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, its easy to get lost in the lore. Its even more complicated for newcomers to the series who havent been following all the twists, turns, back-stabbings, deaths, revivals, and variations on viruses that have permeated Resident Evils narrative.
With Resident Evil 6 about to drop like a bomb on Raccoon City, we decided to put together this Cliff Notes version of Resident Evil to make sure youre ready for the next installment. It goes without saying, but if youve 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 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, dont 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 companys 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 Citys 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, youre 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 hes still chasing the undead to this very day. Of course, hes 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 hes 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. Itd be nice for the poor guy to get a break, but as the star or co-star of four games in the franchise, it doesnt 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 didnt 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 though, Chris finally managed to track Wesker down in Kijuju, and put an end to all the misery hed 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 Jakes 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 Leons missions was recovering the then-Presidents daughter, Ashley, from the hands of a Spanish cult known as Los Illuminados. Theres 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 Presidents side.
Leon is now best buds with the current President
Adam Benford is the man who first brought Leon in to help rescue Ashley, and now Benford is the President of the United States. Having been with Leon from the start of his time at the Department of Security Operations, President Benford is very close with the former Raccoon City police officer.
Thats why Leon is at the Presidents side in Tall Oaks when all hell breaks loose. After the C-virus outbreak infects a great deal of the population, including President Benford, Leon is put in a tough spot. With no other choice left, Leon kills the President before the mutation goes too far, kicking off Leons hunt for the people responsible in Resident Evil 6.
Sherry Birkin also survived the Raccoon City Incident
When the Raccoon City outbreak occurred, there were still some Umbrella scientists trying to preserve their research on biological weapons. Once such man was William Birkin, father to the very young Sherry Birkin. When things got their most dire, Dr. Birkin injected himself with the G-virus, turning him into a constantly mutating monster. Sherry was left to her own devices, hiding out in the city, until Claire Redfield came along, and helped rescue her from the madness. Its all very Newt/Ripley.
But she's infected with the G-virus
Before escaping with Leon though, Sherry was infected with the G-virus by her father. Once the U.S. government picked up Leon and Sherry, she was escorted to a secure facility where she could be safely monitored.
Thankfully, she didnt mutate into a giant one-eyed creature (puberty is tough enough for girls), but she carries the virus inside her to this day. Instead of leading a life of solitude under constant watch, Sherry chose to join the DSO so she could at least lead some semblance of a life.
Ada Wong is a spy who helps Leon...
Wherever Leon goes, so goes Ada Wong. First appearing during the outbreak in Raccoon City, Ada was a mysterious woman in red who helped Leon out of a tight jam or two. When Leon was in Spain, Ada showed up once more, this time to assist Leon and Ashley in escaping from Los Illuminados. Again, Ada reappeared in the East Slav Republic where Leon was investigating the black market sale of Bio Organic Weapons (Or BOWs, and you're going to want to remember that). She saved his hide from a few Tyrants, and disappeared back to wherever it is she goes during Leons downtime.
Theres very little anyone knows about Ada Wong, except that shes awful friendly with Leon, and she always shows up at the most convenient times. That may have something to do with her ulterior motives.
...when she wants to
Remember how we said Ada is always helping Leon? Well thats only partially true. For every time Ada gives Leon a hand, shes got another holding the knife to stab him in the back. When they first met, it was under the auspices of Ada searching for her boyfriend. Turns out she was just looking to steal the G-virus. Leon even took a bullet for Ada before finding out she was a spy working for a mysterious organization.
In Spain, though Ada leaves Leon and Ashley a jet-ski to escape with (what a gal), thats only after she steals a Plaga sample from Leon at gunpoint. In the Eastern Slav Republic, Ada may have helped Leon escape (again), but thats only after she left him to fend for himself against a horde of Lickers and a few Tyrants. Even after all that though, Leon still has a soft spot for Ada. Which makes sense because shes super-hot. Whether or not she feels the same way on the other hand, remains to be seen.
Ada Wong is still working for a mysterious benefactor, and has another strain of the Plaga parasite
After the events of in the Eastern Slav Republic, Ada Wong escapes with a dominant strain of the Plaga. Its still unclear just who shes dealing with, but we can rule out Umbrella, Wesker, and TriCell, as theyre either no longer living or defunct. Plus, Ada has double-crossed pretty much every single organization on the planet at this point, so even if we did find out whom she was working for, it wouldnt be uncharacteristic of her to suddenly switch sides.
Someone, somewhere is hoarding all these viruses, and with Umbrella out of the picture for the very first time (or are they?), its still a mystery who is continuing to create all these horrible plagues. All we know is Ada appears to be their number one supplier, and it looks like shes up to her old tricks again in Resident Evil 6.
There are so many different kinds of viruses, you guys
Over the years, there have been a pretty insane amount of viruses created or modified by Umbrella. Starting with the simple T-virus, which led to the original zombie outbreak in Raccoon City, there have been more than a dozen different biological agents that have caused an outbreak.
Of course, as the viruses have gotten more potent, the creatures theyve created have become more advanced and dangerous. Early on, there were just zombies. Then the viruses evolved, allowing the monsters to keep some of their intellect, or mutate wildlife into larger killing machines.
Even the mutated variants have gotten more impressive as the years have dragged on, and the viruses have been improved.
The viruses sometimes create unkillable monsters
While each virus creates a standard base zombie, certain genetic dispositions allow for the virus to mutate its host even further. Early in the series, infecteds like Tyrant and Lickers were common. The G-virus turned Dr. Birkin into like five different kinds of grossness, and the Uroboros virus turned people into massive, 100-feet tall monstrosities.
It seems the more advanced and unstable the virus, the bigger, badder, and tougher the mutations can become.
The black market for BOWs has exploded, starting in Eastern Europe
Even though Umbrella has finally been dealt with (or have they?), theres still a massive black market out there for bio organic weapons. Like most illegal trade operations, the BOW black market seems to have flourished in Eastern Europe. An entire civil war was fought in the Eastern Slav Republic with an army of Plaga, Tyrants, and Lickers. Though Leon is able to put a stop to the action there, he never does find out who was providing all the BOWs.
Not too long after the events in the ESR does another BOW situation arise in Edonia. Chris BSAA unit is dispatched to handle the incident, but things dont go so well. President Benford, seeing where the world is headed plans to organize the world in removing all BOWs from the picture, but his plans are cut short when the outbreak happens in Tall Oaks. Another incident happens in Lanshiang not long after that. Problems like this are the exact reason the BSAA was created in the first place.
Chris helped form the BSAA
Because of the huge increase in worldwide incidents of BOWs, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine (among others) founded the BioTerrorism Security Assessment Alliance to help combat the BOW black market after the fall of Umbrella. Originally funded by the Global Pharmaceutical Consortium, the BSAA was their way of distancing the GPC from Umbrella, and its nasty habits of repeatedly causing horrible zombie panics.
The BSAA has helped stop incidents aboard the Queen Zenobia and in Kijuju, both of which saw Chris on the front lines. The UN now controls the BSAA, which has stations around the globe. They are the first team to respond to the incident in Edonia, as well as Lanshiang.
Chris and Leon have battled the same viruses, but have never met
Over all the years of the Resident Evil franchise, the arguably two biggest stars have yet to meet in any capacity. Leon and Chris were in Raccoon City just days apart to battle the T-virus. Both have fought against the Plaga, but they did it in different countries, and years apart. In all this time, Chris and Leon have never battled side-by-side. All that changes in this game.
You would think in all the time thats passed since the Raccoon City incident, and the fact that both guys work for government agencies, Leon and Chris would have crossed paths at some point. Apparently thats just not the way the world works in Resident Evil. Giant, invincible killing machines caused by man-made viruses? Sure, why not. Two government agents in the same field crossing paths just once in fifteen years? Inconceivable.
There are still two former BSAA agents at large with another virus
The Resident Evil series is full of red herrings and dangling plot lines, but the most recent is also one of the most intriguing. At the end of 3DS title Resident Evil: Revelations, two BSAA agents make off with a vial of the T-Abyss virus. Thats usually Adas MO, but Leon wasnt in Revelations, so neither was she. There are allusions to a mysterious organization working in the shadows, which may or may not be the same shadowy organization Ada works for, but its not really clear. Probably because theyre shadow organizations, and they want to stay in the shadows.
The T-Abyss virus is very potent, and even led to the wholesale destruction of the island city, Terragrigia. Whoever gets their hands on it has the potential to wreak havoc like we havent seen in an RE game. Particularly if that same group is in possession of the Plaga Ada previously stole.
What lies ahead for our heroes?
Zombies, conspiracies, and white-knuckle action surely await, but what can we expect from Resident Evil 6 beyond that? There doesn't appear to be an end in sight for the franchise, so will this entry launch a new direction for the series, or will all of our questions finally be answered? We'll find out Oct. 2, when Resident Evil 6 arrives.