As you begin your adventure into the horror of a zombie infested Raccoon City, you have one important choice to make. Like the original release, the Resident Evil 2 remake offers two playable characters, and which you play with first makes for a significant difference in both gameplay and story. To help you make this critical choice, here’s a rundown of my thoughts on which character to play first in Resident Evil 2 Remake.
The truth is that you can choose either Leon S. Kennedy or Claire Redfield and have a full, fun experience with Resident Evil 2. The game handles its two characters and campaigns a bit differently than the original release. Instead of being very distinct from each other, the campaigns are streamlined and melded together in a way, with less impact on your experience based around your choice.
Light spoilers to follow…Whatever character you pick first will be the one who enters the RPD through the front entrance, will work with Lieutenant Marvin Branagh to explore the building, and will have to deal with both Tyrant/Mr. X (a major shift from the original game) and the G-Virus infected monster. The “2nd Run”, no matter what character you do it with, will involve getting to RPD later, entering through the side, getting the bolt cutters earlier, and using different keys for different rooms. This is also the character who will deal with the final boss and get the full ending of the game. As either character, you’ll solve the same puzzles with mostly the same solutions.
What’s different are the side characters you encounter, with Leon running into Ada Wong and Claire helping out Sherry Birkin. You’ll also be using different weapons along the way, which actually is the bigger impact on the feel of each campaign. Claire is underpowered compared to Leon. Claire does have a nice grenade launcher and sub-machine gun, with a decent amount of ammo for both. Leon gets an ample selection of heavy weapons, including the shotgun, flamethrower, and more. None of this changes based on your choice, they are just a part of the individual campaigns.
So, now that that’s all explained, here’s my thoughts on which character to play first in Resident Evil 2. It feels like the best combination is to choose Claire first and Leon for the 2nd Run. This is actually counter to how I did it my first time with RE2 Remake and way back when I played it on N64 (like a boss). Claire being underpowered works best because you feel less of a hit when you lose all your weapons/items and reset the clock on your adventure. The story also seems to function better this way, but only in minor ways.
Again, you can really go either way with your character choices, but if you want the very best RE2 experience, the way that many fans, including myself, recommend is to go with Claire, and save Leon for the 2nd Run.