Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Resident Evil 7 was the amount of restraint it demonstrated from developer Capcom. Resisting the urge to revisit the over-the-shoulder camera for yet another explosive zombie-slaughtering spree, the team instead fully embraced the horror. Scores of undead were replaced with fewer, tougher enemies which restored a genuine sense of danger. That tone was largely kept intact in the free epilogue, Not A Hero, but RE7’s final piece of DLC, End of Zoe, sees the series dip back towards its slightly sillier roots.
In End of Zoe you play as Joe Baker, brother to Jack ‘Welcome to the Family Son’ Baker from the main game. Set after the events of Resident Evil 7, you search for a cure for your niece, Zoe, who is left injured as the result of your choices in the original campaign.
Like the rest of the Bakers, Joe is something of a hillbilly, only he’s not infected with the virus that turns people into monsters. You wouldn’t believe it at first, though; while Ethan and Chris both rely on powerful weapons to take on the enemy, Joe uses his bare hands. Yep, the game really has you punching, kicking and snapping the grotesque, haunting molded monsters as if you were in a boxing match from hell. Joe can take down some enemies with fewer hits than it would take Ethan with a pistol. Guess he works out.
Inevitably, then, End of Zoe’s combat is an entirely different beast from the main game. Rather than keeping your distance and making sure to fire only when you know you’ll hit a weak spot, here you charge towards baddies and madly swing your fists, hoping they’ll fall before you do. If you’re going one-on-one then you’ll take them down without a scratch, but if there’s two or more you’ll have to divide and conquer to avoid falling victim to another’s attacks. Inside PSVR, aiming your fists is just as easy as it was to aim a gun.
That said, swinging your detached arms around inside VR feels exactly that; detached. Whereas the rest of RE7 makes the best use of the DualShock 4 in VR and remains surprisingly immersive, here it feels like a huge missed opportunity not to be able to use the Move controllers to swing your fists. RE7’s atmosphere has always provided an unbeatable sense of place in VR, but every fight here reminds you that you’re really sitting on a couch with a headset on.
Combat aside, though, this is one of the better pieces of Resident Evil 7 to experience in VR if you’re brave enough. While the scares of facing down the molded might have withered away, sections that have you slowly creeping through a swamp hoping to avoid detection by giant alligators are nearly impossible to sit still through. As someone that has to look away during RE7’s more intense moments, I found these sections nearly unbearable, even though in reality they’re relatively simple to navigate. Creepier still is Joe’s instance on eating bugs to regain health; you haven’t truly experienced VR until you’ve shoved a grub in your own mouth.
End of Zoe sees Resident Evil 7 bow out on an unexpected note, then. Like Not A Hero before it, it adds from fresh ideas that are a welcome complement to the original campaign. But with mechanics that don’t quite suit VR and a shorter running time than the other piece of DLC (which was released for free), the final installment in the RE7 saga is a wholly missable one too.
End of Zoe is available now as part of the season pass for Resident Evil 7 and is included in the new Gold Edition. You can also pick it up on its own on the PlayStation Store. The game supports the PSVR headset on PS4.