After beating Resident Evil Village the first time, I was extremely pleased with how the horror story unfolded from start to finish. When Capcom announced they would be making an expansion I knew it was going to be a tough act to follow. Unfortunately, the three parts of Winters’ Expansion are not up to it. Its new campaign is extremely short, rushed and doesn’t improve Village’s story, and the new way to play the main game makes it less scary than it was the first time. The main bright spot is the Mercenaries update, 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, takes place 16 years after the events of the Village, but does little to move the Village’s story forward. For less than three hours, you play as Ethan Winter’s daughter, Rose, as she tries to find a cure to remove her mold powers. Seeing and learning more about Rose’s struggles growing up was interesting, and you get to revisit abbreviated versions of iconic locations from the Village (mainly Castle Dimitrescu), but there are no critical revelations that would have changed the context of the Village’s story or made Rose feel itself necessary. Even the puzzles are easier than those in the main game. Perhaps this expansion will help 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 from a third-person perspective, which was a nice change of pace, but I was disappointed by the lack of fluidity the controls have. Compared to the Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes, Rosen doesn’t feel nearly as responsive when shooting enemies or interacting with most objects.
The fight also suffers. Rose is equipped with a pistol, a shotgun, and her ability to shoot magic at enemies and temporarily stun them or push away certain enemies that get too close. Your weapons can’t be upgraded at any point, although her powers can, and they’re great 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 that one of her more interesting powers doesn’t come until the end of the story when there’s barely any time left to use it. There isn’t much enemy variety in the game either.
Fortunately, Shadows of Rose isn’t the only thing included in the Winters Expansion; it also includes a new option in the settings that allows you to play the Village’s entire story from start to finish in third-person perspective. While that’s fine for those who prefer over-the-shoulder gameplay, my issues with it are the same as they were in Shadows of Rose, with two additional frustrations: one, all cutscenes are still played in first-person, making it feel less than seamlessly integrated; and two, some of the jump scares and scarier moments in the Village were drastically scaled back due to the change of camera. Seeing the kid in House Beneviento in third person, for example, wasn’t nearly as scary, if only because the change in perspective meant I had a wider view of Ethan’s surroundings.
The third (and final) new content included in 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 step into Lady Dimitrescu’s shoes. Mercenaries feels much more complete than at launch, as each of the four characters has their own weapons and abilities that enhance the mode immensely. I particularly enjoyed Chris’ ability to hit enemies and do decent damage, making it a good last minute offensive move that you can use instead of blocking.
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