10 Key Survival Tips for Resident Evil 2

Don’t let Resident Evil 2’s stunning new visuals and completely overhauled gameplay fool you: This remake of the 1998 survival-horror classic is still very much a Resident Evil game. That means that you’ll have to conserve ammo, manage your inventory wisely, and know when and when not to engage a giant-tongued zombie monster in order to get out of the Raccoon City Police Department alive.

If you want to make your journey through Capcom’s gorgeously reimagined horror adventure just a little less frightening, here are 10 key survival tips.

Aim carefully (and don’t waste ammo)

Resident Evil 2’s zombies don’t go down easily, and you’ll rarely have a surplus of ammo to unload into them. Stay as still as possible, wait for your aiming reticle to shrink and aim for the head to do as much damage as possible. Zombies often get back up once they hit the ground, so unless you see a head explode, you should use your combat knife (more on that below) or fire a few extra rounds at the head until you’re certain they’re dead.

Shooting a zombie’s legs will slow it down, while later enemies will have obvious weak spots to focus on. Just don’t spray-and-pray when things get hectic, as every bullet matters.

The combat knife is your friend

You should aim to always have a combat knife on you, as it could save you tons of ammo — and your life. The knife is a great tool for finishing off downed zombies without wasting ammo, and you can shove one into any zombie that grabs you to avoid getting bitten (you can achieve the same effect with any grenade you have equipped).

Just keep in mind that combat knives will break after a few uses, and if you plant one in a zombie, you'll have to to pick it back up once the enemy is dead.

Deal with the zombies (when you can)

A big part of Resident Evil is knowing when and when not to engage the undead (for example: You’re not going to take on a Licker with just a pistol). But if you have the proper firepower and health to clear out a room, you should. You’ll be doing a ton of backtracking in Resident Evil 2, and the more enemies you deal with immediately, the fewer you’ll have to worry about later.

Safe often (and in multiple slots)

If you’re playing on normal or assisted mode, you should be saving every time you come across a typewriter. Death can happen quickly, even on the game’s standard difficulty, and the last thing you want to do is have to backtrack through room after room of undead because you lost your progress. Your number of saves does affect your overall ranking at the end of the game, but you likely won’t be shooting for high scores your first time through.

Be sure to take advantage of your multiple save slots, too. If you’re extremely low on healing items and resources, you might want to save in a new slot as to not overwrite a previous save in which your character was in better shape. This way, if you find yourself constantly dying due to low health and ammo, you can revert back to an earlier save and try to make a smoother run to your next objective.

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Examine everything

As you collect various doodads, make sure to open your inventory menu and examine them. Seemingly benign objects will often yield crucial passwords, keys and clues if you just move them around a bit.

Use the quick turn

Pressing down + circle on PS4 or down + B on Xbox One will allow your character to do a quick 180-degree turn. On top of letting you get from place to place faster, this move lets you instantly face an enemy you’ve been running away from, and is crucial for giving yourself time to dodge deadly boss attacks.

Board up those windows

As you progress through the police department, you’ll collect a few wooden panels that you can use to board up open windows and keep zombies out. Use them at every opportunity. You’ll have significantly fewer undead to deal with if you do.

Drop what you don’t need

Inventory space is precious in Resident Evil 2, so don’t let useless objects clutter up your bag. The game places a convenient red check mark next to keys and puzzle items that have already served their purpose, so be sure to discard anything you don’t need.

Write down puzzle solutions

Every time you find a solution to the various combination locks, safes and puzzle terminals throughout the game, be sure to take a photo of or write down those solutions. This way, you won’t have to hunt down those clues on subsequent playthroughs, shaving precious minutes off of those speedrun attempts.

Use your map and explore everywhere

Resident Evil 2’s map system is incredibly intuitive. If a room is marked as blue, you’ve fully explored it; if it’s red, there are still more items and secrets to discover; and if it’s blank, you haven’t been there at all yet.

If you’re pounding your head on the wall wondering where to go next, check every unexplored room and unopened door, and use any keys you have on any corresponding locks you haven’t tried yet. You’ll find tons of handy items in the process, and will eventually stumble onto whichever key or puzzle solution you need to progress.

Credit: Capcom

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.