When it was announced almost 3 years ago there was a general sense of excitement that we would be playing the Resident Evil 2 remake in the relatively near future. Sure no one expected the game to release in 2015 but we’re now 1/3 of the way through 2018 and have not gotten any new news on the game’s development and that silence is starting to become deadly. So as we get set for another E3 conference in just a few months and the anticipation around new games, both announced and unannounced builds, we have to ask – what the heck happened to the Resident Evil 2 Remake?
It was August 2015 when Capcom made the announcement that Resident Evil 2, one of the most beloved games in the long running franchise would be fully remade ‘from the ground up and be released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. At the time no one expected it to be released any time soon but as game announcements go there was a lot of excitement that we would be able to get a first look at the remake soon. But then the weeks, months and years started to tick by with no word on the game or even it’s development. This has gotten some fans worried that maybe Capcom is having a hard time deciding on a direction for the game.
But of course, this is a remake – it shouldn’t need a bold new direction, right? Well considering the current state of the Resident Evil series it might not be so surprising that Capcom is trying to ‘freshen’ up the experience. When it was first released back in 1998, Resident Evil 2 still used the series’ classic ‘tank controls’ that locked you into cinematic camera angles without the ability to control the camera and even changing the ‘direction’ of your character in each new scene. This style would remain the series’ staple until the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005 and the franchise has not looked back since. Going back to the old ‘tank controls’ today is definitely jarring and it would be hard to imagine Capcom not changing the way we play Resident Evil 2 for its remake. That being said, the ‘over-the-shoulder’ style of Resident Evil 4-5-6 would also seem inappropriate and possible hurt the game’s mood and atmosphere.
That leaves two possibilities for Capcom to explore. They could go with the style championed by last year’s Resident Evil VII: Biohazard and give the game a cinematic style that also gives the player control. This could work and the fact that both 2 and VII take place in tight, enclosed and claustrophobic settings it does makes sense to use the gameplay of the newer game. But then there’s also a chance that Capcom could be experimenting with something completely new and unseen that could not only make Resident Evil 2 a standout game again but also pave the way for modern remakes of the other early Resident Evil games like the original, Nemesis and Zero. That being said, not matter what gameplay style they choose to go with I highly doubt Capcom would release a ‘new’ tank-control game in 2018 (or later).
Which brings me to my next point – wouldn’t 2018 be the perfect time to release a remake of Resident Evil 2? For one, it’s the 20th anniversary of the game’s original release on the PlayStation and even though we’ve passed the actual release date (January 21st) releasing it in 2018 would make a lot of sense from a PR perspective. Secondly, the Resident Evil series has not been in fans’ good graces for a long time, however the success of Resident Evil VII has changed that. So Capcom could, for the first time, probably in the series’ history follow up a popular release with another. Yet we haven’t heard a peep from Capcom on the remake with just Platinum’s Hideki Kamiya (the original direction) chiming in in recent months that he ‘doesn’t care what Capcom does with the game’ – not exactly a sterling endorsement.
However, this silence on the Resident Evil 2 remake front might be due to technical reasons. When the game was announced the console landscape consisted of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U, today neither of those platforms is considered the ‘premium’ console from their companies (though the PS4 and XBO are obviously still very well supported). We now live in a world of ‘native 4K games’ on the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X and true portable console gaming with the Nintendo Switch – all of which being devices that Capcom has shown strong support for in the past year and have promised to keep supporting in the future, so it’s not impossible that the game’s development has been delayed to accommodate these new systems.
Each day that we don’t hear anything new on the Resident Evil 2 remake is a day that I get more nervous for the final product. Obviously anytime that a beloved game is set for a remake the stakes are raised immensely and I’m sure Capcom wants to get everything right with this one but to have seen nothing, not even a cinematic trailer for the game in almost three years from it’s announcement is bizarre at best. With E3 2018 just a few few months away hopefully we’ll get a proper reveal of the game but until then all we can keep asking is ‘what happened to this game?’