Character Spotlight: Robert Kendo - Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game

Wow – what a great response to our last character spotlight! We’re delighted to see there are so many Marvin Branagh fans out there. If you missed the update, don’t worry – you can catch up here. This week we’re back for another office favourite, and a character we’ve been looking forward to for some time.  

As our internal SFG playtest group named him, it’s the one-man army – Robert Kendo.  

Freeze! Who Are You? What Are You Doing Here?  

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One of the most memorable characters in Resident Evil™ 2, Robert Kendo was the owner of the Kendo Gun Shop, located in uptown Raccoon City. A close friend of Barry Burton, Kendo also had close ties to the Raccoon City Police Department, custom designing the Samurai Edge handgun wielded by the members of the S.T.A.R.S. taskforce.  

Despite his perpetually stern expression, Kendo was a kind and charitable man. When the outbreak began his first thought was to arm as many citizens as possible with weapons from his stock, only keeping a single shotgun for himself. Long after others fled, Kendo refused to abandon his beloved city, waiting patiently for the police to reclaim the streets from the undead.  

Unfortunately for Kendo, the police force was decimated in the uprising and help would never come. For days he was forced to hide from the undead behind his store counter, the city beyond far too dangerous for him to venture outside. Eventually, human contact came from an unexpected quarter, as Leon burst into the gun shop, the undead hot on his heels. Disaster struck moments later as zombies smashed through the Gun Shop windows and tore poor Kendo to pieces.  

The importance of this scene in the original Resident Evil™ 2 cannot be missed. It was an event which truly set the tone for the rest of the game, and a departure from a time when safe locations only offered respite and sanctuary. As a result, we knew Kendo’s role in Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game would need to be equally as impactful.  

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We tried several different ideas of how to include Kendo in early development, including introducing him as an event card from the tension deck, an encounter table result, and even an NPC the players had to convince to accompany them. Although some of these were a lot of fun, they didn’t really feel right. Most added a significant chunk of complexity which detracted from the fast pace of the game, and none guaranteed his appearance. We eventually reached the decision to include Kendo as a playable character, but agreed we ideally needed a method for boosting his significance if possible.  

Our unexpected answer came in a meeting a few days later, about the best way to incorporate Sherry Birkin into the core game – or not, as the case eventually ended up being. Suddenly, we had a solution of how to incorporate Kendo which elevated his character but wouldn’t interfere with in-game balance.  

Don’t Worry – I’m Keeping A Close Eye On Things  

As we’ve previously identified, our goal for the characters in the core version of the game was always to keep them a little more user friendly than those unlocked during the Kickstarter campaign. Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy especially exemplify this approach, both providing solid and intuitive characters for a beginner player. Kendo is also cut from this bolt of cloth, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t turn the dials a little further during playtesting.  

Kendo has an inventory capacity of six, which is the average across most characters. His weapon proficiency is equally mid-level, including the handgun, shotgun, and grenade launcher (more about that later…). His health track is the same as most other characters too – nothing remarkable there. So, what does make him stand out?  

When we designed Kendo, we wanted to give players a hint of character but also a different playstyle to the other survivors. Our first step was to reduce his evade dice to one, making him considerably less agile. This forces Kendo to approach situations very differently – the odds of evading a zombie in his path drop to 50/50 with one dice, and are worse still if he’s facing a larger adversary. Kendo wasn’t nimble enough to avoid the zombies in the original game, and he isn’t any lighter on his feet in Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game.  

To make up for this increased vulnerability, we gave Kendo a special rule named Marksman – and what an ability that is! A skill which was later borrowed by HUNK, Marksman is a once per activation ability which allows Kendo to reroll any attack he makes. This turns Kendo into the premier damage orientated survivor available to the players, able to gun down just about any enemy in his path. Especially lethal with the grenade launcher, a weapon which allows him to reliably output some serious damage, Kendo can even make short work of some bosses… provided he doesn’t have to make too many dodge rolls, that is.  

Robert Kendo was a firm favourite throughout development, and the core of several survivor builds our playtesters came up with. We won’t spoil anything by telling you what they are, but if you guys really want to go to town, try pairing Kendo with Advanced Claire Redfield – not much can make it through that hail of bullets, that’s for sure!  

Normally we’d end there, but this week we have something a little special for you…  

The City of Ruin  

Our wonderful community have been exemplary over the last few weeks, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of you guys. To celebrate our awesome backers, starting today we’re going to be sharing some of the tile art from Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game, as part of each update going forward.  

First up are a couple of tiles from the core box. These are purposefully designed to be generic tiles, which can be used to represent a variety of locations in the game without breaking the immersion by being too specific. We’re not sure about you, but we can see easily these areas at home in the sewers, cesspool, underground laboratory or even the RPD basement, as well as other places our survivors might tread.  

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We’re delighted with how they came out, and hope you are also. Check in next week to see yet more, and to learn about Annette Birkin (gotta finish the series on Tofu, right?).