Resident Evil 2 director talks Mr. X's AI, scary footsteps, and the DMX mod

Mr. X, aka the Tyrant, is the breakout star of Capcom's Resident Evil 2 remake. The rest of the game is superb, but Mr. X is more than just scary. He's also gon' give it to ya, DMX-style. And as it turns out, he can be pretty sexy in a thong.

Mr. X's hunkiness aside, I wanted to know how Capcom designed RE2's most persistent foe. How does his AI really work? Can he hear my footsteps? Does shooting catch his ear from across the station? I asked Resident Evil 2 director Kazunori Kadoi for some of Mr. X's secrets, how his design differs from the Tyrant in the original game, and to address the fan theory that there are actually several Tyrants loose in Raccoon City. And, of course, what he think of the DMX mod.

PC Gamer: I find Mr. X's footsteps terrifying. They're so loud and ominous. Can you tell me how you created that sound—are they actual recorded footsteps?

Kazunori Kadoi: They aren’t actual footsteps since the average person’s height and weight doesn’t create the same impact and sound that Tyrant’s footsteps would make. As a result, we recorded a lot of different sounds and mixed them all together in order to create a specific sound that would carry that level of impact that someone of Tyrant’s build would create.

Does Mr. X's AI always operate in real time and space? When we hear his footsteps, does that mean his character is actually close by, or are the footstep sounds played separately just to make us think he's nearby?

The sounds aren’t played separately. If you hear Tyrant’s footsteps in the vicinity, you can definitely bet that he is actually in close proximity.

Once while I was playing Mr. X lost sight of me and returned to the Main Hall, and I stood on the balcony and watched him look around and then enter another room in the station. Is his AI actually "searching" for the player constantly?

If Tyrant loses track of the player, he is technically still searching for the player, but will walk in random routes. He basically acts the same as if a real person is tracking you down, checking each section of the area and meticulously moving from one area to another. However, if he hears something nearby or potentially catches a glimpse of the player in the distance, he will definitely start aggressively tracking towards the direction of the player.

In the police station, is Mr. X designed to "cheat" and find the player after a certain amount of time?

I don’t want to divulge details, but what I can say is that if Tyrant doesn’t discover the player after a certain period of time, his senses do start to grow more sensitive making it easier to track you down.

How does Mr. X find you? Will firing guns or solving puzzles alert him to where you are?

Fundamentally, gun fire will catch his attention the most. There will also be key moments in the game (such as finding an important item) that will force an encounter with Tyrant during those sections of the game.

In the new RE2, how does Mr. X's AI differ from how he worked in the original game?

From an AI perspective, they’re fairly different. In the original game, Tyrant wouldn’t break through rooms aside from very specific events. He mainly acted as a threat that stayed with you until you were able to successfully run and load into another section of the game. In this game, Tyrant will track you down regardless of being rooms apart from each other, so the fundamental components of his AI are vastly different.

Image via the Resident Evil wiki

Some fans theorize that there are multiple Mr. Xs chasing you in the story of RE2, because there are multiple deaths across Leon's and Claire's paths. Do you want to address that theory, and tell us how many Mr. Xs we're really encountering?

There’s only one Tyrant. When designing the game, we wanted whichever scenario the player is currently in to be representative of the main story arc. You could say that each scenario could be considered a parallel world, which is why you see Tyrant appear multiple times. 

Have you seen the mod that plays the DMX song X Gon' Give It To Ya whenever Mr. X is nearby? Please tell me your thoughts.

There are elements that we included (such as his hat) that we hoped would resonate and be a talking point with players, but we had no idea that people would enjoy Tyrant to this degree, so it honestly makes the development team as a whole really happy to see things like this. It’s always unpredictable what will truly resonate with fans no matter how much you aim for something particular, but it’s always a pleasant surprise when fans walk away from a game with a positive experience and have something to share with their peers.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).