- We talk spoke with Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi to learn more about the combat and enemies in the upcoming Resident Evil 4 .
- Play the new Resident Evil 4 Chainsaw Demo today on Xbox Series X|S to get a feel for the game’s updated combat before its release on March 24.
- Resident Evil 4 is available for digital pre-order now on the Xbox Store in either Standard or Deluxe Edition.
Earlier this year, we marked Resident Evil 4 as one of the most anticipated games to launch in 2023 – and for good reason! This remake is taking on the monumental challenge of not only following up on two stellar recent remakes, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, but aiming to recapture everything the original survival horror classic delivered when it first launched in 2005.
Recently, we got a look at some pre-release gameplay footage of Resident Evil 4 in action, and we couldn’t help but notice that combat seemed to be a bit faster than we remember. Ducks, dodges, and quick melee counterattacks (and of course, roundhouse kicks), appeared to hit at a quicker pace. Of course, it has been a minute since we last played the original. To get a better sense of what combat is like in the upcoming game, we were delighted at the opportunity to talk with Resident Evil 4 Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi to learn more.
“First off, speeding up combat was not one of our aims — our overall goal was to remake the game while respecting the original’s tempo and contents,” explains Yoshiaki. “I think you’ll find that RE4‘s balance between horror and action — and elements which give you a short break from that — are all similar to the original.”
“Our overall goal was to remake the game while respecting the original’s tempo and contents.”
Yoshiaki mentioned that all these combat elements have been reconstructed, including the control scheme, to help make the remake feel more modern, akin to games created today. “Rather than faster, the combat is more flexible,” he says.
That flexibility in the remake’s movement is down to changes made to the controls. To preserve the game’s tempo, the development team adjusted the enemy behavior and environment level design to match. Being able to parry, for example, was a feature that was born from these adjustments through trial and error.
“We asked ourselves how we could recreate the Krauser knife fight to take place within actual gameplay,” he says. “From there, we realized the parry was a good fit for the game’s systems in general and implemented it throughout [the game] … You may find yourself in a situation where combat is heavily focused on using a knife, so if you have some mastery over the parry, it will be very useful, and the timing to pull off a parry successfully will vary depending on the difficulty level the game is set to.”
Not only can the knife in Resident Evil 4 be used to attack and parry, but it can also be used as follow-up attack to strike at downed enemies — and to perform a stealth kill if you can approach an enemy from behind without them noticing.
“Stealth, while not mandatory for the game, is an important element that expands the variety of strategies available to you. However, it is also just one of the possible options,” continues Yoshiaki. “I hope as you play the game you simply remember that it’s available to you, and that you use it when you feel it’s a good idea.”
“Stealth, while not mandatory for the game, is an important element that expands the variety of strategies available to you.“
Beyond the knife, there will also be some new weapons for Leon to wield this time around, including a Bolt Thrower (which launches bolts, obviously) that will have some similarities to the mine thrower from the original game. ”You can use the Bolt Thrower to attack without making noise, and if you retrieve the bolts you fire, you can use them again. Also, it’s possible to attach explosives to the bolts,” explains Yoshiaki.
The team also examined how enemies react and respond to Leon. For example, making it possible for Leon to move even when readying a weapon will now lead to more flexibility in how players can engage enemies. Speaking of, enemies too have been adjusted to respond to some of the new ways players can control Leon, utilizing their strength in numbers in more ways than in the original game.
One example we saw that illustrated this in action was at the point of the game when Leon is escorting Ashley. Cornered inside an ancient chapel, numerous zealots wielding medieval-looking scythes and flails came rushing in to quickly crowd and surround him. As he ducked and dodged (and ran) away from enemies, he was quickly reloading and firing his pistol – until it ran out of ammo. If it wasn’t for some swift roundhouse kicks and knife parries, Leon would have been done for.
We also got a look at some of the ways one can hamstring and slow down these foes. In one case, a zealot had captured Ashley and began to run away with her. With a quick shot to the back of its leg, it fell to its knees, dropped Ashley, and left it open for a suplex wrestling move (because why not?).
“Weak points on enemies played a large role in the original, and we have preserved that for the remake,” says Yoshiaki. “Defeating enemies from afar using long-range weapons such as firearms, and defeating enemies with close- range attacks after aiming for specific points, are both (still) possible.”
The development team did not radically adjust any of the animations in how enemies were dispatched, so all your favorite lumbering foes will crumble to the ground just as you remember. Instead, the focus has been on maintaining the variety and methods of attacks that could be used to take them down. As for a personal favorite? Yoshiaki was eager to share.
“Weak points on enemies played a large role in the original, and we have preserved that for the remake.“
“Personally, I like to use mainly the handgun to aim for enemy body parts regardless of how close the enemy is, and once they have been stunned follow up with a melee attack to dispatch them — I hope you find a playstyle that fits your preferences, and I hope you enjoy the modern controls, expanded strategies, and combat with even more formidable enemies!”
Best of all we can start trying new strategies out today before the release of Resident Evil 4 later this month, thanks to the new demo that’s now available for Xbox Series X|S players. You can pick that up here.
Resident Evil 4 Deluxe Edition
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Resident Evil 4
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Resident Evil 4 Chainsaw Demo
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