Whether it be the the 1998 original or the 2019 remake, one of the coolest things about Resident Evil 2 is being granted the opportunity to experience the Raccoon City incident from the perspective of two characters in two distinct scenarios. Suffice it to say, you’re missing out if you don’t play as both Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield.
Those familiar with series history know how Claire A/Leon B is regarded as being the canonical path to explore, but I guess that had no effect on those partaking in the modernized version. According to statistics presented at the time of this writing, 80% of gamers chose Leon for their first playthrough, whereas only 20% opted for Claire.
Though no intense survey was conducted, the simplest explanation could be that Leon occupied the first of two discs back in 1998, which probably led to most people choosing him back then. And this time around, his name does pop up first on the menu presented.
Another reason could be that Leon has become more of a familiar face since RE 2‘s initial release. Really, he’s gone on to star in Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 6 and even the obscure Resident Evil Gaiden for Game Boy Color, even though that one has since been wiped from canon. Furthermore, he’s also starred in three animated movies: Degeneration (also featuring Claire, actually), Damnation and Vendetta.
Claire, meanwhile, followed up RE 2 with Resident Evil CODE: Veronica and the underrated Resident Evil: Revelations 2. The latter mentioned is regarded as a spinoff, though it does also feature the long awaited return of Barry Burton and the introduction of Alex Wesker, therefore I view it as required gaming. Both Claire and Leon appeared on the on-rails shooter known as Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles for the Wii, too, but that mostly consisted of first person retellings of their previous adventures.
Personally, I believe you should play as Claire first in the Resident Evil 2 remake and here’s why: not only do I find her overall narrative more gripping and her scenario to be more fun, but it also comes down to who’s better to finish the 2nd Run – and that’s Leon. As you may know, Claire stumbles upon a Minigun near the end of the game, whereas Leon is gifted with a Rocket Launcher. And once the time comes to face William Birkin’s final mutation on the train in order to unlock the true ending, said Rocket Launcher is easily the most effective weapon around. You’ll thank me later.