When I reviewed Resident Evil Village last year, I mentioned that it was an incredibly enjoyable experience and praised its art direction, environments and puzzle design. We don’t get nearly enough games in the AAA survival horror space these days, so when I learned that an expansion for Village was coming, I was pretty excited to jump back into that world and see how the story of this universe would progress. The Winters’ Expansion is broken into 3 main components that come as part of the purchase so fittingly I’ll also break this review up into 3 sections to cover the content offered by the expansion, as the components currently aren’t able to be purchased individually. It’s been great to revisit the world of Resident Evil and witness things through a new perspective, but ultimately would have loved more content and answers when it came to the main story component of this expansion.
The thing pulling me back the most when the expansion was announced was the new story content coming to Village. This component is called Shadows of Rose and takes place 16 years after the events of the main game. We now play as Ethan Winters’ daughter Rose as she tries to learn more about her mysterious abilities and ultimately find a way to get rid of them. This is a journey that ultimately sees us revisiting a number of the locations we visited in Resident Evil Village, primarily Castle Dimitrescu, as both the player and Rose get to uncover the secrets hiding just beneath the surface of the Resident Evil universe.
Unlike the main game, Shadows of Rose takes place solely in the third person perspective. Rose does feel different to Ethan, not only in navigation but also in gameplay thanks to her magical abilities that changed my mindset around how to best approach combat encounters. Throughout the short add-on you’ll progressively improve Rose’s abilities and unlock new powers that can further assist with both combat and puzzle solving.
The new enemy type introduced are quite the bullet sponge, so it became quickly apparent that an alternative approach was probably best. Rose’s powers of freezing enemies or force blasting them away helps diffuse more chaotic combat encounters and also provides the ability to run away rather than engage, which as we know in Resident Evil games can often be the smarter approach rather than wasting all of your ammunition. These new enemies have a great design and can be downright creepy when they creep out from the shadows. If the get too close you’ll see first hand that they have the ability to suck your face straight off, in a move that’s quite reminiscent of the Dementors from the Harry Potter series.
While I did like a lot of the new aspects and change ups that Shadows of Rose introduced, I do wish that it had fleshed out more with Rose, her powers and also the events that have taken place in the 16 years following the events of the main game. Coming in at only about 3 hours long, it felt more like a short teaser than a substantial next step for the Resident Evil franchise. Hopefully some of these concepts are further explored when Resident Evil 9 eventually launches.
The next addition provided as part of the Winters’ Expansion is the new 3rd person mode for the main game. This mode provides a new perspective to experience the whole game of Resident Evil Village, bringing things more in-line with the over the shoulder perspective seen in other recent Resident Evil remakes.
This mode certainly delivers what it states on the box. It does allow you to play the game as Ethan utilising a 3rd person perspective, but the cutscenes and transition animations between areas still play out in first person, with the camera being pulled right in during these sections.
This mode is more of a ‘nice to have’ thing for people that may prefer their games in third person, but during my time wit it, it does make it feel different to the experience I had when first playing Village. It’s less immersive and because of that found it less scary overall. But hey, if it allows more people to experience a great game in a way that suits them better, I’m all for it.
The third component of the Winters’ Expansion are some new content Orders for the game’s Mercenaries mode. This is a single player mode that becomes available after completing Village and lets you take down wave after wave of enemies across a number of stages to compete for higher scores, unlock new gear and ultimately experience blasting through the various creatures from Village from the perspective of character’s other than Ethan.
It’s not a mode that I got too invested in when the game launched or even too much here in the expansion but can absolutely see how that self competitive grind for better results could get people very addicted to completing stage after stage.
The Winters’ expansion introduces new playable characters in the form of Chris Redfield, Heisenberg and the ever popular Lady Dimitrescu and new mission Orders to provide further gameplay variety to the already existing Mercenaries mode. While it’s not a mode I’m going to be spending hours upon hours in getting better, I really did appreciate how different each of the characters in this mode felt to play, each coming with their own strengths, weaknesses and unique abilities that do provide a fresh reason to jump back into this mode once you’ve played through the main game and the Shadows of Rose expansion.
The new content that the Winters’ Expansion provides to Resident Evil Village makes it certainly worth the price of entry, especially if you happen to be a fan of the Mercenaries mode. I really liked the new gameplay concepts introduced within the Shadows of Rose expansion, but ultimately was left a little unsatisfied with it feeling more like a teaser for something bigger, rather than a substantial story with a fulfilling beginning, middle and end. Hopefully these seeds that have been planted get the chance to bloom more when the next main Resident Evil game releases.
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