After beating Resident Evil Village the first time, I was extremely satisfied with how the horror story played out from start to finish. When Capcom announced it was making an expansion, I knew it would be a tough act to follow. Unfortunately, the three parts of the Winters’ Expansion aren’t up to it. Its new campaign is extremely short, rushed, and does little to improve on Village’s story, and the new way to play the main game makes it less scary than it was the first time around. The main bright spot is the update to Mercenaries, which gives the people more of what we want: Lady Dimitrescu.
Shadows of Rose is the extremely short new single-player story campaign included in the Winters’ Expansion, is set 16 years after Village’s events, but does little to move Village’s story forward. For less than three hours, you play Ethan Winters’ daughter, Rose, as she tries to find a cure to remove her mold powers. Seeing and learning more of Rose’s struggles while growing up was interesting, and you do get to revisit abridged versions of iconic locations from Village (most notably Castle Dimitrescu), but there are no critical revelations that would’ve changed the context of Village’s story or made Rose’s feel essential. Even the puzzles are more straightforward than those in the main game. Maybe this expansion is helping to set up the next Resident Evil story, but as of now, it feels like an afterthought at best.
Unlike Resident Evil 7 and Village, Shadows of Rose is played in a third-person perspective, which was a nice change of pace, but I was disappointed at the lack of fluidity the controls have. Compared to the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, the Rose doesn’t feel anywhere near as responsive when shooting at enemies or interacting with most objects.
Combat suffers as well. Rose is equipped with a pistol, a shotgun, and her ability to shoot magic at enemies and temporarily stun them or push off certain enemies that get too close. Your guns cannot be upgraded at any point, though her powers can, and they make good tools for conserving ammo or achieving a no-damage or stealth-type run through the campaign that you couldn’t do in the base game. I just wish they were used more creatively, especially considering one of her more interesting powers does not come along until the end of the story when there’s barely any time left to make use of it. There’s not much enemy variety in play, either.
Fortunately, Shadows of Rose is not the only thing included in the Winters’ Expansion; it also includes a new option in the settings that lets you play Village’s entire story from start to finish in the third-person perspective. While it is great for those that prefer the over-the-shoulder gameplay, my issues with it are the same as they were in Shadows of Rose, with two additional frustrations: one, all the cutscenes are still played in first-person perspective, making it feel less than seamlessly integrated; and two, some of the jump scares and more terrifying moments in Village were dialed back drastically because of the change of the camera. Seeing the baby in House Beneviento in third-person, for example, was not nearly as frightening, if only because the change in perspective meant I had a broader view of Ethan’s surroundings.
The third (and final) new piece of content included in the Winters’ Expansion is Mercenaries Additional Orders, which adds new stages that increase the difficulty for those of us who steamrolled through the original batch, and three new characters. We get to play as Chris Redfield, Karl Heisenberg, and everyone’s favorite tall vampire lady. Chris is unlocked from the start, but you have to S-rank one of the maps before you can put yourself in the shoes of Lady Dimitrescu. Mercenaries feels a lot more complete than it did at launch, as each of the four characters has their own weapons and abilities that improve the mode immensely. I especially enjoyed Chris’ ability to suckerpunch enemies and do some decent damage, making it a good last-minute offensive move you can use instead of blocking.
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