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6 things you need to know before starting Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is finally out and it’s one hell of a remake. Capcom spared no expenses with the ambitious project, reinventing the horror classic and making one of the series’ best games (again) in the process. For newcomers, it’s a perfect way to experience one of the best games of all time without some dated mechanics, while old fans will get a kick out of seeing the original radically reimagined.

That surprising approach might also present some challenges upfront. If you know the original like the back of your hand, you’re going to need to unlearn a lot of your muscle memory before heading into the remake. Like Leon S. Kennedy, I’m here to guide you to safety. Before you start the remake, here are six tips to get you started on the right foot. Some are old features you may have forgotten, while others are completely new to the remake.

Learn the flow of battle

Leon S. Kennedy shoots villagers in the Resident Evil 4 remake.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The biggest change in Resident Evil 4 is its reworked combat system. While the original game required players to stand still while shooting, Leon can run and gun here. That makes battles much faster paced — and they can get hectic if you don’t manage your moves accordingly. You’ll want to pick up the basic flow of battles early on so you aren’t wasting ammo or draining other resources early on.

There’s one key combo you’ll want to know especially. Shooting an enemy in the head can temporarily stun it. When that happens, a small arrow will appear over its head indicating that you can melee them. At first, it seems like the arrow is just telling you who you’re targeting, so it’s easy to get confused. When you see a white arrow, sprint toward the enemy and follow the button prompt. Leon will perform a roundhouse kick to send them to the ground, plus that kick can hit other enemies in the area. You’ll always want to bunch enemies up when you can, focus on stunning one, and then get a kick in to wipe them all out. When enemies are on the ground, keep an eye out for another prompt that’ll let you jab a knife into them, quickly finishing them off. Master that flow, and you’ll conserve a ton of ammo.

Parry often

Leon parries a chainsaw villager in Resident Evil 4.

Leon’s knife has a much bigger job in the remake, as it’s now central to combat. Its biggest function is that it can be used to parry attacks. When an enemy is winding up a strike, a button prompt will appear telling you to hit the parry button (L1 on PS5, for instance). You’ll want to use that move as much as possible to avoid damage. When you think that there’s no possible way to parry a certain attack, think again. Leon’s knife can even block chainsaw strikes, which will save your life. You can even parry objects in midair, allowing you to block flying axes and such.

There’s a caveat to that, though. Your knife will wear out over time and can eventually break. Fortunately, it can be repaired at a merchant for a reasonable price, so don’t worry about conserving your blade too much. Use it to counter attacks and parry as much as you can; just factor its repair cost into your budget every time you bump into the merchant.

Flash grenades are important

Leon fights off a parasite in Resident Evil 4's remake.

Flash grenades are one of those video game weapons that are usually easy to ignore. Blinding enemies can be useful, but why take the time to do it when you can just blast a bunch of villagers away with your shotgun? In Resident Evil 4, though, flash grenades can literally save your life. That’s because the plagas parasites are sensitive to their light; set one off and they’ll die instantly. You’ll want to keep a few flash grenades on hand at all times for those moments when multiple plagas are chasing you down. Throw one into a group of them to eliminate them without using a single bullet.

Don’t waste yellow herbs

Like other Resident Evil games, Leon heals by eating herbs. You’ll find green and red herbs frequently, but every once and a while you’ll find a yellow one. Don’t treat this like any old plant; these are rare, valuable commodities. Consuming one will raise your maximum health and how much it goes up is determined by what it’s mixed with. Don’t just instinctively toss it together with a green herb and call it a day. You’ll usually want to make sure you’re mixing it with a red at least to get the most out of it.

Explore as much as you can

A treasure mao appears in the merchant's shop in Resident Evil 4.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A lot of modern games have taught us that it’s okay to leave an area and come back later to find any secrets you missed. You absolutely don’t want to do that in Resident Evil 4. This isn’t an open-world game where you can return to the opening village at any time. Once you leave a location, you’re not coming back. Because of that, you’ll want to make sure you do everything you want to do in a location like the village before heading to the next area. That includes hunting down treasures, fulfilling blue requests, and finishing up any lingering puzzles.

A few things will help your completionist mindset. In each area, the merchant will sell a treasure map marking some valuables. Make sure to grab that as soon as a new one becomes available. If you’re not sure that you’ve completely solved every puzzle, Resident Evil 4 actually has a nice system for taking out any ambiguity. When a key item has been completely used up, the merchant will give you the option to sell it. That’ll tell you that it has no more possible uses, allowing you to get rid of keys knowing you’re done with them.

Make sure to listen to the merchant too. When you’re getting ready to leave an area for good, he’ll usually drop a helpful voice line telling you to wrap anything up before proceeding.

Save your jewels

As you adventure around, you’ll find a lot of valuables that can be sold to the merchant at a high price. That list includes a whole bunch of colorful gems and jewels. It may be tempting to sell them as soon as you find them but resist that urge. Jewels can be combined with specific valuables to increase their value. You won’t want to sell any loose jewels until you’re at the end of the game and know you won’t slot them into a collectible before the final boss. To combine valuables, open your menu to tab over to your key items. From there, you can expand objects that have available slots and add jewels. You can also remove jewels after slotting them if you want to try experimenting with different color combos to maximize how much you can sell them for.

Those are just a few tips to get you started in Resident Evil 4, but there’s much more to learn. As long as you learn how to manage its item economies and master the basics of combat, you’ll be in a good position to parry any change that gets thrown your way.

Resident Evil 4 is out now on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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