Resident Evil 4 Remake is only weeks away, but there are still so many questions to answer about Capcom’s ambitious remake. Thankfully, I got the chance to see about 20 minutes of gameplay which gave me a glimpse into the lake area, the castle, and the iconic Krauser knife fight. Here are 11 new things I learned about the game.
Knife parry galore
Chainsaws aren’t the only thing Leon can deflect with his trusty knife now. In fact, from the gameplay I saw, you’ll be able to parry just about anything with your knife. Whether it’s airborne torches, speeding arrows, or even the nasty tentacle claws of head-erupted parasites, Leon’s new-and-improved knife can counter them all. However, this hefty upgrade in functionality does not come without some compromises. Unlike the original, the knife now has a durability bar, akin to Resident Evil 2 Remake’s take on the knife. So while the extra versatility adds more variety to Resident Evil 4’s combat formula, it’s not without some resource management considerations. Additionally, Leon now has the ability to evade fatal blows, giving the player a split-second prompt to dodge attacks like Garrador’s enormous claws.
Director Yasuhio Ampo and producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi assured me that Leon’s extra combat functionality will not compromise the harrowing feeling of the original's enemy encounters. With the addition of giving the player more options in combat also comes the balance of making the enemies just as equipped to challenge you. As such, Capcom has upgraded enemy movements and given them an array of new attacks to level the playing field.
While the original RE4 was rather linear in its presentation (by Resident Evil standards, that is), the remake is taking a more expansive approach, giving the player more space to wander and explore areas off the beaten path. More notably, this also includes the freedom to explore by motorboat.
In the original, driving the motorboat was limited to the Del Lago boss fight. This time, however, you’ll be able to control the motorboat freely, traversing the watery depths of caverns, and exploring other areas entirely. Many of these areas seem to be gated off, but can be accessed by solving small puzzles similar to the insignia puzzle seen only once outside the village church in the original.
The pacing of the original game, while linear, is something I consider one of the game’s crowning achievements. So when I asked Ampo-san and Hirabayashi-san whether they took the pacing in consideration when adding expanded exploration, they responded that while retaining the original’s pacing was important, they still wanted to give the player the option to explore if they pleased. Additionally, Ampo-san noted that Resident Evil 2 Remake emphasized a more metroidvania-like approach than its original, and wanted to carry that over to RE4R.
An additional detail I noticed during these motorboat segments is that the prompt to ready spears exists beyond the Del Lago boss fight, leading me to speculate that there are more enemies to fight in the water than we’ve been shown.
A staple of the original Resident Evil 4 was the Blue Medallion side quest, where players could scout out and shoot blue medallions hidden in the environment to unlock special weapons to purchase from the Merchant. This time around the medallions aren’t the only things you’ll be hunting for. Leon will now encounter a multitude of requests, such as finding a golden egg to sell to the Merchant. The Capcom team couldn’t share what other requests there will be, but assured me there will be a variety beyond just shooting medallions and hunting for eggs.
New to Resident Evil 4 remake is the addition of storage–a staple in many other installments in the franchise, but omitted from the original RE4. Whenever Leon visits a typewriter, the player can now store their items there. This is significant considering that if you ran out of room in your case in the original, you’d have to sell or abandon those items, which sometimes meant parting ways with weapons too.
I suspect the implementation of storage came in part with the addition of crafting, as players will now be collecting a lot more items in order to make herbs, ammunition, etc, and is sure to lead to a cluttered and overstuffed inventory quickly.
Case customization and charms
I loved nothing more than spending an exhausting amount of time organizing my inventory in the original game, which is why this new addition is a fun one. Players can now change the physical appearance of their case. It’s a small but considered touch that acknowledges the importance of the game system. I was only given a peek at two of the case styles--a traditional silver metal case and one with a sleek black exterior--but I can imagine that there will be many more options to unlock.
The exterior of the case isn’t the only customizable addition. Leon can now attach up to three charms to his case, each one with their own gameplay perk. I was shown a Chicken charm which granted the player 100% health when eating an egg.
Capcom told me that these charms are unlocked by playing a minigame, but the details of that game were not disclosed. Could it be a replacement for the figures you unlocked from the shooting gallery minigame in the original?
Yes, you read that right. The already terrifying Plaga that erupts from cultists head can now leap into the air and attach to the ceiling, which is utterly terrifying. This is, I assume, what director Ampo-san was referring to when talking about giving enemies extra abilities to compliment Leon’s new combative versatility.
Among the many overhauls seen so far in Resident Evil 4 Remake, one of the most interesting has been Ashley Graham herself. Based on the eight minutes of gameplay I saw featuring her, it's clear she’s been significantly reworked in some inspiring ways. Most notable is her lack of a health bar. No longer will the player have to monitor her health, stop the game to give her herbs, or worry about upgrading it along the way. Instead, when Ashley is injured she’ll become incapacitated, requiring the player to get her back to her feet by interacting with her.
When I asked the team about the decision to change Ashley’s health, they noted that in the original, micromanaging her health became too much of a game system in of itself, making her more a chore for the player rather than viewing her as a human character to attach to. On the note of treating Ashley more humanely, Capcom confirmed that you will no longer order Ashley to hide in a dumpster, emphasizing that it’s unkind to treat the character that way.
Another change is how Ashley is commanded. The player now has two basic options for Ashley which are either to give Leon some space while in a fight, or to stick close to him. The commands feel more organic and natural than in the original which were simply “wait” or “follow me”.
Ampo-san noted that it is important to make Ashley and Leon’s relationship more personable and give depth to the characters that was absent in the original–a similar emphasis was placed on improving the dynamic seen between Claire and Leon in Resident Evil 2 Remake. Ampo-san feels this is accomplished simply by having Leon and Ashley talk more.
Some things are best untouched
While there’s a considerable amount of tweaks and changes, some areas appear nearly identical to the original. This, of course, includes the game's iconic castle entrance. Making your way into the castle, taking out cultists armed with bow guns, and dodging an onslaught of flaming cannonballs seems almost unchanged from the original, apart from some small upgrades. These include the ability to freely fire a cannon at other catapults, enemies, and, of course, the main entrance gate.
New weapon - Bolt Thrower
Joining the arsenal is a Bolt Thrower. While I only got to see it in action once during the gameplay, it made a sizable impression as I watched it launch a proximity mine into the ground before exploding and knocking several enemies back. Considering the new crafting mechanics, I speculate there'll be a variety of ammo types to make for the Bolt Thrower, which is reminiscent of Resident Evil CODE Veronica’s Bow Gun. Is this a nod to CODE Veronica? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop me from convincing myself it is.
The Garrador fight
There are many iconic enemy encounters from the original Resident Evil 4, but few are as embedded in my brain as deeply as the first run-in you have with the blind and unwavering beast that is the Garrador. It was a claustrophobic dance of tiptoeing around the monstrous brute, who could only track you by sound. In the remake, Capcom has upped the ante by making the arena in which you fight the Garrador even smaller, and with the addition of chains that dangle from the ceiling, forcing Leon to maneuver around them to avoid making sounds and giving away his position. This new take on the fight was also one of the first times I got to see the benefit of the newly added stealth mechanic, which showed Leon sneaking up to stab the Garrador’s back parasite.
The Krauser knife fight
Quick-time events are officially a thing of the past. Yes, that’s right--the original testosterone-induced, action movie knife fight, executed solely with QTEs, has been overhauled to a full-fledged, real-time fight sequence. In the short clip I was shown, the game’s knife parrying mechanics and split-second evade prompts were on full display while duking it out with Jack Krauser.
While I will always have an affinity for that original QTE knife fight, the one in the remake still manages to look totally badass. Also, it appears the conversation between Leon and Krauser has been more fleshed out, with Leon calling out “Operation Javier.” Could this be more details that explain Krauser’s supposed death that happened two years prior?
Make sure to check out our preview hands-on coverage of Resident Evil 4 Remake here.
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