After a lukewarm seventh gen, Capcom’s back at the top of their game.
The old Capcom has returned, and the company knows it too. Following the immense critical praise of Devil May Cry 5, the game’s producer, Matt Walker, shared a playful tweet from Capcom USA CEO Kiichiro Urata. In it, he proudly exclaimed on Twitter that “Capcom is back!”
For several years now Capcom has been experiencing the perfect storm: game quality is through the roof, profits are at an all-time high, and fans are clearly happy. Just look at the enthusiasm from gamers who keep on tweeting about how Capcom is back, including Tim Gettys from Kinda Funny Games. So how did this Capcom renaissance happen? Listening to fan feedback had a big part of it. Capcom’s made a concerted effort to bring their biggest franchises back to their roots, while also innovating with great new features. To be more agile and deliver on fan expectations, Capcom has also been rapidly centralizing work back in Japan.
With all this in mind, let’s explore Capcom’s recent titles to see for ourselves: is Capcom really back?
Key recent titles:
Resident Evil is Capcom’s biggest franchise but even it wasn’t immune to increasing criticisms from hardcore fans last gen. Following Resident Evil 4, Capcom abandoned the series’ survival horror roots in favour of Hollywood-style action that happened to focus on global conflicts and biological warfare. RE5 and RE6 still sold very well, over 7M units each, but that still didn’t stop gamers from expressing discontent at the direction the series was taking.
Fast forward to 2017 and along came Resident Evil 7, which brought the series back to its terrifying survival horror beginnings. Gone were the RE6’s cover shooter mechanics and action set pieces, replaced by scary mansions, claustrophobic, zombie-filled corridors, and limited resources. The title was a huge critical and commercial success and reignited fan interest in the series. Not long after, Capcom began teasing their Resident Evil 2 remake, a title that went on to earn a 90 Metacritic score and shipped over 4 million copies in its first month. I’ve personally invested significant time into RE2 and wouldn’t be surprised to see it land on many game of the year lists down the road. With such huge momentum currently behind the Resident Evil series, now the question remains: what comes next? I’d like to see a remake of Code Veronica, but I’d get behind Resident Evil 8, too.
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Key recent titles:
- Mega Man 11 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Xbox One – Download, Switch – Download)
- Mega Man Legacy Collection (Switch – Download)
- Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 (Switch – Download)
- Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2 (Switch – Download)
So many side-scrolling platform series from the 80s and 90s have gone by the wayside, but Mega Man has endured. Still, the Blue Bomber began feeling the effects of sequelitis as the multiple 3D entries and spin-offs started diluting the franchise. Capcom rightfully decided to put the franchise on hold following Mega Man 10 in 2010, perhaps to build up anticipation and give the developer time to come up with fresh ideas.
Jump to 2018, and Mega Man 11 arrived. On the surface, the game seems like a retread of past main entries: 2D environments, classic moves, eight robot masters, and the return of Dr. Wily. However, look deeper, and there were innovative features like the Double Gear system that evolved the traditional Mega Man formula. This system allows you to use the Speed Gear to slow down time, granting you more time to dodge attacks. There’s also the Power Gear that increases Mega Man’s attack power to deliver punishing damage. To regulate these abilities, overusing them will cause Mega Man to overheat. Both gears can be activated together to unleash a powerful charge shot; however, this leaves Mega Man vulnerable temporarily. Combined, these new abilities added a fresh flavour for series veterans while at the same time making Mega Man 11 accessible for newcomers. Again, you can tell Capcom was listening to fan feedback and set out to deliver an experience worthy of the Mega Man name.
Devil May Cry
Key recent titles:
Devil May Cry wasn’t immune to fan criticisms either. This devil hunting action series got rebooted in 2013 with the release of Ninja Theory’s DmC: Devil May Cry on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. I enjoyed it, but there were a lot of complaints about Dante’s redesigned look and altered personality to make him more relatable. Following this, Capcom took the DMC series back in-house and just this month released Devil May Cry 5 to widespread critical acclaim. DMC5 went back to what made past games great: stylish action, interesting boss fights, and characters we know and love. It was also a direct continuation of DM4 to the delight of fans, instead of being in that divisive DmC “alternate reality.” Perhaps the greatest achievement of DMC5 though is the way it weaves three stories and three playable—Dante, Nero, and V—into one magnificent tale.
Here’s an excerpt from my review of Devil May Cry 5 where I heaped glowing praise on the game:
“Being the first, and likely only Devil May Cry game of this console generation, Capcom has really stepped up and delivered for their fans. What’s not to love? Devil May Cry 5 offers an excellent story with three very interesting protagonists, matched by superb gameplay delivering extreme style. Top it off with an awesome metal soundtrack, detailed graphics, and lots of modes to extend replay and you have the total package.”
Key recent titles:
- Monster Hunter World (PS4, Xbox One – Digital Download)
Now we’re getting into Capcom’s biggest success of this gen: Monster Hunter World. At nearly 12M units sold, MHW has become the best-selling game in Capcom’s 39-year history. This huge achievement is even more impressive considering the backlash from some hardcore gamers who were worried this traditionally handheld franchise was heading to home consoles (PS4, Xbox One) and PC. The reason for this franchise evolution? Capcom was seeking a way to expand Monster Hunter further into the western market. It was a gamble, but it paid off huge; Monster Hunter was pushed into the western mainstream while also dominating the Japanese sales chart in 2018.
One big reason for MHW’s success is its focus on online cooperative multiplayer. Together with friends, you can battle savage beasts in epic showdowns across some seriously impressive locations. Capcom has also been quick to release DLC, including neat collaboration content like a full armour sets for Aloy (Horizon: Zero Dawn), Ryu and Sakura (Street Fighter), and Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher 3). Monster Hunter World received numerous game of the year nominations last year, and it’s a game I highly recommend if you haven’t already picked it up.
Key recent titles:
Street Fighter V might still have some challenges to overcome—namely the controversial in-game ads and constant Fight Money rebalancing—but you can’t deny Capcom is dedicated to this title. SFV represents Capcom’s first major attempt at turning Street Fighter into a live service with regular updates including a story mode, new characters, costumes, and stages. One year ago they also released a significant title update called SFV: Arcade Edition that gave us an improved UI, second V-Triggers, and a new bonus stage. Several modes were introduced as well, including returning Arcade and Team Battle modes, plus an all-new Extra Battle mode.
Make no mistake, Capcom still has work to do to improve its fighting game division. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was not well received by many fans, and persistence asks from the Street Fighter V community remain unaddressed. Still, since SFV’s original release in 2016 the game has greatly improved and more updates are yet to come. Now that Capcom has their other main franchises in order, it’s time to give Street Fighter more love and perhaps look at rebooting long dormant fighting game IPs like Darkstalkers or Capcom vs. SNK.
With so many amazing franchises having momentum, Capcom is in a great position to keep on delivering hits and staying relevant in an ever-changing gaming landscape. Whether that’s through series reinvention or evolution, the company has many options to keep us engaged. I’ve got a long history with Capcom properties—going on decades now—and if they can continue to deliver at such high quality I know I’ll be happy. Looking back over the last few years it seems pretty clear to me: Capcom is at the top of their game and could just be this gen’s MVP.
See also: Devil May Cry Review