. Players could enjoy a co-op between Leon Kennedy and newcomer Helena Harper in classic survival-horror style in a Tall Oaks full of zombies, face a boss battle with Jake Muller (son of longtime series baddie Albert Wesker) and Sherry Birkin (aka the little girl from RE2), or battle across the rooftops of China with Chris Redfield and his partner Piers Nivans. But the company also revealed a new feature behind closed doors: the Crossover system, an evolution of the dual-threaded Scenario mechanic from Resident Evil 2, this time not only intersecting the story of different characters but also bringing their gameplay together in four-player co-op situations.
To demonstrate Crossover, Capcom’s developers played a scene where Leon and Helena meet with Jake and Sherry in China. En route via airplane, the US agents are attacked by a B.O.W. (that’s Bio-Organic Weapon for the uninitiated) and crash. Wesker’s son and his young partner are already on the ground when they cross paths with the crash survivors, and the four of them are then attacked by a huge creature known as Ustanak. Each of the four characters is controlled by an online player, and they must cooperate to take down the beast, which can hold and punish a character with his claw and hold another one at the same time in a cage on his back.
Eventually, the pairs get separated and switched, and players are stuck with a different partner – Leon is thrown with Sherry to one side of a wall, and Jake has to cooperate with Helena on the other side as the battle with Ustanak rages on.
Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi tells us that the Crossover system brings together random pairs of friends who are simultaneously getting to the same section where different scenarios crosses in the storyline. Sounds like an unusual concept for online co-op matches, so we took the opportunity to get more details from Hirabayashi-san about this new feature of Resident Evil 6, which is coming out for PS3 this October.
PlayStation.Blog: So Crossover randomly pairs players around the world playing at the same part of the game and at the same time? So we can’t just invite friends to get through a specific crossover section?
Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, Producer, Resident Evil 6: Yes, that’s exactly how it works….The concept of this feature is to have people joining you in real time and seamlessly, so whenever you happen to be at a point where you get to China as Leon, for example, somebody else in the world who’s playing roughly at the same time and they’re also about to get at that point or they’re already there as Jake, he or she will join you. So the idea is more to have a surprise about who’s going to play with you. If want to play with your friends, we recommend, first and foremost, playing with them within the storyline on the co-op, so you’ll be Jake and your friend is Sherry, or you’ll be Leon and your friend is Helena.
Of course, if want to play with friends there’s a setting for it, so whenever you come to a chapter or a story section where there’s going to be a crossover, you get a little prompt before that section asking if you want live players joining your game at this point. If you feel like playing on your own or you don’t want to play with a guy you don’t know, you can go with the AI and it’ll be you and three other AI-controlled characters. You can also choose between letting anyone come in or only friends. Of course, because you’re playing in the storyline, it means you’re not going to have a lobby as in a deathmatch, you’re going to get in touch with your friend and tell him to play the same section at the same time with the specific characters, and both will have to set the online co-op to “friends only.”
We see the concept of this feature as not necessarily being “get your friend on the other side of the crossover”, but “get your friend at the same side as you”.
PSB: What about a chapter selection feature after you finish certain sections? This could help if players really want to set up crossover play with friends.
YH: Yes, you have chapters and, if you pick a specific one and tell your friend to play at the same one, you can increase the chances of getting your friend in there. So let’s say both of you only have each other as their only PSN friend and the setting is to play with friends only, then it’s a 100% chance you’ll be playing with each other [laughs].
But let’s say we both are popular and have 100 PSN friends each, and we both choose to play with friends only; there’s still a chance we’re going to play together, but the idea of the design is meant to this kind of scenario. You can manufacture a situation to play with a specific person, but we don’t see it as the main idea behind the Crossover concept. If players want to play with friends, they can do it in Resident Evil 5-style: two friends playing a scenario in co-op.
PSB: In order to see every side of the story, we’ll have to play multiple times, each one with a different character, right?
YH: Yes, there’s three separate storylines with two characters in them each. You could see every aspects of it yourself, but you’ll also have the chance to join someone else who’s already seen the other side of the storyline, maybe before you’ve seen it or maybe after you’ve seen it.
Let’s say you start as Leon. At some point you cross over with Jake, and then, once your crossover is done, you’re back to Leon, and then start another crossover with Chris. Then you decide “Okay, I’ve seen enough of Leon’s story” and start with Chris from the start, and you see his missions and then he crosses over with Jake separately, and later on he gets to the Leon crossover – you’ve already seen it from the Leon side, and now you see it from Chris’ side.
PSB: So in terms of replayability, how much content will the game offer?
YH: If you play all three storylines all the way through, you’ll see everything you can see from every side in terms of story, and you’ll obviously have the chance, depending on the settings of the lobby, to have people joining you in these crossover intersections. It’s quite a lot of volume: we estimate that each one of these storylines is probably around 70% to 80% of the volume of the whole game in Resident Evil 5. So with three separate storylines, there’s plenty to play here.
PSB: We noticed you were switching between a lot of guns and equipment in real time. Does Resident Evil 6 do away with the inventory management?
YH: It’s just a demo for the E3, but yes, as you’ve seen, with the weapons and items, it’s all in real time. That’s not to say that you’re going to have plenty of bullets for a hundred different weapons. It’s still survival horror, you need to have those limits in order for the game to work. You’ll have to manage your resources in terms of having guns and ammo, but you won’t be popping in and out of a menu like you’ve seen before. It’s much more fluid.
PSB: This section you demoed is more action based, but you said the game is still a survival horror. How are you balancing the pace of the game in that sense? Will we have scenes more based on tension and fear like in the earlier Resident Evil titles?
YH: First of all, we’ve tuned this demo to show how the Crossover works, to show an enemy so strong that it needs four players coordinating to take it down. So you have lots of action, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be all like that during the whole game. Also, we’ve set it so people don’t keep dying in the middle of the demo, so it has plenty of guns and plenty of ammo. That’s not how it’s going to be when you come across the Ustanak in the final game – you’ll still have Resident Evil-style situations where you have a shotgun with only two shells in it and you have to make sure you make it counts. Those elements will come into play in the real flow of the game when you get to this point, and we think that’s what survival horror is all about. “Can I live through this situation with the resources I have at hand?” You should feel like that, like you’re playing a Resident Evil game.