How Resident Evil Resistance Brings Dungeon Master Gameplay to the Series

We talked to Resident Evil 3 producer Peter Fabiano about the game's innovative new multiplayer mode, Resistance, and how it turns players into the franchise's twisted version of Dungeon Masters.

Resident Evil Resistance
Photo: Capcom

Capcom’s latest blast from the past is its remake of Resident Evil 3, which modernizes the final installment in the studio’s original trilogy of PlayStation horror games. Not only does it wrap Jill Valentine’s escape from a zombie-infested Raccoon City in all-new visuals and an upgraded over-the-shoulder camera, but it also gives us a new way to experience one of the less revisited chapters of the series.

On top of the Resi 3 story campaign, Capcom is also shipping a new online multiplayer experience called Resident Evil Resistance, an asymmetrical game mode in which four survivors team up to survive a gauntlet of deadly challenges designed by a player-controlled “Mastermind,” whose role is not unlike that of a Dungeon Master in a game of Dungeons & Dragons.

The objective of this mode is actually pretty straightforward: the survivors must work together to escape a maze of rooms full of zombies, remotely-operated turrets, and bigger monsters, such as Mr. X from Resident Evil 2, before a timer runs out. The Mastermind’s job is to make that escape as difficult as possible by strategically placing zombies and monsters around the map as well as locking doors and turning off lights.

Survivors are divided into the traditional tank, damage, and support classes, with each character boasting their own special abilities. In order to survive and make it out of a level, they need to find items, better weapons, and resources as they progress. Most importantly, they need to stick together. Trying to solo a level is a recipe for disaster.

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Resistance also lets you pick from different Masterminds, many of them familiar villains from other entries in the series, such as Annette Birkin from Resi 2 and Umbrella founder Oswell Spencer. There’s also the mysterious Alex Wesker from Resident Evil: Revelations 2, who “specializes in setting traps and manipulating the battlefield,” according to the PlayStation blog. Each Mastermind has different tools and monsters at their disposal to inconvenience the survivors. Separating the other team and cornering each survivor is key to defeating them.

Speaking with Resident Evil 3 producer Peter Fabiano through email, Den of Geek learned a bit more about the inspiration behind this mode and how it stands out from past multiplayer Resident Evil games.

“Alex Wesker was actually the original inspiration for what a Mastermind character should be within Resident Evil Resistance, as she basically fulfilled this role perfectly in her own game, Resident Evil Revelations 2, especially with how she interacted with Claire and Moira behind the scenes throughout their adventure,” Fabiano says.

While the idea of a multiplayer Resident Evil game might still be a new concept to some — the series is best known for claustrophobic single-player horror gameplay meant to make you feel isolated and helpless — Resistance is far from the first time the franchise has been adapted to multiplayer. 2004’s Resident Evil Outbreak for the PlayStation 2 was an early multiplayer experiment that allowed players to connect to an internet server to complete different zombie-filled scenarios with their friends. Later main installments like Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 featured story campaigns with full online co-op support.

Capcom also released two multiplayer-centric Resident Evil games that emphasized the kind of PvP you’re usually more likely to see in shooters like the old PlayStation SOCOM titles and Call of Duty: 2012’s Operation Raccoon City and 2016’s quickly forgotten Umbrella Corps. But while these games tried to turn Resident Evil into more straightforward shooters to little success, Resistance is taking a very different approach, specifically taking the survival horror elements the series is known for and multiplying them by four.

Resistance is our take on online multiplayer survival horror. You really get the sense of survival horror with friends,” Fabiano says. “As a Mastermind, you get the chance to play as a sort of dungeon master. I think fans will love the fact that you can play as iconic bioweapons or creatures from the series and take down the survivors.”

The Dungeon Master element of the mode is easily Resistance‘s most innovative addition to the series, something we’ve surprisingly never seen before in Resident Evil despite the fact that the franchise’s baddies are usually puppet masters working in the shadows against the protagonists. It’s only natural that Capcom would eventually let the players pull the strings in survival horror scenarios of their own design.

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“We took inspiration from a number of different things,” Fabiano says. “I’m glad you picked up on the dungeon master comparison. It’s a good way to describe it. Either that or having you feel like you are playing the part of game designer yourself.”

I played the mode at NYCC 2019 and came away intrigued with this new take on Resident Evil multiplayer. Like past asymmetrical 4v1 titles, your enjoyment of the mode will likely hinge on the Mastermind’s skill and how he tactically uses the tools at his disposal. Fortunately, the controls aren’t too difficult to pick up after one or two matches. You’ll quickly get used to switching between multiple cameras to track the survivors’ progress and plant traps in the rooms ahead. Predicting how the team of survivors might act in different situations is the real joy here.

Of course, Resistance‘s success will come down to the players and whether they’re ready to adopt a new kind of Resident Evil experience. The fact that it doesn’t completely abandon the survival horror elements for stripped-down shooter gameplay definitely bodes well for the mode. It’ll also be interesting to see just how creative players get with the Mastermind role. And could the PC modding community take to Resistance‘s Dungeon Master gameplay and turn it into its next great sandbox?

We’ll find out when Resident Evil 3 and Resistance release on April 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.