The Road So Far - The Major Series Events That Precede Resident Evil 4: Part 1
The Resident Evil 4 (2023) remake will soon be upon us, as it's currently due to arrive in March. Now, as you may know, we're all being kept mostly in the dark concerning what the game has to offer, so I'm not in a position to reveal anything new regarding it. However, what I can do is highlight the past, and provide a timeline of the important events that preceded Resident Evil 4, so that you're all caught up and in the know before you tackle the upcoming remake.
Due to its nature, this article is primarily for those new to the series. However, it should also be useful to those with only minor experience or that need a lore refresher.
Finally, there will be spoilers throughout this article, so please stop reading now if you do not wish to have anything ruined.
Part 1: The Spencer Mansion
Although the wider Resident Evil mythos begins long before this point, here is still the ideal place to begin the story. This particular period of time involves both Resident Evil 0 HD REMASTER and Resident Evil — of which the Resident Evil HD REMASTER remake now takes canonical precedence, with the original being effectively overwritten. Resident Evil 0 is set only a few hours before the Resident Evil remake.
Resident Evil 0 follows the Raccoon City police department's S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad) Bravo team, as they head toward the local Spencer Estate. The derelict Spencer Mansion is thought to be housing a dangerous, cannibalistic gang, who have been terrorising Raccoon City. Bravo team soon run into trouble, discovering that things are not as they initially seemed, and unintentionally leave the 18-year-old team medic, Rebecca Chambers, alone.
Rebecca soon joins up with ex-military prisoner Billy Cohen, who helps her on her adventure — both of them realising that they need each other to survive. Their journey doesn't actually take them to the Spencer Mansion, as expected, and instead they travel to a nearby Umbrella (the big, recurring bads of the early days of the franchise — they are a pharmaceutical conglomerate that secretly dabble in biological warfare, hence all the monsters) training facility.
Resident Evil 0's main antagonist is James Marcus, an ex-Umbrella scientist and company co-founder who was assassinated by his employers. Now revived years later by the same virus he helped to create, he exacts his revenge by unleashing monsters throughout the training facility. He is also responsible for the Spencer Mansion outbreak, the event that kicks off the series. He is eventually defeated by Rebecca and Billy, and has not made an appearance since.
Likewise, once the game is over and our protagonists go their separate ways, Billy is also never seen again in the series. Rebecca Chambers, on the other hand, finally makes her way to the Spencer Mansion where she is then found again in the Resident Evil remake.
Interestingly, this is also the first game to canonically reveal that Albert Wesker and William Birkin are villains. Wesker becomes a recurring antagonist, but Birkin is killed before the events of Resident Evil 2 (2019) and an infected version of him becomes a major antagonist in that game. Unfortunately, the Wesker revelation destroys the first game if you haven't played it yet.
The next section of the Spencer Mansion story covers the Resident Evil remake. Due to the disappearance of Bravo team, Alpha team is sent in as back up. Alpha team is composed of some important characters, which include Chris Redfield, Albert Wesker, Barry Burton, Brad Vickers, and Jill Valentine — the latter two appearing in the Resident Evil 3 (2020) remake. There is also a sixth member, Joseph Frost, although he dies immediately and is never mentioned again, so he's unimportant.
Alpha team quickly find the mansion due to being forced into it to avoid zombified hounds that are patrolling the woods. Brad also flees in the helicopter, leaving the rest of the team stranded.
Now, it is difficult to explain the story, as depending on whether you proceed as Jill or Chris, the story unravels a little differently. However, canonically, the true ending is a mixture of both stories; although it’s one that's not actually playable. Nonetheless, the key beats are as follows.
Somehow Chris is separated from the remaining three members, Jill and Barry team up, and then Wesker is missing. Chris runs into Rebecca hiding out in one of the rooms; she is tired and alone, and teams up with Chris to escape. Jill, though, has Barry to rely on during her adventure — and he, much like Rebecca, is a very useful companion. Chris and Jill need to make their ways around the house and surrounding grounds, looking for a way to escape. With the cannibal cult turning out to actually be virus-riddled creatures, and Bravo team all being found dead, one by one, there isn't any other option.
Eventually it's revealed that S.T.A.R.S. leader, Albert Wesker, was behind all of it (not the outbreak, that was Marcus) as he purposefully sent in the S.T.A.R.S. teams to fight the Mansion's many creatures. Being a former Umbrella employee, Wesker had planned to record the combat data, and sell it on to competitors. Wesker is also blackmailing Barry Burton, forcing Barry to aid him in his schemes. Soon, though, Wesker is overcome, Barry is freed, and the Mansion is destroyed due to a self-destruct mechanism. Luckily Brad returns to rescue them before they are swallowed up by the explosion.
A combination of a lack of evidence and a police force in the pocket of Umbrella means Alpha team did not receive a warm welcome on their return to Raccoon City.
That sees the end of Part 1 of this series of catch-up articles. Part 2 will continue with the Raccoon City outbreak, and cover the events of the Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes.