Ah, the Resident Evil franchise. One of the most famous horror series of all time, now spanning decades of mainline entries, strange spin-offs, repeated failed attempts at multiplayer, and now a growing line of excellent remakes reimagining classic RE titles. Resident Evil 4 (RE4) was the latest classic to be remade, releasing earlier this year to critical acclaim and commercial success. It’s a brilliant retelling of a truly legendary game, but it did feel a little incomplete at launch…
That’s because it lacked the Separate Ways DLC, which was included in the 2005 original’s base game and accessible after completing the main story. Capcom has now rectified this omission, with the missing pieces of Ada Wong’s story now enjoying the same remake treatment as Resident Evil 4 — complete with expanded story elements and gameplay. It’s an excellent addition to the main game, and is exactly what any RE4 fan will be looking for.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Capcom. The companies did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
RE4: Separate Ways — Visuals and performance
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways
Install size: 13.7GB (+ 85.5GB base game)
Playtime: ~6 hours
Release date: Sept. 21, 2023
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, PlayStation 5
Xbox Game Pass: No
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
If you played Resident Evil 4 (2023), then you already know what to expect here. The Separate Ways DLC is functionally identical to the base game in both visuals and performance — that is to say, it looks incredible and plays buttery smooth. Morbid, detailed lighting, decrepit environments oozing with gore, refuse, and the hordes of infected roaming the countryside. Performance is rock solid at a consistent 60 FPS, but you can trade some of those frames for improved visual fidelity and even ray-traced lighting and reflections.
Similar to the base games, character models don’t always look as incredible as the surrounding world, but that’s an extremely minor nitpick on what is otherwise a stunningly rendered, terrifying world that perfectly sets the mood for RE4’s action-horror gameplay. Whether you’re exploring dank forests, dry cliffsides, or claustrophobic interiors, the game is a visual showcase. Ada does get some minor interface elements for her grappling hook and IRIS (more on that later), but other than that Separate Ways looks and plays like Resident Evil 4 (2023), and that’s a good thing.
RE4: Separate Ways — Story and characters
The Separate Ways DLC is, at its core, all about Ada Wong, the mysterious and highly skilled mercenary/spy that we first met in RESIDENT EVIL 2. Ada embarks on a highly secretive mission under the employ of the cold and calculated Albert Wesker. This brings her to the island of the Los Illuminados ahead of Leon Kennedy and his quest to rescue the President’s daughter. Ada’s mission, though, is far less noble.
Ada’s presence on the island and her involvement with the charismatic Dr. Luis Serra will be known to anyone who completed the base game. After all, Ada makes multiple appearances during the game, playing a pivotal role in Leon’s mission and even saving his life on multiple occasions. However, the details of Ada’s time on the island are lost in the base game, as are the specifics of her mission. This is where Separate Ways comes in — filling in the gaps and providing a ton of new information from the perspective of Ada.
The remade Separate Ways is actually expanded over the original though, with more screentime from both Luis Serra and Albert Wesker. There’s more context, more information, and more setup for what comes next in the Resident Evil franchise. Overall, it’s all very well done, with Ada’s distanced teasing and professional nature contrasting neatly with Leon’s newfound sassy confidence and Luis’ charisma mingled with a buried desire to do something good.
After you roll the credits on the Separate Ways DLC, much of the unanswered questions from the base game now have answers, creating the same effect we got from RESIDENT EVIL 2 when playing as both Claire and Leon. I won’t spoil anything new revealed during Ada’s story, but suffice it to say that Ada Wong is a more complicated individual than her brief appearances in Leon’s life would suggest. Luis’ character being a little more fleshed out also makes his story more impactful, while added appearances from Albert Wesker raise the stakes of Ada’s mission.
Of course, you’re also replaying a sizeable amount of the story you’ve already seen. Ada and Leon’s stories occur in parallel with multiple intersections, so you’re bound to see the same scenes and learn the same info. What makes it worth it is the changed perspective or added context from Ada, and how it all connects together through her actions.
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RE4: Separate Ways — Gameplay and content
Gameplay-wise, Separate Ways is once again very similar to the base game. However, Ada does have a few more tools in her arsenal that vary the gameplay over Leon’s story, preventing things from feeling too “same-y.” For one, Ada’s iconic grappling gun is a prevalent part of RE4: Separate Ways, with Ada able to use her grappling gun to traverse the map (often skipping difficult segments that give Leon trouble), close the distance to melee enemies, and even rip the shields away from certain enemies (if you unlock the ability).
Ada also has the IRIS, a complicated acronym that I honestly can’t remember. All you need to know is that, at certain points in the game, an advanced implant in Ada’s eyes can help her track footprints or find other clues to help her progress. The IRIS plays an even smaller role in the story than the grappling gun, but it is a cool mechanic when it does come into play. Finally, Ada has access to a slightly different arsenal than Leon, with accelerated access to those guns thanks to the shorter runtime of the DLC.
Beyond that, Ada plays very similar to Leon. Sure, she has plenty of different, slick animations, but the core gameplay experience here is almost identical to RE4. When it comes to content, there are also a lot of similarities. Ada does see a bunch of new environments, puzzles, and some unique enemies and bosses, but she also visits a lot of the same locations that Leon does. She often takes different routes and almost always comes at different times than Leon, but there’s plenty that will look familiar to players of the base game.
Still, it took me a little over six hours to finish the Separate Ways DLC (taking my time to look for secrets and such). You can rush through the game in around four hours, probably, but you’ll be missing content. Like the rest of Resident Evil, there’s a lot of replay value, too, with unlockable content and achievements only available by playing the DLC multiple times.
If you play Separate Ways immediately after playing the main Resident Evil 4 campaign, the similarities may be more noticeable to you. If you’re returning to the game because of Separate Ways, it’s not likely to bother you. Either way, there’s plenty of content here for just $10, and plenty of reasons to play for basically anyone who enjoyed Resident Evil 4 (2023).
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RE4: Separate Ways — Accessibility
I make a point of highlighting accessibility and approachable game design with every game I review, but there’s not a lot to say about the Separate Ways DLC. That’s because you’re looking at the same options, features, and game design as Resident Evil 4 (2023). There are still presets for various potential disabilities and impairments, a number of ways to customize your control experience, audio settings, and more.
It’s far from the most accessible game I’ve ever played, but it’s certainly a marked improvement over the original. If you were able to play RE4, you should be able to play Separate Ways without any issues. This also applies to approachability. You have various difficulty levels, and the game does a decent job highlighting interactive objects and naturally pointing the camera at your next objective. Controls are relatively intuitive, too. You can still only save at certain safe points, but the autosave function grants you checkpoints on a fairly regular basis.
RE4: Separate Ways — Should you play it?
You should play this if …
You should not play this if …
When I previewed Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways, it was pretty clear what I was getting myself into. This is more Resident Evil 4 (2023), but now we get to see matters from Ada’s perspective. Yes, there’s more content, more gameplay mechanics, and more challenges to complete, but it is fundamentally Resident Evil 4. For 99% of players, that’s absolutely perfect. There’s a fantastic amount of content here for just $10, and it’s a ton of fun for anyone who enjoyed the base game. It’s great to see more of Ada, even if her outfit is highly impractical for her job.
Of course, Separate Ways does go over a lot of the same story and scenes we saw in the RE4 remake. Ada’s added gameplay mechanics sometimes don’t feel like they play a big enough role, either. Finally, it’s hard to forget that the Separate Ways DLC was included in the original Resident Evil 4, while here it’s a paid add-on. None of this stopped me from having a blast, though. Resident Evil 4 (2023) is easily one of the best Xbox games of the year, and Ada’s Separate Ways DLC is the perfect way to add to it.