Time Skip In The Village Expansion Is A Big Deal For Resident Evil

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Time Skip In The Village Expansion Is A Big Deal For Resident Evil

Resident Evil Village ends 16 years in the future with Rose, Ethan’s now-teenage daughter, visiting his grave. As she catches up with her father, a BSAA agent approaches Rose and tells her that there is a situation where they (and presumably Chris Redfield) need her help. While this ending was clearly a buildup to the unannounced expansion campaign at the time, I still didn’t believe it until I saw the trailer for Shadows of Rose during Summer Game Fest. Jumping into the future isn’t something Resident Evil has done before, and 16 years is a big void to try to fill. Shadows of Rose presents a major continuity concern for Capcom going forward, even if it turns out to be a one-off expansion.

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The Resident Evil timeline is extensive and well documented. With the exception of live-action movies and a few multiplayer titles (Operation Raccoon City, Mercenaries 3D, Resistance, and the upcoming ReVerse), all of the Resident Evil stories exist within a single canon. This includes nearly 50 games, movies, novels, manga, guides, and shows that, while largely self-contained, all exist on one continuous timeline.

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For the most part, Resident Evil stories take place during the year they are released, or in the past as the timeline dictates. Oddly enough, the only game that breaks this rule is the original Resident Evil, which takes place two years after its release in 1996. Because the events of Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, and Resident Evil 3 occur during the same week in September 1998, and Capcom can’t release three games at once: the first game is set in the future and the third game is set a year in the past. Resident Evil 2, which was released in January 1998, set the standard that the rest of the main series would follow. Resident Evil 4 came out in 2005 and is set in 2005. Resident Evil Village came out in 2021 and is set in 2021.


Occasionally side stories have had to take place in the past in order to merge with the timeline. Resident Evil: Revelations came out in 2012 but is set in 2004 because its story follows the events of Resident Evil 4. Netflix’s Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness came out in 2021 but takes place in 2006, just before the Spencer Estate raid in Resident Evil. 5 where Wesker kidnapped and brainwashed Claire. These stories don’t reference each other – Infinite Darkness happened before Resident Evil 5 but was written after – but the timeline is still important to each character’s arc. Chris is a different man in the Village than he was in Resident Evil, and while you don’t have to have played every game in between to understand or enjoy the Village, it’s still part of his story that matters.


This is why I’m so surprised to see the timeline move forward 16 years for Shadows of Rose. It immediately tells us a lot about the future and restricts the kind of stories that Capcom can tell. For one thing, we know there won’t be the kind of cataclysmic world-ending event we’ve seen in live-action movies or the upcoming Netflix series, which uses RE canon as its own. At the end of the Village, Rose talks to her father about being busy with school and is picked up by a BSAA agent in a regular van. Clearly, the world hasn’t become a zombie wasteland, and that won’t happen in any Resident Evil game for at least the next 16 years.

We also know that Chris is alive and well in 2037, so any story told about him from now on will have significantly less dramatic tension. Not that I expect Chris Redfield to die, but it does limit what Capcom can do with the character to some degree. Everything that happens in Shadow of Rose will inform all the future stories that Capcom wants to tell. For the next 16 years, every idea or proposal a writer comes up with will have to go through the Rose filter. Does this idea contradict what we stated in the DLC pack for Resident Evil Village? I’m surprised Capcom decided to put themselves in this position after all these years of carefully keeping the timeline.


The obvious way out of all this is to simply continue the series from 2037. Whatever happens at the end of Shadow of Rose will be the new starting point, and Resident Evil 9 can pick things up from there and continue moving forward in the timeline, always a decade and a half ahead of ours. This would open up the opportunity for more Revelations-style games to fill in the gaps between 2021 and 2037 to show us what happened to the characters in the interim.

This is a risky proposition because it is based on the assumption that the world we live in will look relatively the same 15 years from now, as it does in Shadow of Rose. It assumes that there have been no major events or technological advances that would fundamentally change society. If we’re all riding around in flying cars and replacing our limbs with robot parts by 2030, Resident Evil will look weird for not taking that into account. The same goes for major wars or natural disasters that disrupt society to the point that it’s strange that they aren’t factored into Resident Evil stories. Then again, if we’re all living in Waterworld thanks to climate change in 2035, the Resident Evil timeline will be the least of our worries.


Next: Resident Evil Shouldn’t Leave The First-Person Perspective Behind

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