Resident Evil 4 is the latest modern classic to undergo a remake treatment. While the original has seen dozens of ports in its 18-year-long lifespan, this iteration aims to retain the spirit of the original, while also bringing a new look and feel similarly to what Capcom did with Resident Evil 2.
The original, especially in later ports such as the Nintendo Switch version, plays fairly well to this day. But if you’ve always wondered what a modern take on Leon S. Kennedy’s trip would be like, the Resident Evil 4 remake is here to answer that question. There are plenty of changes in varying scales, though, so if you’re wondering whether your favorite aspect made the cut or everything new that the remake offers, this list will dispel all doubts.
Breakable objects and points of interest are now yellow
In the original, breakable objects — from crates to barrels — were all signalized by a higher contrast. It was easy to know what you could destroy using your knife to obtain money and items. The remake builds upon this by replacing the contrast difference with yellow markers, which look like paint covering the object. This is also applied to points of interest, such as structures you need to destroy to drop down a bridge or ledges to use to advance through a section.
The reasoning behind it is clear, though. The fidelity is much higher in everything that surrounds you in-game, so having a bright and distinct color to highlight objects in the backgrounds is quite useful. There is an exception, however, related to the vases that replace crates and barrels in the castle area. They don’t have a yellow mark on them, but they’re still fairly recognizable all the same.
Horror elements have a prominent presence
The Resident Evil 4 remake is pretty much an action game through and through. But in general, the tone leans toward darker environments, with Leon having to use his flashlight often, as well as grittier sequences around familiar enemies and story moments.
One scene in particular, which I won’t spoil, represents this new horror influence heavily. If you’re not used to the genre, well, there is no way of avoiding it as it’s part of the main story. Prepare yourself accordingly. This guide about how to withstand the scariness of the Dead Space remake can definitely provide some guidance here as well.
Auto-save is a thing now
Great news! You’ll no longer be sent back to the last typewriter you’ve used each time. While the original had a fairly limited save feature when entering certain areas, there is a proper auto-save slot now. It’s definitely a welcomed addition, especially in places with large enemy groups or even boss encounters. That said, some difficulty options, such as Professional mode, get rid of the option completely — in case you want an experience more akin to the original in this regard.
Expect to face new enemies
If you already have all classic enemies’ patterns memorized, I have some good news. There are a handful of new foes to face in the RE4 remake, including a bulky man who looks like a minotaur carrying a sledgehammer.
There are others who I won’t spoil for you, but in case you’re hesitant about the idea, it’s worth mentioning that they all feel quite grounded with the rest of the enemies. None look like they belong to a completely different game, and they’re consistently fun to fight against.
The merchant is more chatty
The merchant is quite talkative in the Resident Evil 4 remake, and he will often comment on your purchases with either mockery, gratitude, or a bit of both. His voice is quite different, too, which may or may not be a shame if you’re an avid fan of the original. Yet, most of his iconic lines remain present, and the new ones are a good fit with his attitude — taking into consideration that we don’t really know much about the character, that is.
There’s a gacha-style rewards system in the shooting range
Remember the shooting range minigame in the original Resident Evil 4? Well, it’s back in full swing with quite a few changes behind it. You’re now taking down pirate cardboards and avoiding sailors as opposed to villagers, there are specific challenges to tackle, and the rewards vary quite a bit.
Instead of cashing in rewards for cash, you’ll now receive different token types based on your performance in each challenge. After you’ve gotten at least three of them, you can interact with a dispenser machine that drops charms for your attache case. In essence, these are buffs that become active once you’ve equipped the charm (you can have up to three). Some include receiving more healing from green herbs or having a 15% chance of obtaining extra ammo when crafting a specific weapon ammo type, for example.
As redundant as it may sound, no, there are no in-game purchases whatsoever. This is pretty much an optional mode altogether, but it makes for a fun diversion. As a few extra tips, I recommend you pay the shooting range a visit while you’re accompanied by either Ashley or Luis. And also, if you have Spinels laying around, you can trade them for tokens in the merchant’s shop.
Leon can parry now, and it rules
A substantial and interesting change in the use of Leon’s knife is that he can now parry attacks with it. The action is useful for many things, and it can be quite satisfying to pull in the heat of battle. Parrying can save you from a number of fatal attacks, including the chainsaw, but it can also repel crossbow bolts, dynamite, and more.
Keep an eye on the bottom right corner of the screen, where you’ll see a knife icon appear whenever the action is possible. It may take a bit of time and practice to learn exactly in which instances you can use it, but there are plenty of them.
You can find Clockwork Castellan figures
In case you ever wondered how a Ramón Salazar figurine would look, it is now a collectible present in the remake. There are 16 of them scattered throughout the game’s chapters, and finding them all will reward you with a new knife. In essence, they’re akin to the Mr. Racoon collectibles in the Resident Evil 2 remake.
The Water Hall isn’t as bad now
If you weren’t a fan of the Water Hall section in the castle, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, the remake does not replace it with a different sequence, but at least the whole thing is much more friendly. The corridors Ashley needs to traverse on her own while you provide cover at a distance are much closer to Leon, and you won’t need to rely almost solely on your sniper rifle to keep her free from harm.
There are no more QTEs... kind of
Capcom made a big fuss about removing quick time events in the Resident Evil 4 remake, and made true on its word. To some degree. You still need to parry in certain sequences to prevent a fatal attack, and there are sections where mashing or holding down a button is still the only option available. But at the very least, you won’t have to worry about trying to guess which QTE combinations you’d get before a cutscene played out.
Thankfully, there are fewer sexist comments
Ashley Graham was the subject of fairly awful and sexist comments in the original, and thankfully, those are mostly gone in the remake. Luis tends to keep such jokes to himself, and Leon is less flirty, even with Ingrid Hunnigan. In return, Ashley has a stronger personality overall; I had become quite fond of her company by the time I hit the end credits. If you were disappointed in the way she was treated in the original, the remake may provide a pleasant surprise.
There is stealth, but it’s easy to ignore
Don’t worry, there are no stealth-exclusive sections where you’ll get a game over for being detected or anything like that. While the game encourages you to use the new crouch mechanic and execute enemies from behind at some points during the story, you can ignore this altogether and just start blasting.
Did anyone ask for side missions?
Introduced as Requests, the merchant has a few additional tasks for Leon. While in the original you could shoot Blue Medallions in exchange for rewards, which is present in the remake as well, there are now a few additional objectives alongside it. They’re implemented in a way that you can either know what to do before entering an area, or you’ll be encouraged to backtrack to certain points of a region to tackle them. Sometimes you’ll need to fetch an item, or fight a tougher version of an enemy you’ve come across in the past.
Requests are by far the best way to get your hands on Spinels, which you can then trade in the merchant’s shop for items that aren’t part of the regular list.
Ashley has different action commands
You can no longer ask Ashley to hide in dumpsters (though lockers are still a thing). Instead, there are two main commands to use now. One of them has her stick right behind Leon’s back at all times, which is useful for quick escapes, while the other has Ashley seek cover to stay away from enemies.
As you might expect, neither is exactly flawless, and it will always depend on the situation you’re in, as well as the enemies you’re about to confront. That said, it’s quite practical after you’ve spent some time with Ashley.
You can move while you shoot
The original Resident Evil 4 can be played just fine on modern consoles, but if there’s one aspect that may feel dated, it’s the way Leon aims his weapons. While aiming, you can only move the camera, not Leon himself. This takes some time to get used to, as it hasn’t been the norm in third-person shooters for years now. The remake, however, lets you move freely.
There’s a weapons wheel, too
You don’t have to open your inventory all the time (unless you really want to!), thanks to the newly added weapons wheel. It has eight slots in total, corresponding to the D-Pad, and an extra slot in each direction. Along with weapons, you can have grenades here, too, but health items are excluded.
Leon loots a lot faster now
Every time you grab an object in the original, the action is interrupted with a screen that showcases what you just got. This wasn’t a problem per se, but it did interrupt whatever you were doing over and over. Now, every time you grab something, you’ll see a message on the top right corner indicating what it is and the amount.