Let’s Rank The Main Resident Evil Games, From Worst To Best

Let’s Rank The Main Resident Evil Games, From Worst To Best
Image: Capcom / Kotaku

The Resident Evil series is arguably the most successful and popular video game horror franchise of all time. It’s spawned more movies, spin-offs, and comics than I can count, and has easily cemented itself in mainstream pop culture as “those zombie games with dogs.” But not all Resident Evil games are amazing. So the time has come to grab our shotguns, green herbs, and typewriter ink ribbons and rank all of the games in the main series from worst to best.

So, ground rules. For this list, we’re only focusing on the main games in the series, so spin-offs like Revelations and Dead Aim get a stay of execution. We’re also only judging the original releases. So while I love the remake of Resident Evil 2, I won’t be raving about it here today. Finally, we’re staying away from multiplayer and handheld titles too. This is a list purely about the numbered games (with two exceptions that fans can probably predict).

With that all out of the way, let’s begin with the worst mainline Resident Evil game.

Resident Evil 6 – 2012

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

Shocking nobody, RE6 winds up last on our list. This is the worst game in the main series. That’s not a hugely controversial opinion, though I know some folks have started to come around on the sixth numbered entry more in recent years. I always thought it was a fun, dumb action game with workmanlike co-op and tiny bits of horror sprinkled throughout. It’s not the worst game ever made, not even close. But compared to past RE titles it’s a misfire. (That said Leon’s campaign is good. I’ll stand by that!)

Resident Evil 1 – 1996

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

Please direct all angry comments and tweets to me. I’m sorry. I know some of you reading this list will super disagree with the original game ranking this low. But it’s a hard game to go back to. It’s not because of tank controls, though they don’t help. It’s more that a lot of what makes this game clunky and rough would get cleaned up in the following games. While it’s historically important and has its charms, it ultimately hasn’t aged as well as most of the rest of the series.

Resident Evil 5 – 2009

Screenshot: Capcom Screenshot: Capcom

RE5 takes what RE4 introduced — a new camera angle and improved shooting — and adds a lot more action, plus some co-op. But it adds too much, and the end result is a messy, sometimes fun, and totally bonkers Resident Evil adventure. RE5 also contains some neat callbacks to the franchise’s past and introduces Sheva, a character who totally needs to come back. None of this erases its often racist and shitty depiction of African people, which still leaves a sour taste in my mouth over a decade later.

Resident Evil 0 – 2002

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

The problem with ranking Resident Evil games is that pretty quickly you start having to rank some good stuff lower than the even better stuff and then all of that rank lower than the downright great games. In other words, it’s not easy! RE0 is where this feels most troubling, as the game featured gorgeous visuals and some genuinely terrifying moments. The segments set on a claustrophobic train are tense even today. But it ends up down here because its narrative goes off the rails toward the end, and the companion AI can often be annoying.

Resident Evil 3 – 1999

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

RE3 started life as a spin-off but after some shake-ups at Capcom, it was promoted to be the next main entry on the original PlayStation. Even with this strange origin and its atypical development cycle, RE3 ended up being a solid take on what we now see as the classic RE formula. It also gave players new insight into the events of Resident Evil 2, introduced the iconic Nemesis enemy, and brought back fan-favourite Jill Valentine as the protag. Not bad for a game that was planned to be a spin-off.

Resident Evil Code Veronica – 2000

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

For some fans of the series, this is the real sequel to Resident Evil 2. Code Veronica, first released on the Dreamcast, takes place after the events of RE2, and improves the controls, visuals, and overall gameplay of the past titles in a big way. (Jumping to a new console will do that!) Sadly, it seems like Capcom has mostly forgotten about this classic entry in the series, with no official news of a remake. Nevertheless, Alexandra wants me to mention that Steve Burnside is one of the worst characters Capcom ever came up with.

Resident Evil Village – 2021

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

The most recent new game in the series is also one of its best. Building off the success of Resident Evil 7’s shift to first-person, Village pulls an RE4 and adds more action and gunplay to the formula. And like RE4, it mostly works out. This might not be as scary or moody as Resident Evil 7, but Village gave us Lady Dimitrescu and that’s a special gift that I can’t ignore. Plus it was just a solid horror shooter that I expect I’ll replay a few times over the next few years.

Resident Evil 2 – 1998

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

Some sequels build only slightly on what came before. Other follow-ups, like RE2, take everything and improve it the whole shebang in one giant leap forward. Almost every part of this sequel is an improvement over the first. Visually more impressive, it also features more scares, better puzzles, and more diverse areas to explore. Not to mention the changing scenarios that you can play through, giving the game a ton of replayability. There are very good reasons this classic was a huge hit at the time.

Resident Evil 7 – 2017

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

Some of you will be surprised that one of the FPS-era Resident Evil games made it up this high, but here’s the thing: RE7 rules. It is one of the scariest games in the series, feels like a clean break from the overbearing lore of the past games, and introduces a whole new style of RE gameplay. This is a franchise that has always evolved over time, maybe more so than any other popular series. So it made sense that Capcom would shake things up after the lacklustre reaction to Resident Evil 6. This is the game that brought me back into the series, and one that I love to replay whenever I need a good scare.

Resident Evil 4 – 2005

Image: Capcom Image: Capcom

Yeah, contain your shock at Resident Evil 4 ending up at the top of my list. For old-school purists, this is an outrage. But for the rest of us, RE4 was such a perfect mix of horror, combat, and puzzles that it still feels good to play in 2021. The game has so many memorable moments, from the first time you meet the “chainsaw dude” to the boss fight on the lake or the creepy nighttime levels that ramp up the scares and tension.

Yes, Ashley is annoying, and having to worry about her the whole time isn’t great. But the atmosphere, music, and combat more than help me get over having to escort the President’s daughter. Oh, and let’s not forget the attaché case. How many games can say that even managing the inventory is wonderful? Very few. There’s a reason I keep buying this game, and it’s simply that I can’t stop playing Resident Evil 4. In fact, writing all these words about it has me in the mood to have at it once more. Now to figure out which console to play it on…

Comments

  • Good grief is all I can say to the list above.

    Best to worst for me:

    1
    3
    5
    2
    4
    CV
    0
    6

    I’ve never played 7 or 8 as I hate first person.

  • Best to worse: Remake 1 remake 2 4 7 5 remake 3 6 8

    I hate Village, such a step back from 7 in every way, looks and sounds nice I’ll give it that. Biggest disappointment in recent memory.

  • I have never understood the love 4 gets, for my money its one of the most overrated games going. My list from best to worst
    ReMake – Perfected the original, THE classic, this blew me away, bought a GC for it
    2/ 2 remake – equal to each other in different ways, a true classic
    7 – Honestly this felt like a return to form, despite the camera change
    3 – A step back after 2, but it was still vintage RE, but started adding some action
    8 – A huge step back from 7, but I had alot of fun. hope 9 doesn’t have more action
    CV – loved so much but its aged pretty bad
    3 remake – If this had added some of the original content it’d be higher
    0 – So close…. but yet so far
    4 – This game was a mistake, hate how it changed leon, and the next few games
    1 ReMake just does everything so much better that I’d never touch this again
    5 – honestly I thought this would be higher but it aged like crap
    6 – It’s actually fun if you drunk coop it

    • It’s the game that introduced Resident Evil to a lot of people. It’s not the original but it might as well be as far as a huge chunk of the fanbase is concerned. When viewed in that sort of bubble, free of the context of the series, as a standalone action/horror game, it’s easily one of the best games of it’s era. It’s very much in that Alien/Aliens vein where it’s all so good it boils down to what you played first.

      Personally I found it was also one of the first truly good games my friends played. Before that point they’d played plenty of games but they were in the whole gimmicky ‘mature’ space that was dominated by low quality junk. RE4 was part of a wave of PS2/GameCube/XBOX games that played well without alienating the ‘I only play cool games’ crowd.
      It also doesn’t hurt that it’s the first RE that came out the gate with modern controls so they could easily port it anywhere they wanted. Made it the most accessible RE game for a long, long time. Even when RE5 dropped it managed to stay strong.

      As a RE fan I’ve got to at the very least acknowledge that RE4 is the reason I can play a version of pretty much every main Resident Evil game on my Series X. I don’t think Capcom would have got so into ports/HD remasters/remakes if RE4 didn’t prove there was so much money on the table.

  • From best to worst, based off a recent playthrough I had of them:

    RE7
    RE2/R
    RE3/R
    RE8
    RE1
    RE5
    RE4
    RE0
    CV

    I only played RE4 a couple of years back, so I lack nostalgia filters for it.

    Not Appearing: RE6 since I haven’t actually played it.

    • Replaying it while doing a playthrough of the previous RE titles in the last year, CV was a massive sap of enthusiasm since its the only mainline game that controls terribly now after the remasters and remakes. I loved it on the DC, thought it was okay on the PS2, but playing it again now?

      Steve is truly the Creeper. His interactions with Claire are just totally Ew.

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