Resident Evil 2‘s announcement during Sony’s E3 2018 press conference on Monday caused quite a stir. The modern remake of the horror classic is being retooled to frighten and disturb modern audiences in ways audiences in 1998 would faint to see. But along with the game’s egregious gore comes exciting new gameplay options, too. Though, to be fair, they’re exciting new gameplay options that rely on egregious gore.
In Resident Evil 2, players will be able to tactically dismember zombies in visually unsettling ways that would make Dead Space‘s developers flinch. During a 15-minute gameplay demo shown on Capcom’s official E3 livestream, Resident Evil 2‘s developers showed an extensive look at just how resilient the “tough zombies” are in the game. These zombies can take a punch — or a shotgun blast. To better deal with these hearty zombies, and to conserve ammo, players will be able to tactically shoot off limbs or cripple enemies’ movement.
Several examples of how gunshots effect zombies in Resident Evil 2 were shown in the demo. For example, shooting a zombie’s arm will literally remove the arm from the zombie’s body and can change their animations as a result. Shooting a zombie in the knee could remove their leg, forcing the zombie to crawl. And a crawling zombie with no arms is no threat at all. Gunshots effect zombies in purely visual ways, too. A shotgun blast removed a zombie’s face in one sequence, a portion of a zombie’s torso in another, and both zombies continued forward.
The dismemberment options in Resident Evil 2 hearken back to a few games from several years ago, including Soldier of Fortune and the Dead Space series. Dismemberment has traditionally just been a feature intended to appeal to action-hungry game players, which in recent years has led to such features falling out of vogue as the industry reflected on the appeal of ultraviolence. That trend appears to be ending, especially with the successes of Doom, Wolfenstein, and others.
As much as the excessive violence in Resident Evil 2 deserves to be seen through a critical lens, one can’t help but also laugh at its audaciousness, and from there appreciate the sheer technical impressiveness of a dismemberment feature. The amount of animation work that Capcom must be doing to handle different forms of dismemberment, the design work for how enemies will react to losing limbs has to be a lot.
In the past several years we’ve seen the Resident Evil franchise reinvent itself, and it seems like the Resident Evil 2 remake will continue that trend.
Resident Evil 2 releases on January 25, 2019, for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.