Resident Evil 7: Banned Footage Vol. 1 DLC review

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Resident Evil 7 debuted in January, breathing new life into a franchise whose last few main entries hadn’t been well-received. Although some people have taken to mastering the main game in every possible way, many of us still crave more. Thankfully, the ‘Banned Footage Volume 1’ DLC has finally arrived on Xbox One and Windows after a short period of PlayStation 4 exclusivity. Now everyone can experience the new nightmare.

The ‘Banned Footage Vol. 1’ DLC pack adds three game modes to Resident Evil 7. Two of them, ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Bedroom,’ are presented as VHS tapes containing playable material that reveals more of what happened to a character from the main game while he was held hostage by the evil Baker family. The third mode,Ethan Must Die,’ is a brutally hard roguelike starring the main character of the base game, Ethan Winters.

From Dusk till Dawn

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In ‘Nightmare,’ you play as Clancy Jarvis, a cameraman for the internet documentary series Sewer Gators, who we briefly played as in the main game. Trapped in the Baker family’s basement, Clancy must attempt to stay alive until morning. You must survive for five in-game “hours,” represented by waves of enemies.

Most of the enemies are basic Molded, the plant-like humanoid enemies introduced in Resident Evil 7. Some waves end with special enemies or a strong boss. “Kiting” enemies around rooms (catching their attention without attacking) and leading them into traps helps a lot in this mode. The tactic was fairly important in the main game as well.

Trash compactors found throughout the basement can be activated to produce scrap over time. Scrap is used to craft healing items, weapons, ammo, weapon upgrades, character upgrades, and to set up traps at fixed locations. Although Resident Evil 7 already has a rudimentary crafting system, scrap and the array of things it can make are entirely new. The compactors that make scrap shut off near the end of waves until Clancy kills off all remaining enemies, presumably to prevent players from farming for scrap.

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Early on, craftable items and traps are very limited. Every time the game ends (win or lose), your score gets added to a cumulative total. As this total goes up, you’ll unlock more starting scrap, crafting options, and trap locations. While these can make the mode easier to complete, some of the best weapons and upgrades subtract from the score multiplier, limiting the points you’ll earn. For example, if you craft the circular saw, your score will be multiplied by 0.01 for that playthrough. You won’t earn many points that way.

Once you survive the night successfully, the variant mode ‘Night Terror’ unlocks. Night Terror’ works the same as ‘Nightmare,’ but it begins at the highest difficulty level. You get to use all your unlockables from ‘Nightmare,’ which can make this mode a walk in the park if you don’t mind sacrificing score for stronger weapons.

Stay in bed

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Bedroom’ is the only story-based mode in this DLC pack and, like ‘Nightmare,’ also stars Clancy Jarvis. The goal is simple, escape the room without being caught by Marguerite, the matron of the Baker family (and one of the toughest bosses in the main game). This mode begins with Marguerite bringing Clancy, strapped to the bed, a nice homecooked meal.

After she leaves, our hero take off his restraints and solve puzzles around the room. This won’t be easy, as Marguerite repeatedly comes back into the room to check on her prisoner. To avoid detection, you have to hurriedly put every item back where you found it and get back into bed before she reenters the room.

If you take too long or she sees something is out of place, she’ll attack you. Get caught three times and you will die. Learning how to solve puzzles without getting caught makes this game mode quite challenging during your first playthrough. After completing ‘Bedroom’ once, there isn’t much reason to go back. Knowing the puzzle solutions makes this mode very short and simple.

Prepare to die

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Ethan Must Die’ (EMD) is the only segment of Banned Footage Vol. 1 that isn’t a playable VHS tape. It’s also arguably the most challenging out part of the DLC. In this one, you play as Ethan Winters, the main game’s protagonist.  He must find the Greenhouse Key in the Main House while avoiding traps and hordes of enemies. EMD ends with another tough boss battle against Marguerite.

The enemies here will kill you in one or two hits unless you find Steroids, which permanently increase your max health. To find Steroids, or any item, you need to break open boxes and open chests. These spawn randomly at set locations, and have varying quality ratings that determine their contents. Some boxes are even rigged with explosives that can kill you or, if used strategically, nearby enemies.

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EMD is a Roguelike mode, so of course it has permadeath. If you die, you lose everything and have to start from the very beginning. You do have one chance to get a single random item that you carried before you died by destroying a statue that appears at the site of your death. If you don’t destroy the statue before dying again, you lose that item. Think Dark Souls, only less forgiving.

This mode is brutal yet fun, due in part to the randomness of the items you find. Enemies and trap placements stay the same between playthroughs. The only reward for besting the odds and completing EMD is an Achievement. But the high difficulty and fun of trying to beat your best time will keep competitive players coming back for more.

Achievements

Banned Footage Vol. 1 includes five Achievements/Trophies: one each for completing the three modes across on any difficulty, one for completing the advanced ‘Night Terror’ version of ‘Nightmare,’ and one for finding all of the collectible dead rats in ‘Bedroom.’ The most difficult Achievement is for completing Ethan Must Die because of that mode’s randomization and high enemy difficulty.

Overall Impression

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Ethan Must Die… But that doesn’t mean he has to like it.

Whether you like combat, puzzles, or both, ‘Banned Footage Vol. 1’ is a great DLC for any Resident Evil 7 fan looking for more content. You’ll get several hours out of just completing the two easier modes, and even more by taking on ‘Ethan Must Die.’

You can buy Banned Footage Vol. 1 by itself for $10 or get the Season Pass (which bundles two current DLCs and one future release) for $30. A fourth DLC titled ‘Not a Hero’ will be released for free in the Spring. Adding value for Xbox gamers, Resident Evil 7 is also an Xbox Play Anywhere title. Buying either the Xbox One or Windows 10 version of the DLC will unlock it on both platforms.

Score: 9/10

Resident Evil 7 and Banned Footage Vol. 1 are available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam, and Windows 10. Review based on the Xbox One version of the game.

Author: Bob Bambuch

Almost everybody calls him Bob, except for his wife or mother when she is angry - then he's Robert. Originally conceived in the back of a garbage truck, Bob now spends his time playing all genres of video games on Xbox One. He streams and sometimes even uploads a video to YouTube when his cat isn't busy looking up bird videos.