Capcom has never been afraid to experiment and change things up with its Resident Evil remakes, no matter how beloved the source material might be. But it’s fair to argue that Resident Evil 4 has a much bigger legacy than any other game in the series, which is why there’s even greater interest surrounding exactly how Capcom is approaching the remake. On one hand, the original RE4 is still an absolute masterpiece, so many might feel like it’s not necessarily a game that needs too much changing. On the other hand, however, as a nearly two decade old game, it’s not like it has parts that cannot be improved and modernized.
So what sort of a balance does Capcom need to strike with the Resident Evil 4 remake? Should it be like the original Resident Evil remake, which was surely an upgrade over the original and obviously didn’t shy away from major additions, but was still, beat for beat, quite a faithful recreation? Or should it be more like the Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes, which were, for the most part, loosely based on the originals and served more as radical reimaginations?
The answer, most Resident Evil 4 fans would tell you, lies somewhere in between- though perhaps still leaning a bit more towards being a faithful remake. And interestingly enough, it does seem like that’s how Capcom has approached the game. Based on all that’s been revealed of it so far, it does seem like Resident Evil 4 is going to be a far more faithful remake than its two immediate predecessors- but at the same time, it’s also looking like it’s going to be a very different experience from the original in more ways than one.
For the most part, it seems like most of the changes that Capcom is making to Resident Evil 4 are being made to directly address the parts of the original that draw the most criticisms. Take the QTEs, for instance- being a 2005 game, it sort of made sense that RE4 was full of quick time events, but that’s one aspect of the experience that has proven divisive over the years. With the remake, Capcom has confirmed that the QTEs are being taken out entirely- even the famous Krauser boss fight, for instance, is now going to be built around the knife parry mechanic rather than around quick time events.
Capcom has also confirmed that it has made changes and improvements to Ashley’s character in more ways than one. Widely regarded as an annoying AI companion who’s in constant need of help and babying in the original game, in the remake, it looks like she’ll function much better in the midst of gameplay, with Leon now being able to issue simple commands to her. Outside of combat, she will also be able to help players get past environmental obstacles that require two people to work together to get past, which means she is set to have more utility from a gameplay point of view. And when it comes to the narrative, Capcom has said that Ashley is going to be a much more serious and grounded character, and her interactions with Leon more believable- which also seems like a direct response to criticism about the character.
The gameplay changes and improvements that the Resident Evil 4 remake is making also sound like they’re going to be additive rather than the kind that radically change the flow of the moment-to-moment action. The aforementioned knife parry mechanic, for instance, sounds like an excellent way to add more adrenaline to RE4’s tense combat system, while the remake will also give expanded stealth options, more room for players to explore and backtrack, and additional optional activities – like side quests – for players to engage with. The remake is even bringing in a new enemy type in the Brute, a giant of a man who wields a massive hammer, which could potentially ramp up the intensity of combat encounters even further.
Clearly, in how it’s retaining the intense nature of the combat, it does look like Resident Evil 4’s remake is going to remain quite faithful to the original in the ways that matter most, but it’s also clear that it’s not sticking too close to the script. Of course, the concern that many will have will be if Capcom has pulled the game back from going too far. Resident Evil 3’s 2020 remake was, in the eyes of many, a prime example of what happens when you change too much- beloved chunks of content and entire locations get cut out, gameplay ideas and mechanics that many deem to be important to the experience aren’t carried over, and what you’re left with is something that feels like a pale approximation of a game that deserved a much better remake.
So far, it doesn’t seem like Resident Evil 4 is going to fall into that trap. When it comes to bringing back locations while still changing things up, it looks like it’s actually going to be much more closely in line with what 2019’s Resident Evil 2 did. Capcom has confirmed that the RE4 remake isn’t going to cut out a single area from the original game, so the locations that make up the bulk of the experience are all going to be present and accounted for- the village, and of course, the island. We can, however, expect plenty of changes nonetheless, which means the remake’s village, and island are likely going to be quite different from their 2005 counterparts.
Capcom says the village is expanded in the remake, allowing for more exploration (and presumably new side quests), while the development team also supposedly completely redesigned the island section. Sure, there’s still plenty we don’t know- we don’t know if any area has maybe been shortened more than it needed to be- but with the developers having said that the RE4 remake will be roughly as long as the original game was, we can at least rest assured that even with changes, it’s still going to be a very meaty experience, which is an excellent approach to take for anyone developing a remake of a beloved game.
What we’re really curious to learn more about – perhaps more so than anything else about the game – is how Capcom adapts the original RE4’s story in the remake. The original had a very distinct tone that felt very unique for a Resident Evil game at the time. Leon was an all-out action hero, the cast had its fair share of gleefully over-the-top personalities (the aforementioned Ramon Salazar most of all), and the larger plot almost seemed to take pride in how overtly campy and cheesy it was. All of that is obviously a big part of the undeniable charm of Resident Evil 4– but then again, that’s not the tone that the franchise is now associated with.
Starting with 2017’s RE7, with every new game, Resident Evil has doubled down on a much more grounded tone, and with the series taking itself more seriously now than it did back in the RE4 days, it’s likely that Capcom is going to want to rein in some of the original’s campiness and deliver a grittier experience. Many might argue that wouldn’t be a good idea, and would lose a big part of what made Resident Evil 4 what it was- but maybe, once again, taking a more balanced approach is the way to go in this area as well. And for what it’s worth, Capcom has confirmed that Leon’s famous “bingo” line is still in the game, so that’s something.
There’s plenty that Capcom hasn’t yet shown when it comes to the RE4 remake, and we imagine the majority of that stuff is going to continue to be held back until players can get their own hands on the game. Based on what we do know about it so far, it seems like the game has learnt its lessons from both Resident Evil 2 and 3– you shouldn’t be afraid to radically change and improve things, no matter how beloved the game is, but at the same time, you shouldn’t go too far with it. We sure hope that turns out to be the case, a Resident Evil 4 remake that somehow manages to meaningfully improve and build upon the original would be a truly special game, to say the very least.
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