Best Resident Evil Games: Ranking The Iconic Survival Horror Series
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Resident Evil is probably the first franchise to come to mind when you think about "survival horror." Capcom's long-running series arguably birthed the genre, not only establishing some of its conventions with the original game, but also planting the seeds for a lore-filled universe that has one of the most rabid fanbases in video games. Despite this, however, not all Resident Evil games are created equal, and there have been some stinkers over the years, but we rounded up the 10 best Resident Evil games.
For this list, no Resident Evil game was off-limits, and you'll notice that a few "main" entries didn't make the cut in favor of games that teeter on spin-off territory. That only applied to a small number of games, but having a number in the game's title didn't necessarily guarantee it was good. This list could also certainly change over time with the upcoming launch of Resident Evil 4's remake and the VR mode for Resident Evil Village on PS5.
10. Resident Evil: Revelations 2
With the return of more traditional horror in the then-upcoming Resident Evil 7, Capcom opted to go a different route with Resident Evil: Revelations 2. The episodic game stuck to the third-person perspective of its predecessor but amped up the B-movie cheese, even bringing back the goofball Barry Burton as a playable character alongside Claire Redfield. Action-packed but still rooted in survival horror and classic camp cinema, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 may not push the genre forward or attempt to reinvent the series, but it does understand what made it so beloved in the first place. You just cannot beat those Barry one-liners.
9. Resident Evil 0
A prequel to the series set before the events of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the appropriately named Resident Evil 0 originally launched as a GameCube exclusive before becoming more widely available later on. It's a different sort of horror experience than most of the other games--save perhaps the original--because the zombie threat is not yet widely spread or even public. Alongside officer Rebecca Chambers, you also have the chance to play as a unique character in a video game--a death row inmate--while unraveling the dark mystery.
See our Resident Evil 0 reviews.
8. Resident Evil 5
A controversial game, for sure, and one that certainly hinted at the identity crisis we'd see on display more overtly in the future, Resident Evil 5 ditches nearly all the horror for straight-up action. It's extremely different from the other games up to that point--including Resident Evil 4--with brighter environments, a whole bunch of firepower at Chris' disposal, massive set-pieces, and an upgraded Albert Wesker who is essentially Agent Smith from The Matrix. Is it scary? No. Does it scratch the same itch as the other games? No. Does it succeed in delivering an action thrill ride that offers some satisfying closure for one of the series' longest-running plot threads? Most definitely.
See our Resident Evil 5 review.
7. Resident Evil: Revelations
Could one of the best Resident Evil games of all time be a 3DS exclusive? Well, yes, at least for a short time. Resident Evil: Revelations served as a reconciliation of the action-oriented gameplay of the previous two games and the slow, tense-filled horror of the originals. Set largely on a cruise ship filled with infected creatures who want to tear Jill Valentine limb from limb, the game worked quite well on the 3DS, especially with the Circle Pad Pro accessory for dual-stick combat, and it served as a great side-story to help fill in what Jill had been up to between Resident Evil 4 and 5. It eventually made its way in an HD format to everything from PC to Xbox, and even Nintendo Switch a few years later.
See our Resident Evil: Revelations review.
6. Resident Evil Code: Veronica
It didn't bear the Resident Evil 3 name, but that was more of a marketing effort to direct players to another game exclusive to the PlayStation. Make no mistake--Resident Evil Code: Veronica is the true third game in the series, diving back into the confrontation between Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker, while also seeing the return of Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2. At the time, it released on the Dreamcast (it later came to PS2, GameCube, and other consoles as well) and sported visuals that weren't possible on the older PlayStation, albeit with a gameplay style that was already beginning to run its course. If you prefer to see the story but in a different genre, the Wii rail-shooter Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles features it heavily.
See our Resident Evil Code: Veronica review.
5. Resident Evil
The first Resident Evil game was revolutionary, not just for effectively setting the stage for survival-horror games to this day, but also for what it didn't do. Resident Evil didn't need huge armies of zombies, crumbling skyscrapers, or a bunch of super-powered, giant monsters to instill fear. Instead, it took a "less is more" approach to horror, delivering its scares and twists slowly to make the more impactful. It's a lesson some of the other games, including Resident Evil 3 just a few years later, didn't seem to understand, and though the original Resident Evil's tank-style controls haven't aged very well, a remake and another HD remaster offer much-improved visuals.
See our Resident Evil review.
4. Resident Evil Village
The sequel to Resident Evil 7 with a cheeky little "VIII" hidden in the logo, Resident Evil Village plays up the campiness in both protagonist Ethan Winters' reactions to everything around him and with the game's roster of villains. Despite this, it does still contain one of the most terrifying moments in any Resident Evil game--or, really, in any game--and the few allies you meet along the way are often just as interesting. Resident Evil Village seems intent on making further connections to the rest of the series, which is occasionally to its detriment, but the game's Resident Evil 4-like European setting and varied takes on horror help make it worthwhile on its own. And yes, that's even if it didn't include the Tall Vampire Lady.
See our Resident Evil Village review.
3. Resident Evil 7
After the bombastic and unfocused Resident Evil 6 tried--and mostly failed--to fully transform the series into a blockbuster on the level of Call of Duty, Capcom went back to the drawing board with its sequel. However, Resident Evil 7 wasn't just an homage to the original. Instead, the brooding, tense horror was paired with a new first-person perspective, limiting your environmental awareness to make every scare hit harder. Setting almost the entire game in one mansion didn't feel restrictive, either, as the many puzzles, unexpected areas, and terrifying encounters with the Baker family helped make it one of the best locations in horror game history.
See our Resident Evil 7 review.
2. Resident Evil 4
The game that changed everything… again, Resident Evil 4 transitioned the series from its tank-controlled, slow-moving, survival past to a more action-oriented and cinematic experience. It didn't ditch the scares, with Leon's journey into a remote Spanish village offering terrifying not-zombie enemies and even a few terrifying allies. Instead, it simply brought the moment-to-moment movement and shooting in line with the atmosphere Capcom had been perfecting for years, despite functioning just fine as a standalone game or entry point for newcomers. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise when considering Resident Evil 4 was directed by Shinji Mikami, who also directed the original game.
See our Resident Evil 4 review.
1. Resident Evil 2 (both versions)
The original Resident Evil is one of the most important video games ever made--there is no denying that--but it was the second game that turned it from an important stepping stone for the industry into one of the biggest video game franchises of all time. Expanding beyond the mansion of the first Resident Evil for a larger Raccoon City, Resident Evil 2 gave us much more insight on who was responsible for the outbreak, and just how manipulative and powerful Umbrella Corporation was. Its 2019 remake is the version to play now, offering much-improved third-person combat controls while telling largely the same story for both Leon and Claire. Despite the better action, it doesn't abandon the scares--something 2020's Resident Evil 3 mostly did.
See our Resident Evil 2 review.