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Celebrating a Series: How Resistance 4 Could Reinvigorate the Franchise

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Celebrating a Series looks at some great game series, many of which have been too long without a sequel or new entry, and how the developers could continue telling stories and giving us games within those worlds. We’ve talked about the possibilities with Mass Effect 4, God of War 2, and Uncharted 5, among many other games that at least deserve consideration for continuation. Today we’re looking at a beloved PS3 classic series that needs a follow up with Resistance 4.

An oft forgotten PS3 gem was the Resistance series, the Insomniac first-person shooter that turned WWII-era shooters on their collective head. Instead of history as we know it, Russia gets invaded by an alien force known as the Chimera, which goes about capturing and infecting humans, then ultimately completely taking over the world. While the narrative arc through Resistance 1-3 feels quite complete, there are a lot of places that a Resistance 4 could go, even without continuing from the end of the last game.

What Resistance did so incredibly well was take a traditional WWII-era military shooter and inject a strong dose of sci-fi into it. We’re used to having one or the other. Alien shooters are generally full of futuristic technology and laser guns, while historical military shooters retain their particular period-accurate style. We haven’t really had any other major games that have explored the clashing of these two seemingly disparate genres, but what would have happened if a technologically superior species had invaded at a time when our own technology was far behind what it is now? That’s the story that Resistance tells, focusing on humanity and some personal stories as opposed to the bombastic, high-flying spectacle. There are still awe-inspiring moments, but they are given even more prominence because of the intimate feel of the rest of the game.

Boots on the Ground with Resistance 4

A new Resistance game—whether that’s Resistance 4 or a reboot of the franchise—would need to retain that heavy, boots on the ground feeling. That’s really a staple of Sony-exclusive shooters. Just take a look at Killzone. It’s a dark and heavy feeling game, both tonally and from a gameplay perspective. Being in the role of someone up against insurmountable odds without near superhuman abilities of your own lends a weight that really helps get the feeling across of a certain “against all odds” guerrilla warfare.

Resistance 4

In a lot of ways, Resistance reminds me of the TV show Falling Skies. I know, Falling Skies isn’t a period shooter, but it has that same tonal weight of a ragtag band of humans facing impossible odds against a technologically superior force. It has similar themes with humans being captured, crazy experiments being done, and DNA being combined across races to create hybrids. But most importantly, it’s about the journey of specific people, and what they are willing to sacrifice for each other, their families, and the greater good of humanity as a whole.

Instead of following up the end of Resistance 3, which may create too much room to lose some of the weight the previous games had, Resistance 4 could be best served exploring some of the other stories from around the world as the invasion happened. Forgot Hale’s turn and shocking but inevitable, conclusion at the end of Resistance 2. Leave behind Joseph Capelli and his story of family, guilt, and redemption. Go back to the early days of the resistance, as the Chimeran forces swept across Europe. Go back and show another angle of how it all started and more stories of what people went through when they realized that the world as they knew it had changed. Both Resistance: Retribution and Resistance: Burning Skies for the PlayStation Portable and PS Vita respectively took this alternate storytelling approach.

The only reason I wouldn’t want Resistance 4 going back is because we know the path of the story. We know that eventually the world becomes a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and that by 1957, the Chimera have nearly won. We know that they nearly succeed in turning the planet into an inhospitable icy ball, and that it’s only through the actions of Capelli and a number of brave souls who gave their lives that the wormhole was closed and doomsday clock on humanity pushed back, if just a little. So maybe it continues to jump forward a little bit more. Now we enter the 1960s. What does the world look like, torn asunder and still dealing with the remnants of the Chimeran menace that has decimated the planet? Sure, the imminent threat is gone, but an alien force still controls much of the world, having wiped out a good majority of humanity. How do we rebuild?

Resistance 4

Yet another idea is to pull things forward 60 or so years. Have the game set in the modern day, but consider the alternate history and how humanity missed much of its technological and cultural advancements thanks to the Chimeran invasion. What is 2019 when you account for the events of the Resistance series in the 1950s? How have events in the world transpired that have changed things? Are the Chimera still here? Have we rebuilt much? How did our technology and culture evolve based on those events? There are many avenues that could be explored all along the Resistance timeline of human history.

Human at Its Core

For any invasion or post-apocalypse story to be good, it really needs to tell the story of the people. Overly focusing on the zombies, aliens, or other aspects is cause for the spectacle to be carried away while the humanity underneath is lost. That can be tough to do in a shooter, but game developers, writers, and creators are some of the the most brilliant minds out there. If anyone can find a way to tell an emotional, interactive, and personal story while also allowing us to take down a massive fucking alien force, it’s them. In fact, Sony Bend, the studio behind Days Gone, was recently rumored to be working on a new Resistance game. The studio previously worked with the franchise for 2009’s PSP entry.

That’s the most important thing about Resistance though. It has to make you care about the characters and their struggles. The feeling of shock and betrayal as Capelli puts the inevitable bullet in Hale’s head at the end of Resistance 2. Accepting stepping into Capelli’s boots in Resistance 3 after he killed off a character you had connected with for two games. Those moments, among many others, were about far more than the Chimera or the invasion. It was about how real people had to deal with the hard choices presented in a brutal world. Sony’s recent exclusives have shown that it is really doubling down on this approach of making the focus the stories, while the spectacle simply helps provide a backdrop.

Resistance 4

While I debated the possibility that Resistance 4 could even shirk its FPS roots, I decided against that. Sony’s exclusive stable is sadly lacking in the first-person shooter department right now, with a good majority of its major titles being third-person shooter/adventure games. The last major PlayStation exclusive FPS we got was Killzone Shadowfall at the launch of the PS4. Sony largely left shooters behind on the PS3, as it moved into this new generation of games. After nearly a whole console generation without them, it’s just about time to see what another PlayStation exclusive FPS could look like. Maybe the company has some secret plans for the launch of the PS5, using new technology to change the shooter genre as we know it? If that’s the case, Resistance is a recognizable enough name as one of the flagship PS3 launch titles, and a follow up could help carry the next PlayStation console to an early lead.

Or Sony could just remaster/remake the original trilogy. I’d be happy with that too.