With this guide, learn the tips and tricks necessary to beat Resident Evil 7 on the challenging Madhouse difficulty setting, which has tougher enemies and less autosaves.
The biggest challenge in all of Resident Evil 7 (the main game, at least) is completing the game on the hardest setting – Madhouse difficulty. Madhouse difficulty makes enemies smarter, appear more often, and deal significantly more damage to protagonist Ethan Winters. It removes almost every auto-save point from the game, and if that weren’t bad enough, players can only save if they have a cassette tape in their inventory, making the game especially challenging.
Besides making enemies deadlier and forcing players to be strategic with their saves, Madhouse difficulty in Resident Evil 7 also moves items around and throws in surprises to catch veterans off-guard. These roadblocks may make Madhouse difficulty seem like too daunting of a task for some, but there are some tips and tricks to know to make it much less stressful.
For those that would like to complete Resident Evil 7 on Madhouse difficulty, we have compiled everything you need to know to get the job done. However, be warned that this guide will contain spoilers for some story events that occur in Resident Evil 7, so read on at your own risk.
Unlocking Madhouse Difficulty
Before a Madhouse playthrough can even be attempted, players need to unlock it first. Some players may have Madhouse difficulty unlocked right off the bat depending on which pre-order bonuses they received, but others will have to beat the game once on one of the lower difficulties to unlock it.
Even if Madhouse is an option from the start, we don’t recommend that players actually attempt it without doing some work to prepare themselves for the great challenge that lies ahead.
Preparing for Madhouse Difficulty
By beating Resident Evil 7 under certain conditions, players unlock special items that appear in the item box every time they start a new save. Collecting these items will make a Madhouse playthrough much easier, though it still won’t be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.
We recommend beating Resident Evil 7 at least twice before trying to beat the game on the Madhouse difficulty setting. After beating it once on normal, players will unlock The Secrets of Defense and the Albert-01R handgun, and if they manage to smash all the Mr. Everywhere statuettes hidden around the Baker family plantation, they will also unlock walking shoes that will give them a life-saving speed boost.
For the second playthrough, players should try to beat the game in less than four hours, a task that will be made much easier thanks to the walking shoes. Beating the game this fast will unlock the circular saw and x-ray glasses, two items that are integral to a successful Madhouse difficulty run.
With these items unlocked, players will be properly prepared to take on Resident Evil 7‘s Madhouse difficulty.
Madhouse Difficulty Changes
Beyond the changes we’ve already outlined, Madhouse difficulty has a number of other changes that are meant to throw seasoned players off their game. While we won’t outline every change players will encounter, we will point out the most important ones so players aren’t taken completely by surprise.
One important change comes early in the game when players are dealing with the Baker family’s deadly patriarch, Jack Baker. On lower difficulty settings, Jack is seemingly defeated after beating him in the garage boss fight, only to turn up later after collecting an item from a bathtub upstairs. On Madhouse difficulty, Ethan isn’t given a respite from Jack’s pursuit, as he will be roaming around the creepy mansion endlessly.
While some may prefer to hide from Jack and sneak around to collect all the key items, others will want to go the faster route, which is to fight Jack head-on. However, it’s important that players refrain from wasting ammo on him. Instead, it’s better to damage Jack with the circular saw, as it will interrupt his attacks and put him down after only a few seconds. Be sure to hold both triggers in for the circular saw to be most effective, however; just swinging it wildly is not the best strategy.
Another major change in Madhouse difficulty pertains to how many times players encounter the Fat Molded. As their name implies, Fat Molded are mutated versions of the Molded monsters players encounter throughout the course of the game that are larger than their counterparts. The Fat Molded are also much deadlier, capable of sustaining significantly more damage without going down. Fat Molded also have a devastating ranged attack where they shoot a stream of vomit at the player, which not only stuns Ethan, but deals a lot of damage.
During the Fat Molded “boss fight” in the barn, players will take on two Fat Molded instead of one like they do on the lower difficulty settings. The key to this fight is to stay behind the crates in the center of the room, and aim for their head with the most powerful weapon available. This may mean using some precious magnum ammo, but since this is one of the most difficult encounters in the game, players will need to do whatever necessary to continue.
Speaking of Fat Molded, there is another section of the game where players encounter them that’s not easy to get through on Madhouse difficulty. In the salt mines, players run into two Fat Molded right before reaching a ladder to get to the final stretch of the game. On Madhouse difficulty, the catch is that there are three tripwire bombs set up on the ladder that players will need to shoot before they can start climbing.
Since the Fat Molded are faster on Madhouse than the lower difficulty settings, this means players will need to get rid of them before worrying about the bombs. The trick to this is to just waste as much ammo as possible on the Fat Molded, going mostly for headshots, especially since this is the last part of the game that really requires a lot of ammo. If players have any bombs at their disposal, the bombs can be used to knock down the Fat Molded, deal a lot of damage, and buy some time to get away if needed.
It may be tempting to just run through the salt mines section, but on Madhouse difficulty, it’s actually worth taking the time to kill all the monsters on the way to the two Fat Molded. That’s because the salt mines are stuffed with useful items, including plenty of ammunition and healing items that make the last stretch of the game much easier.
When playing through the game on Madhouse difficulty, there are certain weapons players will want to acquire, and others that they can safely ignore. The Albert-o1R handgun, earned from beating the game once, is a must-have, as is the burner for sections involving bugs. Players will want to spend antique coins on the magnum before they start the final Jack Baker boss fight, as it makes that encounter take far less time for players with good aim.
The grenade launcher will be found in the trailer instead of its usual spot, so players don’t have to worry about finding that particular weapon. It will come in handy for boss fights, but since it can only fire one shot at a time before it needs to be reloaded, it can also put players into tight spots.
One weapon that makes any Madhouse difficulty more manageable is the broken shotgun. The broken shotgun can be found in Grandma’s Room, so be sure to snag it from there as soon as possible. With the broken shotgun in tow, go outside to the Baker family’s “Yard” area, and then step onto the lawn, facing the house.
While facing the house, go to the left, on the other side of the stairs. There will be some items here, including a repair kit. In Resident Evil 7, repair kits are used to fix broken weapons, like the broken handgun and the broken shotgun. Since players should already have the Albert-o1R handgun in their inventory for this particular playthrough, they should fix use the repair kit to fix the broken shotgun, and then not worry about collecting the other shotgun from the mansion.
Players that went through the trouble of collecting all the antique coins on the easier difficulty settings may be surprised to learn that when playing the game on Madhouse, there are 33 antique coins to collect in total, and a lot of them are in completely different spots. These antique coins can be used to purchase the items players could buy previously, but they are also used to purchase a key item, the Scorpion Key, and an armor coin that increases the amount of damage Ethan can take before he dies.
As a rule, players should prioritize important items like the .44 magnum and steroids above all else. Steroids increase Ethan’s maximum health, plus they completely heal him upon first use. The magnum, meanwhile, is practically required for players to survive some of the game’s tougher boss battles.
Boss Fight Strategies
As it turns out, there are some differences in the boss battles that Madhouse difficulty players should take note of before they attempt to tackle Resident Evil 7‘s most difficult setting. The most notable change comes during the Jack Baker boss fight in the garage. The car keys are locked in a toolbox sitting on the workbench, so players have to run over to the other side of the garage, grab a lockpick from the shelf, and then avoid Jack long enough to unlock the toolbox and get the car keys out.
The biggest change in boss fights on Madhouse difficulty will be how players approach them. On Madhouse difficulty, players will want to use the circular saw for almost every encounter, except for the boss fight against the mutated version of Jack in the boat house. The circular saw deals a devastating amount of damage, capable of interrupting attacks and defeating most of the bosses much faster than if players were simply shooting them.
However, there is one boss fight that doesn’t allow players to use the circular saw, because it takes place before an item box is found. This boss fight is against Mia at the beginning of the game, when she is trying to cut Ethan with a chainsaw in the attic. Players will need to thoroughly loot the attic for handgun ammunition before triggering Mia’s spawn by climbing the ladder, and then be prepared to run around her as much as possible and try to trick her into wasting her time cutting posts.
The key to the Mia boss fight on Madhouse difficulty is to shoot at her without aiming down the sights. Mia moves too quickly for aiming down the sights to be a viable option, but when shooting from the hip and aiming the cursor at Mia’s head, players are more likely to land a shot due to how close she is to Ethan during this particular fight. Landing a headshot on Mia will stun her, which will buy Ethan valuable time that can be used to run away from his deranged wife.
It will take almost every bullet that can be found in the attic, but with enough persistence, Mia will be defeated, and players can move on to collect the circular saw.
With Madhouse difficulty conquered, players will have completed Resident Evil 7‘s most difficult challenge to date. However, the game’s post-launch DLC may add even more horrors for players to face on the Baker family plantation, and it’s possible that some of these challenges will be even more difficult than Madhouse difficulty.
Resident Evil 7 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, and Xbox One.