Resident Evil Village – Winters’ Expansion: a whole lot of nothing

I do not have the best relationship with Resident Evil Village, the latest mainline entry in the Resident Evil franchise. What initially piqued my interest and what kept me coming back to the game for a couple of re-runs was the Four Lords, because they have always been fantastic. They’re as charismatic as they are underutilised. Especially Heisenberg.

Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot to do with the new DLC for the game, the Winters’ Expansion. Instead, this promises to wrap up the Winters family’s events as players take control of Ethan’s daughter, Rose. Sounds well worth £15.99, right?

You couldn’t be more wrong.

Here’s what you get for £15.99

Resident Evil Village Winters' Expansion
Much wow

There is one word that best describes this DLC: lacking. Fans had to sit tight for over a year for this content to drop, and when you look at exactly what you get for such a long wait, it looks immediately disappointing.

So, what exactly does this DLC add to the base game? Three things, in short:

  • A third-person mode for the base game
  • Three character additions to the Mercenaries Additional Orders mode (Chris, Lady Dimitrescu and Heisenberg)
  • A brand new scenario and the meat of the DLC: Shadows of Rose

This, all in all, takes about 2-4 hours to complete. I cleared Shadows of Rose in 2 hours and 50 minutes on Hardcore difficulty, so don’t speed run it and try to savour it as much as possible. Even the achievements don’t add much to the existing package; there’s just seven of them in total, and five of them can unlock as you complete Shadows of Rose just once.

For that price you could instead buy and support two full games created by indie developers. That’s a rather apt shoutout, as if you’re quick enough you could bag some bargains in the Halloween sale on Steam before it ends later today.

The biggest issue? There’s many

Here’s a Rose

First things first, the issue with what we got for its asking price could have been sorted easily. The simple addition of an extra scenario would have made the asking price worthwhile in my mind.

In fact, there was even one that the developers had once intended on creating and implementing. The proof of this is in an entire thread of translated Japanese-only interviews that was posted on Twitter. The main revelation from these interviews was that Capcom had originally planned a DLC chapter featuring Chris Redfield as the protagonist.

The idea was shelved later in production as the team settled on putting more time and resources into Shadows of Rose to make for a “meatier” ending. What we ended up getting was still anything but that. For the most part, Shadows of Rose’s scenario is just a Harry Potter’s Dementors meets Life is Strange: True Colors. We’ve got an orphan with magical powers in the starring role.

She gets bullied for her powers — so much so that she wants to be normal and be rid of them. In order to do this, she is encouraged by K, who was checking up on her, to link with a Fungal Root of the Black God to locate the Purifying Crystal.

This teleports us to a nightmarish world of the Village and was indeed meant to be unlike the gothic fantasy of how the world was shown in the base game. On paper this was genius! Considering that its entire plot was all meant to be explored within the consciousness of the Megamycete, the possibilities we had here were endless. But a sense of creativity was severely lacking here.

What we got instead was mostly untouched locations – if you say Lady Dimitrescu’s castle being dimly lit this time around is a major difference then please don’t – and levels with hordes of the same reoccurring enemy: the Face Eaters.

These guys can be continuously slowed with Rose’s abilities, mostly negating the challenge factor from the low number of ammo and health resources. Rose runs slower than Ethan in an attempt to raise the tension of having to interact with said enemies, but even on Hardcore difficulty, you will not be getting downed by these basic enemies anytime soon.

On top of that, its puzzles are barely puzzling. They are too literal and far too basic to even make your brain forcibly engage, requiring barely any input from the player in any capacity. That is because these typically consisted of fetching items by looking around the locations, solving the most obvious of riddles and being granted said needed items quickly and without much in the way of ceremony, much like the base game itself.

It goes without saying that much of Shadows of Rose feels uninspired, and don’t get me started on the other additions to this DLC.

I’ll keep this short to save myself some breath: Mercenaries mode always felt like a messy and unnecessary inclusion in Village. I would have much rather seen the time and money spent going into the DLC to beef up the Shadows of Rose scenario, or any other story addition like the sidelined Chris story mode.

Furthermore, the third-person mode had already been modded in the PC version before this official release, and I would even go as far to say that it should have been included at the very beginning if it had always been under consideration. To have it as a selling point of this DLC in particular is disappointing and especially so when comparing it to the superior DLC of Resident Evil 7.

A one and only saving grace

Shadows of Rose also chucks in numerous stealth sections, making the all-out action take a backseat at times. These moments certainly make proper use of the “consciousness” aspect of the events transpiring outside of reality. Rose is made tiny during the House Beneviento section as she hides from big, moving dolls trying to find her, and her entire environment takes on a Little Nightmares-style appearance.

This is topped off with the single best section of the entire scenario just prior to it, where a mannequin follows Rose around the rooms unless you are looking directly at it. You have to walk backwards and do so successfully by checking a map to manoeuvre back into the correct location to retrieve a fuse to start up the elevator — original puzzle concept for a Resident Evil game, huh?

This process gets more tricky as you progress, with more mannequins inching their way across the screen to try and stop you in your tracks.

This is miles more effective of a subtle scare, and it only gets more horrifying when they double and eventually triple in number as you try and shuffle back towards the exit in as calm a fashion as possible. It’s far better than the big scare found in the same level in the original game — one that I find far too overrated. It’s just a big, hungry version of the baby in the sink in P.T. It makes me depressed, not scared.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much my one and only piece of praise for this DLC. Shadows of Rose heads straight into its finale from here, giving us just two locations rehashed from the base game before steering us right into the same exact last boss fight from the original story. That is, only with less resources and a couple of added mechanics from Rose’s abilities: dodge-floating and absorbing attacks.

While this fight is more cumbersome than challenging – it’s just a “wait for the right moment and attack” boss encounter even on its hardest difficulties – this part is the worst section of the entire scenario. Everything that leads up to it can be guessed from a mile away, as soon as its first couple of cutscenes play, in fact. The name of Rose’s invisible guide who speaks to her through illuminating two to four words around her environment is most certainly not called Michael, but turns out to be very much the only man you might guess it would be.

Furthermore, Shadows of Rose gives us nothing new that adds to our knowledge of Village. What’s revealed to us is what it says on the tin – Rose has powers and Mother Miranda wants her because she’s the perfect vessel. So… it’s what the base game had already told us. This was only meant to serve as a goodbye to Ethan when we already had that emotional send-off for him IN the base game? Shameful.

I’m tired

Let’s wrap this up already. Locations were reused far too often, with the all-important end notes containing the “big plotline story details” being in the exact same location as the base game’s grand finale. On top of that, the enemy types are repeats after repeats even when the locations change.

Ethan’s face is always forcibly out of shot somehow, and this comes across as unintentionally comical, especially when the scenes were intended to be emotional. We can thank Capcom for that, with their consistent attempts to keep him as “faceless” as possible, even now.

Finally, even its ending is as unnecessary as it is lazy. It’s the post-game cutscene from the original game, and it makes even less sense being inserted at the same moment after everything that transpired before it within the new scenario. I can’t fathom how anyone could possibly argue that this DLC is not one of the weakest additional content packages out there and the cheekiest in terms of its asking price. Do yourself a favour and wait for a sale if you absolutely must play it. Please. Lady Dimitrescu is not going anywhere.

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Lilia Hellal
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