Resident Evil 4 Remake preview: A horror classic gets even greater

A screenshot from Resident Evil 4 RemakeCapcom

It’s safe to say that Resident Evil 4 is one of the most anticipated remakes of all time, and while I haven’t had a chance to play it myself just yet, Dexerto was recently given access to a hands-off preview with some brand-new footage to devour.

During this preview, I was able to take a look at just over 17 minutes of gameplay from various sections of the remake, during which Leon explored the lake’s surroundings, fought several enemies including the Garrador, attacked the castle with Ashley, and took part in an updated fight with Jack Krauser.

As you’ll probably already know, this new version of Resident Evil 4 isn’t just a HD upscaling with a little bit of sheen. This is the full-on remake that Resi fans have been waiting years for, and from what I’ve seen so far, it looks like it’s going to be a worthy upgrade.

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The first scene I got to check out saw Leon explore the area near the lake after sundown. There were plenty of Ganados (the game’s infected enemies) here which gave me a good look at the combat – and while it’s hard to comment too much without having a controller in my hands, it certainly looked smooth, responsive, and improved in small ways that matter.

A screenshot from Resident Evil 4 RemakeCapcom

The basics are much the same – Leon can shoot enemies in the knee to send them to the ground, before going in for a melee attack that knocks them backward – but there are some nice additions like the parry ability, which lets Leon use his knife to knock back enemies and briefly disorientate them. At one point, he even parried an explosive projectile back at a Ganado to set the area around them on fire, which seems like a pretty nifty way to take them out.

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The ability to move around while aiming and assign weapons to shortcuts on the D-Pad – things that are second nature in modern games – also makes a welcome appearance in Resident Evil 4 Remake, putting it in line with more recent entries in the franchise.

The weapon shortcuts in Resident Evil 4 remakeCapcom

Just like in the original, there’s still a heavy focus on action, as demonstrated by the next scene in the hands-off preview where Leon attacks the castle. There are enemies and explosions galore, as he storms through the castle’s corridors and avoids incoming projectiles with high-octane music in the background. This scene also gave a closer look at how Leon’s companion Ashley Graham will work in the remake.

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From the footage I saw, it looks like you’ll still need to spend quite a bit of time defending Ashley from being kidnapped and carried away, but there are some changes that should hopefully make things a little less frustrating this time around. Ashley no longer has a health bar, and will instead enter a downed state when she takes too much damage. As long as you get to her in time, you can help her recover without needing to use any resources.

You can also use a ‘tight’ command to keep Ashley close or the ‘loose’ command to get some distance from each other, which should help her stay out of harm’s way when you enter combat.

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Resident Evil 4 remake screenshotCapcom

Even with the more action-oriented scenarios, this remake is looking pretty terrifying thanks to the huge visual overhaul it’s received. The scene where Leon takes on the iconic Garrador – who’s more imposing than ever with his wolverine-like claws and rampaging attacks – is goosebump-inducing even just as a viewer, so I imagine playing first-hand will be terrifying.

Environments feel more claustrophobic, like the castle dungeons with their blood-splattered walls and bodies strung up with chains, and enemies are far more lifelike in both their movement and appearance. When an exposed parasite gets up close and personal with Leon, it’s going to be heart-pounding stuff.

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The Garrador in Resident Evil 4 RemakeCapcom

I also got a look at some other changes, like the new side quests which are initiated by picking up blue flyers located throughout the game. I only saw one of these during the hands-off preview, in which Leon was tasked with finding a gold chicken egg. There was also a brief look at the new bowgun weapon, which fired a proximity mine at the ground and knocked a group of enemies back when it exploded.

Another big change with the Resident Evil 4 Remake is that there are no more QTEs (Quick-Time Events). This means the knife fight with Krauser, which was the final part of my preview, is now a proper battle where you’ll use a mix of parrying and attacks to take him down – although there are still a couple of button-mashing segments to ‘break free’ from his grip for old-times sake.

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Krauser fight in Resident Evil 4 RemakeCapcom

Based on the short hands-off preview I got to experience, it seems like this new version of Resident Evil 4 is the big remake it deserves, bringing the critically-adored game into the modern era with some important quality-of-life upgrades while still respecting what made the original so groundbreaking – and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Resident Evil 4 will be released on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows on March 24.