- Introducing a new protagonist in Resident Evil 9 could help retain the first-person perspective and horror elements that made the recent games unique.
- The first-person perspective brings heightened tension, immersion, precision aiming, and granular exploration to the Resident Evil experience.
- Ethan Winters’ relatable persona elevated the terror of the unknown in Resident Evil 7 and Village, making the games scarier and more interesting than if they starred a highly capable legacy character.
The plot, setting, and game design pillars of Resident Evil 9 are mostly under wraps for now, but there’s an argument to be made for Capcom introducing a new protagonist, similar to how the franchise brought Ethan Winters into the fold in 2017’s Resident Evil 7. There are a number of benefits to this route, especially if Capcom wants Resident Evil to retain the first-person perspective of its seventh and eighth entries, and if it wants to continue leaning into horror.
He may not be a fan-favorite, but Ethan Winters helped Resident Evil bring a lot of new tools to the table. The series went on a bit of a hiatus following the controversial Resident Evil 6, and this lapse in releases allowed Capcom to reevaluate the identity of the franchise, which ultimately led to the bold choices on display in Resident Evil 7, including the first-person perspective, narrowed scope, and return to survival horror fundamentals. This sort of ‘soft reboot’ of the franchise was built around Ethan Winters, in some ways, and while Resident Evil 9 doesn’t need to institute the same kind of revolutionary changes as Resident Evil 7, it may be wise for it to take a similar approach with its protagonist.
Resident Evil 9 Should Focus on Making One Key Franchise Tradition a Standout
The Resident Evil franchise has developed plenty of traditions over the last two decades, but there’s one that Resident Evil 9 needs to focus on.
Why Introducing a New Protagonist Could Help Resident Evil 9
Keeping Resident Evil First-Person
Though the recent Resident Evil remakes have offered great third-person gameplay, it’s hard to argue that the first-person perspective doesn’t bring its own unique strengths to the table. The heightened tension and immersion that comes along with viewing the experience directly through the character’s eyes, not to mention the increased emphasis on precision aiming and more granular exploration, has helped make the modern, mainline RE games considerably more unique and refreshing. If Capcom wants to retain this style, it would probably work best with a new protagonist.
It’s not 100% confirmed, but the events of Resident Evil Village, alongside comments made by Capcom’s Kento Kinoshita about Village‘s DLC concluding the “Winters family saga”, suggest that neither Ethan nor Rose Winters will star in Resident Evil 9. Many fans have speculated that the next game will feature a legacy character, like Chris or Leon, but this could feel a bit awkward if the newer games stick to the first-person perspective. These Resident Evil characters boast iconic visual designs and specific combat techniques (more physicality, more fluid and athletic movement, etc.) that make their gameplay better suited to the third-person perspective. In essence, playing as a character like Chris, Leon, or Jill is all about embodying an already established character, which is an end that is served well by the third-person POV. So, to continue the trend of FPS gameplay, RE9 may need a fresh protagonist.
Resident Evil’s Horror Revival
The Winters saga releases are arguably the most horror-focused Resident Evil games, and not just because they are first-person. When it comes to Resident Evil stars, they are almost all highly trained members of special forces units such as the BSAA or the Division of Security Operations. This can make for enjoyable gameplay, but it undermines a lot of the franchise’s horror elements, as there is never any real doubt about the heroes’ ability to deftly handle the high-stress situations they find themselves in. Ethan Winters, on the other hand, is introduced as something of an everyman, a normal person who has found himself embroiled in a nightmarish situation with no training or relevant experience to fall back on.
Ethan may not have had what it takes to be a Resident Evil mascot, but his relatable, blank slate persona elevated the terror of the unknown, making Resident Evil 7 and Village far scarier and more interesting than if they starred a highly capable legacy character. It doesn’t seem like Ethan will be coming back, but Resident Evil 9 should use him as the blueprint for its protagonist—although adding a little more personality might not hurt.
Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village, or Resident Evil 8, is the direct sequel to RE7 and continues its story. The game became hugely popular upon release, with one of its characters, Lady Dimitrescu, becoming a meme. RE Village won Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards in 2021.
- May 7, 2021
- Survival (dupe) , Horror
- RE Engine
- M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- How Long To Beat
- 10 Hours
- PS Plus Availability