Ranking of the best Resident Evil games

The series, among the most consequential in gaming, has shifted its focus so often, a “Resident Evil fan” could be many things. One player’s definition of a perfect Resident Evil game is another’s mark of where the series went astray. Like the Zelda or Mario series, Resident Evil is due some credit for innovating and becoming an industry leader, even if it eventually began to borrow from its action-adventure peers.

The perfect Resident Evil game doesn’t exist.

Highlights

  • Still, there are plenty of ideas that persist through each game. Every title sticks to the original’s formula of some kind of item management, exploration and puzzle solving — and, crucially, fighting off zombie hordes. But as you’ll soon see, the series has rarely retained a consistent sense of identity.

  • Still, there are plenty of ideas that persist through each game. Every title sticks to the original’s formula of some kind of item management, exploration and puzzle solving — and, crucially, fighting off zombie hordes. But as you’ll soon see, the series has rarely retained a consistent sense of identity.

Resident Evil 6.

The following list is a ranking of how well the games stood the test of time, their impact on the industry, and whether they live up to those three core franchise pillars. Below, we’ll focus exclusively on the main console-focused entries in the series, as the franchise has had dozens of spin offs. We’ll also leave out the “Revelations” spin offs (though they’re both good). The three remakes of the classic games are another story; we count those since they’re both still part of the main series, and different enough to warrant separate entries.

This placement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows the series. It’s the game that took Resident Evil’s cinematic ambitions to farcical, absurd extremes, almost ditching its horror roots in all but name and aesthetics. The game was littered with quick time events, and its denouement included fighting a zombie Tyrannosaurus rex with a Jeep. While it was critically lambasted for its departure from horror, it’s still the best-selling entry in the series.

Still, this title’s low place on the list hurts me. Despite the fact that the game is awful at teaching you its mechanics, it’s a damn fine action game, and a robust evolution of the combat mechanics of “Resident Evil 4,” letting its characters become fully-formed combat experts and zombie martial artists. It was a game so out of character for the series that the team pivoted hard back to horror for the next sequel. For now, the sixth game stands as the popular but maligned adrenaline-fueled outlier of the series.

Resident Evil Zero. “Resident Evil Zero” has some of the most memorable locations, and it was a great opportunity to explore another aspect of the inciting incident of the series. But it dropped the ball by giving us ho-hum monsters, a nonsensical story that added little to the lore and a confusing partner setup that was ambitious but ultimately killed the pacing.

This was also a great opportunity to explore Bravo Team, the ill-fated other team from the very first “Resident Evil,” and it drops that ball too. It’s far from bad, and has an excellent grasp of series mechanics, but given how little it contributes to the series, it’s hard to place it any higher. Resident Evil 3 Remake.

Although Resident Evil games are typically not that long, this was the leanest of all the modern games, and even possibly the classic ones. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is limiting the presence of Nemesis. While he was an unpredictable, ever-present menace in the PlayStation original, Nemesis was mostly used for big battles and action set pieces in the remake. Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

In this entry, the original hero of the series, Chris Redfield, attains the pinnacle of human evolution, becoming so strong, he could stand inside a volcano and punch a boulder with his bare hands, like some kind of mystical hero in a Jimi Hendrix song. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

Resident Evil 5. The series got really weird for its Sega Dreamcast debut. “Code Veronica” is famous for being the actual third game in the series, but planning mishaps gave it a different name. It was the first awkward step into a fully-realized three-dimensional environment, moving away from the gargoyle-like pre-rendered backgrounds of the earlier games.