"Hunters" are a group of human-animal hybrids which were genetically-engineed as biological weapons. Hunter species were created through the grafting of reptilian donor DNA to fertilized human zygote with the aid of the t-Virus as a bonding agent, with the exception of the Hunter γ, which reversed the process with human DNA grafted into the genome of fertilized amphibian spawn. The Hunters were one of Umbrella's more successful products and among their oldest, having entered production with the Hunter α in the 1980s. Following Umbrella's demise, other bio-weapon manufacturers used the research data to create new Hunter species, with Farfarello among the latest iterations.
In Umbrella's earlier years, the business strategy of its co-founder, Oswell E. Spencer, Earl Spencer, was the engineering of viral strains of Progenitor (collectively dubbed "t-Virus") to be used as profitable weapons, with funds raised going to the Wesker Project. Until the 1980s, t-Virus research was pioneered independently by Umbrella's three founders and their labs. The t-Virus present at the Arklay Laboratory in 1978 had a 90% chance of killing those infected. While this fit perfectly as a military weapon, the chances of it spreading far were not satisfactory. Consequently, Dr. William Birkin's team bonded the RNA of the Ebola Virus with Progenitor. This new t-Virus was completed by 1981, and instead kept the infected alive and in such a state they would unconsciously kill or infect others. The downside was that statistically 10% of a population would still be immune, and could avoid the walking infected. Under pressure from Spencer to find a solution to the problem, Birkin steered weapons research towards creating new species that would kill the survivors. The Hunter was born.
In the 1990s, work was undertaken by other laboratories to improve upon Birkin's creation. After the 1998 "Mansion Incident", "α" embryos were further altered to improve their reaction times for combat.[excerpt 1] However, the resulting "β" species were weaker and blind in one eye due to uncontrolled tumor growths. Umbrella Europe's "γ" went into a new direction through the use of amphibian-human hybrids, but could only be of use near bodies of water.[excerpt 2] Others developed in this era were the "R", "μ", "Elite" and the "Ticks".
Umbrella's rival company developed the "Hunter II", a more intelligent version of the "α" model that could track down its target through an automated surveillance device. This company also created the "Sweeper", a poisonous Hunter with reddish skin.
The Italian bioterrorist group Il Veltro gained possession of a mass-produced third-party Hunter model similar in design to the Hunter II. A variant infected with t-Abyss existed in 2005, and was called Farfarello. It was able to turn its body transparent.
- In the novelizations by S.D. Perry, the Licker was given an origin story as being created as a competitor to the Hunter line.
- Although Hunters do not appear in Resident Evil 2, the corpse of a Hunter R can be found in the underground Laboratory in the N64 version.
- In Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, a Hunter is seen in Hulk's ending lying in the corner of the hall inside the mansion; presumably defeated by Hulk, who refers it as "frog creature".
- In Resident Evil Code: Veronica, if the player enters the room with a spotter in it, a cheat can be made by saving the game and returning to the room. The Hunter will still be there but no more spotters.
- In Biohazard 3: Last Escape and the PAL version of RE3, the Hunter β that Carlos encounters in the hospital will slice the zombie's neck but won't be decapitated and even though there's a blood sound effect, blood won't come out.
- ↑ Excerpt from BIOHAZARD 3 LAST ESCAPE OFFICIAL GUIDEBOOK, p.72: "ハンターは高い格闘戦能力と、 きわめて単純な命令 （遭遇する者をすべて抹殺せよ、 など） であればこなせるだけの知能を有する、”洋館事件” においてもっとも成功に近い結果を出したB.O.W.である。 低コストでのクローニングも容易であることから、 アンブレラでは次期主力商品として性能向上に力を入れ、 さらなる遺伝子改造を重ねてこのβ型を誕生させた。 試作タイプであるα型にくらべて攻撃力はやや低下し、 外観も醜悪となったものの、 神経系統の改良にともない俊敏性は格段に上昇、 銃撃の回避をも可能とする驚異的な瞬発力を実現している。 ラクーンシティには、 量産間の最終を目的に、 ２０体前後が投入された。"
- ↑ Excerpt from Conquest of Nemesis, p.74:
"アメリカの研究チーム主導で開発されたハンターα・β型に対して、 そのノハウハウを利用しつつアンブレラのヨーロッパ研究所が独自に完成させたのが、 ”フロッガー” の通称で呼ばれる、 この特異なフォルムを持つγ型である。 ベースとなる受精卵にあえて両生類のものを用い、 培養過程で人間の遺伝子を加えるという従来とは逆の発想で生み出されており、大方の予想に反してその知能はβ型とくらべても遜色のないレベルに逹している。 ただし、 両生類の特性的に乾燥や直射日光に弱く、 汎用性に欠ける点で商品化は難しいと見られており、 今回ラクーンシティい送りこまれたんも、 ヨーロッパ支部による牽制の意味合いが強いようだ。"
- ↑ Wesker's Report II, Part 1.
- ↑ Wesker's Report II, Part 2.
- ↑ BIOHAZARD 3 LAST ESCAPE OFFICIAL GUIDEBOOK, p.72
- ↑ Conquest of Nemesis, p.74.