One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Resident Evil franchise has always been Mercenaries mode, a more action-orientated mini-game that allows players to unleash their arsenals on whatever zombies, B.O.W.s or other mutant freakazoids that particular RE game is throwing at people. While the recent Resident Evil 4 remake didn’t launch with Mercenaries Mode, Capcom have since added the mode as a free DLC update, and it makes a compelling case for the Japanese giant to spin the mode off into its own game.
Of course, Capcom have tried to do this already with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, a standalone release for the Nintendo 3DS. Players could control different iconic characters from the Resident Evil series as a whole, and compete for the best scores in maps drawn from levels in Resident Evil 4 and 5. On release, Mercenaries 3D received quite the mixed set of review scores, with Capcom confining Mercenaries to being an optional mode in some RE titles going forward, but the time is right for Capcom to give Mercs its own spotlight.
A staple of the Resident Evil series, The Mercenaries Mode originally debuted in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, before being included in other subsequent releases. While the goal of Mercenaries has changed a bit from its initial installment, which tasked players to essentially finish a reverse time trial of a section of the Nemesis campaign, the main selling point has always been the same: use some big weapons to massacre hordes of monsters.
Most versions of the mode retain similarities, with each one utilizing characters with unique weapons and abilities, but different iterations of Mercenaries mode have tried to accomplish different things. The original RE4’s version saw the mode switch to a one versus all, horde style approach, with time bonuses and the like, while RE5 and 6 introduced co-op and skills respectively. After RE6 and its Mercs mode, which many considered to be a brilliant version of the concept, the mode disappeared for a while, before returning with RE Village, which had an almost roguelite element with players augmenting their abilities throughout the run.
The Resident Evil 4 remake feels like the definitive version of the mode, thanks to the varied characters and absolutely excellent combat. Well, mostly definitive anyway. Fighting monsters in RE: Village’s Mercs mode is fun, but being about to suplex people is ten thousand times more enthralling. Sure, it might not have all the same features as the original mode did at launch, but if those rumors about a Separate Ways DLC are anything to go by, the Mercs mode will soon feature Ada and Wesker alongside Leon, Luis, Krauser and HUNK.
If those missing characters are going to be added post-launch though, that only strengthens the case that Mercenaries should be spun off into its own thing. On paper, it sounds like a slam dunk, with Capcom releasing new maps, playable characters and even enemies or modes over time. This stand-alone version of Mercenaries could even be updated to include aspects from other versions, including the No Mercy variant from RE5 and 6, co-op play, or the roguelite elements from RE: Village.
Perhaps the biggest selling point though, for both the company and the consumer, would be that it’d give Capcom the chance to reuse some Resident Evil assets that never existed in the world of Mercenaries. Resident Evil 2 and 3 have some excellent candidates for Mercenaries maps, with the lobby of RPD or the first section of RE3’s remake, but neither have been given that chance to shine.
A standalone Mercs mode would give those maps and characters, like Leon, Claire, Jill and Carlos, a chance to shine in a way they didn’t before. Heck, the fact that the Resident Evil 3 remake didn’t have Mercenaries is still baffling. Despite debuting with the original Resident Evil 3, the remake never added that mode, instead focusing efforts on Resident Evil: Resistance, a Dead By Daylight-esque multiplayer game that never seemed to catch on.
This seems to be Capcom’s strange M.O. with Resident Evil at the moment. They’re knocking it out of the park when it comes to the mainline series, sure, but they’re taking punts on spin-offs and side games that no one really seems enthusiastic about. Remember RE: Verse, for instance? The multiplayer shooter that was supposed to launch alongside Village before it faced heavy delays? Capcom devoted plenty of resources to RE: Verse, when ideas like a standalone Mercs mode or a new Outbreak game would probably be twice as successful.
If Capcom are going to go down the route of remaking Resident Evil 5, which would be great, let’s be honest, they’re probably going to include the Mercenaries mode there too, but that would also be a great time for Capcom to stamp their flag and turn Mercenaries into a fully-fledged release. If it lets me roundhouse kick zombies or Ganados all day, that’s fine by me.
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