Resident Evil 4 is a bona fide classic. One of the best games ever made. And so, it was inevitable that a remake would happen. Today, at a big digital showcase, Capcom showed off a bunch of new gameplay footage of the upcoming Resident Evil 4 remake. And while a lot of classic moments and characters are coming back for this new take on the legendary horror game, some things are also changing this time around, which has this ol’ RE4 fan very excited.
Originally released back in 2005 exclusively for the Nintendo GameCube, Resident Evil 4 is considered by many to be one of the best third-person action-horror games ever made, mixing classic survival horror elements with a then-new over-the-shoulder camera angle and combat controls. The story stars Resident Evil 2’s Leon Kennedy as he takes on a mission to save the President’s daughter after she is grabbed by a weird cult in Eastern Europe. When he arrives he quickly learns that the locals are infected with an odd parasite, Las Plagas, turning them and local animals into dangerous monsters. A lot of killing and inventory sorting follows. Good times. I should know, I’ve bought it like 300 times at this point. And this new remake, out March 2023, seems to mostly be following that same setup, but with some small tweaks and possibly bigger changes to the classic formula.
In the first gameplay video Capcom showed off during the event, we see what appears to be a recreation of the iconic opening hour of Resident Evil 4. Leon is on the hunt for clues about the missing daughter, Ashley Graham, and stumbles upon a dilapidated farmhouse. Unlike in the original game, this time’s even creepier as the scene is set in the middle of the night.
At one point, after entering a creepy basement filled with skulls, Leon finds one of his police escorts dead and hears over the radio the other escort having an, uh…bad time. This is also a change from the original. While those escorts also suffered unhappy fates in the classic game, how Leon learns about them is slightly different. I’m excited to see how else Capcom changes up the exact way certain events play out, keeping the overall story similar, but tweaking the smaller beats. Oh, and Leon can crouch now! Neat.
When Leon reaches the village, he finds a similar scene as in the original, and just like before, he has to fight off the nasty locals, including a chainsaw-wielding maniac who can kill with one strike. During this fight, we see that Leon can still employ the classic stun-kick-kill combo, which I always rely on a lot to save ammo. He also kills a poor cow when he sets the barn on fire while escaping. Kind of a jerk move, Leon.
During all of this action, we can see Leon has learned how to move and shoot at the same time, something you couldn’t do in the original game (but could in the recent VR edition). I know some folks are worried this could kill the game’s famous tension, but I’m also curious to see how Capcom takes advantage of the player’s newly boosted mobility to ratchet up the intensity during larger fights.
Capcom explained some of the other changes it’s made in the Resident Evil 4 remake during the full livestream.
Leon now has a new parry, which allows him to use his knife to counter enemy attacks. This will likely be useful, as Capcom says the villagers are now more bloodthirsty and have more ways to attack and kill you. He also uses his knife to block a chainsaw from cutting him in half, a good reminder that this is still Resident Evil and things will get campy.
Oh, and yes, the amazing attache case inventory system is back. Thankfully, crafting and equipping items, like herbs, seems more streamlined and easier than in the original, taking some cues from the VR port, perhaps? The Merchant is also back and while he still sells and buys things (stranger…) he also now accepts gems as currency, letting you trade these valuable rocks for new gear and items, something not found in the original RE4.
Finally, Capcom dropped a new story trailer that features some interesting hints about what else might be changing. At one point we see Ashley, fully infected with the parasite, pull a gun on someone, possibly Leon or Ada. This didn’t happen in the classic game and I’ll be interested to see if this is a real moment or some sort of fake-out from a dream sequence. That story trailer also gave us our first look at some iconic moments, like the boss fight against the lake monster, and a better look at the new take on Ada Wong.
Everything here has me excited. The small and possibly big changes to both the gameplay and story seem smart. Nothing, so far, looks to be ruining the vibes and feel of the original game. But even if Capcom bungles this, I’m not too worried. Of all the games in the world, few are as easily accessible across nearly every platform as Resident Evil 4. So if this ends up being a disappointment, I can always go back to the original and enjoy it all over again. So I’m down for Capcom to shake things up with RE4’s storyline and combat.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is out March 24, 2023 on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. PS4 owners will be able to upgrade the game to the PS5 version for free, too. Pre-orders are now open, too.