Resident Evil Village Gold Edition and its Winters’ Expansion has sounded like a delightfully spooky addition to the overall package since it was announced. Not only do we get the additional campaign in Shadows of Rose and the new characters and stages in The Mercenaries, but we also get a Third-Person Mode that we can take back to the original game. I recently had a chance to play everything the Winters’ Expansion has to offer and I don’t think it’s the perfect add-on, but it does bring far more to the entirety of Resident Evil Village than any shortcomings I spied.
WARNING: While we avoid spoilers wherever possible, there will be spots where we cannot avoid major details of the main game. Bear this in mind as you read onward.
A Rose by any other name
The main meat and potatoes of this expansion is the new Shadows of Rose mini-campaign. This campaign takes place around 16 years after the events of the main game. Ethan’s child, Rosemary Winters (or just Rose for short), is attempting to live a normal life the best she can. The problem is that she inherited powers from her experiences in Resident Evil Village that make her an outcast among school and social life. When one of Chris Redfield’s agents approaches her with a proposition to get rid of her powers, she jumps at the chance.
Unfortunately, the way to getting rid of her powers means dealing with a sample of the mold bioweapon Megamycete that caused the problems in Resident Evil 7 and Village. The answer to her conundrum apparently lies in finding a Purifying Crystal that was detailed in a certain villain’s research. However, the notes are incomplete, and the only way to complete them is for a person who had contact with the Megamycete to interact with it and wade through the catalog of memories it contains, essentially discovering the Megamycete’s collected knowledge of the Crystal.
When Rose engages with the Megamycete, she suddenly finds herself pulled into the depths of its memories, including the Village, Castle Dimitrescu, and further dangerous places. She also happens upon various clones of… herself, and it isn’t long before these clones and the real Rose find themselves on the wrong end of new and terrifying creatures led by a familiar face. These creatures look like husks of humans, but they have a very disturbing feature. If they catch Rose or one of her clones, they will suck the life essence out of them to kill them, then group on the victim and drag them down active puddles of Megamycete ooze while draining their lives away. The attack leaves a physical impression on victims as their face is left grotesque and mangled by the lifedrain and seeing this threat in action makes them one of the more disturbing Resident Evil monsters I have ever seen.
It only gets creepier from there, too. Rose isn’t physically strong. She only has some basic training that was taught to her by Chris. It allows her to handle firearms she finds, but players will constantly find Rose’s target acquisition and accuracy with guns is difficult and clumsy. She makes up for this by gaining some control over her powers. By letting loose a burst of energy she can stun and lock up groups of enemies for a short time. She can also use a charge of her power to break out of an enemy’s attack. The catch is that Rose has only a few limited uses of her power and the item to replenish her power usage is rare, only showing up when you need it most.
The narrative path of the story goes to wild and bizarre places as well. Some of it is a bit campy (because what Resident Evil game isn’t at least a little bit campy?), but it also serves up some of the most frightening encounters and situations I’ve seen in Resident Evil games. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve played every one of these games since the first, not to mention a lot of the best survival horror games out there outside the RE franchise, and Shadows of Rose really got me good at multiple points.
Shadows of Rose isn’t incredibly long. I was able to clear the campaign in about 5-6 hours, give or take some time spent idling. That said, there’s one other drawback I’d advise caution with for certain players. In the second act of the campaign, players eventually face a ghostly character that appears and disappears as Rose tries to escape. Without trying to spoil anything, this apparition phases in and out of existence with a bright flash of white light. It was intense enough that I felt uncomfortable playing through it. I worry about players with epilepsy and advise caution at this part. Otherwise, it's a tight, scary, and satisfying addition that I feel adds to the overall story in a substantial way.
New Mercs gearing up for battle
Of the other content in Resident Evil Village Winters’ Expansion, the most substantial includes additions to the Mercenaries special game mode, dubbed The Mercenaries Additional Orders. Chris, Heisenberg, and Lady Dimitrescu come to play in the expanded mode. Of the three, only Chris is available to play when you start. Heisenberg and Dimitrescu must be unlocked, but they’re not that hard to collect. Especially if you use Chris well.
The fun part behind each of these characters is that they all feature wildly different gimmicks. Ethan ends up being the vanilla way to play with a good array of weapons and ability to physically block attacks. Chris has his weapons from the main campaign, as well as a left hook and straight punch that lean into his absurd strength and bravado. By using his punch attacks, you build up an Onslaught meter that can be used to increase his speed and damage once full.
Meanwhile, Heisenberg has his magnetic hammer and can throw scrap and saw blades at his enemies. He can even charge up his hammer on successive hits and then unleash a devastating ground pound that knocks enemies away and electrocutes them. He can also summon a Soldat Jet zombie that will drop down and then jetpack into foes before exploding. Finally, Dimitrescu uses her clawed fingers to cut foes apart while releasing swarms of flesh-eating bugs on them. She has a Thrill Gauge that fills while she kills and when it is full, she also does more damage like Chris. The main difference is she also gains the ability to pull out her vanity dresser and throw it at foes, as well as calling her daughters in to hunt down and kill everything in the area. All three characters play ridiculously different and bring lots of fun to the mode.
Here’s looking at you, Ethan
The final notable addition to the Winters’ Expansion is that of the Third-Person Camera mode, and I’m happy it's here. While I don’t mind the game being in first-person at all, I do know a lot of folks have issues with monsters getting up in their faces. This pulls the camera back behind Ethan (or Rose in the Shadows of Rose campaign), and lets you play it from over their shoulder like the recent Resident Evil remakes. It’s a cool way to re-experience Village and I really enjoyed playing Shadows of Rose this way. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to toggle it for The Mercenaries. That said, it gives a good reason to go back and re-experience all of Resident Evil Village in addition to the new content.
The Winters cometh
Resident Evil Village Gold Edition brings a lot of value to the overall game. If you already have Village and you’re buying the expansion, it’s only about $20 USD. If you’re picking it all up at once in the Gold Edition, it comes out to about $50 USD. Either way, you’ll have the base game, the Third-Person and First-Person Modes to choose from, the Shadows of Rose mini-campaign, and The Mercenaries Additional Orders. There are some missed opportunities and concerns, but overall, it's a significant addition to the base package that I feel brings some of the best scares in the series in Shadows of Rose and some of the zaniest fun when playing as the new characters in Mercenaries.
These impressions are based on a PS5 digital copy supplied by the publisher. Resident Evil Village Gold Edition and the Winters’ Expansion comes out on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on October 28, 2022.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Resident Evil Village Winters' Expansion adds loads of value & a terrifying new story