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Resident Evil Village - Winters’ Expansion Review

Resident Evil Village - Winters’ Expansion Review

Roughly a year ago, Capcom’s latest title in their Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil Village, released to wide acclaim. The game followed one Ethan Winters as he fought to get back his kidnapped daughter, Rosemary, and figure out just what was going on. The game’s ending was bittersweet, but it is continued now with the Winters’ Expansion, the title’s first major DLC. The expansion includes massive updates to the extra The Mercenaries game mode, an option to play through Village itself in third-person, and a new storyline set years after that story’s close: a tale of Rosemary Winters, all grown up, in Shadows of Rose.

Starting out with the third-person option, I must say that I was very pleased to be able to experience the game in this way! Of course, Village sounds and looks just as amazing as it did in first person, but I truly appreciate being able to see so much more. The field of vision is greatly expanded and it’s even possible to see slightly behind Ethan, as is usual for a third-person game. Really, beyond the fact that the new camera’s orientation actually works, there’s not much to say that would be news to anyone who’s played both perspectives in games. The third-person point of view makes it less challenging because more is visible at all times, even when blocking, which used to cover a good portion of the screen. The game is also less scary thanks to the same widened view, which doesn’t truly bother me all that much, since I can always just go back and play Village again in first person if I want that more visceral experience.

Resident Evil Village Third person Ethan kicking2

The only aspect that really bums me out is how all of the scenes and story beats are still very much framed within a first-person camera, which means that it’s often incredibly obvious when something’s about to go down. The separation between the gameplay and the cutscenes feels very manufactured, rather unlike the first-person experience. However, that’s only really a problem for someone’s first time through Village, as anyone coming through for a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) run won’t exactly mind a bit of artifice in a story they’ve already run through. All in all, the third-person mode is a great success, providing an experience that’s slightly closer to that of the Resident Evil games outside of the Winters’ saga — though you still won’t get a great look at Ethan’s face. I mean, if you turn quickly enough, you can catch a glimpse of his cheek or chin, but that’s not the whole face, now is it?

The new additions to The Mercenaries mode, titled Additional Orders, are also great fun. From launch, Chris Redfield is available in all of his punching glory. He starts the maps with more weapons than Ethan, even discounting his mean right hook and his quick left jab, so playing as him tends to make the mode a tad easier. The other characters, Lord Karl Heisenberg with his huge hammer and the tall beauty Lady Alcina Dimitrescu herself, are unlocked by going through the levels and hitting certain ranks, including high ranks for the new The River level. It’s certainly a joy to smash Lycans with a big hammer or slice them to pieces with very sharp fingers, but I tended to enjoy playing as Chris the most. He’s certainly the most classical action hero of the bunch and I spent the most time with him in my journey to unlock the others, so I’m most comfortable with his playstyle, but that doesn’t mean the other two new characters are bad.

I will however say that I was somewhat disappointed that there was no third-person mode for The Mercenaries: Additional Orders. While having fun with different playstyles is great, I’d also really love to have been able to watch my chosen characters run around the area. It’s not a big deal in the long run, but I would’ve liked to see that.

Resident Evil Village Additional Orders Chris Punch

Onto the biggest inclusion, Shadows of Rose, which is absolutely the best part of the Winters’ Expansion. The new story follows an older Rose Winters who is sick of being treated as a freak for the oddities she has thanks to the Mold running in her veins. She desperately wants to be rid of her abilities and be seen as just a normal girl, so when one of Chris Redfield’s people tells her about a remnant of Miranda’s research into the mutamycete — which holds the memories of those who were around it in life and could hold the secret to erasing her powers for good — Rose jumps at the chance to become normal. But all is not as it seems, as Rose soon finds herself in a somehow darker version of Castle Dimitrescu surrounded by younger versions of herself being hunted by Molded creatures that suck out their faces.

The story that follows is an absolutely thrilling psychological horror that should delight fans of Silent Hill and chill every single scaredy-cat to the bone, including me. Shadows of Rose is split into three strata, starting with a more traditional Resident Evil experience in the first stratum — where Rose must complete puzzles, collect special keys and other useful items, craft equipment, and shoot the Molded as she runs around terrified. Oozing black Mold spreads throughout the castle, blocking much of the location off throughout the experience, but slowly, Rose is able to push back against that Mold by increasing the strength of her own powers — something that she is clearly uncomfortable with at first, since the whole reason she’s here is to remove those abilities. Still, they come in handy, freezing and destroying that spreading Mold and even temporarily freezing the Molded creatures in place.

Resident Evil Village Shadows of Rose Roses Powers

As with all three strata, the reinvented locales look as beautiful as ever, with creeping music and assorted noises in the periphery that never fail to keep me on my toes. Just like the base game, there’s not a single part of this experience that’s ugly without it meaning to be.

On this stratum, she meets an odd being who doesn’t offer their own name and can only communicate through yellow glowing text that she names Michael. Michael assists Rose, offering advice and giving her a variety of helpful items, acting as a guide or guardian angel, hence the name. Michael is a great companion, but he’s not the only one here. There’s also a masked man threatening Rose who seems to be in control of the Mold and who looks an awful lot like The Duke in the base game. However, this masked man holds no empathy in his heart and is an intimidating antagonist for this first stretch of the expansion.

The horror ramps up in the second stratum, taking away all of Rose’s hard-earned equipment and breaking off her connection to Michael. She’s left with her own fears of inadequacy and of never being loved, with none other than Eveline from Resident Evil VII: Biohazard returning to rub all of that in her face. The imagery here is strong as the expansion shifts to mostly featuring puzzles, chases, and scares that made me so tense that I had to take a break for a night to unwind. In any case, Eveline acts here as a fantastic foil for Rose: another girl at odds with being seen as a freak for this part of her that she can’t change.

Resident Evil Village Shadows of Rose face sucking

I don’t want to spoil much from there, but I will say the following. That section ends with a series of tender moments that got me bawling and a rather engaging fight. The third and final stratum is a little quickly paced and is far heavier on the action, but it truly offers a tense final moment, beautiful imagery, and a heart-wrenching reunion where Rose finally learns Michael’s true identity. Once all is said and done, the story offers the same closing scene as the base game, revealing that the events of the expansion took place before then. It might just be me, but even though not a thing about the scene itself has changed, the new context that Shadows of Rose brought in made it resonate all the more with me. I’ll never be able to watch it without tearing up again.

All three additions through the Winters’ Expansion are top-notch, though Shadows of Rose easily takes the cake, being worth the price of entry on its own. It could stand to be a little longer in its last act, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it all the way through my three and a half hours of playtime. The Mercenaries: Additional Orders offers some good extra fun in a whole new way and the third-person mode is an excellent excuse to experience the whole game all over again, but if you buy the Winters’ Expansion, do yourself a favour and scare yourself silly with Shadows of Rose. It’s a cathartic experience you won’t regret.

9.50/10 9½

Resident Evil Village - Winters’ Expansion (Reviewed on Xbox One)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

The Winters’ Expansion is a beautiful extension of what Village already has, offering plenty of new ways to have fun, whether that means making the base game easier or getting to punch everyone in the face as Chris Redfield. But the real tour de force here is Shadows of Rose, a storyline that offers a more psychological style of horror than the franchise usually plays in and is worth every penny.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Erin McAllister

Erin McAllister

Staff Writer

Erin is a massive fan of mustard, writes articles that are too long, and is a little bit sorry about the second thing.

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