Capcom's iconic survival horror franchise has lost its charm in recent years, striving to imitate the explosive action of Call of Duty and Gears of War instead of actively embracing its horrifying roots. In many respects, Resident Evil 7 is a courageous return to form, while also pushing the series in an exciting new direction with a fully first-person experience.
We've compiled everything you need to know about Resident Evil 7 below, alongside our hands-on preview by Games Editor Brett Phipps.
Watch: Latest Resident Evil 7 gameplay trailers:
Capcom has been releasing these brief yet informative gameplay trailers for a while now, providing us with small snippets of returning gameplay mechanics from previous outings. The trailers we've included show that traditional gunplay will play a key role in Resi 7, albeit in a terrifyingly claustrohphic context. Your enemies can clearly withstand a lot of punishment, and may even get back up after being filled with bullets. We've yet to see a traditional zombie, but Capcom has assured us they are on the way.
Past titles in the franchise have used herbs to restore health and cure various ailments, and the same formula returns in Resident Evil 7. It seems herbs in Resi 7 can be transformed into an ointment used to rub on bullet wounds, scrapes and gaping injuries. It's magical, unrealistic stuff, but stays rigidly true to the beloved Resi mythos. You can check out a full library of teaser trailers here, and we'll be sure to add more as they emerge.
Some of the brief trailers we've seen thus far show that we will play as protagonist Ethan as he searches for his missing wife inside a derelict mansion. He's been warned to stay away, but as Meat Loaf once said, he will do anything for love. The trailer gives us a detailed look at Resident Evil 7's mansion before thrusting us into a claustrophobic dinner scene.
Ethan is surrounded by mad, insane cannibals digging into plates that we can only assume are filled with human remains. Ethan is asked politely to dig in, but refuses, and that isn't good enough for 'The Family'. This scene is made all the more terrifying by the first-person perspective, there is no escape when this large, cannibalistic man thrusts a filthy knife in your face. The trailer concludes with a release date: January 24, 2017. Capcom has confirmed the 'Beginning Hour' demo will receive a third and final update before Resi 7 launches next year. It'll introduce new gameplay mechanics and, if we're lucky, PlayStation VR support.
Capcom has confirmed that Resident Evil 7 will support HDR for both PS4 and Xbox One. It will also be patched shortly after launch to support 4K-upscaling on PS4 Pro.
Read on for our in-depth preview. Oh, and welcome to the family!
Available on PS4 (PlayStation VR support), Xbox One and PC January 24, 2017
Fans have been screaming for Resident Evil to return to survival horror. After a couple of disappointing entries and a continuous trend towards fewer scares and more action, there’s been a consistent call for “Resident Evil 4-2”. Capcom has been listening, but instead of giving us what we think we want, it's delivered perhaps the truest spiritual return to horror we could ever want. Resident Evil 7 is a return to form in a way we never expected, and it may well deliver the survival horror game you never knew you wanted.
Resident Evil VII: The Beginning Hour is a tech demo, a small taste of the tone we can expect from the full game when it launches in January 2017. Nothing in this demo will be in the final game, and some of the settings here are borrowed from Capcom’s earlier, equally terrifying, Kitchen VR demo.
Many of you have probably already played The Beginning Hour, but few of you will have experienced how truly terrifying it can be in PSVR.
Check out the brand-new trailer from Gamescom 2016 (obviously includes scares)
Donning the headset at E3 I was surprisingly calm, blissfully ignorant of what was in store. I awoke as an as-yet-unnamed, hapless figure in a decrepit cottage with one simple task: escape. And I tried to game the system. Believing that the jump scares were triggered by my position in the room, I used PlayStation VR to my advantage, walking to a doorway and leaning out to check what lay beyond.
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For the opening few entryways, this worked well. Peaking out and looking left and right, I constantly checked behind myself to the point I nearly developed whiplash, all in the name of being caught unawares. I felt like I was keeping the game in check. That was, until I reached the stairwell.
Wearing headphones during an experience such as this means you’re acutely aware of every noise, and where it's come from. After hearing an odd shuffling – like a body being dragged across the floor – coming from the attic, I abandon everything I’ve learned from slasher flicks over the years and head upstairs. Nothing, just an array of mannequins. So far, so anticlimactic.
Heading back downstairs, I check the fridge and the microwave, the former filled with bags of (most likely human) meat and the latter with dead crows – a sick nod to the series’ most annoying foe? It’s at the end of the final corridor that I find the bolt cutters, and after picking them up a baby doll drops right in front of my face.
Again, playing the game on your TV, this doll might be a mild annoyance, or even go entirely unnoticed. In VR, it’s a huge jump scare and I take a while to process what on Earth just happened. I’m on edge now, my heart pounding so hard I can hear it.
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Proceeding back to the chained-up wardrobe, bolt cutters in hand, I now get the video tape. Inserting it into the VHS player – which I’m pretty sure nobody younger than me has any idea how to operate – creates another jump scare lost outside of VR.
The video boots up with the classic white noise and multi-coloured bar combo, a timer counting down. This looks huge in VR, like you’re front row in a cinema, and the sudden blast of both noise and brightness is startling. That’s even before the inconsiderate ex-anchor-turned-Most-Haunted-presenter leaps in front of the camera to yell “Boo!”
By starting the tape, you’re shipped back to a point in the past and now playing as a camera man, Clancy, in a three-person crew investigating the house for a television show. Investigating the eery cottage in the pitch black, I take solace in the fact that I'm not alone. That is, of course, until one of the team goes missing.
Wandering through the house with the presenter, my nerves are back on edge. Neck spinning frantically like a human possessed, I'm trying to keep an eye on every inch of this damned house, desperately hoping to stay one step ahead of the scares. Of course I fail, and having found our hapless helper, hooked by the chin, I'm transported back to the present day, now aware of how to unlock the secret passage to obtain the back-door key.
Hopefully I never find myself in a slasher movie, as I abandon every cliche, grab the key and run straight for the back door, getting grabbed and scared out of my pants by the demo’s climax.
But the end of the demo is just the start of my experience with Resident Evil 7. It's at this point I realise I never encountered a single zombie. Alone in an abandoned house trying desperately to escape from a single killer... Capcom isn’t creating a zombie survival horror game; this is Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
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Thinking back on the whole experience, the house definitely had a feel of the classic horror movies of the '70s and '80s. The horrid sepia tones created by the dingy, damp wear and tear were enhanced further by donning a VR headset. It felt like I was in the American mid-west, despite never setting foot outside or seeing a map.
The inspiration of P.T. is clearly felt, too. Chatting to fellow players afterwards, I discovered there were in fact multiple ways to complete the demo, more items to find, more routes to explore. Despite not being this terrified since that Konagi demo, I felt an urge to go back and try again, as if I would somehow survive, I would be the one to make it out of the house unscathed. Of course, nobody creates a sense of unbarring helplessness like Capcom, and returning home to play the PS Plus version of the demo, I still never get out alive.
But to play the VR-less version of the demo is to miss a significant part of the experience. Playing via the TV I felt disconnected, safe, able to pause and take a breather whenever I felt uneasy. In VR, I was as trapped and helpless as the player I controlled. At one point, I thought I could close my eyes to avoid the next scare, only to realise this made things ten times worse, as I had no idea what lay in store when I next opened them.
Resident Evil 7 returns the series to survival horror in a way we could never have imagined. Japanese developers are often criticised for sticking rigidly to a well-trodden path, but Capcom must be applauded for taking a direction nobody could have foreseen.
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If the game takes a similar direction to the concept demo, we could be in store for an incredible experience. I absolutely still want Resi to keep players scrounging around for ammo and herbs, learning the map of a giant environment (preferably a mansion), but now, having dealt with this disgusting Louisiana outback, I have no idea what’s in store next, and that excites me. I just hope I’m brave enough (and my heart strong enough) to tackle it in PSVR, as it’s essential to the whole experience.