Not every new change is revolutionary. In fact most changes tend to be both predictable and not especially dramatic. The demo of Resident Evil 6 featured in Microsoft’s E3 media briefing showed a number of new ideas in the series, including the ability to fall backward and shoot from a lying down position, an athletic new animation system for sliding under obstacles, and the ability to move and shoot at the same time. But the secret eye-catcher was the game’s new system of quick-time button prompts.
The much-derided approach to melding cinematic moments of grandeur with simple timed-button prompts has a new take on the old button-pushing formula. In one scenario a radial dial rotated in a circle and the player had to pull the right trigger while the dial was in a narrow sliver of green at the top of the circle. In other scenarios it looked like players had to match analog stick gestures to a prompt while the rotating dial spun around the bottom of the circle. In another implementation it appeared like the player had to repeatedly hit a button to fill up a meter before the radial dial rotated out of the safe green zone.
E3 is a time of grandiloquent promises but it’s just as often an agglomeration of small changes to pre-existing formulas meant to feel just new enough. Upon first seeing the new quick-time prompts in Resident Evil 6, I admit I paused for a moment. Explosions and shooting and zombies I have all seen before, but a line rotating around a circle with strange new prompts to accompany each–that seemed for a fleeting moment like something new. Ironically it’s only just an updated bit of user interface given to one of the oldest and dimmest design stopgaps of the last 10 years. But for a moment it really does seem new.