A year ago this month Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was released, a return to form for the series that placed the emphasis back on survival horror, doing away with the action-packed style that the series had moved to in recent entries and making it a much more atmospheric and tense affair (you can read more in our review). Now the Gold Edition has just been released, including all the DLC for the game over the last 12 months, and so what better time to take a look back at all the content that's been added and how it adds to the experience that we enjoyed so much last year.
Before we start we should say that some of the added content requires knowing how the base game ends, so there will be spoilers ahead.
The first DLC package we got at the end of January 2017 was Banned Footage Vol. 1, bringing two new isolated episodes - Nightmare and Bedroom - and a new game mode. All of the banned footage episodes were meant to offer insight into the characters we'd seen in the base game, including the Baker's captive Clancy, and as such offer little extra vignettes slotting nicely alongside the main game.
Nightmare, first of all, sees Clancy locked in the basement at night, and he must survive until dawn, fending off the horrible monsters we've come to know and love from the main game. By getting kills you get points, and at the same time you're also tasked with collecting scrap to craft materials, because as you know a key part of surviving in Resident Evil 7 is making sure you've got enough resources to cover yourself. As enemies become more numerous, each wave sees you darting from place to place, squealing as you set traps and gather resources while fighting for your life. It's a really tense affair for a fun little minigame, and you'll find yourself learning each time you fail (they don't call it Nightmare for no reason after all).
Bedroom offers a slightly different challenge, however. Here you still play as Clancy, but this time you're locked in a bed by Marguerite and being fed all sorts of gross things. The goal here is to try and escape using a number of tools when she leaves the room, but the twist is that she'll come back at regular intervals, and if she finds anything out of place she'll get really mad, and you'll be punished. Therefore it's not just about the puzzle of getting out, but making sure you're covered when your captor comes back hollering at you. It's frustrating and it'll make you sweat as you scramble to find what you need in these short windows of time, but it's a bit more of a brainbender compared to Nightmare's action-packed chaos.
Banned Footage Vol. 1 also brought a new game mode called Ethan Must Die. This rather hardcore minigame puts you outside the Baker house with minimal resources, and you must navigate through and survive to face a boss at the end. Death is final though, and there are no checkpoints, and coupled with the fact there are traps everywhere this can be a hell of a ride if you slip up. All you have to do then is rely on the random crates to give you items, and the statues that are left behind when you die, which give you one random item from your dead self's inventory. It's not much in terms of substance, but if you liked the more combat-oriented sections of the main game, you'll like this just as much.
The second Banned Footage collection of DLC came out the month after that with the same structure: two isolated episodes, and one new game mode. We have to talk about the game mode first, Jack's 55th Birthday, and the best way to describe it is to say that if it was a mod, it wouldn't be lore-friendly. Remember the guy who chased you around the house relentlessly in the base game? Well here you're attending his birthday party, and you have to run around the house collecting food for him to gobble up while fighting monsters with silly hats on. It's ridiculous, its funny, and quite frankly a welcome change from the dingy rooms we're used to seeing.
21, however, is an episode that's all about the card game of the same name. This time poor old Clancy is trapped in a room opposite another captive and instructed by Lucas to play a game of 21, the catch being that if he loses a round he also loses a finger - the same goes for his partner. It's simple as that, so if you like playing card games but feel like it's missing a certain risk of dismemberment, this might be for you. Again, it's a rather isolated and inconsequential chapter in the grand scheme of things, but it's good for those who like atmosphere and an insight into the twisted minds of the Baker family.
Daughters is by far the best DLC of the Banned Footage collection though, and informs our understanding of the story a lot. Here you play as Zoe Baker before the events of Resident Evil 7, seeing the normal family life before Jack brings a girl called Eveline in from the storm. As you well know if you've finished the game, this ends badly for the whole family, Zoe most of all, and she has to navigate this twisted nightmarish space she once called home. From a narrative perspective alone, this offers a totally new view of the whole family, one that nuances them a little bit and makes them less monstrous (sort of), while also giving us some idea as to how things went so wrong in the first place.
After both of those we had a wait before getting two more DLC chapters, one of which was Not a Hero, which was a free update. This free update pretty much served as a direct continuation from Resident Evil 7's conclusion, where Chris Redfield shows up and chases after Lucas, who as you'd expect has plenty of traps up his sleeve to trip us up. A lot of people felt the last third of the main game was weakest because of its focus on action, and here it's more of the same: you're a military man with guns and explosives, and it's up to you to try and save your team and stop Lucas at all costs. At just over an hour in length (we played it in the stream below) it's not especially poignant or long-lasting in the memory, but it does give some much-needed conclusion to Lucas' own story. Chris Redfield, we have to say, isn't that welcome an addition to the story, and acts as a more meat-headed soldier without much substance.
End of Zoe is another epilogue chapter we've just received, one that sees us play as Joe, Jack Baker's brother, except this one costs £11.99 on its own. This DLC follows from the presumption that the player chose Mia over Zoe to save when given the choice in the base game, and as such you find Zoe calcified and unconscious and you work to find a cure for her. All sounds pretty reasonable, right? Well, in the opening narrative cinematics we thought that too, as we use some pain to get information out of military personnel, but then comes the actual combat.
Basically, the bulk of the DLC sees you using your fists to smack people about. We thought this was a quirky idea that didn't really fit with the tone at first, but we dealt with it because it was kind of fun, until it became an annoyance. There's a reason first-person fistfighting isn't often seen, and once we got onto tough enemies and the bosses in the DLC we got frustrated really quickly by the process of trying to deal large amounts of damage up close and personal. That's not to say that it's all fists, as you can get bombs and spears throughout, but it's mostly an outlandish tale of revenge, one with an admittedly great story moment in it.
Most of these DLC sections offer tiny little insights and story beats that compliment the base game nicely, but none of it is really impactful in the same way. Whereas other games might go for an extensive episode that offers hours of gameplay and an experience that comes close to the original in terms of size and scale (like Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, for example), here we get isolated and varied bite-sized mini-games, ones that at the same time introduce new and interesting elements while very much slotting in nicely alongside the base game.
If you consider them in this way, each of them has their own unique appeal, but if you're expecting meatier content than that, it might not be worth the ride. That being said, in terms of value for money, the Gold Edition offers the most complete narrative experience, with all these DLCs bolstering what was a mighty fine story to begin with.