Blog / That Next Next Next

The Resident Evil series is already known for its famous (infamous?) doors, and these new doors were almost surely the result of a lot of careful toil and consideration. I bet there was a whole team that worked on them. Month after month, just getting those doors nice and polished. We can’t ship until the doors are working, guys. Gotta pull some overtime and finish up the doors.

Kirk Hamilton on Kotaku

I’ve watched Markiplier play Resident Evil 7 and I agree: the door gameplay is amazing.

A spooky white door, barely ajar

What? It’s definitely gameplay. You can start to go through the door, then pull back, maybe let the monster on the other side go through it. Open it at any speed. Sometimes there’s a left and right door to choose between. If you watch a YouTuber, you’ll see they’re way more scared of opening doors than fighting enemies or exploring dark rooms. Doors are lacquered dread. The hesitation to go through them reminds me of playing System Shock 2, crouching beneath a bar with gun in hand and thumb in mouth, listening to a hybrid moan and thump by the window. I’m scared just doing nothing.

I never thought I’d champion doors for next-generation gameplay, but here we are. What else could this hardware generation enable?

I can only show you the door

While Resident Evil 7 has great doors mechanically, they’re obviously “video game doors.” Locked doors can’t be bashed in and you have to use the correct key (which is sometimes a scorpion). Lockpicks only work on certain cupboards when you’ve got a shotgun and an ax and the occasional bomb. Not every game can be Red Faction, but bending the rules would make for interesting gameplay.

You could search the creepy Baker Mansion for the three dog heads that open the front door, or you could aim that shotgun for the hinges and knock it into the courtyard. You’d waste a ton of ammo, immediately wake up every monster in the house, and have the pissed-off family coming for you all at once, but it’s just a door. It’s not made of Wolverine’s bones.

It’s the smell, if there is such a thing

Resident Evil 7 (sorry to keep picking on it) doesn’t communicate the noxious smell of the Baker Mansion through gameplay. Ethan does occasionally remark on it as he comes across a dozen flensed pig carcasses, but it never means anything. He doesn’t gag and walk slower when he’s sickened. There’s never a trail of odor that lets you track the monsters. Or is that impossible because it’s constantly nauseating?

A 20-something son, father, and mother around a dinner table piled with disgusting animal entrails

Games that do use smell as a mechanic treat it as a distinct mode: Batman’s detective vision, or the eagle vision in Assassin’s Creed. I don’t want a Smell Blaster Audigy card, but how about something like the light gem from Thief? It’s tough to implement, because smell is similar to the “insanity meter” situation where the game tries to tell you how you’re feeling. Horrifically grimy houses like the one in RE7 might make a smell sensor overkill: it’s pretty clear you’re smelling gunk and guts all the time. But nature-focused open-world games might benefit from letting the player discreetly know “hey, I smell a rabbit nearby.”

Not so much for “hey, I smell a fetid pile of human corpses that have been decaying in the humid Louisiana swamp for two years.”