The 25th Anniversary of Resident Evil is looming, Capcom’s recent showcase stream giving us more details about the upcoming Resident Evil: Village as well as its free multiplayer add-on, Resident Evil Re:Verse, and more. This huge celebration inspired us to look back over the the series and rank every one of the Resident Evil games from worst to best.
Previously we ranked all of the Resident Evil spinoff titles, this article focused purely on those mainline/numbered instalments. We’ll be charting the series from its 1996 debut all the way up to last year’s Resident Evil 3 Remake. Let’s begin…
14 – Resident Evil 6 | 2012
This one’s an odd beast, Resi 6 split into four campaigns with each following a series veteran and their newcomer sidekicks. Some of these campaigns are… good. Let’s be fair, the first half of Leon’s is excellent, and the last third of Chris’s is good too, but the overall package is lacklustre and the focus on action over horror was so unbearably blatant throughout. Perhaps its biggest contribution was forcing Capcom to perform a massive u-turn, steering the franchise back on track with Resident Evil 7.
13 – Resident Evil | 1996
Here it is, the beginning of a survival horror icon! It isn’t that the original Resident Evil is bad – in fact I still jump in to play it from time to time – but it just cannot hold a candle to what followed thereafter. The first experience we had with the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team still holds strong today despite its wonky animations and wonkier dialogue. Resident Evil forged a legacy that cannot be taken down easily (unless you go for the head).
12 – Resident Evil Zero | 2002
The premise here was great, playing as one of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team on their ill-fated mission before the mansion incident played out in the first game. But why did this have to be Rebecca? I love the character, don’t get me wrong, but it makes zero sense that she lost so much competence between 0 and 1. Also, although the character switching mechanic was another good idea, it mostly led to frustration in practice. Billy deserves a comeback though.
11 – Resident Evil 5 | 2009
After the more action focused play brought to the series by RE4, the fifth main instalment dropped the pretence of horror entirely for something more akin to a blockbuster. Joining the intensely beefy Chris with new partner Sheva in Africa for some jolly co-op fun, Resident Evil 5 just didn’t quite hit the mark, despite some fantastic moments of gameplay and story. Let’s be honest though, if we were to re-order this list based on boulder punching, this would win. Fists down.
10 – Resident Evil: Revelations | 2012
It genuinely pained me to have to put this one so low on the list, because I love so much about it from the setting, to the characters, to the even more dumb than average RE story. Also, at the time this released, we had been starved of a true survival horror experience for some time. However, the attempt to splice together the more action-based latter games with the claustrophobic horror of the classics didn’t quite work… this time.
9 – Resident Evil 3 Remake | 2020
Although this might not be the best of the remakes on this list, Resident Evil 3 still managed to be a tense and enjoyable romp through Raccoon City. Picking up after the original game with Jill Valentine, we get to play through her escape from the city once more with far more detail and scares. Nemesis is a legitimate and hounding threat here, and if only so much content hadn’t been cut from the original, this remake would rank far higher.
8 – Resident Evil: Revelations 2 | 2015
The second in the Revelation series is, to be honest, a revelation. Taking the ideas of the first but adding excellently-realised co-op was an inspired decision, allowing the character duos tp compliment each other with strengths and weaknesses instead of their functionally being the same like with RE5. Also, the characters in this game were phenomenal, bringing back Claire and Barry and matching them with great newcomers. In fact, this game deserves this spot based on Moira Burton alone.
7 – Resident Evil – CODE: Veronica | 2000
Finally in the top half, and kicking off with this gem. The jump to PS2 brought Claire back for a ride through a prison facility owned by the reclusive Ashford family. There were a lot of improvements made for this game with fantastic lighting and an actually useful combat knife for once, but it had one huge drawback – Steve Burnside. This whiny cretin ruined almost every scene and moment he was included in and Claire deserved a far better companion.
6 – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis | 1999
The last of the original PlayStation trilogy and what a way to go out, acting as both a prequel and sequel to the events of Resident Evil 2. Back in the shoes (and comfortable skirt and jumper combo) of Jill Valentine as she makes her last escape from Raccoon City, all the while being pursued by the relentless Nemesis. This game was much alike the previous titles but with a neat little evade manoeuvre and ammo crafting thrown in. Exceptional polygonal scares.
5 – Resident Evil 4 | 2005
Here’s where it all changed. I don’t personally think this game is Miyazaki’s magnum opus of the series (that comes later), but RE4 changed the trajectory of Resident Evil forever. Bringing back Leon, with a new smart attitude and a far better job, to essentially massacre an entire Spanish village and the surrounding areas. Resident Evil 4 was funny, tense, gory, and almost perfect in its execution. In fact, it’s only flaws were having as many QTEs and the need to constantly babysit Ashley.
4 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard | 2017
The beloved return to form for the series, bringing back the survival horror and switching to a first person perspective for added spooks. RE7 follows most unlucky man in the world, Ethan, as he attempts to find his lost wife on the dilapidated Baker Estate in rural Louisiana. Heavy on the scares, with a tremendously tense atmosphere and enough gore to please the Jigsaw Killer, Resident Evil 7 graduated with first class nopes from Big Nope University and we love it for it.
3 – Resident Evil 2 Remake | 2019
Being a fan of the original, my excitement matched other fan’s when this was confirmed to be happening on a livestream back in 2015. Using the incredible RE Engine developed for RE7, we knew we were in for a treat and a treat we got. A visceral, brutal, disgusting treat. Changing just enough to keep veterans on their toes and turning Mr. X into a constant, stomping presence, this remake was an absolute triumph. However, it still isn’t Capcom’s best remake…
2 – Resident Evil Remake | 2002
…This is. A full ground up remake of the original title that improved on every facet of it, from the dialogue to visuals to gameplay. The jolly through the unnecessarily complex mansion has never been so fun or terrifying. Like the remake of 2, this game changed just enough to ruin a veteran’s muscle memory. Resident Evil Remake is absolute masterclass in survival horror, Mikami’s magnum opus, and possibly one of the best executed remakes of all time.
1 – Resident Evil 2 | 1998
The sequel to the hugely popular Resident Evil had to knock it out of the park to continue the franchise and oh boy did it. Shifting the action from a claustrophobic mansion to the wider city and RCPD Police Station, RE2 upped the ante in every way. Furthermore, it introduced us to Leon and Claire, two of the best characters in the whole franchise. This may be my bias coming through, but I honestly couldn’t care less, this game is the perfect sequel and one of my favourite games of all time.
So that’s the ranking of the mainline titles, what did you think? Where do you think the tall vampire lady simulator that is Resident Evil Village will rank among the series? Let us know in the comments.