For sixteen years, Capcom has been unleashing hordes of zombies upon us in the form of Resident Evil. With close to two-dozen games in the franchise, it’s easy to get lost in the lore. It’s even more complicated for newcomers to the series who haven’t been following all the twists, turns, back-stabbings, deaths, revivals, and variations on viruses that have permeated Resident Evils narrative.
With Resident Evil 6 (opens in new tab) about to drop like a bomb on Raccoon City, we decided to put together this Cliff Notes version of Resident Evil to make sure you’re ready for the next installment. It goes without saying, but if you’ve somehow managed not to play a Resident Evil game in the last decade-and-a-half, beware of spoilers.
The Umbrella Corp is the root of all evil (also the root of all zombies)
Everything in Resident Evil (opens in new tab) starts with the Umbrella Corporation. A major pharmaceutical and medical research company, Umbrella was constantly working on consumer grade products like food and cosmetics. Meanwhile, they were also elbow-deep in the manufacturing of biological weapons.
Those very same weapons would ultimately be the downfall of the company. (Note to all future pharmaceutical CEOs, don’t fire the guy who has access to the virus that will turn your secret underground research facility into ground zero for a zombie outbreak.) After a few other instances of bad luck with a batch of biological terrorism, Umbrella crumbled, but the company’s legacy would impact the world for the foreseeable future.
Raccoon City is where it all started
Remember that secret underground research facility we mentioned? Well it happened to be located beneath a mansion on the outskirts of Raccoon City. Though the initial outbreak was limited to the facility in the Arklay Mountains, some of the virus happened to find its way into the sewer system, which in turn led to a vast majority of Raccoon City turning into mindless monsters with a very particular palette.
Raccoon City’s outbreak was contained a few days after it had begun, but it took a lot of hard work, diligence, square cranks, green herbs, and a few nuclear warheads. Though Umbrella was able to cover up this first small incident, many more would soon follow. Mostly because the company was interested in wiping out the population, but also so Capcom could make another sequel.
The outbreaks have always been contained
For the most part, the zombie outbreaks in Resident Evil have been fairly self-contained. Though each new game in the Resident Evil franchise saw its characters exploring new corners of the world, the catastrophe had yet to reach a global scale like it has in Resident Evil 6. Previous games saw the occurrences happen in a single city, a mansion, a cargo ship, or a secluded island.
Of course, not counting the Outbreak spin-offs (which no one does), Resident Evil 6 is the first game in the franchise with so many lead protagonists. It makes sense then the conflict at the heart of the game would have to be bigger than anything that came before. Ultimately, you’re still battling hordes of zombies, still searching for ammunition, and still trying to find the door the rooster key opens.
Chris Redfield has been battling Umbrella from the start
Chris Redfield is the only returning protagonist from the first Resident Evil. He was there at the mansion when Umbrella first unleashed hell, and he’s still chasing the undead to this very day. Of course, he’s started using HGH as a performance enhancer to keep up with all the advances in modern day zombie outbreaks, but hes still the same old Chris Redfield at heart.
Chris has lost a partner or two over the years, but somehow he’s still managed to push on in his quest to rid the world of bio organic weapons. Umbrella may no longer be a thorn in his side, but the amount of damage they caused while in business has created plenty of problems for Chris and the BSAA to solve. It’d be nice for the poor guy to get a break, but as the star or co-star of four games in the franchise, it doesn’t look like Chris will be ending his crusade any time soon.
Chris and Albert Wesker used to be partners
Chris was once a member of an elite special forces detachment in the Raccoon City Police Department called the Special Tactics and Rescue Service. Also on S.T.A.R.S. was a man by the name of Albert Wesker. Both he and Chris were both on the scene at the mansion outbreak, though their motives may have been a bit different.
Despite his penchant for sunglasses, menacing voice, and general creepy disposition, Chris didn’t think anything was wrong with Wesker.
Until Wesker was revealed to be a superhuman evil mastermind
Wesker set the S.T.A.R.S. team up to die in the mansion that night, yet Chris foiled his plans. Rather than being caught, Wesker injected himself with a prototype virus that only made it appear as if he had died. Instead, he was resurrected with newfound strength, speed, and the ability to regenerate, which is always what happens to people who inject themselves with mysterious liquids.
Albert tried to continue the work of Umbrella for the next few years. He also continued to star as one of the main antagonists of the franchise. In Resident Evil 5 (opens in new tab) though, Chris finally managed to track Wesker down in Kijuju, and put an end to all the misery he’d caused countless millions of people.
And then Chris had to kill him
Holding a grudge as long as Chris had was bound to end badly for Albert once Chris finally caught up to him. Even though Wesker had all the heightened senses and abilities one would expect from a science experiment, and he injected himself with another deadly strain known as the Uroboros virus, that still wasnt enough to stop Chris from kicking him into a volcano.
We know what youre thinking. If Wesker is dead, why did we need to know all of that information about him? Well it just so happens Wesker had a kid named Jake, who believe it or not, is one of the protagonists in Resident Evil 6. Will Jake go all Inigo Montoya on Chris? Will Chris proudly show off the boot with which he kicked Jake’s fathers posterior? We cant wait to find out.
Before working for the US government, Leon Kennedy was an ordinary cop in Raccoon City
During the outbreak in Raccoon City, the new cop in town Leon Kennedy was basically left to fight off Umbrella all on his own. Maybe he had a little bit of help from Chris sister Claire Redfield, but Leon definitely did most of the heavy lifting. During his time in the city, Leon befriended a young girl name Sherry Birkin, whose father Leon had to kill after he infected himself with the G-virus. Were sensing a theme here.
Leon managed to destroy Umbrellas underground facility and escape the city by train before it was blown to smithereens by the U.S. government. Funnily enough, that same government then hired Leon for his expertise, and turned him from an everyman rookie cop into one of the most able special agents in history.
Leon saved the last US President’s daughter from Los Zombies
As a special agent, one of Leon’s missions was recovering the then-President’s daughter, Ashley, from the hands of a Spanish cult known as Los Illuminados. There’s no such thing as routine in the world of Resident Evil, so what should have been an easy recovery mission soon turned into another one-man battle against a zombie outbreak.
This time though, the outbreak was even more dangerous because the infected werent undead. They were merely hosts to a parasite known as the Plaga, which allowed the people to be controlled by a master, and gain strength, speed, and an ability to resist pain. Leon was able to overcome the odds stacked against him once more, and saved Ashley (despite her best efforts to get herself killed), forever ensuring his place at the President’s side.