Resident Evil Village will see the return of the arcade-style shooter mode The Mercenaries, a fan-favorite addition that we last saw in the franchise in Resident Evil 6. But while the gist of the mode retains its similarities to what we’ve seen of The Mercenaries in the past–it’s a fast-paced game type that focuses on killing enemies as quickly as you can to advance–the mode is getting a few new elements in Resident Evil Village that will change how it plays in some significant ways.
Capcom announced the return of the mode in its 25th Anniversary Resident Evil Showcase presentation, where it showed off some of the gameplay we can expect when it launches with Resident Evil Village on May 7. The mode makes changes to what we’ve seen from The Mercenaries in the past, adopting the first-person perspective of Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 7 (as opposed to the past third-person perspective) and gives you the ability to buy different guns, ammo, and weapons upgrades in between levels. It also adds new abilities you can grab around the map that give you perks and change how you play, providing bonuses like faster sprint speed, higher resilience to incoming damage, and the ability to dish out more punishment from your weapons.
At first blush, it looks a lot like the Resident Evil 4 take on the mode–you run around an arena modeled on one of the locations from the game (like the titular Village), taking down waves of various enemies who spawn around you. The whole thing is timed, so you’re encouraged to knock out baddies as quickly as you can, and you get more time on the clock when you pick up specific items around the map. The idea is to clear out the enemies as fast as you can, and when you kill a certain number, the level ends.
Unlike past versions of The Mercenaries, though, the take on the mode in Village changes the camera perspective from third-person to first-person, the same way Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil Village do. You’ll fight enemies as Ethan Winters in the same way he does in those games, with a combination of gunplay and strategic blocking–you can raise your hands or your weapon to guard against incoming attacks, diminishing how much damage those attacks inflict. You’ll also want to keep mobile as much as you can, repositioning around the battlefield so you can take shots at enemies as they come at you.
Apart from the different perspective, there are a couple of other major new additions to the new take on The Mercenaries. First, you’ll be able to visit the Duke, Resident Evil Village’s shopkeeper, between each level of the wave-based mode. The Duke functions like Resident Evil 4’s Merchant, selling you all manner of stuff you might need, which you purchase with money you earn in battle. You can also buy new guns and upgrade your weapons with the Duke, which provides a new strategic planning layer to The Mercenaries, encouraging you to plan for what weapons you might need as you advance and to buy accordingly.
The new ability system adds a whole other wrinkle to The Mercenaries. You’ll find items scattered around arenas as you fight that Ethan can smash open, giving you access to different upgrades, which it looks like you’ll choose on the fly from one of three options. These upgrades make you a better fighter–they might make your guard more effective, allow you to take less damage or upgrade the damage your weapons deal, or increase your agility so you can get out of trouble more easily. But unlike visiting the Duke, you’ll have to seek out these upgrades as you’re fighting, making collecting them a bit of a harrowing gamble as you take your attention away from clearing enemies to spend your time exploring.
Apart from the new elements, The Mercenaries in Resident Evil Village looks to be sufficiently arcade-oriented, and the footage showed various enemies (complete with health bars so you can get a sense of how well you’re killing them) hunting Ethan down in different locales. Capcom says the mode will be part of the Resident Evil Village package (alongside Re:Verse) when it launches on May 7.
The Resident Evil Showcase also debuted a new trailer for Resident Evil Village and announced new demos for the game, coming in the weeks before its release. Capcom announced an upcoming virtual reality version of Resident Evil 4 for the Oculus Quest 2, teased a Dead By Daylight crossover event, and dropped the release window and new details for its upcoming Netflix animated series, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness.