Resident Evil is one of the seminal horror franchises in gaming. Sure, games like “Alone in the Dark” and “Clocktower” were doing survival horror before the release of the 1996 classic, but it had never found any sort of mainstream interest or success until the groundbreaking first Resident Evil title. Nowadays, everything from AAA studios to indie developers make horror games and the genre is very popular among streamers and other online content creators. Resident Evil has evolved several times over the years and has become one of the most popular and influential titles in all of gaming. Today to kick off Halloween month, I will rank all of the mainline Resident Evil games, meaning the games that are either numbered entries, or considered main series cannon and not the spinoffs like Deadaim or Umbrella Chronicles from worst to best. I will rank the remakes, but not re-releases or DLC. Keep in mind, this is not an objective “best” list, this is purely my own opinion on how I would rank them. Without further ado, let’s start the list.
Resident Evil 6 (2013)-
Resident Evil 6 was the height (Or maybe the low point) of both the franchises’ and Capcom’s darkest years. Unable or unwilling to recapture what made Resident Evil 4 such a revitalization of the franchise, Resident Evil 6 is an action horror game with little to no horror involved. So over the top and ridiculous with its action that it became a joke in the gaming community, RE 6 just doesn’t have the fear factor or the tongue in cheek camp to pull off what RE 4 did for the series. A disjointed story with way too many characters and locations, alongside some really awful boss fights that keep pulling the same lame trick over and over again. Some people have found a sort of perverted joy from it being “So bad it’s good” but I don’t see it. Yeah, it’s incredibly dumb and goofy, but the gameplay isn’t fun enough to warrant playing it even in this capacity. The most memorable thing about this game is the fact that the logo looks like a dude blowing a giraffe.
Resident Evil 5 (2009)-
Another victim of Capcom’s failure to recapture what made Resident Evil 4 so special, Resi 5 has everything that RE 4 has except that it doesn’t have the purposeful camp that makes it fun. Action horror is fine, but it can’t just be a constant barrage of enemies, RE 4 knew when to pace itself, RE 5 is just a constant stream of gunfights. I don’t think that RE 5 is as bad as people say it is; it’s actually enjoyable in co-op, but it just doesn’t ever reach the heights of the rest of the franchise. There’s also the matter of it being a bit racially insensitive to say the least. I don’t think anybody would be mad about you killing black people in Africa, but the fact they all dress up in tribal gear, throw spears at you and live in mud huts is a bit too far to get benefit of the doubt.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 (2015)-
I think Revelations 2 is a fine game. It’s kind of a spin-off story-wise from the rest of the cannon, but uses some old characters. The threat here is more biological monstrosity in nature than zombies, and some of the monster designs are cool. The game strikes a good balance between the horror and over the shoulder action of this era of RE games, but there’s not much going on. This is a middle of the road entry that isn’t better than the first game in this slight spin-off series.
Resident Evil Revelations (2012)-
Originally a 3DS game, Revelations has since been ported to basically everything. This was for a while one of the best games on the handheld, and is easily the best game from this era of Resident Evil. It has a really good balance of action and horror, with some parts being as creepy as the earlier games in the franchise. Good enemy variety and a decent story make Revelations a solid entry into the franchise, even if it’s not quite up to the standards as some of the classic games that will come later. On this list
Resident Evil 3 Remake (2020)-
Coming just a year after the almost universally acclaimed remake of Resident Evil 2, it would make sense that the R3make was inevitable. While this game does take a lot of aspects that made RE2make a fantastic entry, it just isn’t as faithful to the original as the Remake of 2 was, and this is kind of a huge issue because I think 3 could have used a proper facelift more than the first 2 entries in the franchise. While I like that it improved Carlos and Jill as characters and in general has good gameplay, the liminality and the choice to not only cut out a huge amount of content, but also to make the Nemesis encounters somehow less dynamic really hurts the game. The title is short and honestly way too easy if you aren’t playing on the harder difficulties.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999)-
Released in the dying days of the original PlayStation, OG RE3 feels like a derivative, shorter version of the first 2 classics. Yes, the Nemesis encounters were cool at the time where it seemed like he was always stalking you, but nowadays it feels at best quaint. While there are some great bosses and a few areas that are genuinely on the level of the first two titles, it just doesn’t hold up over time as the Nemesis encounters are kind of lame and easily avoidable, and the story in general isn’t very good even by RE standards. 3 was an ok send off to the system that housed the franchise’s classics, but it’s just not up to snuff compared to the best games in the franchise, even if I have some slight nostalgia for it.
Resident Evil 0 HD (2016)-
Resident Evil 0 is the origin story of the whole franchise. This was also the last game in the series that utilized the old-school menu system, tank controls and fixed camera angles of classic Resi. While I do think the overall gameplay is good and the story is fine, there are a lot of little annoyances that add up like the insane difficulty spikes, massive amount of RNG and the lack of dedicated item boxes. That being said, Wesker Mode is a fantastic and fun New Game+ run and the way they restored the classic graphics is incredible. I didn’t play this game until the HD re-release, but I have no problem putting this in a category with the better games in the franchise.
Resident Evil 2 (1998)-
A classic of the genre and one of the most important games on the PS1, Resident Evil 2 is a definite high-water mark for the franchise. Boasting amazing atmosphere, solid gameplay and a fair number of scares, RE2 definitely has everything you would want out of a Resident Evil game. The separate scenarios for each character make a pretty short game decently replayable. While I think RE2 is a classic in its own right, I also believe that most people will simply play the very faithful remake that avoids the age-related quirks of the OG. You can even get the original soundtrack in the remake which fits so well and might be the best in the entire series.
Resident Evil 8: Village (2021)-
The newest entry in the franchise is a cool mixture of Resident Evil 4 and its direct predecessor. Bringing back the merchant and gothic castle feel of Resident Evil 4 was such a cool nostalgic trip for me, and I think the story and how they handled Ethan’s character arc is legitimately great. There is also a moment in here that is the closest the series has come to Silent Hill type horror. That being said, I do think it’s a bit derivative of the two games it’s copying, but it never reaches the same high points of either title. It’s a bit too much on the action side for me, and the stuff directly copied from RE 7 that just doesn’t feel as well executed as it was in the previous game. It’s not my favorite by a long shot, and it’s a bit difficult to judge a game you’ve only played once, but this is a solid entry in the franchise.
Resident Evil (1996)-
What is there to be said about the title that coined the term “Survival Horror?” This game is an innovative classic that basically created the genre as we know it today and propelled Japanese horror games to mainstream success, paving the way for series like Silent Hill. The tank controls which make the player really think under pressure and add to the fear factor of the game would become a staple of the genre for years. I think I and every gamer ever has gotten a massive laugh out of this game’s legendarily bad voice acting and dialog writing which just adds to the charm of the game honestly. Much like RE2, while Resident Evil 1 is a classic in its own right and should be experienced, I think most people who don’t have nostalgia for the original will opt to just play the fantastic remake instead.
Resident Evil Code Veronica (2000)-
Once thought of as sort of a black sheep of the franchise due to the pivot from the series staple zombies to a more biological type of horror with the Bandersnatches, Code Veronica’s atmosphere, music and challenging difficulty have made it age very well. I think this game more than any other really emphasizes the survival half of the survival horror because it honestly feels like you are simply surviving in this place with tons of biological monstrosities. Code Veronica is definitely an outlier in the series, but that’s why I think so highly of it, and I feel this game deserves to be remade in the same way 1-3 have.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)-
Resident Evil is a series that has had stunning and innovative highs, as well as some depraved lows. When the franchise stagnated in the PS2 era, Resident Evil 4 was there to raise it out of the doldrums. When the series again hit a low point trying to recapture the magic of 4 in the PS3/360 era, Resident Evil 7 was there to once again breathe new life into the classic franchise. Resident Evil’s return to the intimate survival horror of the first few entries with the new first person perspective and a bigger emphasis on better written story and characters proved to be a hit both critically and with fans. The shift to a more psychotic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” type vibe with the sadistic family of mutated hillbillies was such a campy and fun return to the tone of Resident Evil 4, and this game has a story that I would call good even outside of the standards of the franchise. It’s far from perfect, as the new “molded” enemies are more goofy than scary, and the difficulty curve kind of just dies after the first half, but it’s still one of the most unique and high-quality entries in the entire franchise.
Resident Evil 2 (2019)-
A remake of the ground breaking second entry, Resident Evil 2 takes everything that was amazing about the original and modernizes it. Gone are the tank controls and fixed camera angles of the original, replaced with standard over the shoulder action gameplay, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t survival horror at its core. The remake adds a lot of new things, including tons of additional modes and content. Despite this much added stuff, none of it feels out of place with the original, and it remains a pretty faithful remake, even down to the 4 different scenarios. The combat is gory and visceral, the soundtrack is great (especially when switched to the original one,) it has great atmosphere and there are enough cool additions to keep even the staunchest fan of the first iteration on their toes. REmake 2 is a fantastic reimagining of a game that was already beloved by nearly every fan of the genre.
Resident Evil 4 (2005)-
What is there to say about Resident Evil 4 that hasn’t already been said? Not only is it still the high-water mark for the action horror genre, it was also a landmark title in 3rd person action games. If you’ve played any third person shooter in the last 15 years, you can see the influence RE4 had. RE4 is so perfectly paced in how it balances the horror and action elements. There is a huge action emphasis, but there are also sections of genuinely creepy horror as well. Leon’s dry bravado and cheesy one-liners are a highlight as the game really embraces the B-Movie camp and it works for it. Yes, the gunplay is a little tanky and clunky by modern standards and the stupid mid-cutscene QTE’s are something that has hung around way too long, but otherwise RE4 has aged well and is easily one of the most beloved entries in the franchise for good reason. I love Resident Evil 4, because like you, I’M AMERICAN.
Resident Evil (2002)-
REmake is truly the pinnacle of the series for me. Besides being one of the best survival horror games ever made, it’s also the absolute gold standard for what a remake should be. It’s a faithful recreation of the classic original, but modernized and with added content that is so organically integrated that it feels as if it was always in the original (which a lot of it would have been had they been given the time and budget.) The Crimsonhead mechanic is such an amazing addition because it forces you to really think about which zombies to kill, which ones to avoid, and which ones to burn, as if you don’t decapitate a zombie, they will come back later as a faster and stronger one. The decision to use pre-rendered backgrounds has made the graphics age flawlessly, and the HD version is absolutely gorgeous to look at still to this day. I think this entry also has the best puzzles and boss fights out of every game in the series. I’ve played this game so much that I think I know the layout of the Spencer mansion better than I know female anatomy at this point. It might be the obvious choice, but I really think REmake is the best game in a franchise full of great games, and one of my favorite games of all-time.