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Most Anticipated of 2017

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard | OnlySP’s Most Anticipated of 2017

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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard represents a new beginning in Capcom’s long-running Resident Evil franchise, releasing on January 24 for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation VR.

The Game

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (the subtitle is the series’ main name in Japan, where the game is called Biohazard VII: Resident Evil) departs from the Resident Evil tradition of military and police personnel going up against undead monsters. Instead, players are cast as Ethan, a man who arrives at a derelict mansion in Louisiana while searching for his missing wife, Mia.

Borrowing from recent hits like P.T., Outlast and Alien: Isolation, Resident Evil VII is also the series’ first main entry to be played entirely in first person. The developers suggest this change was made to accentuate the horror, but it also facilitates the game being 100% playable in virtual reality.

Whether in VR or not, it goes without saying Resident Evil VII is not for the faint of heart. The dilapidated mansion and surrounding plantation are owned by the villainous Baker family, each of whom has unexplained and frightening powers. Combined with Ethan’s lack of combat expertise, this makes exploring, let alone avoiding the Bakers, a tall order.

With only seven months between the game’s announcement last year and its release, there is a lot we still do not know about Resident Evil 7. What mutated the Bakers, and why are they so hostile? Is Ethan in for a rude, Silent Hill 2 style twist when it comes to his missing wife? How does the story tie into the lore of the Resident Evil universe, if it even does? The game’s developers have offered one hint: the series-first combination of both the “Resident Evil” and “Biohazard” titles in all regions is supposed to suggest what is happening in the story.

What we know for sure is the gameplay of the series is alive and well in Resident Evil VII: the claustrophobic locations echo the first game, item puzzles will have players scratching their heads, and the Bakers are relentless, AI-driven characters who pursue Ethan across the map like Resident Evil 3‘s Nemesis.

With the game just around the corner, survival-horror fans have a lot to look forward to. For those of us who are more squeamish, games are about to get a lot more terrifying.

The History

Like any franchise, Resident Evil has its ups and downs, and like any long video game series, it has a history of being torn between changing with the times and maintaining its essence: what makes a game a Resident Evil game?

After the first game codified so many aspects of the survival-horror genre, Resident Evils 2 and 3 reinforced the elements that have come to define the series. As it grew, however, this structure stayed more or less the same (despite the GameCube’s excellent REmake), leading to creative stagnation. Both fans and key developers, including series creator Shinji Mikami, were anxious to see where they could take Resident Evil next.

Enter Resident Evil 4, in January 2005. Not only did 4 revolutionise third-person action games, as much as the first Resident Evil had done for horror, it also injected new life into the series while retaining the elements that make a game Resident Evil.

Unfortunately, time would show that 4 became the series’ undoing. As western games rose to prominence in the Xbox 360 generation, so too did blockbusters like Gears of War, a series with gameplay openly inspired by Resident Evil 4.

In an attempt, some would say futile, to directly compete with these megafranchises, subsequent Resident Evil entries transformed from tense, puzzle-driven adventures into bombastic shooters centred around cooperative multiplayer.

After Resident Evil 6, even the developers knew they had taken the series too far. For the next main entry, they set about stripping away the extraneous elements until what they had was an immersive, horror-focused experience set in a single location, rather than 6‘s bloated, globetrotting antics.

Resident Evil VII is as different to the last three games as Resident Evil 4 was to the original trilogy. But where Resident Evil 4 went from a horror game to action-with-strong-horror-elements, Resident Evil VII aims to reduce the action, ramp up the tension, and return to its survival-horror beginnings.

The Promise

Aside from the obvious cause for excitement—Resident Evil is again a single player survival-horror instead of a co-op action game—there are plenty of reasons why Resident Evil 7 is worth keeping an eye on.

The visuals, though perhaps not the cutting edge, are realistic enough to accentuate the dark and dingy locations; and the monster designs are appropriately unsettling. Even aside from the game’s commitment to be playable start-to-finish in virtual reality, the small and remote setting should make for an incredibly immersive experience.

Finally, Capcom’s choice to return the series to its roots is bigger than a single game. It shows a willingness to give players what they want, rather than what players ought to want. Resident Evil 7 is an easy shoo-in for OnlySP’s most anticipated games of 2017, and we only have to wait a few weeks to play it.

Mitchell is a writer from Currawang, Australia, where his metaphorical sword-pen cleaves fiction from reality daily. When he's not writing, he plays video games and watches movies. While thinking about writing.

Editorial

Red Dead Redemption 2 | OnlySP’s Most Anticipated of 2017

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The final game to make OnlySP’s most anticipated games of 2017 is also the most mysterious: Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2, which is currently scheduled to launch between September and November on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

The Game

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the long-awaited follow-up to the best Wild West-themed game ever made, and Rockstar’s breakout hit of the last console generation.

The only official information released so far are the few details that can be gleaned from the game’s short reveal trailer, but the leak of an in-progress version of the game’s map earlier in 2016 provided a few additional tidbits.

Notably, the game will be a prequel to its predecessor, taking place during the heyday of the Wild West, rather than recounting its demise in the wake of industrialisation and expansion. Furthermore, the bulk of Red Dead Redemption 2 will be set to the east of Blackwater, the township at the centre of the previous game’s final act.

Although the map is larger this time around, it will be broken up by large bodies of water, which several playable areas being nothing more than islands. This addition suggests that the protagonist, whose identity is currently unknown, will either be able to swim or pilot watercraft. The leaked map also highlights the return of a number of features, including railways, gang hideouts, and homesteads, which will provide travel options and employment for the main character.

The trailer, meanwhile, showcased the return of the wildlife system, hinting that hunting will return as a prominent feature, and powerfully evoked the sense of lonely exploration that also lay at the heart of the previous game.

No concrete story details were revealed, but the most prominent line of dialogue, “when the time comes, you gotta run and don’t look back,” suggests that the protagonist will be escaping from something. Whether that hints at a younger version of John Marston fleeing Dutch’s gang or an entirely new scenario will undoubtedly be clarified as more details about the game emerge.

Finally, shortly before the game’s unveiling, Rockstar filed a trademark for Red Dead Online, suggesting that the multiplayer component of the title will follow that of Grand Theft Auto V and be considered a separate game bundled in with the campaign. Around the same time, Sony announced a partnership with Rockstar that would allow PlayStation gamers timed exclusivity to certain online content and access to Red Dead Redemption on the PlayStation Now streaming service.

The History

Red Dead Redemption seemed to come out of nowhere, a spiritual successor to a little-known and little-loved title that released in 2004, Red Dead Revolver. In the wake of Grand Theft Auto IV, and the return of Rockstar Games to the forefront of the industry, however, it garnered an immense amount of pre-release hype.

Despite a weak second act taking place in Mexico, the game lived up to its potential, marrying a strong story and memorable aesthetic to a trail-blazing world simulation system that continues to be built upon and refined in the present day.

Since 2010 and the release of Red Dead Redemption, the developers at Rockstar San Diego have contributed work to L.A. Noire, Max Payne 3, and Grand Theft Auto V, and have been toiling away at Red Dead Redemption 2 in the background. The first rumblings of the sequel emerged alongside the leaked map, before the game’s official unveiling in October 2016.

More recently, the game was found to be listed for a release on October 2, 2017 at a British online retailer called Littlewoods, though the veracity of the listing has not been confirmed.

The Promise

Red Dead Redemption took the world by storm on its release in 2010, powerfully evoking the majesty of the Wild West in a way previously unseen in video games. The debut trailer for this successor recaptured that sense of magic, magnifying it with the power of modern consoles, and restating why Rockstar are considered among the best developers in the world.

Although almost no concrete details of the game have been released, Red Dead Redemption 2 earns a place among OnlySP’s most anticipated games of 2017 on the strength of its predecessor, its developer, and its debut trailer.

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