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Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 Remake modernizes some now-dated gameplay tropes

Leon brings a knife to a zombie fight.
Enlarge / Leon brings a knife to a zombie fight.

Game design has come a long way since Resident Evil 4 first hit the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in 2005. That’s why the upcoming remake of the game, highlighted during Capcom’s Resident Evil Showcase Thursday night, will be “modernizing the playfeel,” according to producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, by updating mechanics that might seem dated to a modern audience.

Watching gameplay footage from that event, one of the most immediately apparent changes is the ability to move and shoot at the same time, something that was previously possible only in the recent virtual reality version of the game. That might seem like a necessary part of any action-oriented third-person shooter today, but Resident Evil 4 still had one foot in the more awkward “stand your ground” shooting of its PlayStation 1 predecessors when it launched. The more modern control scheme should make the remake feel a bit more dynamic.

The new footage also showed off Leon’s new knife parry move, which lets him fend off attacks from encroaching undead Ganados with a quick slash. Even the fearsome Chainsaw Man can be temporarily held off with a well-timed parry.

The Resident Evil Showcase highlighted new gameplay footage from the upcoming remake.

Don’t expect to lean on the knife too heavily, though; Eurogamer’s preview notes that the blade has a Breath of the Wild-style durability system that will lead it to break from overuse. The knife can also be used for follow-up attacks (including a Last of Us-style plunge into an undead neck) or emergency escapes when grappling with an enemy.

More stealth, fewer QTEs

During the event, we also saw Leon using a new crouch ability to sneak through dark hallways and stealthily avoid the monsters searching for him. Hands-on impressions from journalists who played a short demo suggest you can use this ability to sneak up on enemies and take them out with stealth attacks from behind.

But don’t expect this to turn into a Thief-style game where silent takedowns are the norm. GameSpot’s hands-on impressions note that “the rampage of villagers hunting you down is still inevitable” in the demo’s village scene.

The remake also seems to be taking a more modern stance on quick time events, the lightly interactive cutscenes during which players have to press specific buttons when a prompt flashes on-screen. While those Shenmue-style interactions were very fashionable at the time of Resident Evil 4‘s initial release, Hirabayashi tells IGN that there will be “barely any” such QTEs in the upcoming remake.

“I can say that there aren’t prompts to press buttons mid-cutscene,” Hirabayashi said. “However, there are times when you need to press a button based on a situation.”

A new story trailer for Resident Evil 4 Remake.

Some story beats seem to be changed this time around as well. GameSpot notes that a famous scene in which Leon can rescue a dog from a bear trap has been altered in the remake; the dog is now just a crow-addled corpse by the time Leon arrives.

Other changes are more subtle. Players will still have to use all their space-management skills to arrange bulky items in an attaché case, for instance, but crafting ammunition and healing items from raw components is now a bit more streamlined during the action. Hirabayashi also tells IGN that players will be able to customize their briefcase with various charms and colors.

And while Resident Evil 4‘s famous “What’re you buying” merchant is largely unchanged in this remake, he will now trade in “rare gems” that players can find and exchange for special items.

Resident Evil 4 Remake is expected to launch on March 24, 2023, on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

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