In broad strokes, the Resident Evil 4 remake (RE4R) is a faithful recreation of the 2005 original. Players who are familiar with both may be surprised at what they remember, such as the village’s layout, the peculiar tram ride in Salazar’s castle, and certain specific scares. Despite the many similarities, however, there are some big differences between the original Resident Evil 4 and the remake.
Plus C’est La Meme Chose: What’s Changed and Stayed the Same in the RE4 Remake
Mechanics and Gameplay Changes
Much like the previous remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, RE4R has kept the overarching elements of the original’s story and gameplay but has cut a few key features. These include:
- the inexplicable “lava room” in Salazar’s castle
- the fight with the U-3 boss in the mines
- the famous “laser hallway” leading up to Salazar’s throne room
- the bonus scenarios Assignment: Ada and Separate Ways
- Incendiary Grenades
- most of the quick-time events, such as the rolling boulder ambush in the Village
- the free rocket launcher in the Castle
The Merchant’s bottlecap-collecting minigame has also been totally reworked. It’s now more difficult, with a “gashapon” element where you can earn tokens with which to gamble on special charms for Leon’s attache case. Since those charms provide gameplay effects, such as more health restoration from herbs or a movement speed increase, there’s more incentive to play the Merchant’s minigame than there was in the original Resident Evil 4.
It’s also worth mentioning that none of the puzzles in RE4R are the same as they were. A few are reminiscent of the original — for example, a puzzle Leon has to solve in RE4R’s Church is similar to one that Ada had in the Separate Ways scenario in the original — but they’re new, with new solutions.
Speaking of Separate Ways, Capcom has yet to announce whether the five-chapter bonus scenario will make a return for the remake. Separate Ways was included with RE4’s PlayStation 2 port in late 2005, featuring Ada as she works behind the scenes to make sure Leon’s mission is a success.
Ada’s relative lack of appearances in RE4R and a couple of incidental shout-outs have convinced fans that Separate Ways is likely to appear as DLC in the future, perhaps alongside Ada’s and Wesker’s returns as playable characters in the Mercenaries minigame. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Much like the RE2 and RE3 remakes, the RE4 remake makes some changes to its supporting cast, some of which have interesting implications for how Capcom might be redeveloping the franchise’s storyline. Spoilers follow for 2023’s RE4 remake.
Luis is slightly renamed in RE4R, to Luis Serra Navarro. The original RE4 didn’t provide many details about Luis, who says that he used to be a cop in Madrid. He later admits to being one of the researchers on Saddler’s team who helped create the current version of the Plaga parasite.
In Luis’ Memo 4, Luis claims that his initial fascination with Las Plagas effectively blinded him to Saddler’s intentions. When he tried to find a way out, he ended up working directly with Ada, according to her second report in the Separate Ways bonus scenario.
In RE4R, Luis is a former Umbrella researcher. You can find a photo in his lab in Chapter 16 that establishes Luis was part of Umbrella Europe Laboratory Six, which is a deep lore cut. This means Luis likely worked on the project that created the Nemesis.
RE4R goes into detail about the Illuminados cult, which wasn’t really explored in the original. You can find some monuments on the island that establish how Salazar’s ancestors banished Saddler’s from the village, whereupon the Saddler family apparently bided their time for generations until Osmund mounted a comeback.
Osmund subsequently enthralled Ramon Salazar, the modern heir of the Salazar family, who was a bad seed from the start according to files found in the Castle. Despite Salazar’s servants’ efforts, he and Saddler excavated the caverns below the castle to find the Plagas, which had been sealed there by Salazar’s ancestors. Saddler’s plan was to control Ashley into implanting a Plaga into her father, President Graham, although Saddler is less explicit about this in the remake.
The most changed character in RE4R is arguably Jack Krauser. In the original RE4, Krauser claimed to be a deep-cover operative in the Illuminados cult, working with Albert Wesker to bring back the Umbrella Corporation. While he’d abducted Ashley on Saddler’s behalf, Krauser tells Leon that he’d planned to double-cross Saddler in the end.
In RE4R, Krauser has a much more antagonistic relationship with Leon right from the start and seems to be fully devoted to the Illuminados; Wesker is never mentioned.
This effectively seals off a plot hook from the original RE4 that, presumably due to Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami leaving Capcom in 2006, never went anywhere. RE4 2005 seemed to be leading to Wesker leading a revival of Umbrella’s underground activities from behind the scenes. Instead, RE4R is set up to lead more directly into the story from 2009’s Resident Evil 5.
Krauser also talks about Operation Javier in his fight with Leon, which refers to the scenario of the same name in the 2009 rail shooter Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles.
In Darkside, Operation Javier was a mission to track down a drug kingpin in South America, with Leon and Krauser as the only operatives on the ground. In RE4R, Leon apparently wasn’t involved with Operation Javier at all; instead, Krauser led a team for the mission, and due to an unspecified betrayal by the U.S. government, was its only survivor. This could potentially be fuel for another remake in the future, or even a DLC scenario for RE4R, which could explore Krauser’s decision to turn against the United States.
While some of these details would only be obvious to a long-time, borderline obsessive fan of the Resident Evil series (i.e. me), these mark some of the most significant differences between the original Resident Evil 4 and its 2023 remake.