In May last year, Capcom continued the Ethan Winters story and the overall Resident Evil series with the release of Resident Evil 8 (which we reviewed here). The main game had an ending that had Resi fans discussing and debating what the meaning was behind the mystical figure. With the release of the Resident Evil 8 DLC “The Winters Expansion”, that mystery has been answered by Capcom.
“The Winters Expansion” comes with three new features: slightly expanded Mercenaries mode, a third-person view for the main story, and an additional new story mode featuring a teenage Rosemary Winters known as “The Shadows of Rose”.
“The Shadows of Rose” mode starts you off with our main character (Rose) sitting on a park bench, talking with some random character known as “K” about how much she hates her molded powers, and how she is being bullied at school because of them. This prompts “K” to tell her about a “purified crystal” that can be used to rid Rose of her powers.
Rose jumps at this offer and immediately slips away into a convenient Silent Hill/Matrix-like alternate world. This allows Capcom to reuse and recycle Castle Demitrescu and the other areas already seen in the main Resi 8 story.
In terms of the story, the main motivation for Rose is so flimsy and pathetic, that it is difficult to take the rest of it seriously. Quite frankly her motivations are borderline preposterous (I know, I am aware that this Resident Evil we’re talking about).
Rose Winters is willing to go through proverbial hell, through this alternate world (made up from the memories of those taken by the mold) to get rid of her molded powers, just so that other girls in school will stop calling her a freak. The fact that she seems old enough to almost be legally done with school doesn’t help either. They even have a quick audible flashback with the other girls in school calling her a freak, and the voice acting is straight out of “Saved By The Bell”. It doesn’t get much sillier than that!
Capcom has basically made up the premise of the mold “containing memories of those it has consumed”, and essentially what this has done is give Capcom carte blanche to make up any random nonsense (creatively speaking) and then explain it by saying “…it’s the mold”. If you have played Metal Gear Solid 4, then you will instantly think of the nanomachines nonsense. The mold has essentially become Resi’s nanomachines.
We do get a few interesting and heartfelt moments towards the end of the story, albeit some of the dialogue is rather corny. But hey – this is Resident Evil we’re talking about!
Rose’s character is quite bland and predictable, so I suppose you can say she takes after her father!
In terms of the gameplay itself, if you had played through the Ada section in the Resi 2 remake from 2019, then you have pretty much played “The Shadows of Rose”. In the Ada section of Resi 2, you use an EMF visualizer to open doorways and such. In “The Shadows of Rose”, you have your special moldy powers to use on big “cores” of mold, which disintegrate and open up pathways.
Capcom has basically overly relied on this mechanic to “freshen” up the gameplay when in actuality, it has made it really stale. It gets old really fast. At one point they go so overboard with it that you literally have a room full of these “cores” to melt away. Enemies are quite dull too (not as dull as Resi 7 though), and as basic as it comes. We do get to revisit Beneviento, (to experience a re-hash of a re-hash), so we do get some dolls as enemy types too.
A new addition to the gameplay is one of Rose’s powers is a throwback to Dead Space’s “Stasis Mode”, where you hold your hand up to an enemy and they go into slow motion for a set period of time. This gives you a chance to either dump some ammo into them or run. Sometimes it is best to run, and the game even openly encourages it, which is somewhat different for a Resi game.
“The Shadows of Rose” is fairly short, but in comparison to the main Resi 8 story length, it measures up in terms of the Main Story-to-DLC-Story ratio.
The entire “Shadows of Rose” story is played from a third-person perspective.
Speaking of which: the 2nd biggest selling point of this DLC is the Third Person perspective that has now been added to the main Resident Evil Village story mode. However, strangely enough, Capcom is still trying to hide Ethan’s face. When you put Ethan up against a wall and then try and turn the camera around to get a close-up, Ethan rotates to face away. Obviously, modders and hackers will be able to get a free camera mode and have a proper look, but still strange nonetheless. (Maybe it is some sort of running joke attempt from Capcom, ala Meena in “Still Game”).
Anyone who was put off by the fact that Resi 7 and 8 were both in First Person, then this little change could persuade a few people to dive in and give Resident Evil Village a try. (However, it would make more sense to have added this mode into Resi 7 first!)
The third added feature in this Winters’ Expansion DLC is playable characters in the Mercenaries Mode. Now you can unlock and play as Heisenberg and Lady Demitrescu. I have personally never seen the appeal in The Mercenaries Mode, but at least it is something.
Resident Evil Village: Winters’ Expansion is not a bad DLC per se. It just lacks anything substantial in any new gameplay (other than the stasis). The mold angle has gotten stale, along with the gameplay mechanics which are heavily relied upon. It is a brisk walk through the shoes of Rose, who has a really silly and unbelievable motivation. The past two Resi titles’ biggest drawbacks have been their name – Resident Evil. If Capcom created a new IP and called Resi 7 and Resi 8 something new, then I would have fewer issues with the “mold” narrative, and fully embrace it for what it is.
Capcom has also suffered creatively through their writing by going down the nanomachines route with this mold. The “laws” of the Resi universe have been slackened so much, that they have pretty much gone off the rails in terms of the Resi universe. They have also clear “influences” from the likes of Dead Space, Silent Hill, and Death Stranding in this DLC. Silent Hill from the alternate universe created by the mold’s “memories”, Dead Space from the Rose stasis superpower mechanic, and Death Stranding with some of the imagery of the death screens and environments towards the end of the story.
At $20/£16, the Winters’ Expansion DLC is reasonably priced. However, if Resident Evil Village never blew your skirt up, then wait for a discount later down the road.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Resident Evil Village: Winters’ Expansion for the PlayStation 5 provided by Capcom.