Resident Evil: Every Version of Raccoon City, Ranked – Screen Rant

Raccoon City is one of the most important locations in the Resident Evil franchise, but its depiction in the games hasn’t been completely equal.
Raccoon City is one of the most important settings in the Resident Evil franchise, having been the source for most of the main characters’ interest in fighting bioweapons and those responsible for creating them. It’s the main location explored in several of the games, and it’s referenced throughout various other games, with the events that occurred in it being essential for the understanding of the main conflicts in Resident Evil, like the rivalry between Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker. However, it’s not treated equally in most of the games, with some managing to make the exploration of Raccoon City more entertaining than in others.
Although it was officially destroyed in Resident Evil 3 after a T-Virus infection resulted in the deaths of most of the city's population, Raccoon City remains one of the most iconic Resident Evil locations, with players even recreating Raccoon City’s police car in real life. It was the first location affected by the bioweapons developed by the Umbrella Corporation, with the events in it having been used to destroy the company legally. Raccoon City had several appearances across the franchise, with games exploring what had taken place before and after it was destroyed. It was in Raccoon City that characters like Chris Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy became so important, and the events they had to face in the city made it possible for them to become so prominent in the fight against bioweapons.
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However, the appearances of Raccoon City in the games are quite diverse. In some, like Resident Evil 2, one of the scariest games of the franchise, the city is just a temporary passageway towards more important areas. Others only explore certain buildings, while there are a few that create a setting meant to showcase the entirety of the city. This can be beneficial, depending on the game’s story, but there are certainly better versions of Raccoon City than others within the same franchise.
The remake of the classic Resident Evil 2 improved on various aspects of the original, being both welcoming to new players and intriguing to long-time fans. One of its main villains, Mr. X, is considered better than RE3’s Nemesis by many fans after having his appearance and AI improved by Capcom. However, when it comes to its Raccoon City scenario, there were many scenes from the original that were cut. The original Resident Evil 2 had more interesting locations that could be explored in the city as both characters, with NPCs reacting differently to the presence of each protagonist, making the city feel more real. This is something the remake of Resident Evil 2 lacks, which takes away from the game’s story of a regular city taken over by zombies.
The original Resident Evil 2 was an iconic entry to the franchise. It continued the story of what occurred in Raccoon City, abandoning the remote setting of the Arklay Mountains of RE1 and focusing on the impact the initial T-Virus outbreak had on the city. It also introduced two of the best main characters in Resident Evil, Claire Redfield and Leon Scott Kennedy, who would reappear several times in other games. However, the exploration of Raccoon City still lacks the depth present in other installments. This is because, while the city feels very lived-in and real, there are only a few explorable areas and its appearance is very brief when compared to other settings, such as the orphanage and the police station.
The remake of the iconic Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was very controversial among fans. Many important areas of the game were cut, like Jill’s excursion through the Raccoon Police Department, which reduced the game's average completion time. Another criticized change made Nemesis more like the monsters in Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, with him becoming larger and larger, which only occurred in the end sections of the game. And while it improved upon the remake of Resident Evil 2 in certain ways that made it more enjoyable, allowing players to save less and spend less time worried about ammo, it still lacked various aspects that were present in the original.
Related: Resident Evil 3 Remake: Every Change From The Original
Its depiction of Raccoon City was very similar to the one in the remake of Resident Evil 2, which meant that the city was mainly used to travel through and from important areas of the game. While there was a great graphical improvement made to the explorable areas in the game, making them look more like shops and stores that could be seen in the real world, many iconic areas, such as the STAGLA Gas Station and the Clock Tower, were scrapped in the remake. This contributed to the lack of Nemesis chases due to a restricted scenario, which made RE3 great for players who don't like horror, but also took away from the exploration aspect present in the original. These changes made the Raccoon City present in the remake inferior to the one in the original, as well as the one in other games.
Resident Evil: Outbreak was a unique entry to the franchise, with players living through the T-Virus outbreak as mere civilians who hadn’t appeared in other games. While it lacks the exploration aspect of the main games in the franchise, it allowed characters to explore several other parts of Raccoon City that were inaccessible in the main games. When playing the game, the characters will travel through known areas explored in previous games, but it also adds a few new locations unique to this entry, like a hotel and the University of Raccoon City, which contributed to a better understanding of the events that occurred in the city.
It’s very difficult to make a multiplayer Resident Evil game, and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was one such entry to the franchise that received mixed reviews. Much like Resident Evil: Outbreak, its gameplay is very fast-paced, but it’s more focused on the action like RE5 and RE6. Although there is little exploration involved in the game, it allows players to look back on iconic locations and characters in Raccoon City, such as the Umbrella laboratories visited in Resident Evil 2, as well as explore new sections from different perspectives.
Much like its predecessor, Resident Evil: Outbreak File #2 surrounds a group of survivors in Raccoon City who must deal with several threats that occurred due to the T-Virus outbreak. Much like the most hated Resident Evil game, Resident Evil 6, Outbreak File #2 had a focus on action elements, with several gameplay features repeated from its predecessors. However, File #2 features several other unique locations that weren’t present in the original, such as the Raccoon City Zoo, which allow players to gain additional context about how life in the city was before the infection and how dangerous it became afterwards. These new areas made the Raccoon City depicted in the game better than it was in the original Outbreak, only adding onto what players already knew.
The original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has the best version of Raccoon City in the entire franchise. Unlike its predecessor, Raccoon City is RE3’s primary location and exploring the city through the outbreak is one of the main goals of protagonist Jill Valentine. The game often encourages players to backtrack and explore the same areas several times, with different events and encounters appearing at different times, depending on the progression of the story. And while RE3’s remake has better replayability, the original had many more smaller goals to be fulfilled, either to gain a specific weapon or just change Jill’s costume in the game.
Related: Resident Evil 3 Makes Fun Of RE2 Story Progression
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis featured an extensive Raccoon City map and was the closest the franchise has ever gotten to an open world. Without a linear story demanding that players follow a specific path, players were able to travel across various areas in the game. This included entering new locations that weren’t present in Resident Evil 2 to gather customizable parts, gain access to shortcuts, or just gather resources. This focus on exploration in the original led to several questions about why certain characters were missing in RE3's remake, and the loss of areas such as the Clock Tower becoming even more prominent.
There were several changes made to Raccoon City and how it was meant to be explored and seen throughout the Resident Evil games. Even though it’s one of the most important locations in the timeline of the series, with the outbreak that occurred in the city being the core focus point that led to this endless combat against bioweapons, each game treats it differently. However, the exploration in the third game of the franchise is outstanding, needing to return in future installments of the series.
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Sofia Santos is a Game Features writer for Screen Rant. Having joined in 2022, she merges her ever-growing passion for gaming and writing in her work. Outside Screen Rant, she dabbles in publishing her creative writing works, focusing on novels, poetry and short stories. Sofia is Brazilian and a lifelong gamer, being heavily enthusiastic about franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil, Animal Crossing and The Sims. When not talking about the cozy or chaotic nature of these games, she can be found talking about D&D, books, music, and certain TV shows, like What We Do In The Shadows and Our Flag Means Death. Outside of consuming all types of media, Sofia loves spending time with her loved ones, sunbathing, doing yoga and exercising.

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