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11 things you should know before starting the Resident Evil 4 remake

Mastery of the original won’t help you much in the remake

A close frame of Leon S Kennedy looking angry in the Resident Evil 4 remake Image: Capcom

The Resident Evil 4 remake constantly mixes familiarity with surprise. Regardless of whether you’ve played the original a dozen times across its array of ports over the years, or if you’re only now embarking on Leon S. Kennedy’s journey for the first time, there is plenty to keep in mind.

A few of the elements covered in this guide are similar in nature to the original, but there are a few intertwining mechanics that recontextualize those elements in the remake. As such, here are some vital tips for your time in the Resident Evil 4 remake, covering combat, exploration, and, of course, the ever-enigmatic merchant.

Invest in the combat knife first

Leon’s combat knife is no longer just a useful secondary weapon, but a vital tool across the whole experience. As the Resident Evil 4 remake no longer has QTEs, plenty of the sections that originally relied on them — such as the fight against Krauser — now rely on your parry, which is performed with the knife. But there is more to it.

Here’s the gist: You start with your trusty combat knife, which has its own durability. You should upgrade this in the merchant’s shop, as well as its speed and damage, as soon as possible. Make a few upgrades to your usual weapons as well every now and then, but if you can fully upgrade your combat knife promptly, it will make a huge difference in the long run.

Parrying is vital in the remake; it has saved me dozens of times from a fatal attack. That being said, even at maximum durability, the combat knife is bound to break at some point, especially in long encounters. Thankfully, enemies tend to drop weaker knives that can serve as plan B, such as kitchen or boot knives. You won’t be able to repair them afterward, but they can save you in a time of need. Or, if you’re confident in your abilities, you can go ahead and sell them to make a quick buck.

Don’t watch the mouth — watch the hands

First of all, you should always be aiming at enemies’ heads as much as possible, in order to stun them and follow up with Leon’s signature kick. That said, much like the original, it’s vital to keep an eye on their hands as well. Shooting them will cause the weapon they’re using to drop, which can range from torches (which can set them on fire), lit dynamites (which will explode when shot at), or even other melee weapons (which... are sharp).

Especially later on when enemies tend to show up with morning stars and electrified polearms, being able to get those factors out of the way, in particular when facing large groups, will make encounters much easier.

Also, keep in mind that parrying enemies that attack with their bare hands will automatically cut off their arms, which is even more helpful to dodge any grabs from them.

An infected villager in the Resident Evil 4 remake with the Ganados’ parasite coming out of their head
Parasites are a pain to deal with
Image: Capcom

If you see an enemy twitching on the ground, knife them

In the beginning, enemies will randomly have a second wind of sorts after being defeated, where they’ll be twitching on the ground and then get back on their feet with their necks cracked.

As you progress through the game, though, they’ll expose the Plagas inside of them, becoming awful creatures that will be extremely annoying to deal with in mob groups. Once you’re deep within the castle, some of these enemies will have the ability to kill you in one hit, similarly to the chainsaw, if you’re unable to pull off a parry on time.

You won’t always have the opportunity, but whenever you see someone on the ground who is about to turn, signalized by the body twitching and the knife icon above their head, stop whatever you’re doing and take care of them before they turn into a major problem.

You can combine herbs with an easy drag-and-drop

The attache case is your most trustworthy partner in Resident Evil 4, and that hasn’t changed in the remake. One neat trick is that you don’t have to select a herb, open the menu, and select the option to combine with others every time. Simply drag and drop the herbs on top of each other. If it fails, it’s because the combination you’re trying to do isn’t possible.

You can also make herbs in the crafting menu alongside ammo, if that’s easier for you. Also, remember that there is a storage menu available in the remake, which you can access via typewriters.

There are more upgrade tiers later on

If this is your first time playing, bear in mind that the first selection of upgrades isn’t the final list. Starting in Chapter 9, the merchant has a second tier, which also includes the exclusive ability of each weapon.

After you’ve gotten all upgrades, you can get this final bonus with an often big sum of money or an Exclusive Upgrade Ticket, the latter of which you can get by trading Spinels.

The merchant in Resident Evil 4 remake warns Leon about an upcoming point of no return, advising to take care of any pending errands
Thank you, stranger
Image: Capcom

The merchant will warn you about points of no return

The story structure is slightly different this time around, as it’s divided into chapters. While the big picture of most areas will be immediately familiar if you played the original, there are moments of no return that you may not recognize.

The presence of the merchant not only signalizes a natural stopping point for shopping or for saving your game — it can also warn you about these instances. If he says something about “taking care of any leftover errands before going this way,” that means you’re about to hit a point of no return.

If you’re trying to complete all requests, or collect both treasures and collectibles in one go, make a quick manual save as a backup. Otherwise, you will have to tackle them in a second playthrough after finishing the game once.

You can wait for Ashley to recover on her own

The Resident Evil 4 remake lets you opt between two stances for Ashley when she’s tagging alongside Leon. She can stick close to him, or try and find cover on her own, keeping her distance from enemies.

Now, enemies are bound to get to her if you’re not careful. If she’s grabbed, you’ll see a particular icon and you’ll need to shoot whoever is carrying her to interrupt the action and avoid the game over screen if they escape. Sometimes, however, she’ll get hurt. This is signalized by a yellow icon, as well as an animation of her sitting on the floor.

You need to manually get close to Ashley and press the button prompt to stabilize her, which is an action that takes a few seconds and leaves you both exposed to attacks. But, as long as she’s not attacked again, she can recover herself after a few seconds without your help. Just beware of any long-range attacks that might miss Leon and hit Ashley instead.

Lure enemies into fighting one another

There are far more special enemies in the remake, which can sound daunting. The upside, however, is that you can use them to your own advantage. Most of them tend to be aggressive, charging towards Leon or using big-sized weapons that can cover a lot of ground around them. If you circle around a group of enemies for them to be in between the special infected and Leon, I recommend going for a quick bait-and-switch maneuver, getting close just enough so the special enemy begins the attack and gets everyone else but you.

Leon S Kennedy wearing the Gangster Outfit in the Resident Evil 4 remake
Not your usual gangster’s paradise
Image: Capcom

Here’s how to change Leon and Ashley’s outfits

If you’re wondering about the cosmetic options for both Leon and Ashley in the Resident Evil 4 remake, similarly to the original, you first need to beat the story at least once before unlocking them. Once you do, head over to the Extras tab from the main menu and pause screens, and purchase them at the Bonus Shop. There is an inner tab called Apparel, which will signalize all the ones you’ve unlocked yet. Such as the in-game models, they’re purchased using the currency gained from completing challenges.

Bear in mind that you can only change outfits from the main menu, but accessories can be switched in-game at any time from the pause screen. If you’re looking for specific accessories, you can check the challenges list to find out what the requirement is.

You may want to hold on to get the body armor, though

Toward the end of the story, the merchant will have the body armor up for sale. The product description is enticing, protecting Leon “completely” from short and explosions, while reducing damage from close-quarter attacks. Yet, unless you’re having a ton of trouble in the difficulty you’ve selected, I recommend relying on first aid sprays and herbs for your first playthrough.

The reason why is that weapons are everything in Resident Evil 4, and you should prioritize using your hard-looted cash to upgrade them instead. The more damage you can cause, the faster you’ll take enemies down. The body armor needs to be repaired, similarly to the combat knife, and the cost is quite high (around 10,000 ptas. in normal difficulty).

That said, if by the time you’re on your second walkthrough your favorite weapons are all fully upgraded, it might be beneficial to invest in the body armor. Up to you either way, but remember that weapon upgrades should be your top priority.

Is the dog alive in the Resident Evil 4 remake?

If you want to discover whether the dog is present in the remake by yourself, you can go ahead and stop reading from this point on.

Well, Capcom really tried to pull one on all of us in the trailers, but thankfully, the dog is alive and well, and you can find them in Chapter 3. After exiting the manor, take a detour toward the backyard, where you’ll stumble upon a few bear traps. The dog is stuck in one of them. Set them free and you’ll see them back for That One boss fight later on.

As a final tip, once you’re all set and done with the boss encounter, get close to them for Leon to express his gratitude.

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