Fans Discover Resident Evil 4 Merchant Easter Egg in RE Village Demo
It should come as no surprise that, despite Capcom going out of their way to name and characterize Resident Evil Village‘s new weapons dealer (the Duke), fans are… just calling him the Merchant. A classic staple of gaming at this point, Resident Evil 4‘s mysterious trader is famous for both his gleeful delight upon doing business with the player to the point where even non-fans at least know his most heard quote — “Whatya buyin’?”. The series has been without an actual physical merchant ever since, with future installments simply replacing him with a non-canon menu between chapters. In bringing back the Merchant in the form of this new Duke character, Capcom seems totally aware that fans will immediately think of our old friend, before getting acquainted with this new one.
When playing the new 30 minute Castle demo, you run into the Duke almost immediately, in a room off to the side of the main hall (where the four marble statues rise from the floor). After a short cutscene where Ethan talks to him, you’re given the opportunity to trade with him, selling rarities you found along your way and purchasing items, weapons, and upgrades from him. Just like the Merchant before him, the Duke has a variety of lines he spouts as you move from one menu to the next, and bartering with his wares. One line caught fan’s full attention though, as it’s a delightful little shout-out to our old friend:
HOLY SHIT IS THIS A MOTHERFOCKING RESIDENT EVIL 4 REFERENCE!? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/wcysZW69S9
— Bruno Izidro (@espantalho555) April 25, 2021
It’s quite charming to see the original Merchant referenced like this, especially seeing as the comparison is inescapable. The idea that the two arms dealers may canonically be friends is even more charming. It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the only classic Merchant Easter egg though, as the Duke’s shop front itself hides another cute shout-out in plain sight (which I pointed out back when I examined the first Resident Evil Showcase stream).
When opening up the shop menu for the Duke (called The Duke’s Emporium), we see lots of writing and little logos all over the screen, but one, in particular, stands out. While it isn’t quite as overt as the Duke straight-up quoting the Merchant, it’s pretty obvious none the less:
“No one’s a stranger”, as opposed to the Merchant’s constant referral to Leon as “Stranger”. In lore, Leon and the Merchant never actually traded weapons, it was only a gameplay mechanic, but they did cross paths. The merchant most likely didn’t see a point in learning Leon’s identity, nor Leon taking an interest in his. This time around, however, the Duke knows exactly who Ethan is, and seemingly more about the role Ethan has to play in the village than Ethan himself does.
Regardless, it’s delightful to see Capcom tease fans with these cute little nods, especially after we’ve gone so long without a friendly trader to do business with. I can’t wait to see how the Duke factors into the story when the full game releases on May 7th.