Resident Evil 7 - Not A Hero Review: Return of Redfield
*This review contains minor spoilers for Resident Evil 7’s main campaign.
After being delayed months longer than originally planned, and as part of a final gift for an amazing Resident Evil year, Capcom released the first part of the conclusion to Resident Evil 7’s main campaign in the form of the free Not A Hero DLC on December 12, 2017. The player leaves the shoes of the previous protagonist, Ethan Winters, and adopts a more hands-on role as the classic series mainstay Chris Redfield, who is only revealed in the campaign’s final moments. While Chris’s story is a breath of fresh air, it also feels like a missed opportunity. Despite these issues, Not A Hero is still very much Resident Evil 7, and I thoroughly enjoyed my two-hour playthrough.
Not A Hero begins right as Resident Evil 7’s main campaign concludes, when Chris Redfield is revealed to be a member of New Umbrella -- a group of ex-Umbrella employees who created an organization to combat bioterrorism and correct the atrocities committed by their parent company. After tracing leads of a bioweapon trade deal to Dulvey, Louisiana, Chris Redfield and his team are dispatched to deal with the bioterrorism offenders and squash any biological threat permanently.
Chris’s story immediately feels different from Resident Evil 7’s main campaign because the player no longer controls a character that is essentially a helpless civilian. He is a well-trained combat operative, and Not A Hero plays out accordingly. This time around, successful headshots can be followed up with a physical punch attack, sending your enemy flying backwards. Chris also has access to an impressive arsenal of weapons, including a shotgun, handgun, grenades, and a combat knife, to deal with the array of Molded enemies that will mostly be encountered throughout the 2-3 hour journey.
While Not A Hero faithfully gets many aspects of Resident Evil right, its story feels like a massive missed opportunity. Most of the interesting backstory as to where Chris has been since Resident Evil 6, and why he’s part of New Umbrella, are questions that are answered by finding notes and files instead of through cut-scenes. The final showdown with Lucas also left something to be desired -- his boss fight ended too quickly and much too easily. This is likely due to the fact that the default difficulty is Normal, but the same "Normal" for Resident Evil 7 felt like it packed a much greater challenge.
Like other titles in the series, Not A Hero does offer substantial replayability for completionists. Replaying the game on a harder difficulty, finding collectibles, and performing speed runs all come with rewards for players ready for the challenge. After my first playthrough, I started a new game on Professional Difficulty. I instantly discovered that “Professional” was meant literally, as ammo was incredibly limited and forced the player to utilize the combat knife as well as physical attack prompts to stay alive.
I briefly played Not A Hero in VR and found that it was extremely nausea-inducing within about 15 minutes of play. My VR controls were set for smooth gameplay instead of set angle increment turning, which likely contributed to the motion sickness, but the fact that it felt so different from the main campaign’s VR was unexpected. I had to remove the headset and take a breather because that was the closest I’ve ever come to losing my lunch due to PSVR.
With the release of Not A Hero, the wonderful and overarching campaign of Resident Evil 7 begins to draw to a close. For not meeting the high expectations created by the main game (nor justifying the incredibly long release delay), it was still an enjoyable experience that will undoubtedly satisfy Resident Evil fans -- especially the ones who longed to be in the shoes of a familiar character. While the story is hollow, with many missed opportunities, it’s hard to forget that Not A Hero’s DNA is still very much Resident Evil, and for being a DLC that’s 100% free, players can’t go wrong in experiencing everything Not A Hero has to offer.