Why is Ethan Winters’ face always hidden in Resident Evil?
Mr. Winters, could you please face the camera?
Ethan Winters enters the Resident Evil franchise when the series returns to its survival-horror roots in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Because of this title’s success, the next game in the series, Resident Evil: Village, sees Ethan return for another outing against horrifying biohazards and mayhem. Both of these games feature a transition to a first-person camera that puts the player into Ethan’s perspective and rarely ever pulls away. It does eventually get close, but even then, Ethan’s face is always blocked and purposefully never shown. This tease has frustrated fans, who feel that they have earned the right to lay eyes on the person that they embodied for two games. Let’s discuss why Capcom never reveals Ethan’s face in the Resident Evil series.
Why you never see Ethan Winters’ face in Resident Evil
Capcom made the decision to switch to a first-person camera in Resident Evil because they wanted the seventh installment to return to the classic claustrophobic feeling of the original titles in the series. Technology and gaming expectations have come a long way since the 90s, however, and the developers did not want to go back to fixed camera angles to generate the feeling of being trapped. This is why the camera never leaves Ethan’s perspective during Resident Evil 7.
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Capcom’s goal was to have the player experience Ethan’s struggles first-hand, and limit how much they could see in the scene at a time. If cutscenes pulled away from the first-person camera, the anxiety caused by the game would start to subside. Letting the player drop out of Ethan’s viewpoint would detach themselves from the experience and allow them to see it from a less immersive perspective.
Capcom doubled down on this even in the events of Resident Evil: Village. The game takes a few more liberties and eventually gives the player a third-person perspective during the ending cutscenes, but the developers block your view of Ethan or shroud his visage at all times. It’s a frustrating choice to say the least, as players have already figured out that the character does have a rendered face via the unlockable model viewer.
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Resident Evil: Village has since come out with a third-person camera option, but Capcom made the effort to have Ethan look away from the camera whenever the player tries to focus on his face. The DLC included with this option features Rose Winters as the main character, but even when she interacts with her father in the climax of the story, the developers still choose to obscure him. It has basically become a meme at this point, and Capcom has dug its heels in because of it, coyly stating that Ethan Winters is camera shy.