Resident Evil: Revelations Interview – Masachika Kawata Talks Horror, Transitions, RE: Outbreak and the Series' Roots

Richard Walker

Resident Evil brought survival horror to the mainstream way back in 1996, arguably kickstarting a renewed interest in zombies and creature features in the process. Fixed camera angles, static scenery and lateral thinking gradually gave way to a third-person perspective, movie-style production values and cinematics, becoming the more action-focused Resident Evil we know today.

With Resident Evil 6 dividing fans, while Resident Evil: Revelations garnered a more positive reception on the Nintendo 3DS, the franchise is still one with an interesting future ahead of it, with a lot of potential to explore new avenues. Heading out to Capcom's London HQ, we took some time out to talk to Producer, Masachika Kawata about all things Resident Evil, as the HD remake of Revelations wings its way to home consoles.

Talking zombies, horror and Resident Evil's roots, Kawata was surprisingly candid about the long-running survival horror series, giving some rather intriguing answers. Read on to find out more about Resident Evil's past, present and future.

How much of a challenge has it been adapting a Nintendo 3DS game for home consoles?

Obviously we've taken the opportunity to redo the graphics for HD consoles and TVs, but we haven't just stopped at the visual assets. We've also tightened up the gameplay and made some tweaks and additions.

What gameplay additions and mechanics have you made to the console version of Resident Evil: Revelations? Has it had to lose anything?

We haven't really lost anything in the transition, but in addition to the general improvements we've just mentioned, specific additions include the new 'Infernal' difficulty mode, additional Raid Mode content like new weapons, new custom parts, that kind of thing. There's just a general increase in content.

Could you tell us more about the enemies and other new content?

Raid Mode is one example of something that should really please fans of the series, as Hunk, one of the fan favourite characters in the series is making an appearance for consoles, so that's an exciting new addition. In terms of the campaign, with the chance to bring the game to consoles, being able to increase the level of details on enemies is one great aspect that makes it even scarier than before. For example, the 'Ooze'. Their hands were a little less detailed on the 3Ds version, but with the additional graphical fidelity on home consoles, they're lot more detailed and gross. They have more human-like hands and with the extra detail afforded in HD, there's a lot more detail, so this kind of thing should be a great new addition.

Story-wise, Revelations slots in between Resident Evil 4 and 5, but are there any direct references or characters that crossover between the games, apart from Chris and Jill, obviously?

One thing in particular that will be made clear and is an interesting hook between the games for fans, is the BSAA: the organisation that Chris is working for and first appears in Resident Evil 5. With Revelations being set before RE5, you'll get to see how it came about and how Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield came to be involved with the BSAA, so that's something that fills in the gaps in the game's history for fans.

Why do you think Resident Evil: Revelations is a modern Resident Evil game that's held in such high regard by the fans and critics?

Probably the most important feature or concept of the game that earned us that incredible reception was the concept of returning to the series' roots. We really wanted to bring back the fear and the horror, and with the game being on a handheld, the fact that we were able to express that even on a small console was something that was well-received and a big achievement, I think.

Are you at all worried that some of that might be lost in translating the game to home consoles?

Talking about specific features, moving from a 3DS to four platforms – Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii U – we're no longer doing 3D support, which is kind of a shame, because something that was great about the 3DS version, was it's use of the 3D feature. But on the flip-side, bringing the graphics up to HD quality and putting them up there on an HD TV will be a fantastic experience for fans of the game on 3DS and those who haven't. Just being able to see those amazingly atmospheric environments in huge detail will be a major plus.

Revelations was widely well-received, but the reception for Resident Evil 6 was mixed at best. What do you think it could have done differently?

I think one main difference between the two games is Revelations' has this focus on this one aspect of Resident Evil, which is survival horror. Resident Evil 6's aim was to be appealing to a wide variety of people. It's really something that had a 'dramatic horror' or 'horror as entertainment' concept at its core that was appealing to a wider audience, and that's something that majorly factored into the difference in reception.

Do you think that there's still confidence in survival horror as a genre? Do you think it has a bright future ahead of it?

I think historically, survival horror isn't a huge genre. It's not the biggest market out there compared to other genres, but I still think in future if game developers like ourselves can challenge ourselves to do something great with the genre, and as long as there's player desire to play those kind of games, I don't see it going away or disappearing anytime soon. We need to think “what is Resident Evil, what kind of thing do players want and what kind of thing can we create?” And it's always going to be a survival horror game at its heart.

A lot of people often wonder what happened to the Resident Evil: Outbreak series. Do you ever see yourself revisiting that branch of Resident Evil and its online concepts?

I really love Resident Evil: Outbreak, and it's always great to hear that people liked it and are still interested in it. But at the same time, I think there are not really any plans at present to revisit that franchise and as a whole Capcom moving forward, we want to try and strengthen the value of our IP by adding new ones.

These days Resident Evil is seen as more of a third-person action game. Do you think there'd ever be a time where you'd consider rebooting and going back to the original style of Resident Evil game? The same kind of game as Resident Evil 1, 2 and 3?

I think it's very difficult to literally go back to our roots on that and take gameplay mechanics and styles that we did fifteen years ago and redo them now. Revelations' goal was to go back to the series' roots in terms of the content and horror, while at the same time trying to modernise the gameplay, because we think that's what gamers want. It'll be interesting to see the reaction to Resident Evil: Revelations on console and that feedback and reaction will definitely inform decisions like that in the future. For myself, I see it as something that would be very difficult to pull off.

Part of Resident Evil: Revelations appeal as a survival horror is the claustrophobia of the ship and that setting. Are there any other interesting locations like this that you have in mind for future Resident Evil games that might convey a similar level of horror?

I don't have any huge ideas for settings that I think would be good, but one idea that I've thought about in the past is setting it in ruins, like a ruined city or something like that. I think that would be interesting. But other than that, there's nothing I have in mind at the moment.

Resident Evil arguably proliferated and re-popularised zombies in mainstream media, especially video games, so is there a pressure and sense of responsibility to deliver something special with each Resident Evil, as the grandaddy of the genre?

Yeah, I definitely feel that pressure being the grandaddy of zombie games. At the time it was a unique feature, and now zombies are on television and everywhere else, so to stand out from the pack, you have to be a level above. At the same time I don't think a Resident Evil game necessarily needs to have zombies in it to be successful, or to work as a game. So obviously in Revelations, the main enemies aren't actually zombies, they're the Ooze. They're these kind of creatures that have been designed to fit in with the maritime, ocean-based setting more, so when we have zombies in the game, we want to be the ultimate in zombies. We don't think we necessarily have to rely on zombies as the reason for the games to exist.

Resident Evil has also dabbled with other genres in the past, like the Resident Evil: Survivor and Dead Aim lightgun games for instance. Are there any other genres you'd consider experimenting with in the future that you think might be a good fit for Resident Evil?

Like you said, we've already done a lot of genre hopping in the series. It's not like it's always been one thing, so if anything I'd say it's time we started narrowing down the genre we want to be in and focus on that. Ultimately, it could come down to business reasons in the future, if we were to decide to bring Resident Evil to other genres. But experimentation for it's own sake is something we've already done.

I think the most important thing for us is to continue to design titles that will satisfy console gamers, so that would be our main objective rather than finding a genre we want to do, simply to please ourselves. We'll always have that end goal of consumer satisfaction in mind, whenever we make a decision like that.

What do you think is the secret to keeping a long-running storied franchise like Resident Evil fresh and relevant in such a competitive market?

One thing we've done that has certainly helped keep things fresh, is not having the same team for each Resident Evil game. The people who worked on Resident Evil: Revelations are not the same as the people who worked on Resident Evil 6, and the team that worked on Resident Evil 6 are not the ones who made Resident Evil 5. So we don't have that sense of stagnation among the actual development staff, and that helps to inject new ideas and fresh blood into each title we make in the series.

What's your favourite survival horror game and why?

I played partway through Dead Island and thought that was a good game, and I also thought Dead Space was an excellent example of the genre. It's not survival horror, but somehow my mind jumps to Heavy Rain. It's dripping with atmosphere and while it's not the exact genre we're talking about, I feel it's got a lot of the same aspects, and it's a game I thought was an incredibly well-made production.

I've good expectations for the Dead Island and Dead Space sequels, but I'm really looking forward to Quantic Dream's Beyond. As much as I love seeing other companies titles improve and develop into sequels, I'm also looking forward to seeing what happens within Capcom, and having a positive outlook for the Resident Evil series in the future and seeing it go from strength to strength. We hope that players will be with us on that journey.

Finally, what would you say to a player who's already played Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS, and is perhaps considering purchasing it again on home consoles?

I think I would probably say to such a player that if you've already had the experience of holding the console in your hands and playing the 3DS version, having that feeling of being immersed in the environment, it's a different but just as amazing experience to be immersed in the game on a big, home TV. Just because it's no longer in your hands, it doesn't mean that you can't still feel fully immersed.

Not only that, but the network features mean it's a lot easier to jump into a Raid Mode game on an always-connected home console, rather than a handheld where you might not be readily able to jump into a game like that. We've also made system improvements and stuff, so there's no longer such a strict limitation on the number save slots and so on. As an overall experience it's different, but it's just as good, if not better. Even if you've already seen the game through once on 3DS, you'll still have great time playing the console version of Resident Evil: Revelations.

Resident Evil: Revelations is out on May 21st in North America, May 23rd in Japan and May 24th in Europe.

  • I purchased and completed this game on 3DS. I will definitely buy it again on Wii U or Xbox. Got to show support for the survival horror RE's if we hope to get more.
  • "What other new additions does this have?" "We added more detail to the hands" That's not a new addition. To be frank, it doesn't look very "HD" or updated. Looks like they just upscaled it and doesn't look as good graphically since it's not in its native resolution. That said, I am still excited to play with a controller, but I need more additions than "LOL A NEW ENEMY, HUNK AND A HARDER HARD MODE FOR RAID MODE" to get me to drop more money. Still going to get it, but not until a price drop.
  • Really looking forward to this, as it seems like it's been FOREVER since I've played a legit horror game. I hope that Capcom learns from the mistakes of 6 and moves forward from here.
  • I saw Outbreak and got excited. The RE Outbreaks were brilliant games. Was nice to play as a regular citizen... and Kevin.
  • [Comment deleted]
  • "These days Resident Evil is seen as more of a third-person action game. Do you think there'd ever be a time where you'd consider rebooting and going back to the original style of Resident Evil game? The same kind of game as Resident Evil 1, 2 and 3? I think it's very difficult to literally go back to our roots on that and take gameplay mechanics and styles that we did fifteen years ago and redo them now. Revelations' goal was to go back to the series' roots in terms of the content and horror, while at the same time trying to modernise the gameplay, because we think that's what gamers want. For myself, I see it as something that would be very difficult to pull off." So basically saying that every gamer wants a COD knock-off? WRONG! STICK TO THE )*#(*%)# ROOTS OF RESIDENT EVIL!!! PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WANTING THAT SINCE YOU STARTED GOING WAY OFF COURSE WITH RE4!!!! IT WOULDN'T BE DIFFICULT TO PULL OFF...
  • Exciting to see Infernal and the new Raid content. (And maybe by "tweaks", he means they added the decapitation outcome from a certain enemy! ;) ) I think Coop could've worked in this game and sorta worked with horror elements, since there are various points in the game in which you split up from your partner.
  • Leave it to a Japanese dev to give a character a name as dumb as Hunk...seriously, why would anyone think thats a good name? That said, if they want to bring back a "fan Favorite" they need to do someone who hasn't appeared in ANY game since 1: Barry. LOTS of fans want Berry in a game and yet he hasn't been seen since 1. Or theres also that guy from Zero that traveled with Rebbeca...can't remember his name, but I highly doubt he just went on and lived normally after all they went through. Not that it really matters with how much they fucked the story since 4 (even though 4 was an awesome game).
  • I'm a bit pissed they are dropping 3D support but whatever.
  • @8 although barrys death wasnt shown in RE1 I'd rather he was dead, penance for siding with 'devil' so to speak or just for lines like 'since your the master of lockpicking'...etc etc :p although Jill sandwich references are missed. Looking forward to it as I cant justify a 3DS i would hardly play (or be able to pry my sons off of him long enough to play)
  • @10 He never died in official cannon. He was the pilot of the chopper in the 'true' ending to Resident Evil 3 @8, as I said, he was in 3 at the VERY end. And in 5's Mercenaries Reunion. There is no word on Billy however.
  • Not good news. Was hoping they'd port the first outbreak games, get re1/2/3 ported. Maybe bring back resident evil to it's roots.
  • I'd love it if they brought back the Outbreak series.
  • Still waiting for the game where everyone comes back: Jill Barry Chris Rebecca Leon Claire Maybe Carlos and Billy.
  • I'm glad. If capcom is to poor to make a survival horror game, then I guess this is my only other option.
  • Now if only they would do the same for RE0 and REMake.
  • "Do you think there'd ever be a time where you'd consider rebooting and going back to the original style of...Resident Evil 1, 2 and 3?" The sentence that ends with "...because we think that's what gamers want." I saw this and about crapped my pants. ASK THE GAMERS what we want. Don't tell us this is what you think we want. Gamers have been rallying for YEARS for old-skool RE and they've put out 3 new action games AT LEAST, to lukewarm reception. I understand a lot of people liked these games since RE4; I'm not one of them, but some people did like them, altho not as many as are fans of the originals. I don't pretend to know how plausible it is to market a pure SurHor game to RE's current fanbase. I don't wanna post on here and act like a know-it-all or anything of the like, but FOR GOD'S SAKE LISTEN TO YOUR FANS. YOUR CUSTOMERS. YOU DEPEND ON US for PROFIT, RIGHT? /sigh. Is this so understand... It's time to reboot Resident Evil. Start over. Mansion. Zombies. Dogs. Wesker. Jill in something yummy and skin-tight. And make it survival horror, for God's sake. Personally I'd love the first 3 games remade in HD, then for RE4, start rewriting. Keep it survival horror.
  • Barry starred in the Gameboy Game Resident Evil Gaiden. Funnily enough that games was also based on a cruise ship. They shoukld add it as an unlockable extra.
  • I said this in another post but it's worth repeating. Silent Hill is the game everyone should be playing. It originally had survial horror/puzzle solving roots and what it has evolved into now is everything Resident Evil should of been. I don't see myself playing RE6 as I could barely tolerate finishing RE5. Just my opinion but with Silent Hill & Dead Space available, I have better things to be playing.
  • @18 Gaiden is completely non canon, but I agree that would be a cool easter egg or something.
  • @19 Dead Space is more action than RE in so many ways, played it, found it far too predictable and dull. SH Died after 4. It just became boring and missed the point of Silent Hill
  • i need a sandwich.
  • @22 A Jill Sandwich? That's a quote, right? I know next to nothing about Resident Evil.
  • I've been hoping for the Outbreak series to be released on the 360 for years. MAKE IT HAPPEN.
  • @21 I highly disagree with everything you said. Dead Space is everything a modern Resident Evil should be. Yes there are very action oriented parts but it is every bit of horror and puzzle/adventure as well. How much of Dead Space did you ACTUALLY play? It is not predictable at all and there is definitely never a dull moment. Silent Hill 4 was TERRIBLE. Easily one of the worst games I have ever played. SH4 is a travesty to Silent Hill. I wont even touch on Downpour but Homecoming was everything a Silent Hill game is and more. The story was very expansive on the lore of Silent Hill itself instead of just focusing on one characters idea of what Silent Hill is and it was just as much puzzle and horror as any past Silent Hill game. "Boring"? Hardly. And just what is "the point" of Silent Hill? I know this is the internet and everyone is entitled to their opinion blah blah blah but you need to expand your vocabulary or just choose your limited vocabulary a little better because the way you describe these games is way off. If Dead Space and Silent Hill arnt your idea of a modern day horror masterpiece Im not sure I want to know what you would consider a good horror game. And no COD Zombies does not count. And yes I had to make a crack about how you must obviously be into COD and only COD since you shit on everyone elses games on the internet.
  • @21 Oh I also missed my chance to say "coming from the guy who has an Executioner from Resident Evil as his gamerpic... and from the movie franchise non the less"
  • Re-release Outbreak and Outbreak: File No.2 in HD and include online play like the PS2 had.
  • Love you Capcom.
  • i think a huge problem with the series no is that it is full of monster super heros. game was better when a team went to a mansion and had no idea what was going on. or a rookie cop stumbled into a nightmare and wasn't equiped for the situation. now that cop doesnt blink if a bug the size o a house appears and he seems to have mastered the art of crashing helicopters and cars and buses without getting a scratch. Same with chris and his team of monster hunters. it just isnt believable or fun to play.
  • Cannot wait! Ready to jump into Raid mode all over again :D
  • RE Outbreaks are actually may favorite of the franchise, they were truly about survival and co op. If they made a new one or even remade them, they would be so good on Xbox Live what with online co op and such. At the moment Capcom seem to have a really bad and worrying plan of what they want. I think other they're very out of touch with their gamers and of course the RE community.
  • @25/26. I played all of Dead Space at my Brothers, got hit like twice, and only sued the cutter. I predicted every enemy location and attack. I was more bored playing it than I was before hand. Then I got it on Xbox, to see if I'd enjoy it more on a pad than keyboard/mouse. Still didn't like it. Homecoming had you as some ex military jerk, and a satirical token black character. It had to combat rolling and crap about the place with mre ammo than an episode of the A-Team. Slent Hill works better when you're a regular Joe, no skills in combat, just you and limited ammo. At least 4 still had it slow and scary. And I actually despise CoD to no end. Very little has managed horror at all as of late. Lost have done gore which is all Dead Space is. Alan Wake is one of the closest 'horror' games we have had alongside Revelations here and many consider Spec Ops a horror with the way it messes with your head. ZombieU is pretty tense of what I have played too. Even Arkham Asylum managed more horror than DS.Clive Barker's Jericho and Condemned work wonders too. And my GamerPic has been like that since RE: Afterlife released. I just find no point in changing it again.
  • First I gladly acclaim that I'm in minority and that I really loved RE 6, Yes it went way too wrong in many places and a lot of aspects could have been improved but I really enjoyed it especially in co-op. It's the best RE story to date, it's moving toward a grand closure and how the viruses and everything evolved. If anyone is deeply following RE Cannon, they will know they wrapped tons of stuff here and thank goodness for the first time ever RE voice acting was not terrible. I played every RE like crazy since the beginning and have loved almost everyone and has been a supporter of evolution of franchise gameplay wise. He's right RE 6 and previous 2 entries have definitely divided the fans in two groups. Capcom it self doesn't know what to do lolz Can't wait for this, as I would love to see a Survival Horror RE game, I just wish the controls aren't clunky as I can't judge cause didn't played 3ds version.
  • I love the quote "because that's what we think what gamers want" ... AND there's your mistake... Stop assuming and fucking remember what we LOVED about the series. Static camera angles, inventory management, actual scares, some decent puzzles, no fucking gay auto saves, multiple path ways and choices that determine the outcome of the ending.
  • If they brought back Outbreak with online OMG I'd die of sure happyness and joy! That game series was AMAZING and deffinantly WAY ahead of their time!
  • If this game sells well, it'll send a very clear message about what people want Resident Evil to be. I hope it outsells 6, that would be amazing!
  • Agree with 34, Resident Evil may be more about action but i dont see that as a bad thing. 2 and 3 were way more action orientated than the first game but people just choose not to notice. 3 even had an arcade like dodge move. Also its funny reading comments like capcom should go forwards by going back to a 15 year old formula and the constant references to COD are ridiculous. Its a game with action so its like COD?? :/ Are you people 12 years old or what?
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