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The Hunters (ハンター, Hantā) are recurring antagonists in the Resident Evil series. They are a species of biological organic weapons (B.O.W.) originally developed by the Umbrella Corporation. Developed to counter the ten percent immunity rate to the T-Virus among infected populations, Hunters were designed for the sole purpose of hunting down and killing uninfected survivors, making them an attractive weapon for military application. Hunters were one of the first functional and marketable B.O.W.s ever developed by Umbrella, and have largely outlived their original creators. Hunters are typically created by combining reptile DNA with a fertilized human embryo using the T-Virus as a bonding agent, though in the case of the Hunter Gamma this process is reversed, with human DNA grafted onto fertilized amphibian embryos.
The Hunter Project dates back to 1981, when William Birkin and his team of scientists completed the Beta strain of the T-Virus for Umbrella. However, this strain presented a ten percent immunity rate, meaning ten percent of a targeted population could avoid infection by the virus. As such, the corporation found it necessary to engineer a bioweapon capable of wiping out these immune survivors. The initial idea was to create mutant animals to clean up survivors, but test subjects showed a drop in intelligence and were deemed impossible to control and worthless for military application. Birkin and his team thus sought to solve this problem and create an intelligent B.O.W. capable of killing uninfected survivors: codenamed the Hunter Project.
Prototypes for the initial model of Hunter, the Hunter Alpha, were created by bonding reptile DNA with a fertilized human embryo. The most promising of the resulting mutants was a female, which was subsequently cloned into an army of identical mutants. These mutants showed both the desired combat capability and intelligence. The Hunter Alphas took one year to mature, and were repeatedly exposed to growth hormones. It is unknown for how long the Hunter Alpha was being further refined by Umbrella, but by 1998 these creatures were finally being deployed for combat. Several Hunter Alphas were released at Umbrella's abandoned training facility, and were encountered and defeated by S.T.A.R.S. medic Rebecca Chambers and escaped fugitive Billy Coen.
Albert Wesker next unleashed several more Hunter Alphas to escalate combat with S.T.A.R.S. members investigating the Spencer Mansion in the Arklay Mountains, in order to acquire combat data on the creatures. However, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine were able to avoid or defeat any Hunters that crossed their path.
Umbrella Europe, taking advantage of the ability to clone B.O.W.s at a low cost, began experimenting with improving on Birkin's Hunter Alpha model. They made genetic alterations to developing Hunter Alpha embryos in order to improve their combat ability. The resulting Hunter Beta actually had reduced attack power, but greater reaction time in combat compared to the Alpha model. While debating whether or not to mass-produce the Beta, the Raccoon City incident occurred, offering Umbrella a chance to test many of its B.O.W.s in the field. 20 Hunter Betas were unleashed in Raccoon City, and took up refuge in the Spencer Memorial Hospital as their hunting ground. Carlos Oliveira battled with several of these Hunter Betas while trying to cure Jill Valentine in the hospital.
Umbrella Europe attempted to replace the Hunter Alpha with another variant, this time a completely different species produced in a different manner. Human DNA was bonded to a fertilized amphibian egg using the T-Virus as a bonding agent, creating the Hunter Gamma. While this process resulted in a viable bioweapon, the Gamma still possessed numerous flaws, including a sensitivity to heat and the trait of exposing their vulnerable mandibles when attacking prey. Umbrella saw the Gamma as useless for battlefield application and ordered several of the creatures disposed of. One researcher who had grown attached to the Hunter Gammas relocated to the sewers underneath Raccoon City with several specimens, where he raised and trained them in the hope of proving their combat effectiveness and one day bargaining with Umbrella Europe to reintroduce them. These Hunter Gammas matured in the sewers and preyed upon any sewer workers unfortunate enough to stumble upon them. While escaping from the Nemesis T-Type during the Raccoon City Incident, Jill Valentine encountered and defeated several Hunter Gammas in the sewers.
Powers and Abilities
- Superhuman strength: Hunter Alphas and Betas are physically incredibly powerful and agile, allowing them to leap across great distances and strike at their foes with deadly precision. They use their massive hands to strike enemies, easily flooring any human with these blows.
- Sharp claws: Hunter Alphas and Betas possess sharp claws they use when striking enemies. They can instantly kill most humans with a single well-placed strike from their claws, either slitting their prey's throat or completely decapitating them.
- Armored skin: The Hunter's keratinized flesh provides it with natural armor, making handgun rounds completely useless against it. The Hunter Beta is even more resilient against gunfire than its Alpha brethren, as is the Gamma.
- Intelligence: Hunters are incredibly intelligent for animal-based B.O.W.s, possessing intelligence equivalent to an orangutan. This allows them to be trained to memorize commands by their handlers.
- Powerful gunfire: While highly resistant to fire from handguns, the Hunter Alpha can be quickly dispatched by a few shotgun blasts or a well-placed shot from a magnum.
- Vulnerable head: The Hunter Beta possesses an armored head, but if the armor around the head is destroyed by sustained gunfire it will be rendered vulnerable. Any shots to an exposed Hunter Beta head will prove lethal to the creature.
- Vulnerable mandibles: When consuming prey, the Hunter Gamma exposes its mandibles, which are a weak point. Any gunfire sustained to these mandibles will prove incredibly damaging to the Gamma.
- Acid and flame rounds: The Hunter Beta's armor can be bypassed if it is struck by acidic grenade rounds, which melt directly through its armor and leave it vulnerable to attack. Likewise, the Hunter Gamma is vulnerable to heat and can be quickly killed if struck by flame grenade rounds.