Capcom finally gave us the Resident Evil Village gameplay breakdown we've all been waiting for and it was glorious. The footage was released as part of the Resident Evil Village Showcase, a digital event that teased the publisher's plans for Resident Evil's 25th anniversary and the launch details for the 2021 instalment in the series. If you're looking for help sifting through all of the details, you've come to the right place.
Fans of past Resident Evil games will no doubt have picked up on some of the biggest callbacks, particularly all the ways Village is paying homage to Resident Evil 4. But for those of you that are new to the series (or just want a bit of a refresher), we crawled through every frame of the Resident Evil 8 showcase to unearth as many details, plot points, and new features as possible. Let's get into it.
1. It has to be said: Resident Evil 8 is stunning
There's a lot of gameplay details to break down from this new look at Resident Evil 8, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention how freaking good it looks. It may have been confirmed that Resident Evil 8 is coming to PS4 and Xbox One during the showcase, but it's clear that the game is going to take on new life running on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X. The lighting, in particular, looks incredible, working to capture the sublime attention to detail that runs through everything from the weapons and enemies, to Resident Evil 8's two key settings – the gothic village and the more ornate Dimitrescu Castle.
2. You're on the hunt
Capcom is keeping the story a closely guarded secret, but we do know that Ethan Winters (returning from Resident Evil 7) will be trying to discern fact from fiction throughout Resident Evil 8. In all of the trailers, we've seen varying images that may or may not be true. Most notably, the legendary former S.T.A.R.S. operative Chris Redfield leaving Ethan for dead, killing his wife Mia, and kidnapping his young child. Is this real or an illusion? Either way, Ethan is on a mission to reclaim his daughter in Resident Evil 8 – most likely named Rose, who has been hidden away in Dimitrescu Castle, should a mission indicator we spotted in the trailer be believed.
3. It's a race against time
You'll need to act quickly if you want to get your daughter back. Of the details we've been able to uncover, the village is under siege by an array of supernatural threats once the castle bells toll – putting you and the other citizens that live there in danger. The mention of a ceremony in dialogue and the disappearance of your daughter can be no coincidence, so it seems fairly likely that Ethan will be fighting against time to return Rose to his custody and reclaim his sanity. Oh, and fight back against a horde of awful witches who will no doubt spend the majority of the game putting you through a living hell.
4. Introducing Lady Dimitrescu and the Witches Three
The three witches are infamous through folklore. Given the folk-horror atmosphere of Resident Evil 8, perhaps it is no surprise to see that Capcom's interpretation of the Wayward Sisters make an appearance here. The three have the ability to transform into swarms of insects and each has distinctive ways to attack, making them a formidable threat. But they aren't the only boss-type characters you'll need to worry about; the three report into their mother, Lady Dimitrescu, who seems intent on playing games with us. "Ethan Winters, you escaped my little brother's idiot gaze did you?" she proclaims, adding, "Let's see how special you are."
5. Resident Evil 8 may have found its Jack Baker
That idiot brother Lady Dimitrescu mentions is almost certainly named Heisenberg. If you watch the showcase clearly, you see a character confronting Ethan while wearing a cowboy hat, trench coat, and sunglasses – quite a look for the witching season. Oh yeah, and he also wields a freaking massive two-handed hammer with ease; you'll also notice the objects around him are levitating too, indicating that he too possesses paranormal powers like the witches. Heisenberg could well be Resident Evil 8's version of Resident Evil 7's Jack Baker. An antagonist that you'll meet early on (in the village, in this case) that is seemingly unstoppable, absolutely relentless, and only a taste of the hell that awaits later in the game.
6. Looks like the leaks were true!
This section right here is going to connect some dots between the leaks last year and what we saw in the showcase, so if you aren't interested in a potential spoiler I'd skip ahead. As I wrote last year, noting that the Resident Evil 8: Village leaks suggest that the series is about to undertake a radical transformation, it was made clear that the game would have Stalker enemy types, not all that dissimilar to Nemesis or Tyrant. Those legendary villains could not be killed, only temporarily subdued to give you time to escape; that's likely the role of the three witches, only they will also dissipate into killer insects should you temporarily defeat one of them. So if you hear a witch laughing, you better start running in the opposite direction.
7. You have limited defense options
Resident Evil 7 introduced a Guard and Counterattack system, which appears to be expanded here in Resident Evil 8. In the 2017 release, holding L1 would prompt Ethan to raise up his arms to brace for an incoming attack, reducing damage and stagger at the cost of speed and visibility. With a variety of threats coming your way, Capcom has brought the system back for Resident Evil 8. Ethan can still block attacks, although he now has the ability to kick enemies away with a tap of L1, creating some distance between you and your assailant to give you time to reposition, reload, or run away.
8. Aim with accuracy
Each enemy has its own distinct way of fighting. This should ensure that encounters – from the warped humanoid creature confronting you in the village to the supernatural horrors that stalk the castle grounds – are constantly pushing you to adapt your survival strategies. You'll have limited ways to mitigate this danger, such as the ability to shoot weapons out of enemy hands – a returning feature from Resident Evil 4. You can spot this as Ethan is fighting the hunched, hooded figures in a basement; he's able to damage the ligaments of an enemy's arm, forcing it to drop a longsword and forcefully lash out with its fists.
9. Prepare for inventory Tetris
Resident Evil games have always saddled you with a limited inventory, although some changes are being made to the system seen in Resident Evil 7. Biohazard pushed you to prioritise weapons, items, and ammunition in real-time as you wrestled with the small space of your backpack. Resident Evil 8 has more in common with the Resident Evil 4 method of item management, letting you duck into the menus to play a crude game of Tetris with your equipment in an attempt to get better mileage out of the space in your briefcase. You'll also be able to assign weapons to hotkeys on the D-Pad for easy access.
10. Use the space wisely
Ethan has more storage space than he did in Resident Evil 7, but less than Leon S. Kennedy had in Resident Evil 4. In RE7, you started with 12 item slots and could upgrade your carrying capacity by locating three hidden backpacks, each of which would grant +4 inventory space. In RE4, the Attache Case starts as a 10x6 grid with 60 available squares that can be expanded one row and column at a time by purchasing upgrades. Resident Evil 8 has a similar system, with the gameplay demo revealed a starting 9x5 grid (with 45 available item slots) in the briefcase that can be expanded later should you have the available funds to do so.
11. Crafting is back
Resident Evil 8 features a more robust crafting system than any of its predecessors. You'll come across a variety of resources while exploring locations in Resident Evil 8. The UI indicates that there are five types of resources that can be kept on hand, each of which can be combined to create items critical to survival. As an example, one Green Herb and one Chem Fluid can be combined to create a First Aid Med – a medicine that fully heals all wounds. You'll also be able to forge ammunition, should you purchase the correct crafting recipes.
12. Wield weapons with care
The switch to a first-person perspective gave us a real appreciation for the weapons of Resident Evil. The guns look incredible in Village, and if you pay close attention you'll even notice how different lighting highlights wear, tear, and grime on the barrels of the guns. Weapons eat up a lot of space in your briefcase, so you'll need to carry with care. The standard EM1 Handgun takes up six slots and the pump-action M1897 Shotgun consumes 10. We've also caught a glimpse of the new F2 Bolt-Action Rifle, which offsets its spine-tinglingly satisfying reload animation by taking up a punishing 12 item slots.
13. The Merchant is back in business
Resident Evil 8 will feature a Merchant. A popular fixture of Resident Evil 4, The Merchant is a wandering and mysterious purveyor of rare weapons, items, and other oddities to help you along in your journey. Resident Evil 8's shopkeeper is called The Duke, running a store called The Duke's Emporium that will open its doors to you at set points throughout the game. The Duke is a strange and larger than life character who appears to know of Ethan's plight, commenting, "Anyone who is anyone knows of you". Why they are helping you remains to be seen.
14. Collect currency
Resident Evil 8 features a currency called Lei. You'll find coins to spend by slashing at crates and windows with your trust knife, and by rummaging through Dimitrescu Castle. Once you have your hands on some cash, you'll be able to spend it at The Duke's Emporium. The shop is split between Supplies, Gunsmithery, and The Duke's Purse. Decoding these sections, it appears that you'll be able to buy weapons, ammo, and medication from Supplies. Weapon upgrades come from the Gunsmithery and The Duke's Purse will likely let you buy and sell rare oddities that you acquire in the world
15. You can upgrade your weapons
The Duke's Emporium sells a number of mission-critical items and weapons – all at a high price, stranger. We spotted Resident Evil's infamous magnum, a long-barrel pistol, a hunting knife, and two different rifles available for purchase. You'll also be able to use Lei to buy upgrades for the weapons you already own, investing in improvements to Power, Rate of Fire, Reload Speed, and Magazine Size. You'll also be able to buy crafting recipes to create everything from shotgun and sniper rifle ammo, to what appears to be new lockpicks. Oh, and should you acquire 10,000 Lei you'll be able to buy Extra Baggage to increase the item slots available in your inventory.
16. The puzzles return
One of the best aspects of Resident Evil 7 was the way it integrated the series' penchant for ridiculous brain teasers into a more grounded and rural setting – the Birthday puzzle room remains one of the best in Resi's history – although they were far and few between. So what of Resident Evil 8? Capcom has confirmed that there will be plenty of puzzles to solve before you can move forward, and our first glimpse at them shows rotating doors and moving statues in the castle grounds – teasing a return to the style of loveable nonsense last seen in Resident Evil 2: Remake.
17. Prepare for chaos
Resident Evil has always had a penchant for thrusting players into absurdist situations. That looks especially true here in Resident Evil 8. Not only have we seen Ethan trying to pick insects out of his skin, and him being dragged along the ground from a hook in his leg, there's also a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment that highlights the absurdist chaos of this entire situation. There's a brief look at a set piece in which Ethan is attempting to outrun a moving spike trap with his hands chained up in front of him. It's big, it's stupid, and it is classic Resident Evil.
18. There are hidden objectives
While much of your time will be spent trying to help Ethan figure out what's real, cut through hallucinations, find his daughter, and escape the rural fiasco he has found himself caught up in there will be optional objectives to complete. Bobbleheads are legendarily difficult to find hidden objects through Resident Evil games and it would appear that Village is replacing Resident Evil 7's Mr. Everywhere Statuettes with wooden Goat Idols that'll be hidden throughout the environments. Keep an ear out for the audio indicators and look out for these, unique upgrades and resources are typically the reward for finding all of them.
19. Resident Evil 8 has a release date
We've known for quite some time that Village will be arriving in 2021, but Capcom has finally confirmed that the Resident Evil Village release date is set for May 7, 2021. The game will arrive on PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC, as well as PS4 and Xbox One day-and-date. For those of you playing on last-gen consoles with the intention of buying a new system in the future, Capcom has confirmed that the PS4 version can be upgraded for free to the digital PS5 version, while the Xbox One version will give you free access to the game on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S through Smart Delivery.
20. Play a demo right now
Want to play Resident Evil 8 for yourself but can't wait until May 7, 2021? Capcom has confirmed that an exclusive PS5 demo is available right now, a playable side-story that is designed to give you a look at the world, a sense of the atmosphere, and a hint at the horrors that await in the final game. The Resident Evil Maiden demo won't have you play as Ethan, but rather a character Capcom is referring to as the "Maiden"; it features no combat and is instead a taster designed to showcase the art direction, audio, and terrifying characters you'll encounter throughout the world. A broader demo for other consoles will be made available later this year.
Big in 2021 is GamesRadar's month-long celebration of the new year. Every day, we will be exploring the most anticipated games on the near horizon with brand new previews and exclusive developer interviews.