Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose is going to be a fairly notable expansion for Capcom’s 2021 survival horror masterclass. The upcoming story DLC is launching as part of the Winters Expansion on October 28, which is also set to include new content for the arcade shooter offshoot The Mercenaries and a perspective-altering reworking of the base game – unlocking a Resident Evil 8 third-person mode. But it’s the Resident Evil Shadows of Rose portion of the package that will no doubt turn heads, particularly as it follows the story of Rose Winters, Ethan’s daughter, 16 years into the future.
While the Winters’ Expansion unlocks ‘Third-Person Mode’ as an option for the core campaign, the Shadows of Rose story DLC takes place entirely in third person – it’s quite the change. Call me a cynic, but I reckon this is a deliberate and admittedly shrewd move from Capcom with an eye on its much-anticipated and recently confirmed Resident Evil 4 Remake. And call me a sell-out, but I’m totally here for it.
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Given the acclaim the Resident Evil series has received since pivoting to a first-person perspective in 2017’s Resident Evil 7, the decision to revert to an over-the-shoulder POV here feels like an odd but assured move. Resident Evil Village is a continuation of Ethan Winters’ story from RE7, and likewise carried the first-person torch forward from the Baker estate to the next game’s titular European hamlet setting when it arrived last year. While mostly linear in makeup – in the same vein as its predecessors – Resident Evil Village offers players more in the way of exploration, with more optional areas and secret-laden hidden locations than anything that’s come before. Being shown all of this through the eyes of the protagonist at ground level makes a modestly-sized map feel so much bigger, a feature galvanised by the game world’s astute level design and back-and-forth objective structure.
Moreover, scrambling monsters and half-robot zombies are generally more terrifying when forcing themselves into your personal space – a sense of frantic claustrophobia that goes hand-in-hand with a first-person point of view – and the towering Lady Dimitrescu is doubly scary when viewed from Ethan Winters’ perspective firsthand, the hero often forced to tilt his head back just to take in all nine feet and six inches of the castle countess. In the case of Resident Evil Village’s new Third Person Mode, then, I can’t see how switching camera views can improve any of the original blueprint. We won’t know until we get hands-on with it, but I suspect the map will feel smaller, the enemies less scary, and, heaven forbid, Lady Dimitrescu less imposing.
So why do it? The Rose Winters-starring Shadows of Rose expansion looks great, and, following the conclusion of the base game, is likely to be the final twist in frontman Ethan’s tale – one that I can’t wait to discover myself. I already have so many questions, not least: who is that doppelganger, and why has the otherwise helpful shopkeeper, The Duke, seemingly turned hostile? Still, given the Resident Evil Village base game incorporates a first-person perspective as standard, there was really no need to make RE8’s first slice of DLC anything different.
As also revealed during Capcom’s E3 2022 showcase, though, the Resident Evil 2 Remake and Resident Evil 3 Remake are both getting current-gen hardware upgrades, with 4K resolution, ray tracing, higher frame rates, and 3D audio all en route to the games first launched in 2019 and 2020 respectively. For PS5 players, the upgrade – free for existing owners of the originals – also adds haptic feedback and adaptive trigger support via the console’s DualSense controller. The RE2 and RE3 remakes are, of course, third-person horror games now on the cusp of being brought in-line with modern standards – in many ways similar to Sony and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us: Part 1.
Shortly after announcing Resident Evil Village’s Third Person Mode and its incoming Shadows of Rose DLC, the Resident Evil 4 remake’s director Yasuhiro Anpo and producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi spent five minutes outlining what we can expect from the reimagining when it lands on March 24 next year. Hirabayashi introduced new gameplay footage with the line: “The over-the-shoulder camera returns, of course!”, while Anpo later affirmed: “We want long-time fans and people who are new to Resident Evil to enjoy this storied franchise”.
Through all of this, a short-term pivot to third-person suddenly makes perfect sense. As of last month, Resident Evil Village has sold over six million copies. That audience is locked in, and, I can only assume, raring to go for more story content, no matter how it’s framed and served. Despite being unsure of the value in a Third Person Mode myself, I’ll definitely give it a spin – if for nothing else but to see how Lady Dimitrescu stands up, and to experience Heisenberg’s industrial maze from a different point of view. If, in that process, I’m given small insight into how a modern day Resident Evil 4 might look and feel – it, of course, also set in a nameless, monster-ridden Eastern European village – then Capcom’s gamble has paid off. And whether you’re a longstanding fan or a newcomer, being able to blaze through Resident 2, Resident Evil 3, Resident Evil Village and its coinciding DLC all in third-person view on modern hardware bodes well for Capcom’s next big push towards its Resident Evil 4 remake.
At this point, I would still expect the ninth main series Resident Evil – whatever it’s called and whenever it may arrive – to adopt a first-person camera view, as per numbers eight and nine, and there’s every chance that Capcom will eventually rework Village’s Shadows of Rose DLC through the eyes of its protagonist. When I first learned the expansion was “completely third-person”, I thought it had no business being so – but that, for me, in fact, is exactly what is driving the decision. And, while I find it an odd move, if it acts as a primer for next year’s Resident Evil 4, I am one hundred per cent on board.
Resident Evil Village is among the best horror games out there – how many of the rest have you played?