Resident Evil 4's Mercenaries mode arrives today as part of the Meta Quest 2 version of Capcom's classic, via a free update with brand new content made specifically for this VR version. The announcement came via the just-finished Meta Gaming Showcase event - and you can play the mode for yourself now, or watch our Ian try it for himself just below.
Mercenaries, a wave-based PVE mode found in several Resident Evil titles, is a fan-favourite - and not least in Resident Evil 4, where you face hordes of ganados against the clock while attempting to land a high score. But this fresh version of Mercenaries for Meta Quest 2 includes an array of new options and unlockable extras - including online leaderboards and 20 Challenges which mix up Mercenaries' gameplay in new ways.
Challenges include options which restrict gameplay to just knives or rocket launchers, or shroud the map in fog. Complete these, and you'll gain access to other all-new additions such as a Big Head Mode, speedy Fast Forward mode, and a black-and-white Classic Horror Mode for the main Resi 4 campaign.
Ahead of today's announcement, I chatted with developer Armature - specifically, executive producer Tom Ivey - about the new additions, and how the studio handled the game's original VR release. In general, its release was highly-praised - including by Eurogamer's VR aficionado Ian, who dubbed it a "wonderful way to revisit a classic" - but there was surprise among some long-term fans when it was discovered the game had trimmed dialogue in some scenes, and seemingly removed another completely.
"It's the year 2022 and some of this stuff doesn't age well," Ivey told Eurogamer in a call last week, "and it doesn't fit with the Resident Evil franchise these days. So the idea was that we're keeping every aspect of the rooms and the creatures that you fight, and the story and how it progresses and the plot points of the story. But, you know, just kind of saying it's the year 2022 - does this fit with the way that Resident Evil should be presented in this day and age? That's the concept there.
"I definitely agree with the changes we made to the game so - we're definitely on board with that, we think it's the right thing."
For those who do want the original experience in Mercenaries, do not fear - the original version of the game has been preserved for those fans who only want to play that.
"All the gameplay from the original RE4, we've kind of cordoned off into one selection, which is called Classic mode," Ivey explained. "So you can play all the maps and characters, and the way that the timers work and the placement of the timers in the levels and all that is exactly the same.
"But there's also things that are fundamental changes to the rules of Mercenaries," Ivey continues. Here, instead of the usual two-minute starting clock, things get more frantic.
"There's a mode called Time Rush, which is you start with a very, very limited amount of time. And we place two timers in random locations around the map so you have to look around really quick... see that timer and think how am I going to get there while also killing guys while running to keep my combo going? And then I pick it up and I get maybe like 20 more seconds."
Kill Rush, another offering, has you start with limited time that you can gain more of by killing enemies - with more time granted for headshots. Deadshot, yet another new option, inflicts damage upon you if you miss any shots you take.
With Mercenaries added, fan requests will likely now focus on the addition of another popular Resi 4 mode - the Ada Wong-starring Separate Ways. But there's no hinting from Armature on this today - for now, Ivey said Armature was still focused on Mercenaries itself.
A veteran of Armature Studio, Ivey previously worked with Armature's founders at Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios. What's next for Armature after Resident Evil 4 VR? Ivey wouldn't say - but he still keeps an eye on what Retro is up to.
"I'm very excited to see what happens - I still have a ton of friends at Retro Studios working on the Metroid franchise - and also you know, at the other companies... like, Metroid Dread was a great addition to the genre and really did some interesting things and had some beautiful landscapes.
"But I don't want to forget Donkey Kong Country Returns. I hope someday there's a future where there's more of those games. I'm a big platformers guy, so I always look forward to that. And those were really good years for me and really fun years."
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