Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has been a fantastic opener for 2017 – a proper, if not the best possible, return of the real survival horror (and not horror+something games that love to misgenre themselves). I rarely replay modern titles, but I replayed RE7 at least 5 times right after completing it for the first time. So, I was unsurprisingly excited for more RE7: there were 2 mini-DLC packs announced and 2 bigger stories, one paid and one free. And after multiple delays, we got the Gold Edition of the game with all this content on top of the main game just earlier this week. Still no VR support for PC, though, so there will be more updates, but content-wise, we probably will not get any more major additions or updates. Is the paid DLC worth the upgrade price?
Banned Footage Vol.1 and 2 packs give you 4 story-related and 2 non-canon arcadey DLCs/game modes. Chronologically, story-related DLCs work like this: Daughters tells about how the Baker family got infected and works similarly to the demo of RE7 as the mix of light adventuring and story exploration and feels like the most interesting piece of the story content in the packs. Bedroom is a Stephen King’s Misery-inspired “escape the room” story of Clancy from Sewer Gators with several neat ideas, but also several frustrating bits. Nightmare is a pure survival/horde/mercenaries mode about Clancy surviving in the basement until dawn, while being attacked, and is more or less fun to play. 21 is a game of blackjack to death and works as the prequel to the final Clancy’s VHS from the main game. All of these are incredibly short and are intended to be replayed multiple times, with Nightmare and 21 having advanced modes and unlocks. But otherwise they feel like tech demos of interesting ideas that slightly flesh out some of the characters we have already seen.
The 2 non-canon arcadey modes are as inconsistent. Ethan Must Die is terrible. It’s a “you die in one hit” mode with completely random items that you can get along the very linear path full of enemies and traps with a boss fight at the end. If it didn’t have the random element to it, it could’ve been interesting, but given that you might get a situation where you get no weapons apart from the crappy pocket knife throughout most of the run, or get the explosive box as the very first box you find (they tick, but it can be hard to hear at times) makes it more of an annoyance than a challenge. Jack’s 55th Birthday, on the other hand, is quite silly and fun where you race the clock to feed Jack with the tastiest of meals you can find while killing enemies to stop the timer. It’s silly fun and has different unlockables, unlike Ethan Must Die, but still can get pretty boring.
End of Zoe is the paid big DLC that serves as an epilogue to the main game’s story. You play as a new character named Joe, who’s trying to get Zoe the cure from the infection, and does the talking with his fists. The main gimmick of the entire DLC is the mix of stealth and brawling. Joe, Jack’s brother, punches enemies to death, occasionally switching to spearing mutated alligators or constructing small bombs and suplexing bosses. It’s a curiously entertaining DLC that doesn’t really tell anything new or meaningful for the RE universe or even Bakers’ tale, but all the entertainment comes from the gameplay. It’s very linear and some of the sections are more frustrating than fun, but it’s an interesting concept you can get back to.
And Not a Hero, despite being the free DLC, surprisingly feels like the only DLC that older fans of the series might get interested in. Not due to the gameplay: it feels closer to the RE4 and RE5, even with the ability to punch the stumbling enemies, quite linear, despite having open ended design of the locations. And it actually introduces more metroid-ish item-based limitation to where you can go, something I wish more survival horror games tried doing. But it doesn’t really expand on the best survival horror ideas of the main game. No, what makes it most interesting for the fans is the fact, that this is the only DLC that actually expands on the RE universe in any way by explaining the presence of the “Blue Umbrella” PMC, why Chris Redfield is working with them and setting up hints for whatever events might be happening in future games. It’s rather fun to play and also has unlocks and other reasons to get back to it otherwise, but feels not as fun as either the RE4/5, nor is particularly interesting for exploration or other good RE7 bits.
If all of this feels like a collection of basic ideas and bonus modes, which were often part of classic Resident Evil games (either from the start or as part of the updated and enhanced re-releases), it’s because they clearly are. Maybe, Capcom just didn’t want to discard the ideas that were planned for the main game and also to get some feedback on if they should use any of them in future games. But in any case, the DLCs as a whole feel like a bit of a disappointment. They add nothing to the main game and, in fact, are always self-contained, with all the unlocks and features being exclusive just for them – a huge mistake, in my opinion. The game itself, by the way, hasn’t been updated to fix or change the issues I’ve mentioned in my original review either.
It doesn’t help that the potentially most interesting DLC is the free one, making it hard to justify the purchase of the Season Pass/Gold edition upgrade. I would still highly recommend getting the base game, because it’s fantastic. And since Not a Hero is free, get that one too. As for the rest? If you absolutely must have more Resident Evil 7, get End of Zoe or all of them. But you might want to wait until a discount. And I will be waiting for what Capcom will bring next. Just… let me replay this game a few more times…