August 5, 2021

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Resident Evil 2 Remake takes Capcom’s RE engine to the next level

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At the tail-end of last week, Capcom delivered a multi-platform release of the Resident Evil 2 Remake – the so-called ‘1-shot’ demo that gives users just 30 minutes to play a very small portion of the full game. It’s shaping up to be a beautiful game that sees the consoles push higher-end features of the foundation RE engine for the first time, and it also sees the developer make some fascinating technical choices for both the vanilla and enhanced consoles. Meanwhile, the PC version opens up a vast array of possible settings, but based on the experience the demo delivers, the top-end experience does require some meaty hardware.

So just how does the remake push the RE engine harder than before? All versions of the demo showcase a filmic per-object motion blur, each surface that is smooth enough receives screen-space reflections, and the game makes extensive use of volumetric lighting and a bokeh depth of field. We’ll be looking at the final version more closely to fully confirm this, but the lavish volumetric effects look quite a lot like the frustum voxel aligned type we have seen in many games this generation, giving any and every light a chance to illuminate the fog.

When all of those effects are combined together, we are looking at a highly atmospheric and smooth-looking game – and that is just the environments. Character modelling is also top-notch with realistic animations both in and out of cutscenes, and a lot of weight and physicality – from the way zombies react to the velocity of your gunfire, all the way down to the subtle animation on Leon’s hair as he trudges down the dark hallways. There are other technical tricks designed to showcase the high fidelity assets: when you bring the camera on around Leon up close, the game spawns a tight shadow-casting light directly above his head, following the camera. It may not be physically correct, but it serves to highlight the lifelike details of the player model – another neat trick for the smoke and mirrors that is real-time rendering.

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