Resident Evil 7 protagonist Ethan Winters is back for Resident Evil Village. Here’s why the character is returning and how he’s being updated.
The Resident Evil franchise is filled with iconic characters like Jill Valentine, Leon S. Kennedy, and Albert Wesker (just to name a few), and the upcoming Resident Evil Village will add yet another character to that list: Ethan Winters. Having survived the events of Resident Evil 7, Ethan reprises his role as the player character in Resident Evil Village, and will be appearing alongside fan-favorite Chris Redfield. But this won’t be the exact same Ethan fans remember from Resident Evil 7.
The character has gotten a big personality boost since his last appearance and is more vocal as he battles his way through RE8‘s creepy and remote European village environment. But the question still remains: why did Capcom decide to make Ethan the main character once again, despite his role as a mostly silent protagonist in the previous game? After all, there are plenty of other fan-favorite characters from the series to choose from who could lead a game.
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Development on Resident Evil Village actually started six months prior to the release of Resident Evil 7, so it wasn’t always a given that Ethan would be returning for the next installment in Capcom’s survival-horror franchise. Here’s why Ethan was made the main character of Resident Evil Village, and how the development team looked to update his character.
Why Resident Evil Village Stars Ethan Winters
According to an IGN interview with Resident Evil Village director Morimasa Sato, the decision to make Resident Evil Village a direct sequel happened about six months into the game’s development, following the positive critical reception of Resident Evil 7. It was then decided that Ethan would once again be the main character, and that the game would be sticking with the first-person perspective. Resident Evil Village producer Tsuyoshi Kanda says the decision to stick with Ethan came down to Sato wanting to bring the story of Ethan’s character “to completion.” Sato initially believed it would be more difficult to depict a first-person protagonist, but over time became attached to the character. For the sequel, Sato specifically wanted to show how Ethan has grown as a person since the events of Resident Evil 7, saying:
“While Ethan was just a young man who had somehow found himself in this house of maniacs in Resident Evil 7, this time I wanted to portray him as a father.”
That theme of family runs through both Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil Village. Resident Evil 7 revolves around the twisted Baker family, while Resident Evil Village will be about what lengths Ethan will go to protect his own family after his wife, Mia, is shot and his child kidnapped by series hero Chris Redfield. The reasoning behind Chris’ actions are still unclear, but it’s certainly a shocking series of events that spurs Ethan into action. How Ethan’s story will end still remains to be seen, but Sato wanting to use Resident Evil Village to see the character’s story “to completion” certainly makes it sound like things might not go well for Resident Evil’s newest hero. Of course, fans will simply have to play Resident Evil Village to find out Ethan’s ultimate fate.
While Ethan will carry over from Resident Evil 7, much of Resident Evil Village’s DNA comes straight from an older game in the series. The game’s village setting, its focus on action and combat, and its plot hook of having to save a kidnapped child are all directly influenced by Resident Evil 4, a game which revolutionized the series for years to come. Resident Evil Village is certainly learning from the best, but it remains to be seen if it can turn the largely personality-free Ethan Winters into a fan-favorite character in the same vein of Claire Redfield or Leon S. Kennedy.
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