When does Resident Evil 3 take place? | Raccoon City outbreak timeline

The timeline of the Raccoon City t-Virus outbreak is more than a little convoluted. We’ve had multiple games add to and retcon the events that took place, which makes pinning down precisely what happened difficult. If you’re looking at when Resident Evil 3 takes place, then you need to pull back the camera and look at Raccoon City outbreak as a whole, which is what I’ve tried to do here.

The Resident Evil 3 timeline is split, with the first half of the game taking place before Resident Evil 2, and the other occurring after Leon and Claire escape the city. This timeframe may change with Resident Evil 3 remake. However, you should still get a good picture of how the Raccoon City outbreak started, how the city was wiped out, and what events led up to its destruction.

Resident Evil 3 Timeline | What’s Canon?

To examine the timeline of Resident Evil 3, we need to determine what events in the series are canon. As stated above, the Raccoon City incident has been expanded and retconned over multiple games. Capcom didn’t have an overarching plan when Resident Evil 2 and 3 were initially released, so we’re going to have to disregard some of the games that added nonsensical elements to the plot.

For this article I’m going to consider the following games involving the Raccoon City outbreak to be canon:

  • Resident Evil Zero
  • Resident Evil (2002)
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Resident Evil 2 remake
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
  • Resident Evil Outbreak
  • Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2

The following games we’ll consider to be partially canon:

  • Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
  • Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Both Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles are retellings as opposed to remakes, so we’ll disregard any conflicting information introduced in those games. We’re also going to ignore Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City because it has story elements that are incompatible with the plot of the main series.

Resident Evil 2 remake makes our job here a bit tougher. Unfortunately, the game featured locations and situations that call into question the canonicity of the original. Instead of discounting all the info presented in the original RE2, I’ve decided that anything that occurred in it that isn’t superseded by an occurrence in the remake is still canon.

With our canon established, we can build a chronology of the events of the Raccoon City outbreak, including when Resident Evil 3 takes place.