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Okay, let's get right to the point. During the final boss encounter, a stranger drops a weapon from a helicopter and tells you to use it. Once the encounter is over some soldiers clad in black uniforms and helmets rappel down. One walks over to you, pulls off his helmet. His face is unrecognizable to me, a huge fan of the series. He introduces himself to Ethan as “Redfield”. Cue my confusion. He doesn't look like the badass boulder-punching Chris we all know and love. Now I'm thinking that he never said “Chris Redfield”, maybe he's someone else, a relative or something. That was quickly debunked, though, as the credits list him as Chris Redfield. He's voiced by David Vaughn. David Vaughn has never voiced Chris in any of the previous series but that isn't much of a clue since Chris has been portrayed by at least 3 other voice actors over the course of the series.
The second “what the hell” moment I experienced was from the helicopter that Ethan is sitting in as it rides off into the sunrise. The camera pans out to display a large logo plastered on the side. It's an unfamiliar emblem in the color blue, but the writing on it is clear. Umbrella.
Now keep in mind that Resident Evil 7 is confirmed to be canonical. It is a numbered game in the main series and takes place about 16 years after Raccoon City was destroyed, as mentioned in a piece of news you find in-game. Umbrella has been defunct for years, so why is Chris Redfield, of all people, riding around in a helicopter marked with the name of an evil corporation he risked life and limb to take down?
One more thing to take into consideration is the screen that pops up after the credits showing Redfield with his rifle at the ready. The text displayed with the picture mentions a free DLC pack coming in the spring of 2017 titled “Not a Hero”. We'll talk more about that in the next section.
All the things I have mentioned above are all non-disputable facts, and now we're going to cross into the realm of the theoretical. One possibility and the one that I find most likely is that to bring the series back into a more authentic horror setting, they would have to tone down the appearance and capabilities of some of the characters to make them fit in better in a more realistic world. The image of an immensely muscled Chris Redfield punching a boulder out of his path is still popular meme-fodder for the denizens of the internet and that makes it hard to imagine him as a person struggling to survive. If the Resident Evil 5&6 version of Chris was in Resident Evil 7, I'm sure he would have been able to just smash down the walls of the house with his bare hands and stroll away stoically. It would have been just another casual Friday for him. After all, one of the reasons RE7 is terrifying is that Ethan is just a normal guy trying to not get any more pieces chopped off of him. He expresses all the appropriate reactions you would expect from a regular person subjected to a house full of horrors and that helps to pull players in and keep them immersed.
Another popular theory that sounds more like wishful thinking from longtime fans of the series is that this so-called “Redfield” is, in fact, Umbrella’s most notorious operative: Hunk. The fact that the DLC coming this spring featuring Redfield is called “Not a Hero” gives the theory a tiny bit of credibility. After all, Chris Redfield helped to take down Umbrella and continues to fight against worldwide bioterrorism, so why wouldn’t he be a hero? So maybe this Redfield really is Hunk. It could be a possibility but personally, I don’t think Capcom would do something like that. Hunk has been relegated to a cameo character in most entries of the series despite his popularity. His current whereabouts are unknown. He never did end up dying according to canon, and there isn’t much evidence of what his face looks like either. There are only two instances of him removing his mask in the whole series. In Umbrella Chronicles he removes his mask and looks at a canister of the G-Virus. The scene plays out in a first-person view and for a second you can barely make out a reflection of his face in the canister. I pored over still images of this and can’t make out any exact details of his facial features. A much clearer picture can be seen in Resident Evil: Nemesis. Hunk’s epilogue can be seen after beating the game 8 times. It shows him with his mask removed sitting in the back of a helicopter. Now the man in this picture is quite similar looking to Redfield, but it’s not 100% clear and it appears that he has a scar or mark of some kind on the right side of his forehead while Redfield at the end of RE7 shows no scars whatsoever. Strangely enough, there are a couple of similarities between Chris and Hunk. Chris started working as the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team point man in 1996. The earliest mention of Hunk is that in 1996 he received military training on Rockfort Island. In 1998 (the year of the Raccoon City Incident) Hunk is already the Umbrella Security Service Alpha Team Leader. Both are survivors against all odds, both have had military training. Since Hunk worked for Umbrella for so long and he is one of their top operatives, I’m surprised he never crossed paths with Chris. I’m sure he must have at least heard about the group of raccoon City survivors that were constantly trying to bring down Umbrella. I’ve always wondered if maybe he sees Chris as a rival of some kind. There may be an opportunity for a story there. One thing is for sure, we won’t be getting any concrete answers until that DLC comes out this spring.
What’s with that gun you use to kill the final boss? For all intents and purposes, it’s just a slightly irregular looking handgun. Not only that, but it’s named Albert-01. After the infamous Albert Wesker, I suppose, but why? He was finished off by a rocket launcher and a volcano. The replica you get to use in new game plus has S.T.A.R.S. engraved on the side of it. I can’t confirm if the real version you get at the end of the game has the same engraving. I’m not sure what to make of this, but it’s strange to think that Chris is riding around in an Umbrella helicopter with a handgun named after his nemesis.
Soooo.... what do you think? Do my claims have any validity? Do you have your own theories? Let us know in the comments below!