Mercenaries is a game mode available in Resident Evil 8 Village (RE8). You must get S Rank in all 8 Mercenaries stages for the Legendary Cowboy trophy or achievement. SSS is the highest achievable rank in Mercenaries but for the trophy you only need S. It’s going to be the most challenging part for the platinum trophy. Finishing each stage with an SS-rank will also unlock the LZ-Answerer melee weapon for purchase in the Bonus Content Shop, but this isn’t necessary for any trophies or achievements.
How to Unlock Mercenaries Mode
To unlock Mercenaries Mode you must first beat the story. Then you gain access to the Extra Content Shop (Main Menu > Bonuses > Bonus Content Shop). There you can unlock Mercenaries. After it’s unlocked you start Mercenaries Mode by going to Main Menu > Bonuses > The Mercenaries.
Initially you will only have the first stage “The Village” available. To unlock new stages you must get A-Rank on the previous Stage (on first 4 Stages) or B-Rank (in the last 4 Stages). The exact score requirement for the ranks in each stage can be seen on the paper document in the starting room where the merchant is.
How Does Mercenaries Mode Work
Let’s go over the general rules how Mercenaries Mode works:
- You start by purchasing any equipment or weapons you need from the shop. Then, when you go out into the field you need to defeat as many enemies as possible within the time limit. Get a good rhythm going and build up combos for extra points!
- Once you’ve defeated a certain number of enemies the goal will appear. Touch the goal to finish and to move on to the next area, Complete more areas to rack up even more points for each stage! You can also touch the yellow orbs for bonus time and keep the party going.
- Speaking of orbs, there are also blue orbs which give you special abilities. Each one has three random abilities to choose from. Check out all the cool moves that match your fighting style. You keep abilities between areas and there’s no limit to how many you can have, either. Also, if you equip the same ability multiple times it will become even more effective. So keep an eye out for all those orbs.
- Any money or time left over when you reach the goal will be counted towards your final score, along with enemies defeated and combos. Your final score determines your rank. The higher your rank at the end of the stage, the better the prize you’ll get!
The Mercenaries Mode in Resident Evil Village is more like the Raid mode from the Revelations titles than an actual Mercenaries mode you might remember from Resident Evil 4-6. You will have to finish between 2 and 5 separate areas instead of surviving for a certain amount of time in a single area like in older titles.
While there are 8 stages in total it’s actually 4 but each has 2 versions. The second version of each stage is a much harder version of it and will be the ultimate test of your skill and patience in this game. Everything can be summed up by using two strategies – one that applies for the first 4 stages and one that’s better suited for the last 4 stages. We’ll go over the strategies below.
Stages 1-4 SSS-Ranks Strategy (The Village, The Castle, The Factory, The Mad Village)
- What to Buy: The Sniper Rifle
- What to Sell: Shotgun Shells, a portion of Handgun Shells.
- Perks to Choose from Blue Bubbles: Everything damage enhancing like more damage from the initial hit, more damage when enemy health is low, enemies explode likely when dead etc.
First of all, you should try getting at least a B-rank of a level first before attempting the S-rank directly. Achieving a B-rank on a level will give you additional 5000 Lei at the start of the level, which is helpful. The Sniper Rifle is the way to go in the first half of the Mercenaries for multiple reasons: fantastic range, great damage, great synergy with many perks. Your tactic for the first few levels is simple in theory – try to memorize a good path of enemy spawns and keep the combo as high as possible, in a perfect case through the entire stage. The sniper rifle is the ideal weapon for that since it one-shots most of the enemies in this mode and it can do so from any range.
Between the Rounds spend your money on upgrading the Sniper Rifle further. Do NOT reload the sniper rifle at the end of a stage or at Duke’s before the next area, since upgrading the capacity will fill your magazine for free, this will grant you additional ammo for free, which can be very helpful for areas with high enemy numbers! The only stage I would recommend NOT selling the shotgun shells is Mad Village since you can buy a shotgun for the last area to get rid of the final boss there quickly (you will have over 100 shells that you didn’t use throughout the other areas).
Stage 1 – The Village
Stage 2 – The Castle
Stage 3 – The Factory
Stage 4 – The Mad Village
Stages 5-8 SSS-Ranks Strategy (The Village 2, The Castle 2, The Factory 2, The Mad Village 2)
Method #1 – Grenade Launcher, Flashbangs, Knife
- What to Buy: Grenade Launcher, Flashbangs, remaining cash goes into healing items and explosive grenade rounds
- What to Sell: Handgun, Handgun Bullets
- Perks to Choose from Blue Bubbles: Masamune, Blade Master, defensive skills, initial hit does more damage, more damage on low health enemy
Starting from Village 2 your old tactics will no longer work, at all. The inventory at Duke’ shop is different now. You can no longer buy a Shotgun or a Sniper Rifle so you have to think of something else. The only strategy that worked for me, while being a bit luck-dependent and situational to set up, was using my knife. Yes, the knife which under normal circumstances does laughable damage. The skill Masamune makes the knife the ultimate killing machine though. Masamune skill can be unlocked by getting an A-rank in Mad Village 1, so you should have it by this point.
Masamune skill will make your knife attack 10 times stronger but all the other weapons will do low damage afterwards. Why is good then? Well, the knife doesn’t need ammunition, so you will not run out. Additionally, it stacks with the Blade Master skill, so with some luck you get both skills from the blue bubbles and it will make you basically one hit everything in this mode. That only works in combination with the other weapon mentioned above – the Grenade Launcher. Flashbang grenades are super cheap (200 Lei a piece) and are the perfect synergy for the knife.
Flashbangs stun every enemy in the game instantly for long enough time to kill them with a knife, with only a few exceptions:
- The Lycans with metal cages on their head – you will have to shoot the metal cage twice with a regular grenade to destroy it, afterward you can stun them just like every other enemy.
- Bela, Daniela and Cassandra – you can stun them, but you will not have enough time to kill them while they are stunned with just one Flashbang. You will have to stun them a few times (watch out, they keep slicing even when blinded).
Now here comes the annoying part… you are not guaranteed to get the Masamune skill each time you start an attempt. By our calculations you have about 14% chance of getting the Masamune skill of a blue bubble. So your tactic will be to run to the closest bubble in each level and check for the skill (or in case of Village 2 you can check all 3 bubbles there) and if it is not in there, just restart. This method is a bit tedious because of the many restarts and having to go through the selling and buying process each time, but it is very effective once everything falls into place. At the start of a stage always sell your handgun and all your handgun ammo, then use that additional money to buy the grenade launcher and some flashbangs for it.
The following methods are not recommended for the listed reasons:
- Buying the Magnum – only low amount of ammunition available, not enough to finish a stage with a high combo.
- Using the Handgun – slow killing, combo breaks fast, horrible crowd control, extremely bad for stronger enemies.
- Using regular Grenades with the Grenade Launcher – expensive ammunition, not enough ammo to deal with the starting area of Factory 2 for example.
Method #2 – Upgraded Starting Pistol, Magnum, Mines
- What to Buy: Start by fully upgrading Pistol Damage & Rate of Fire, buy one of each fire rate and capacity upgrades. After first stage buy Magnum, health items, mines.
- What to Sell: Nothing
- Perks to Choose from Blue Bubbles: Anything that increases weapon damage, sprint speed, makes enemies combust on death
One alternative strategy that works for some players is a combination of Pistol + Magnum + Mines, this is worth a try if you are not having any luck with the knife method. With this method you’d start by fully upgrading the pistol’s damage + fire rate and buy the first reload speed and first capacity upgrade. Then do the first stage using the pistol only (the upgraded version does okay damage so it’s doable). After the first stage you buy the Magnum, but you only use it on the minibosses (witches, the big guys with axe in Mad Village, guys with big metal on their head and drill arms). Don’t use magnum on the regular drill-arm enemies with a red dot on their chest, those you can shoot in the legs and on their red weakpoint with the normal pistol. Save that ammo for their harder versions with the armor on their heads, those you can usually shoot in the legs with Magnum for an instant-kills (a few are fully armored though, so must first use a mine or pipe bomb to break the armor). After you got the Magnum the next thing to spend money on are Mines. They are cheaper than Pipe Bombs. Just place them ahead of tough enemies, like the ones with drillarms or the guys with claws, especially in areas where there are many enemies coming at you simultaneously. This deals good damage and stuns them for a moment so you can hit their weakpoint with the normal pistol. If you use your Magnum ammo and Mines wisely you can still keep up your combo counter and get through it with some practice. Luckily, the enemy spawns are the same as in the first version of each stage, so by now you should know where big groups and minibosses spawn. There are also lots of skills that increase weapon damage, the best one is the purple one that makes enemies explode on death, but also the yellow one that increases handgun damage, and the orange ones that increase short-range / long-range / first hit damage. Anything that increases your sprint speed is also fantastic, even the one that makes you take more damage but massively increases sprint speed is good to get, because you are always in the red after 1 hit anyway in this mode and the skill doesn’t make you take any more damage than that.
The biggest downside to this method is that you could run out of ammo. You can’t afford to miss a lot of shots. At times you may even have to skip a few enemies because they’d either consume too much ammo or break your combo (especially tougher enemies like the ones with claws). It’s important you pick up all Pistol Ammo in each stage, so on the first one or two tries explore carefully to know where the ammo spawns and where the skills spawn. If you don’t pick up ammo you will run out eventually. If you find all ammo spots and have decent aim, it’s quite doable.
Stage 5 – The Village 2
Stage 6 – The Castle 2
Stage 7 – The Factory 2
Stage 8 – The Mad Village 2
In closing; This sums up everything there is to know about getting all Mercenaries S-Ranks in Resident Evil Village (RE8). It’s the hardest challenge in the game, particularly the last 4 stages, and it takes some practice through repetition and a bit of luck with the skills from blue bubbles. After getting all 8 S-Ranks you will earn the Legendary Cowboy trophy or achievement.