While some of Capcom’s newly released Resident Evil 4 remake is different than it was in 2005, including core and not-so-core (sorry, perverts!) gameplay mechanics, the horror game is still prepared to kick your ass.
It’s okay, we’ve been there. We’ve seen parasites splitting angry villagers’ heads open the moment we run out of bullets, we’ve broken knives as they’ve lunged for our necks, but we lived to tell the story. Now we pass our tips onto you.
I talked to Kotaku staff writer and RE4 authority Zack Zwiezen about 15 pieces of his best advice and endorsed them all fully. Whether it’s your first time traversing the game’s dangerous slice of Spain, creepy crawling with parasites and sexy blond idiots, or you’re revisiting, these tips should help you chop through the game’s stickiest spots.
Read More: “Resident Evil 4 Remake: The Kotaku Review”
Ashley Bardhan: Don’t be shy—when in doubt, open up your map from your menu. The map offers more than simple waypoints, including locations for blue medallions you can shoot for Spinel, the Merchant’s more rare trading currency, and treasure (once you get the treasure map) are marked.
Your map also indicates where to find important pick-ups, like the consumable Herbs that boost your health.
AB: After using your map to sweep an area and confirm you’ve collected all its refreshing Green, Red, and Yellow Herbs, don’t freak out about how many attaché squares your new plant hobby has taken up. You’ll be glad you have them in a pinch.
Combining herbs will make your health top-offs more potent, so you should strive to always keep loose Red and Yellow herbs handy. When you combine these with even one Green herb, they increase its effects and, in Yellow’s case, bulk up your maximum health.
AB: Gamers are conditioned well—we see a thing to smash, and we smash it to receive an item hidden inside.
RE4 has a sneakier treasure chest, though, greedy crows that drop coins upon their death. When you see a crowd of them in the Quarry, throw a Hand Grenade to get unscrupulously rich.
AB: Both Flash and Hand Grenades are useful mainstays for your attaché case. In addition to killing crows, these items help deal with crowd control, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a place like the early game’s village. They also provide easy ways to vary and increase your overall damage dealt during a boss fight.
ZZ: And Flash Grenades can instantly kill the dangerous parasites that erupt from enemy heads, saving ammo in the process.
AB: Most of Resident Evil 4 requires shooting, so you might have noticed yourself falling toward a typical shooter impulse and aiming for enemies’ monstrous heads.
Headshots are…fine, they do extra damage and improve your chance of landing a critical hit, but aiming for enemies’ knees destabilizes them almost instantly. They fall, and you get a chance to take them out with a well-timed melee kick. It’s much less demoralizing than firing bullet after bullet at monsters’ steel brains.
AB: You can get artful with Leon’s melee kick, too. When faced with a mob, try popping knees with your gun or using a Flash Grenade to stun the group. While they’re huddled near each other, kick them when prompted, and rejoice as they hit the ground.
Zack Zwiezen: A big change this time around is that Leon’s trusty knife will eventually break over time. While you can extend the time in between repairs by using random kitchen cutlery you discover in the world, you’ll want to upgrade the knife’s durability ASAP whenever you encounter RE4’s lovable Merchant. Once maxed out, Leon’s knife will last much longer and help you stealthily take out more baddies without wasting all your handgun ammo.
AB: Loose gems look enticing on their own, but they’ll be worth much more to the Merchant when embedded in treasures.
Before you start embedding, though, make sure you consult the gemstone bonus chart from your Treasures menu. Typically, matching gem colors increases a treasure’s worth, but inlaying an item with five different colored gems rewards you with the ultimate bonus.
ZZ: At first, Leon’s starting pistol and other early weapons you pick up or buy will feel a bit weak, especially when tougher enemies appear to ruin your day. To fix this problem, go talk to the merchant and upgrade the damage on all of your favorite weapons. Even a few upgrades can make a big difference. However…
ZZ: Don’t try upgrading every gun completely during your first playthrough. As you and Leon progress through the game, The Merchant will let you buy newer, better versions of most weapons.
Thankfully, you can sell upgraded guns and get back 95 percent of your invested coins, but you still don’t want to drain your wallet on stuff you’ll replace soon enough. Instead, focus on damage and ammo capacity and look out for better weapons, like the amazing Striker shotgun or Blacktail handgun.
AB: As exciting as new weapons are, you’ll find it impossible and overwhelming to meaningfully upgrade every new gun, actually use them all in battle, and find ample space for them in your inventory. Save yourself the stress and the cash.
ZZ: Not only does Leon look much cooler in his tactical gear, but body armor helps a lot. It completely blocks damage from ranged attacks and explosives. And it softens the melee blows Leon will suffer throughout the events of RE4. Not only does this help you stay alive, it also means you’ll use fewer healing items, too!
Just keep in mind that, like the knife, you’ll need to repair it from time to time at the merchant’s shop. Once the durability hits zero, it no longer will protect you from all the danger in the world. So fix it up!
ZZ: Don’t let Leon randomly place shit into the game’s inventory. He’s cute and good with a gun, but he sucks at organizing stuff. Instead, take a few moments every so often to organize your case. This will help you maximize your space early on before buying case upgrades. Better yet, you’ll be able to quickly see what you have and need at a glance if your case is well maintained.
Or you could just hit the auto-sort button and live like a monster.
AB: The Merchant’s shooting range mini-game becomes accessible during Chapter 3, where you’ll be able to get into an elevator behind the teleporting salesman and take it to his smoke room. Here, you can play shooting games with infinite bullets.
Perform well to earn silver and gold tokens, which you can load into a vending machine to receive random, performance-enhancing charms that you can clip to your attaché case. As an extra, extra bonus, I’d say most of the charms, regardless of what they are, look pretty cute dangling from your murder box.
ZZ: The best things in life are free. And this is true in Resident Evil 4, too. Well, sort of. Regardless, the Red 9 handgun is free and amazing and worth grabbing if you can.
To get this free pistol, just jump on your boat in Chapter 4–after the lake fight—and head to the middle of the lake itself. There, you’ll find an old boat and a treasure chest on board that contains the Red 9.
ZZ & AB: Trust us. We totally aren’t screwing with you at all…
What are your best Resident Evil 4 tips? Let us know in the comments.