Resident Evil 7 released last week to significant fanfare; the series' return to its horror roots has been long anticipated following the increasingly action-oriented stylings of Resident Evil 5 and 6. Even in a week already packed with high-profile games, including Yakuza 0, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and Tales of Berseria, Resident Evil 7 dominated gaming news and social media feeds. Both critical and fan reception have been largely positive, too, proving that players have been desperately craving the kind of thrills that only a Resident Evil game can provide. It's not altogether surprising that Capcom outlined DLC plans for the game ahead of its launch - it's an unfortunate reality of the industry these days - but the fact that the first pieces of content are slated to drop on January 31 is disconcerting.
Now, I don't take issue with day-one updates so long as they're free, with certain caveats. Sometimes developers ship a game and discover unexpected bugs once it's already out of the gate. A day-one patch ensures that anyone buying it at launch doesn't run into those issues. On the other hand, it's problematic when journalists receive advance copies of games with day-one patches and write a review based on a version that differs from what the average consumer will experience on launch day. (I'm looking at you, No Man's Sky.)
What I do take issue with is premium DLC that releases alongside a game - or in Resident Evil 7's case, a week after launch. I find it difficult to believe that development on Banned Footage Vol. 1 and Ethan Must Die, the two items contained in this first batch of this DLC, didn't begin until after the game went gold. Unless I'm wrong - and if I am, I'll own up to that - that means this content was being developed alongside the main game, yet for some reason it's separated out and priced at $10. Why? To make more money, presumably.
The other problem I have here is that with Resident Evil 7 barely being out a week, releasing DLC now sends two messages: One, it says that the story is incomplete as-is, and two, it doesn't give the mystery revealed at the end of the game time to simmer. I'm as susceptible to a cliffhanger as anyone, but sometimes it's nice to reflect a bit before moving on to the next story beat. Check your social media feed while Westworld or Game of Thrones is airing, for instance. Engaging in conversation and speculation with other invested fans is a great way to extend the life of a piece of media. Adding to Resident Evil 7 so quickly after launch robs fans of that opportunity.
At the very least, a teaser image that appears when you beat the game promises that a free continuation of the story is coming this spring. I won't spoil anything here, as most people haven't had a chance to play that far, but the image does raise the possibility of some interesting connections between Resident Evil 7 and past entries in the franchise. I've already seen some spoiler-heavy articles floating around, so search the web at your own risk.
Free DLC is all well and good, but paid DLC that releases close to launch is shady at best. It speaks of publisher greed and is decidedly consumer-unfriendly. It's a shame that Resident Evil 7 is the latest game to fall victim to this practice, because it's done more to invigorate the series than any Resident Evil release in recent memory.