Resident Evil Village Winters' Expansion Review: A Fresh Perspective

After completing the Shadows of Rose story and playing as Rose Winters in third-person while also playing through part of the main story as Ethan Winters in third-person as well, Resident Evil Village's first DLC, Winters' Expansion, has turned me into a first-person believer. Resident Evil 7's claustrophobic setting made its first-person view an instrument of terror on its own, but even when Village opened up to give players more room to breath, I still felt that was the right call for this storyline. After seeing the alternative in Winters' Expansion and feeling reaffirmed in that believe, I can only imagine that this DLC will give further entrench others whatever their first-person vs. third-person view might be.

Village's third-person perspective in the main story and in Winters' Expansion seems less effective for two reasons: it's less immersive, and while we know Ethan and Rose by now, their unfamiliarity compared to other Resident Evil characters still makes establishing a relationship with them a struggle. The immersion bit is simple – things not being right up in your face means things aren't as scary. There are plenty of eerie parts in the Winters' Expansion DLC, but some planned, simple jumpscares like surprise mannequins and rushing enemies simply didn't work as well because of the perspective. It doesn't help that the mold creatures Rose primarily fights in the DLC are far less disturbing to face due to a lack of distinguishable features that render them as amorphous foes rather than distinguishable threats.

As to the second point – and apologies in advance to Ethan and Rose – seeing them from a third-person view just doesn't add much to the experience when Rose is such a new character and Ethan's face still isn't shown. Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Leon S. Kennedy all have distinct styles and designs which, combined with their personalities, set them apart from one another. I'm more excited about the prospect of playing as Rose in the future after this DLC, but playing as Ethan in third-person is like playing as a customized character that you hurriedly made so that you could get right into the game.

The third-person mode is just one part of the experience, however, with the actual Shadows of Rose story and the extra Mercenaries characters making up the rest of the DLC (as someone not big on the Mercenaries mode itself, the additions didn't mean much to me, so in fairness, I won't be talking about them here). Shadows of Rose is our best introduction yet to Ethan's mold daughter and pulls from some of the best parts of the base game while also confoundingly incorporating some of its worst components, too. Rose's mold powers used to inhibit enemies and solve puzzles offer another supernatural twist on the Village experience, though there's still some limited gunplay involved for those more interested in that.

Rose's story of loneliness and loss is a surprisingly compelling one that gets downright creepy at times. Without spoiling too much, the team behind Winters' Expansion knew full well which chapter of Village people found the most disturbing, and they took full advantage of that knowledge. Even from a third-person view, parts of Winters' Expansion leave an impression.

But outside of those eerie moments, some parts of Shadows of Rose meant to be the more climactic moments struggle to keep pace with their buildups. Resident Evil boss fights can be frustrating and downright boring at times, and Winters' Expansion does little to alleviate either of these frustrations. Dumping ammo into weak points while circling obstacles repeatedly hardly makes for an entertaining fight when you can often keep an eye on your adversary the whole time thanks to third-person view, but Rose's mold powers do provide players at least some extra level of interaction with foes.

All of this makes Winters' Expansion a decidedly mixed bag of tricks, though the same could be said about Village, too. It's a bit frustrating to see just how little it moves the story forward once all is done, but one wouldn't expect Capcom to give up too much in a DLC anyway. While it's true it'll offer you a different in-game perspective, it's more effective overall at shaping perspectives of this saga's characters and the future of their storyline.

Resident Evil Village Winters' Expansion releases on October 28th. You can check out our review of Resident Evil Village here.

A review code for Resident Evil Village Winters' Expansion on the PS5 was provided by the publisher.