The Resident Evil 2 remake is looking like fantastic, gruesome survival horror

When Capcom sets its mind to remaking a Resident Evil game, it seems to do it right. Years ago it was the classic GameCube Remake of the original Resident Evil, which found its way to PC with an HD remaster and still held up remarkably well. That game stuck to static camera angles and clunky controls and silly puzzles, but those were the things that really made the game work. Now we've finally seen the Resident Evil 2 Remake, which has been in the works for about three years, and it's a much more dramatic departure, dropping the fixed perspective for a behind-the-back camera. That camera may make the RE2 Remake seem like it's going down the action game path, but watch a few minutes of the gameplay footage above and you'll get pure survival horror vibes.

The Resident Evil 2 Remake is running on the same engine as Resident Evil 7 (and Devil May Cry 5), and it has atmosphere to spare. Lighting looks like it's going to play a huge role, here, with Leon walking through some dark areas and aiming his flashlight around the environment more than his gun.

Capcom streamed the same gameplay demo with the PlayStation crew and talked through some of the design, and it's illuminating—there are a lot of good details in there for Resident Evil fans. "Not everything is exactly where you remember it. That's intentional," says RE brand manager Mike Lunn. "This isn't just a remake. It's a whole new game we're building off the foundation of the original game. So there's going to be a lot of familiar stuff, but a lot of new stuff as well."

Along those "new game" lines, Capcom producer Tsuyoshi Kanda explained why the new camera doesn't mean this is suddenly an action game.

"The big difference is, less shooter elements compared to Resident Evil 4," he said. "This is more like a Metroidvania-style, survival horror, classic gameplay, so we actually tried to keep the original gameplay feel. That's what we're trying to do in this new Resident Evil 2."

Lunn emphasized how tough the zombies are, and that you'll need to conserve ammo. Even one can be a threat, which seemed accurate when Capcom's other producer playing the game got pretty torn up from just a couple bites.

Some more interesting details: 

Claire and Leon have separate campaigns this time around, instead of the simpler A and B scenarios of the original.

At one point the camera zooms in on the gruesome missing jaw of a dead police officer, and man, that is some gore. If you like gross levels of detail, you're in luck with this engine.

Some other cool touches: you'll be able to pull a knife out of a zombie's body after you killed them, if it's durable enough.

You'll find some supplies like boards you can use to block off windows.

You can shoot zombies in the legs to bring them down.

Some areas in downtown Raccoon City from the original game that you could only look at—guessing that means some buildings that were previously just facades—will now be explorable, and some characters will have more fleshed-out stories than they did before.

Resident Evil 2 is out January 25, 2019.

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).