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Everything we know about the ‘Resident Evil 2’ remake, from gameplay to story

Everything we know about 'Resident Evil 2', and Capcom's plans for more remakes

Following the success of Capcom’s original Resident Evil remake for current-generation consoles, the company decided to tackle Resident Evil 2 – considered by many to be one of the best survival-horror games ever made. Rather than just alter the control scheme and give the game a new coat of paint, however, Capcom decided to give Resident Evil 2 the full remake treatment, complete with a new camera angle and gorgeous modern visuals. The Resident Evil 2 you know and love is still very much there, but it’s now ready for a new generation of players. Here is everything we know about the Resident Evil 2 remake, including its story, gameplay changes from the original, and how loyal it’s staying to the source material.

The story

As in the original 1998 game, the Resident Evil 2 remake is set in Raccoon City, which has been overrun with zombies, and stars series mainstays Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Kennedy is a rookie police officer, while Claire is a college student and the sister of Chris Redfield from the first Resident Evil. Though the basic plot threads remain the same between the older game and the remake, as it’s intended to play to older fans’ nostalgia, it isn’t a straight one-to-one retelling this time around.

Speaking to Gaming Bolt during E3 2018, Capcom brand manager Mike Lunn shared that certain scenes would be altered, in part to keep veteran players on their toes instead of anticipating every single scare. One section that takes place in a police station has been tweaked – a “Lurker” enemy would walk by a window at the same point every time in the 1998 game, but the 2019 Resident Evil 2 repositions certain enemies and puzzles.

Leon Kennedy’s backstory is now different than it was in the original 1998 game. Previously, he had missed his first day of work because he had been drinking, resulting in miscommunication with the police station in Raccoon City. He is still about to start his first day in Resident Evil 2, but according to a Japanese tweet translated by Kotaku, he is now late only because he was sitting at home, waiting for orders that didn’t come.

In addition to Leon and Claire, you can expect to see all of the same characters from the 1998 game return in the Resident Evil 2 remake. This includes Ada Wong, who will also be a playable character for part of the game. A trailer released in December 2018 featured gameplay from Ada, including puzzle-solving sections using a scanning device. Sherry Birkin is also briefly playable.

How certain characters meet – and where they’ll meet – are differentt in some cases, as well. Speaking to IGN at the Tokyo Game Show 2018, producer Tsuyoshi Kanda revealed that tidbit of information, but clarified that the “atmosphere” of the city will remain the same.

A new gameplay style

Resident Evil 2: Claire Gameplay - Unstoppable Tyrant

Rather than use the “tank controls” and fixed camera perspective of the original game, the Resident Evil 2 remake instead plays much like Resident Evil Revelations 2. This means the action takes place from an over-the-shoulder perspective, with more precise shooting that players expect from a game in 2019 – however, in an interview with Polygon, Kanda was quick to point out that this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to shoot wherever you want. Weapons still have a sense of weight, and the camera is pulled in far enough on the playable characters that you won’t be able to see in a very wide radius. Sound has also received an overhaul, in the form of a surround sound effect that will fix with the camera angle.

Resident Evil 2’s gore has been given a big update for the modern age, but not just to add even more blood and guts. Firing a shotgun at an enemy can take their entire head off, but it can also simply rip the skin from their skull. If you shoot an enemy’s arm enough times, it can dangle and then separate, and shooting at a zombie’s leg can cause them to collapse and then begin crawling toward you on the ground.

Still loyal to the source material

Despite the big change to the camera perspective, narrative adjustments, and additional gore, 2019’s Resident Evil 2 still feels like Resident Evil 2. The over-the-shoulder perspective makes lining up shots easier and negates the frustration of trying to get from one point to another — but it’s still a classic horror game. Speaking to GameReactor, producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi said the game was not emulating Resident Evil 4’s action-heavy approach, and would still force players to carefully manage their resources to decide how to take on threats, and there will still be backtracking like in the classic games.

Resident Evil 2, or at least the game’s Deluxe Edition, even pays tribute to a scrapped version of the game that never saw the light of day. In addition to featuring the original Resident Evil 2’s soundtrack as an optional swap, the Deluxe Edition includes a costume for Claire called “Elza Walker.” Elza was the protagonist of an early version of Resident Evil 2, and was a student and motorcycle racer at Raccoon University.

Modern power

The Resident Evil 2 remake is being powered by the RE Engine, which is the same technology behind 2017’s Resident Evil 7 and Devil May Cry 5. Experience working with the RE Engine in the past has allowed Capcom to improve elements for Resident Evil 2, according to an interview IGN did with producers Hirabayashi and Kanda at the Tokyo Game Show in 2018. IGN also added that scars and dirt appear on characters in real-time as they’re attacked. This wouldn’t have been possible, or at least as noticeable, if the game had gone with a first-person perspective like Resident Evil 7.

According to Capcom Europe COO Stuart Turner, the developers actually did experiment with a first-person perspective at one point. Speaking to GamesIndustry, Turner said the decision to use third-person ultimately came down to it fitting in with the way the game was designed.

Because of this change, Capcom also opted not include VR support in Resident Evil 2. The PlayStation VR was supported for Resident Evil 7, allowing players to go through the entire game with the headset.

Other changes were made because of the power afforded by current-generation hardware. Leon’s large shoulder pads from the 1998 game are gone, as they weren’t necessary to convey that he is a police officer with the new engine. Still, Leon’s face isn’t identical to what it looked like even in Resident Evil 6, despite his classic haircut remaining intact.

When can we play it?

Resident Evil 2 is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. On Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, players can choose between a 4K mode, which will run at 30 frames per second, or a standard HD mode running at 60 frames per second.

A $200 GameStop-exclusive Collector’s Edition was released alongside it, and bundles in a large Leon Kennedy figure, digital soundtrack, DLC pack, and art book alongside pre-order bonus weapons. Those pre-order weapons are two special Samurai Edge pistols designed to look like those wielded by Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine from the first Resident Evil.

More to come?

Prior to the release of Resident Evil 4, a few more games using a similar gameplay style to Resident Evil 2 were published, and it appears that Capcom could be remaking these from the ground-up, as well. Speaking to the Japanese site Game Watch, producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi stressed that Resident Evil 2 was remade because of fans’ continued requests, and that another game like Resident Evil 3 could also be remade if similar requests are made.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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