Chris Redfield and Leon S Kennedy are staple characters of Resident Evil and feature more frequently than anyone else in the series. Leon and Chris have been part of Resident Evil for decades, with Chris first appearing in the first game and Leon in the second. However, as the franchise heads into its ninth title, it’s time for Cpacom to retire these characters in favor of introducing new protagonists to the Resident Evil universe.
Chris’ last appearance in the games was as a small supporting role in Resident Evil 8, and not including Resident Evil 2: Remake, Leon last appeared as a main character in Resident Evil 6. Although players will also be able to see Leon return soon when playing the Resident Evil 4 remake, scheduled to release in 2023, it’s long past time the franchise as a whole moves on from its two original leading men.
Resident Evil games tend to be set during a year that’s close to the year they’re released, which means that characters within the franchise age along the same lines as regular humans. Short of receiving a full reboot from the beginning of the games, Leon and Chris have stories that have grown continually convoluted as Capcom works to find reasons for them to appear in ways that don’t dilute the horror element. Leon and Chris are so experienced in dealing with biohazards, that it can be difficult to capture the feeling of a survival-horror game when one or the other is involved as by this stage, they’re both extremely overpowered.
Resident Evil 5 was a turning point for Chris’ character in terms of how he operated when dealing with biohazard outbreaks. A Resident Evil 5 remake with co-op could be a possibility in the future, but players might have a difficult time feeling that it’s a survival-horror game because Chris started working with a team rather than being isolated. Resident Evil 6 took this shift further and made Chris’ campaign feel more like a Call of Duty clone rather than an entry in Resident Evil.
The acknowledgment of Chris’ advanced strength can be seen in his short segment of gameplay in Resident Evil 8 when he storms the village, easily shooting and killing the Lycans that give Ethan so much trouble. As it stands, Chris is simply too overpowered to be a viable protagonist in the next Resident Evil, unless it took place much earlier in his timeline.
Leon is receiving an updated character design in Resident Evil 4 Remake to capture the darker, more mature tone of the game, but he still goes into his mission to rescue Ashley as an experienced government agent. Unlike Chris, Leon tends to work alone, or partnered with one person who has similar goals as is the case in Resident Evil 6. However, his experience and calm demeanor can have him run into the same issue that Chris has with not being the best fit for survival-horror.
When he appears in Resident Evil 2, Leon is a newly hired cop for the Raccoon City Police Department. This position gives him enough experience to use weapons and protect himself against the zombie outbreak, but his lack of knowledge about biohazards can add suspense to the game as players search for answers about the G-Virus. Similarly, Resident Evil 4 combines the classic features of a survival-horror game by isolating Leon in a location full of mysteries while he searches for Ashley. To keep him in now would introduce the same problem as Chris, he has simply come too far and is now too overpowered.
Ethan Winters helped revitalize the franchise in Resident Evil 7 when its future was uncertain. After a foray into an action-oriented style of game, Resident Evil returned to its survival-horror roots with Ethan as the main character. Before the events of Resident Evil 7, Ethan had no formal training with firearms or survival techniques. He also had no experience with biohazards before encountering the Baker family, so players can go through a frightening and suspenseful journey with a character who is concerned about the safety of both his wife and himself.
Using new characters and fixing Resident Evil’s villain problem with Eveline in Resident Evil 7 let the game tell a self-contained story, which can help the journey feel more emotional and rewarding at the end. Leon and Chris have been part of Resident Evil for so long that players know their connections with other characters, and the people they associate with or care about tend to be able to handle themselves in combat and biohazard situations. New characters can have more at stake when it comes to being impacted by viruses, and the Winters family showcased that with their story set across two games.
Born from mutant parents, Rose has inhuman abilities that are stronger than even Eveline’s. While the story of the Winters family was completed in Resident Evil Village’s Shadows of Rose DLC, it’s possible that other children like Rose exist in the Resident Evil universe. There have been multiple strains of different viruses unleashed on populations, so it would make sense that some people were able to adapt and live with infections, which could lead to the birth of mutant children like Rose. This route could add refreshing changes to the Resident Evil formula, including new play styles, abilities, and unique characters with backstories that players are unfamiliar with compared to Chris and Leon.
Resident Evil has multiple characters that show up in more than one game, and Leon and Chris might be the two who appear the most. Their journeys began in Resident Evil’s iconic Raccoon City, and it might be time for them to be retired from the series now that it’s heading into Resident Evil 9. However, Leon and Chris are experienced to the point that it can take away from any feeling of horror in the games, and Ethan showed that new characters can carry the franchise just as well. If either one of them is going to return again, it might be better if it’s to restart their stories in a full reboot of Resident Evil.
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