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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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…
Resident Evil 4 locked drawers guide: all Small Key locations
Infected villager from Resident Evil 4 remake.

Keys and Resident Evil games are like peanut butter and jelly. If you're not fighting zombies, you're looking for a key to get you to the next room -- where you will fight more zombies. While there are plenty of mandatory keys in the Resident Evil 4 remake, there are also a set of extra keys that you can completely miss. These Small Keys are used to unlock locked drawers you come across, as opposed to doors, and hold some very valuable treasures. Considering how precious money is in this game, the more treasures you can find and sell to your Merchant friend, the better off you'll be. Small keys aren't in your direct path often, and once you leave an area, you can't go back to collect them later in most cases. We'll help you become the master of unlocking by showing you where to snag all the Small Keys in Resident Evil 4, as well as where to use them.
Where to find all Small Keys
Before getting into the locations of Small Keys, note that these keys are not exclusive to a single drawer. Any Small Key can be used to open any drawer, so feel free to spend them as soon as you find a drawer with a key in hand. However, once you leave an area in Resident Evil 4, there's no going back. That means if you left any keys or drawers behind, you won't be able to open them unless you start another playthrough or wait until you begin a new game. There are eight Small Keys to get, and they are all found within the first two zones of the game, but won't show up on your map. Locked drawers won't either by default, but if you buy the Treasure Map from the Merchant, the drawers will be put on your map. Here's how to track all the keys down, and where the nearest locked drawer is in the order you can first encounter them.

The first key you can get is in Chapter 2 in the Valley. After meeting the Merchant, you will be sent into the Valley to find a key to open the gate opposite the Merchant. After clearing out the enemies, drop down to the lowest level on the south end and enter the shack. Inside, take a right and look for a case on the shelf. Loot it, and pick up the first Small Key. The nearest locked drawer is back in the Factory past the Merchant. Go into the room where you retrieved Leon's equipment after it was taken from him and use the key on the desk drawer.

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Leon holding a gun in Resident Evil 4.

Leon clearly wasn't prepared for what he would encounter in the Resident Evil 4 remake or he would have come with more than a middling handgun and a knife. While those basic tools can get you through the opening stages of the game, it won't be long before you will need to call upon some much stronger firepower in order to survive the tougher -- and more grotesque -- monsters that stand in your way. The Resident Evil 4 remake offers a ton of weapons you can collect, such as pistols, SMGs, rifles, and more. However, most will cost a lot of cash -- and even more if you want to invest in their upgrades. You will have to make some tough choices about what weapons you want to stick with, and picking a dud can make your playthrough much more difficult. Instead of investing all your cash in a pea-shooter, check out the best weapons you can get in the Resident Evil 4 remake to blast your way through Ganados and Las Plagas alike.
The best weapons in Resident Evil 4

Where else could we start but with the Red9? Almost certainly the most popular handgun -- or gun in general -- from the original Resident Evil 4 has returned in the remake and is just as potent as ever. Not only can you grab this gun as early as Chapter 3, making it a great choice for investing your upgrades in, but it can be altered and has essentially no drawbacks. By default, the Red9's recoil is the primary point of criticism you could levy at it, but if you spend a few Spinels to give it the stock, you'll be able to basically snipe with this pistol. By the time you unlock the Exclusive upgrade, which multiplies the gun's power by 1.5x, you'll hardly ever find a situation where this handgun can't do the job.
Bolt Thrower
The Bolt Thrower isn't on this list for its high power, accuracy, or anything that you would traditionally look for in a gun. The reason it has to be here is due to the simple fact that you can recover the bolts it shoots into enemies after they're dead to massively cut down on your ammo expenditure. Ammo for it is also crafted using knives, but it even has a secondary firing method where it launches mines, giving it a lot more utility. The Exclusive upgrade isn't game-changing -- it doubles the ammo capacity -- but the less you have to reload, the less often you'll be caught in a sticky situation.
In the rifle category, the Stingray is never going to let you down. This is a semiautomatic rifle, so the firing rate is mostly up to you, plus it has a great clip size by default. If you're hitting those weak points, this baby will also deal 3x damage, and can be outfitted with almost any scope. The Exclusive upgrade boosts your final firing rate by an additional 2x, which shouldn't be too necessary if you're trying to be precise, though can help in a pinch.
LE 5
The LE 5 is a weapon you can easily miss that is kind of like a good version of the Punisher in that it has amazing penetration power. Being an SMG, it also boasts a far greater firing rate and clip size, as well as more power. This is the perfect weapon to rip through any shield-wielding enemies. Again like the Punisher, the Exclusive upgrade allows the LE 5 to pierce up to five targets at once.
Broken Butterfly
Another returning favorite, the Broken Butterfly magnum is not just the best-looking hand cannon in the game, but also the most deadly. If you don't count a special weapon like the Rocket Launcher, the Broken Butterfly (after upgrades) deals the most damage of any gun in the Resident Evil 4 remake. The Exclusive upgrade plays a major part in this by boosting its final damage by 1.5x, again just like the Red9, but magnum upgrades are among the most expensive in the game, so this power won't come easy.
What's the worst part of a shotgun? The firing rate. Well, that is if you're not using the Striker. This semiautomatic shotgun spits out damage like nobody's business. It has power on par with any other shotgun, but way better firing speed, plus a massive clip size so you don't have to worry about running dry out an enemy in your face. If you get the Exclusive upgrade, you can even double the already huge clip size.
Rocket Launcher
This is a big investment both in terms of cash and space, but the Rocket Launcher is too iconic to the series not to be amazing. Yes, this has a one-hit kill on just about everything and will cost more or less depending on what difficulty level you're playing on. It has no upgrades because, well, what is there to make better? Unless you're playing with the infinite ammo for it enabled, you do only get one shot, so make it count.
Primal Knife
While technically not a gun, the knife is so good in the Resident Evil 4 remake that it has to be mentioned. This tool will save your skin more often than you think thanks to the new ability to parry and finish downed enemies, but the obvious drawback is durability. The Primal Knife has to be unlocked by finding and destroying all 16 of the Clockwork Castellans in the game. What makes it the clear frontrunner of all knives is the Exclusive upgrade that makes it completely unbreakable, no matter how much you use it.

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All Resident Evil 4 remake Wayshrines and how to open them
An open wayshrine with a bracelet inside.

In the opening chapters of the Resident Evil 4 remake, you will come across strange shrines erected by a cult. These can be interacted with, but prompt you to use an item. Unfortunately, you won't even have the chance to open the first couple you find since the item required to open them can't be picked up until a bit later -- and only if you know where to search for it. But it's ro say that the treasures you get from them make it worth your time to backtrack and grab all the goodies inside. Here's how you can open all the Wayshrines in the Resident Evil 4 remake, and what each one holds inside.
How to get the Wayshrine Key

Surprise surprise, but Wayshrines can only be opened once you grab the Wayshrine Key. It will feel like a long time, but you can't even access the key until you reach Chapter 4 and beat Del Lago. Once you can explore the lake, head south to the Mural Cave. Deep in the caves, you will find an ornate cabinet after solving the puzzle in the cave. You can get there by going down the path from the southern dock and through the section with the two large stone hands. Thankfully, unlike Small Keys, the Wayshrine Key is reusable and can open every Wayshrine in the game.
How to 0pen Wayshrines

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