Resident Evil 4: Differences between original and remake

Sam Smith
An official image of Resident Evil 4 artwork, featuring Leon and Ashley. One of the games to play like The Last of Us in 2023.

Here’s how the Resident Evil 4 remake compares to the original, as well as all the differences in the 2023 version of Leon’s adventure. Be warned, heavy spoilers below!

The Resident Evil 4 remake is a very faithful adaptation of the original 2005 game, but some changes have been made to allow the game to fit in with the current vision of the Resident Evil franchise. Fortunately, the remake manages to honor what came before as well as offering something fresh and exciting.

Below, we’re not going to list every single change between the original Resident Evil 4 and the remake as there are far too many minor changes to count. Instead, we’re going to discuss the main differences between each version of RE4 and how the 2023 remake stands apart from its 2005 counterpart.

Resident evil 4 characters vs chansaw ganado
Resident Evil 4 has changed, here’s what’s different.

Leon’s personality

Luckily, like the original RE4 portrayal of Leon, the remake version of him is also full of eye-rollingly cheesy quips and witty one-liners. However, Leon’s transition from rookie Raccoon City cop to superhero is less pronounced in the remake. This is a much more competent and confident Leon to be sure, but this is also a more realistic and consistent Leon. Essentially, his character evolution feels more natural in the remake when compared to the original RE2 to RE4 time jump.

This is the Leon we saw survive Raccoon City in the RE2 remake – just six years later, and after being coerced to work for the US government due to his knowledge of bioweapons. This is also something the remake’s version of Leon harbors some resentment about. Let’s not forget, he saw his new employers drop a nuke on a city – survivors be damned. However, his resentment doesn’t interfere with his duty, and this compares well to another character who takes a different path.

Survival horror

The original RE4 abandoned the notion of survival horror and soft-rebooted the series, with Capcom creating an action game that used only horror as a backdrop. This trend would continue into RE5 and RE6 until it became tiresome, leading to Capcom soft rebooting the series again with RE7, bringing survival horror back to the forefront of Resident Evil. The remakes of RE2 and RE3 slowly started to allow the action to creep back in but kept the focus on horror.

By Resident Evil Village, the series found the perfect blend of action and survival horror and this is also what the remake of RE4 adopts. Village was a love letter to the original RE4 in many ways, and the remake feels a lot like the eighth chapter in terms of tone and style. RE4 is still an action-heavy game, but it ensures the adventure is scary enough to feel like a fitting continuation of the previous three Resident Evil remakes.

leon kennedy using flashlight in resident evil 4 remake
The remake is considerably scarier than the original RE4.

Stealth mechanics

While this becomes less useful as the game goes on, the RE4 remake adds a new stealth mechanic where Leon can sneak past Ganados and even inflict stealth kills on them with a knife. It’s a helpful way to explore the Village in the early game, but as soon as you’ve been discovered it’s time for the bullets and chainsaws to fly.

It’s that dog!

The promotional materials for the Resident Evil 4 remake failed to show any indication of Leon’s K9 companion, what’s worse, in the area where Leon rescues the injured pup from a bear trap, there’s only a dog’s corpse instead of a living but distressed dog. This led to fans speculating that the remake had killed the dog, and therefore Leon wouldn’t be able to save it with the grateful dog returning the favor later in the game.

You see, in the original RE4 (if you saved it), the dog returns later to distract the El Gigante boss, buying Leon precious seconds to damage the monster and making the whole battle much easier. In the remake, this all still happens, only Leon rescues the dog later in the game rather than at the start. Like in the original, the dog returns to aid Leon during the battle, only this time, once it makes its triumphant return it stays to fight alongside him until the battle is over.

Leon then thanks the dog, before it runs into the woods to safety. That’s a good boy.

the dog in RE4
The dog comes to Leon’s aid in both games.

Luis and Umbrella

Luis Sera is one of the best characters in RE4 and he’s even cooler in the remake. The smooth-talking Spaniard and self-proclaimed ladies-man was a researcher for Saddler until he realized his boss was a lunatic cult leader intent on taking over the world through bioterror. Luis then started working against Los Illiminados, before being caught and imprisoned.

After he’s rescued by Leon, Luis helps both him and Ashley at several points in the game, keen to make amends for his past misdeeds. In the remake, Luis is a former Umbrella employee and likely worked on the T-Virus as well as experimenting with Las Plagas. This instantly makes Leon mistrust him due to the agent’s own past experiences with both mutagens.

Luis has also been corresponding with Albert Wesker in the remake and has made arrangements to steal a sample of the virus and give it to Ada Wong in exchange for their help taking down Saddler. In the original, Luis is killed by Saddler after delivering the vaccine to Leon and Ashley, however, he survives a lot longer in the remake and provides some excellent comic relief and support.

Sadly, he is still eventually murdered by the bad guys, but it’s a different character who commits the act in the remake.

Krauser’s motivation

In the original RE4, Jack Krauser is a former colleague of Leon’s from his time working for the US government. He and Leon worked closely and battled bioterror together until Krauser was injured and lost the use of his arm, needing to retire from active duty. A resentful Krauser then became obsessed with regaining the use of his arm and resorted to bioweapons to achieve this. After being promised power and revenge by Albert Wesker, Krauser then infiltrated Saddler’s cult and kidnapped the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham, to earn his trust.

In the remake, all the above still happened, but Krauser is bitter towards Leon for taking his spot. He’s also haunted and traumatized by the deaths of his squad at the hands of zombies during the events of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles – the mission he got injured and was replaced by Leon. Basically, Krauser suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt in the remake, making him a more sympathetic character.

Krauser in RE4 remake
Krauser’s motivations are much more fleshed out in the remake.

Ada’s betrayal

While we talk about Ada’s role in the ending of the Resident Evil 4 remake in our explainer, this is very different from the original game. In that, Ada’s betrayal of Wesker happens offscreen, but in the remake, it takes place during the epilogue after Wesker admits he’s going to use Las Plagas to murder billions of people. Ada then points a gun at her helicopter pilot and forces him to fly elsewhere, presumably somewhere far away from Wesker. The change shows that Ada is not the villain some players may think and that she has no desire to be partly responsible for another Racoon City incident – or something worse.

Side quests & spinels

The Resident Evil remake features a variety of side quests, many of them using fun elements of the original game as their inspiration such as shooting all the Blue Medallions. Locating a Gold Chicken Egg, killing an elite enemy, shooting rats, snakes and many other tasks make up these often simple but fun distractions.

Successfully completing each quest rewards players with Spinels. In the original, these were items you could sell for gold, but in the remake, they’re a separate currency that allows you to purchase exclusive upgrades from the merchant. Your Spinels and upgrades also carry over into New Game Plus.

Merchant store RE4
The Merchant has a second store where Spinels are the currency.

Regenerators & Iron Maidens

The Regenerators were one of the scariest parts of the original Resident Evil 4. These undead monstrosities resembled Tyrants and could only be killed if the Plaga within them suffered massive trauma or was sniped by a rifle with an inferred scope. If not, they simply regrew their body parts and continued their assault. Iron Maidens were the same as Regenerators but were covered in spikes while some had armor.

These rasping monsters return in the remake, only this time, the Iron Maiden is a secondary form of many Regenerators rather than a separate monster. Should a Regenerator suffer massive damage, it can spontaneously produce spikes and become an Iron Maiden. Just when you thought this enemy couldn’t get any worse.

You’ve not met “It”

“It” or the U-3 boss has also been removed from the RE4 remake. This is a shame in many ways, as the boss is a classic battle in the original RE4, however, the section has been redesigned in the remake to be more sinister and less cartoonish. The boss itself also feels like something from the T-Virus era of Resident Evil – if you ignore the huge Plaga on its back!

Cut content annoyed a lot of fans during the release of the Resident Evil 3 remake, but Capcom may be saving U-3 for DLC such as Separate Ways. The release of Separate Ways confirmed this to be the case, the U-3 boss or “It” returns to menace Ada Wong in a boss fight that’s reminiscent of the battle from the original RE4, only this time it’s Ada taking on the beast.

In the remake DLC, U-3 has been redesigned and renamed “Pesenta”. It’s also been combined with Salazar’s second Verdungo in the game’s story, rather than being a separate monster stored underground. In Assignment Ada, Salazar unleashes his black-robed “left hand” to hunt down Ada, like he sent Verdungo (his right) after Leon. The creature stalks Ada throughout the adventure and during its third and final boss fight, the creature mutates into U-3.

The design of the creature is very different from the original game, with it now being a bipedal monster, but it still retains similar facial features and the large deadly tail of the original U-3.

U-3 is separate ways
U-3 returns, this time called Pesenta.

Cartoonish elements

The Resident Evil 4 remake tones down some of the more bizarre elements that were infamous in the original Resident Evil 4. The most obvious of these is the mechanical Salazar robot, which has been redesigned to be a more realistic threat this time around.

Minigames

Speaking of Mercenaries Mode, this time that’s a free DLC rather than built into the base game. However, like the original, players will need to complete the game to unlock it. It will also now feature online multiplayer, as it did in later versions of the mode in RE5, RE6, and RE Village.

Separate Ways returns but this time makes more of an effort to tie to the main campaign, showing what Ada was up to, and even serves as a greatest hits in many ways. The DLC borrows the best bits from the main game and throws them into one bitesize package.

Assignment Ada has not been added to the remake, but it was uncanon and replaced by Separate Ways in the original RE4 anyway, so has no need to be in the 2023 remake.

So that’s everything there is to know about the differences between the original RE4 and the remake. For more Resident Evil 4 content, check out the following guides below:

RE4 ending explained | Where to find the Shotgun | Where to find the Golden Egg | Can you save the dog? | Separate Ways | The Mercenaries | Changing costume | How Spinels work | Achievements & Trophies | Remake differences | Resident Evil 4 review | Resident Evil 5 remake | Code Veronica remake