Resident Evil is back. The godfather of survival horror games has spanned countless entries on a variety of consoles, but the latest title in the series isn’t going to be a new entry. Instead, in a surprise announcement at E3, Capcom showcased Resident Evil 2, a full rebuild of the 1998 series classic for current generation consoles. The surprise announcement shocked E3 and the game was awarded the much-coveted “Best in Show” honor. Take a look at the reveal trailer and first gameplay showcase below, then read on to see exactly what’s in store for your return to Racoon City.
Classic characters are back
Resident Evil is known for an iconic cast of characters, and Resident Evil 2 is no exception. Players will once again be taking control of Leon S. Kennedy, the main character in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 6. A fan favorite, the original RE2 served as Leon’s debut. Far from the jaded veteran hero we see in later entries, RE2 introduces us to Leon as a rookie police officer in the Raccoon City Police Department. What’s supposed to be his first day on the job turns into a fight for survival, but he won’t be alone.
Claire Redfield, Leon’s partner throughout the events of the game and another iconic character in the series, is also making her return. The Redfield surname should be recognizable to Resident Evil fans: Claire’s brother Chris is the main character in Resident Evils 1, 5, 6, and makes a cameo appearance in Resident Evil 7’s Not a Hero DLC.
Claire’s also seen her fair share of action, but like Leon, isn’t quite as experienced yet. The two cross paths as Claire searches for her missing brother, and will need to rely on each other if they hope to make it out alive. Capcom has yet to confirm whether or not Claire will be playable as well, but we’ve got our fingers crossed.
Other familiar characters also seem to be returning: in the trailer, we see the young Sherry Birkin, and also get to hear a few mysterious voiceovers. One of them seems to be Sherry’s mother Annette Birkin, an unscrupulous Umbrella Corporation scientist who is partially responsible for the outbreak.
A second, different female voice can also be heard; though we can’t say for certain, it seems likely that this is the recurring femme fatale anti-hero Ada Wong, who takes a starring role in several games in the series. Finally, we hear a mysterious male voice that sounds an awful lot like the infamous Albert Wesker. Could he be putting in a cameo appearance as well?
Though so far we haven’t seen much of the game’s ensemble cast, seeing how they’ve been updated for the remake is doubtless going to be one of the best parts of the experience.
Gameplay gets an upgrade
On the more technical side of things, Resident Evil 2’s gameplay mechanics have received a serious overhaul. The fixed camera and tank controls that characterized the original are long gone. Instead, the game is returning to the third-person over the shoulder perspective that has become standard for the series.
It seems like this too has been upgraded, however: traditionally, players would use a reticle or laser sight to aim and fire. Resident Evil 2 is introducing a new aiming system that will require players to take more time to aim and fire; if you rush too much, you might miss your shot. This makes every encounter into a distinct experience where you’ll have to choose whether to stand your ground and fight or try to escape the situation altogether.
It also appears that a HUD of any kind has been totally removed. This means players will have to pay close attention to their health and ammo, and combined with the lack of aim assistance, looks like it’ll make for a terrifying and intense gameplay experience. Resident Evil has been criticized in recent entries for its more action-oriented controls and gameplay; it appears Capcom has taken these criticisms to heart and has worked to return to a gameplay style that reflects the franchise’s survival-horror roots.
The graphics have, of course, also received a big upgrade. Capcom has confirmed that the game will be running on the same engine as Resident Evil 7, and it shows. The graphics are stunning, allowing for rich detailed settings and atmospheric lighting that heightens the terror. The game also supports PS4 Pro and Xbox One X enhancements with 4K capabilities and 60 FPS.
Familiar setting with a twist
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the remake is how loyal it is to the original. Returning players will doubtless receive a huge hit of nostalgia as they explore familiar areas gorgeously brought to life for the modern era. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t going to be simply an old game with a new face. Capcom has confirmed there are going to be key differences that make Resident Evil 2 a distinct and unique experience for returning players.
What are these key differences? Players familiar with the game might not find what they expect to in certain areas. The gameplay demo at E3, for example, replaced an iconic encounter with a mutated Licker with the mangled body of a fallen RPD officer. The changes we’ve seen so far may be small, but it’s enough to know that returning players will have to stay alert and expect the unexpected. Capcom has shown a lot of care in staying true to the fan-favorite aspects of Resident Evil 2, but we expect to see things like new items, altered area layouts, updated puzzles, and possibly even new characters.
Capcom also seems to be moving away from the more action-oriented tone of recent entries and making a return to a more horror based experience. We saw this first in Resident Evil 7, but they seem to be leaning into this change even more for RE2. It becomes quickly apparent from the new trailer and gameplay that RE2 isn’t scared to shy away from blood, gore, and other disturbing details that will make this game every bit as nightmare-inducing as it was when it first hit consoles in 1998.
Resident Evil 2 took E3 by storm for good reason. Whether you’re a veteran fan or new to the series, RE2 promises to be a spine-chilling survival horror experience that’s sure to live up to the hype. Resident Evil 2 is slated for release on January 25, 2019.