September 24, 2021

Nightmare Is The Best Part of RE7…


… and Capcom charged us £7.99 for it in The Banned Footage #1 DLC.

Resident Evil may be a horror-themed game but ask most of us who habitually buy the series and most will point out what keeps us playing is the additional mode at the end; in Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 it was The Mercenaries. In Revelations and Revelations 2, it was Raid Mode. And there’s no question in my mind that Nightmare Mode is going to be the same thing for Resident Evil 7 – a little lacking in variety compared to what the series usually proffers, but what it lacks in choice it makes up for in tough, addictive gameplay.

The premise is deceptively simple; you’ve been locked in the basement area of The Baker Residence. You have to survive until dawn; collecting scrap, making weapons and healing items, laying traps and defeating anything and everything that deigns to get in your way. It’s a blend of Survival and Horde modes which seems paper-thin until you realise how the odds are stacked against us – and only wise use of the traps, effective use of the scrap compactors and opening up the whole of the basement giving you more room to play around with will get you to the break of dawn.

I’m not okay with it being a pay-for addition; it’s the sort of content Capcom has traditionally thrown in to the series as standard, so that we have to pay £7.99 for it is frankly ludicrous (particularly as Ethan Must Die is a bit lazy, and Bedroom feels like an experiment that goes nowhere). But it does at least pay back in kind; this is going to be the go-to mode for a lot of people, because it is cleverly pitched and tuned to be utterly compelling stuff. It’s always been the case that it is the additional modes where the series finds its groove, and it’s clear Resident Evil 7 is to be no different.

Let me nail down the extra bits of The Banned Content #1.

First up is Bedroom; a puzzle room. It’s not a terrible little experiment; featuring our good ol’ demo friend Clancey. The idea is to get a key that opens the room so you can escape, but you have to do so avoiding Marguerite storming back into the room catching you out of your bed. Rooting around for anything of use disturbs the order, and Marguerite will notice if things are not the way she remembers (and then you have to try and bluff your way out of the situation). It’s not a terrible concept and it is quite a tense little segment; but it is, ultimately, a one-shot deal. There is no real replay value here, it’s an experimental note that tries something interesting but ultimately goes nowhere.

The other is Ethan Must Die, where the game dumps enemies all over the place for you and this mode just doesn’t fit together right – it’s like old Resi 3 Merecenaries, without the tuning. Look, I ragged on Resident Evil 7 for a lot of cliché, predictable nonsense but I’ll concede that for the most part the game is paced well, particularly in Madhouse Mode, where the game really starts to shine (Normal mode is far too easy, it must be said). Ethan Must Die is the Hardcore mode, where everything becomes that much harder with lots more enemies and more randomised placements of items – but for my money, the game loses something in the process here. It’s not that it’s the worst thing ever; I’m sure there’s a lot of fun to be had. It’s just that again, it goes absolutely nowhere. It’s a one-shot deal and when done, that’s it. You’re done.

I think the problem underlining all of this is the fact this is £7.99 DLC of content which, ultimately, feels like it has been ripped wholesale from the main game and sold back to us.

Ethan Must Die feels like it should have been there by default. Bedroom feels like a lost chapter which didn’t make the final cut. And Nightmare, arguably, should have been the reward for beating Madhouse (and Infinite Ammo the reward for surviving until dawn in that mode – see Capcom, this is why we shake our heads at you sometimes!). Nothing about The Banned Footage #1 feels like it was created as a valid DLC offering – just a cut difficulty option, a cut tape and a cut survival mode which is fantastic (and easily the only reason to buy this DLC) but still fairly limited in scope.

I understand, of course, DLC is a thing. But after a lot of success with this game, The Banned Footage #1 already feels like a cash-grab of biblical proportions. Capcom selling us back stuff that should have been in the game by default, bit by agonising bit. That’s the sort of thing which gamers hate; and it’s the sort of thing which is frankly going to hurt Capcom and Resident Evil 7 if it isn’t more careful about this.

What amazes me is that Not A Hero, the free content coming in Spring with a campaign focused on Chris Redfield, isn’t the paid-for DLC option. What strikes me is that Capcom is proposing a potentially substantial slice of content for free, but selling us the basics we expect from the series in DLC instead. It’s just so topsy-turvey! Resident Evil 7 does need more expansive content too – I’m interested in the sort of stuff Zoe was getting up to, I’m intrigued to know how Mia and Ethan met (considering she’s a secret agent and he can heal severed limbs with nothing but a bottle of TCP) and I’d certainly like to know how this all got started, because there’s still a significant chunk of that story still untold. There is a lot of potential here for the game to offer solid DLC content in the vein of Lost In Nightmares and Desperate Escape (the content that alludes to what RE5 could have been if Capcom wasn’t so intent on ripping off Tomb Raider). And there’s no question I’d buy it either. RE7 has the opportunity to grow, and it’s been a while since we’ve been able to say that about the mainline angle of the series.

Capcom has gotten this embarrassingly wrong, in my opinion. Far from expanding on the game and its content, most of this just feels like bits and pieces. Nothing substantial or weighty, just nice odds and ends, a survival mode here, a puzzle room experiment there and a hardcore difficulty mode on top. Rather than proffer up additional character campaigns for the season pass and DLC price, what we get is stuff that in the past would have been tossed in as a freebie to keep us playing.

If anything, the worst thing The Banned Footage #1 does is highlight just how lightweight the main game is; sure, it’s fun, but past a few achievements there’s no longevity there and relatively little replay value. It offers content which feels like it could have made the main game a more solid, stable title overall (I’d have been delighted if I found Nightmare mode at the end of finishing Madhouse). Heck, Raid Mode and Mercenaries Mode keep people playing the older games to this day – few series can boast elements that can do that, even when the main campaign of the game sucks and blows as much as it did in Resident Evil 5.

Sorry Capcom, but what’s here is nice but you’re not fooling me. You cut this from the main game and you’re selling it back to us piecemeal.

That’s not okay!

(Edit; Also, many of the DLC modes will not support VR. Considering this whole game is perhaps VR’s best marketing vehicle to date, that also seems a little slapdash.)


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