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The best ‘Resident Evil’ games, ranked

Spooky season isn't yet upon us, but it is never too soon for a gaming session!
This article is over 2 years old and may contain outdated information

Resident Evil, also known as Biohazard in Japan, is a videogame horror series released by Capcom in 1996. Revolutionizing pop culture by bringing back the undead to popular gaming customs, Resident Evil completely redefined the survival horror genre with its third-person shooter point-of-view and horrifically unsettling elements, as well as an interesting puzzle-solving attribute.

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Introducing the world of Raccoon City, in Resident Evil the players will run into various hindrances and setbacks as they attempt to free the world from the Umbrella Corporation, an evil and inhumane pharmaceutical company developing mutagens for their “biological weapons”, or in other words, zombies. The main protagonists from the game are a part of the police tactical unit, or S.T.A.R.S., including playable characters like Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, which are seen throughout all installments of the franchise.

As the highest-grossing horror series, Resident Evil has also expanded onto the big screen with the movie Resident Evil, which was released in 2002, followed by five sequels, and even a reboot in 2021, Welcome To Raccoon City. Just recently, nearly 30 years after the first video game’s release, the saga got a Netflix adaptation with incredibly positive acclaimed reviews and yet mixed reactions from fans of the franchise who were expecting a closer adaptation to the beloved story from the video games. If you just so happen to be one of the fans looking to venture into playing against zombies on your console, here is the rank for the mainline video game entries in the Resident Evil franchise. 

8. Resident Evil 6

Released in 2012, Resident Evil 6 allows players to select between four scenarios, playing with each division team and their respective partners. As the least popular main entry among fans, and game critics alike, this videogame seemed to bring everyone into agreement: the game did not meet the expectations from the previous installments.

From the questionable and low-quality dialogue during cut-scenes to the shaky camera which seemed to invoke motion-sickness even in long-time players, Resident Evil 6 got very apprehensive feedback from most players of the series. However, the game itself also receives quite a bit of praise in regards to the interweaving storylines within the possibility of choosing which character to play, which brings a nostalgic factor from the second main entry, Resident Evil 2

7. Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 left a lot of things to be desired since its release in 2009. Coming after the fan-favorite precedent, Resident Evil 4, the 5th installment hardly seemed to catch up with the high expectations left by the previous entry. Lacking the horror factor cherished by the franchise’s fans, Resident Evil 5 was instead packed with action and adventure. Due to its shortfall in horror and scary gameplay elements that the players wish to experience, Resident Evil 5 tends to be placed quite low on everyone’s list.

On the other hand and on a very positive note, it is the first game of the franchise to introduce a co-player possibility, allowing fans to play alongside a friend and defeat the zombies in a fun and interactive way, all while barely needing an introduction to the main plotline of the story, considering the knowledge is barely required to enjoy this action-packed entry.

6. Resident Evil 7

Resident Evil 7 is quite possibly one of the best installments of the franchise from a horror perspective. As the first game to introduce the possibility of playing first-person in virtual reality, the game also brought a lot of brand new characteristics to the series. Not only does the POV shift from its beloved third-person perspective, but it also has a significantly smaller map from its previous games. However, and much to the disappointment of die-hard old-school fans of the series, Resident Evil 7 went a little too astray when it comes to matching the other games’ pacing.

Although packed with violent horror and able to leave everyone at the edge of their seat, once the players become accustomed to its jump scares and few imaginative construction possibilities, they will seldom be scared of what’s to come. Alternatively, it is also the greatest opening door for new players who aren’t familiar with previous installments, as it requires little to no knowledge of the story or characters from the series. 

5. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

The third installment of the Resident Evil franchise came to light in 1999, and yet again in 2020 when its remastered version was released. Esteemed for its horror and tension-filled moments, this game holds great attention to detail and strong survival needs, revisiting exactly what fans hold most dear from the video game franchise. Showcasing the devastation in Raccoon City, Resident Evil 3 also introduces one of the best villains in the story, Nemesis, a human who was later on infected by the virus of a Licker. All in all, Resident Evil 3 has a handful of downsides.

The third installment lacks creativity, struggling to bring out unique combat abilities and tropes, at times creating a rather dull gameplay experience. It becomes evident that there is a lot of focus on exploration and puzzles, draining the players who are attempting to find a good balance between action and horror, which was definitely the objective from its previous installment, Resident Evil 2.  

4. Resident Evil Village

The eighth installment of Resident Evil is the most recent game from Capcom, released in 2021. Mostly inspired by its precedent entry, Resident Evil 7, this new game continues to follow the path of Ethan Winters and his pursuit of freeing his daughter from the hands of manic and blood-thirsty monsters. Similar to the previous installment, Resident Evil Village is also an action and horror-filled game, in first-person perspective but this time taking Ethan’s adventure on a much larger scale- an entire Village. A new type of monster was introduced, as well as vampires and genetically modified creatures.

Critics of the game are also on par with the previous entry, mostly due to how disparate the gameplay is in comparison to the fan-favorite installments. However, it is a much more action-packed video game, and a great throwback to Resident Evil 4, whereas it leaves a bit of the horror-filled factor to be desired for the fans who did enjoy the psychological horror abuse from the previous game. 

3. Resident Evil

The first entry of the franchise came out in 1996 and had exponential success from the get-go. With the introduction of the characters who are now very much cherished by every fan and player of the series, Resident Evil offers a nostalgic air to those who grew up learning about the game, the storylines, and all the characters forming the plot. The atmosphere from the eerie Spencer Mansion, alongside the riddling puzzles and the perfectly balanced horror elements with action-packed gameplay, perfectly encapsulate everything Resident Evil stands for.

In 2002, a remaster of the first game was released by Capcom, which aimed to improve the textures and controls of the game while avoiding jeopardizing the treasured experience from the sinister atmosphere present in the 1996 original version of the game. 

2. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is one of the mainline entries to have awakened an entirely new generation of players aiming to completely obliterate zombies and all scary folktale creatures alike. This time in a rural village in Europe, and the main protagonist of the game, Leon, has an important task to fulfill: save the U.S. President’s daughter from the infected villagers. Although not particularly gloomy or scary, the gameplay in Resident Evil 4 is enhanced by action and the entertaining and fun puzzles throughout the game.

With the over-the-shoulder camera as well as a full-precision aim, the fourth installment is considered to be a masterpiece regarding advanced AI, while successfully maintaining the same exciting and nostalgic atmosphere from the original version and even adding a new VR feature that effectively recreates the first time experiencing the game.

1. Resident Evil 2

Released in 1998, and with a remaster in 2019, Resident Evil 2 is quite possibly one of Capcom’s most prized achievements in the video gaming community. From the incredibly balanced horror and action gameplay to the incredibly thought-out puzzles that will certainly inspire the players to keep a notebook and a pen at hand to scribble out any and every probable piece of the puzzle. Resident Evil 2 does an overwhelmingly good job at completely merging the spooky and unsettling elements of the story and bringing out the various interweaving storylines by allowing players to choose which characters to play. As a gift that keeps on giving, the second installment of the franchise always holds several secrets up its sleeve, nearly forcing the players to keep enjoying the ride while playing one of the most spine-chilling entries in Resident Evil. 

Although nearly impossible to narrow down — especially considering the brilliant side-entries from the franchise — every single game in Resident Evil ought to be an entirely new experience to behold. Always aiming to keep it innovative, although not always successfully, every player will certainly find an installment that best fits their expectations and gives a little more insight into the intricacies of the series that is Resident Evil.

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Francisca Santos
Passionate about gossip, a dedicated music enthusiast, and an unapologetic weeb, Francisca is a freelance writer at WGTG. When she's not writing, she can be found taking her dog on walks, defending BTS' honor, and re-reading 'One Piece'.