Whether or not the new Resident Evil 9 rumors are real is beside the point – it's clear what Capcom has to do next

Resident Evil 4 Remake Leon
(Image credit: Capcom)

There's always something happening when it comes to Resident Evil 9, even though nothing has officially happened yet. The rumor mill has been abuzz for years now, rife with speculation on what the long-awaited ninth mainline entry in the Resident Evil timeline might look like. Will it follow in the footsteps of Resident Evil Village and feature yet another member of the Winters brood? Will Capcom choose to go in a different direction altogether, much as it did in Resident Evil 7? Or, as one of the newest rumors suggests, will RE9 herald the glorious return of legacy heroes from the series' golden days?

To be honest, it's anyone's guess until Capcom unzips its hushed lips to announce the game and put us out of our misery. But that's the thing: no one seems to be miserable about the prospect of a middle-aged Leon Kennedy being our leading man in RE9, as per Twitter user PRE_Alarabiya's insider sources. The response to this latest bout of rumored leaks has been overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the importance of the developer's next move in recapturing the attention and favor of its audience. It's time for Capcom to do its business or get off the pot; go back to the classics, or commit to a brave new era once and for all.

Familiar faces 

Leon and Claire in Resident Evil 2 Remake

(Image credit: Capcom)
All killer, some filler

Resident Evil 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

Here's our ultimate guide to the Resident Evil games so far.

Personally? I'd love to see Leon return in Resident Evil 9, kept in close company by Jill, Claire, and the gruff latest iteration of Chris Redfield. This isn't a provocative statement at all, and it's hard not to get my hopes up about a weary yet seasoned 48-year-old Leon exploring Southeast Asia in the summer of 2025 – at least during the introductory section of the game, perhaps like Chris's involvement at the very end of Village.

Let's discuss where this leak came from. I want to stress that all of the above is hearsay at best, with the rumors originally being credited to known Resident Evil insider, Dusk Golem. This was later corrected, though that still doesn't boost my confidence in their legitimacy since Dusk Golem has slipped up before, reminding the community in another Tweet that his own alleged RE9 leaks are largely from 2020 and 2021 (summarized neatly in this Reddit post). "In terms of insider info I'm only about as good as my sources will let me," he concedes, noting that a lot might have changed developmentally in the four years since. Another common rumor is that Resident Evil 9 will be titled Apocalypse, set some time after a global-scale crisis that has seen the world crumble to a state of veritable dystopia. Check out this Reddit post for the gist of it. 

The most interesting thing I'm gleaning from all of this is that by and large, Resi fans really, really want their legacy characters back – for new games as well as remakes. The Resident Evil game described by PRE_Alarabiya reminds me in some way of what Capcom tried to do with Resident Evil 6, bringing back plenty of familiar faces in a series of episodic, high-action chapters that had some sort of overlap. While this attempt fell flat in the wake of Resident Evil 5, it wouldn't be wild to think that perhaps Capcom wants to take another stab at this chaptered format; that's pretty much the format of Village, after all, with each of the four Lords presiding over respective districts that need to be played in order. 

Could Resident Evil 9 seek to learn from the mistakes of its predecessors, tweaking the formula just so to incorporate aspects of everything that has worked best across the years – strong survival horror leanings, the success of legacy characters as per the remakes, memorable locations, iconic villains – to make classic Resi culturally relevant again?

Choices, choices

Resident Evil Village

(Image credit: Capcom)

Resi fans really, really want their legacy characters back – for new games as well as remakes.

To me, that would be the best-case scenario for Resident Evil 9. With so many beloved characters under its belt being relegated to pre-2012 games and a series of stunning remakes, Capcom is sitting on a gold mine and effectively ignoring it by not giving us our heroes back. 

If you want to talk numbers, consider this: last year's Resident Evil 4 Remake sold over 7 million copies in its first year alone [via VGChartz]. Resident Evil Village shifted about 8 million units across two years [via GameDeveloper]. Make of that what you will, but in my mind, that says the people want them some Kennedy and company.

But what if all these rumors turn out to be false? What if Resident Evil 9 goes fully rogue, bringing in new characters entirely and foregoing anything else that came before? It's been done in the sixth and seventh entries alike, to varying levels of success, but perhaps the lack of success comes from not running too far with either new format. Either way, I would love to see Capcom narrowing its scope considerably, distilling the best of what it's capable of to deliver a new Resi game that is less scattershot and more tightly-focussed on its assets. If those assets happen to be a certain ex-cop and his cohort of equally traumatized, firmly badass final girls and boys, that's a happy coincidence for us all.

Check out all the upcoming horror games on our watchlist, from Slitterhead to Bloober's Silent Hill 2 remake.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.