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Ranking the Mainline Resident Evil Games

Ranking the Mainline Resident Evil Games - Article

by Evan Norris , posted on 01 February 2017 / 17,103 Views

With Resident Evil 7 out in the wild, it seems like a good time to revisit the mainline series — apologies to the Revelations and Outbreaks of the RE universe. The first RE game I played was Resident Evil 2 on N64 and I remember falling in love with the scary, creepy, violent, challenging, and, ultimately, rewarding world of Shinji Mikami and company. Since then I've played every series game I can find and have enjoyed almost all of them.

What follows is my personal ranking of the nine mainline RE games, Resident Evil 7 included.


Resident Evil 6


Of all the mainline Resident Evil games, Resident Evil 6 is the weakest. It's a testament to the maxim that bigger isn't always better. RE6 boasts three interlocking, globe-trotting campaigns, featuring series stalwarts and newcomers, but none is especially engaging. Marred by a troublesome camera, clumsy controls, and far, far too many quick-time events, RE6 never finds its voice. Instead it speaks in a weird mish-mash of incongruous elements, some drawn from military shooters, others from Hollywood blockbusters, others inspired by Japanese horror.


Resident Evil 5


Say what you will about Resident Evil 5 — that it turned its back on what made Resident Evil great, that it sacrificed the survival-horror roots of the franchise for a high-octane co-op shooter in the vein of Gears of War — but this is a game that's fun to play, especially with a human partner. Those who crave an atmospheric, tense horror game will be disappointed, no doubt, but folks looking for an entertaining, intense, and varied action feast with a friend in tow will leave satisfied.


Resident Evil 3: Nemesis


Intended as a spin-off from the main series, Resident Evil 3 was re-branded to serve as the third mainline Resident Evil game. Tonally and mechanically, RE3 plays differently from the first two games in the franchise. Gone are the claustrophobic rooms of the mansion and police station from Resident Evil and its sequel, respectively. Replacing them are open urban spaces through which heroine Jill Valentine must escape Raccoon City.  The game is also packed with more action and thus introduces dodging and quick turns.

The biggest draw in Resident Evil 3 is the titular villain, Nemesis, who stalks Jill throughout the game, and even across sequence breaks. It introduces a sense of paranoia that makes an otherwise unspectacular RE game unforgettable. 


Resident Evil - Code: Veronica

RE Code Veronica

Developed in tandem with Resident Evil 3, Code: Veronica was the first RE game on Sega's Dreamcast. It was also the first in the series to evolve in terms of gameplay and game design. Out the window went pre-rendered, static backgrounds. 3D polygons, fully textured, gave the grimy, ghastly world of Resident Evil never-before-seen depth and detail. Code: Veronica's camera moved with the player, allowing characters Chris and Claire to peek around corners. Graphics and animations were markedly improved and puzzles were more streamlined.


Resident Evil Zero


Previously playable only on the GameCube and Wii, Resident Evil Zero earned a HD face-lift in 2016 on several seventh and eighth gen systems. As a result, many new fans of the series had a chance to play perhaps the most underrated Resident Evil game. Although Zero plays very much like previous installments, it introduces a unique "partner zapping" feature that enhances gameplay. In contrast to earlier games in the canon that allowed players to choose one character at the beginning of the game, Zero asks that players control two characters from beginning to end.

Players manipulate escaped convict Billy Coen and police officer Rebecca Chambers, together or separately. They have the option to send one off to explore an area and leave the other behind. This partner system is fundamental to solving the game's many puzzles, as Rebecca has a mixing kit and Billy can move heavy objects. Billy and Rebecca can swap weapons and items, or leave them on the floor for later retrieval.


Resident Evil (2002)

RE 2002

The original Resident Evil lands here at number four, but it's really the 2002 "REmake" that steals the show.  With new 3D models, a dynamic camera, and backgrounds enhanced with particle effects and full motion video, Resident Evil (2002) was a far cry from the static background and blocky models of the 1996 original. Still, it managed to channel the premiere game's sense of pervasive fear and b-movie sensibilities. After all, this is the game that popularized and codified the survival-horror genre, and inspired games like Dino Crisis and Silent Hill.


Resident Evil 7: Biohazard


At first glance, Resident Evil 7 might look like a copycat of Outlast or Alien: Isolation, but a deeper dive will reveal a game fiercely loyal to the mechanics and tropes established all the way back in 1996. After experimenting with third-person shooting and blockbuster action in Resident Evil 4, 5, and 6, the developers at Capcom returned to the roots of Resident Evil with this seventh numbered installment, with a dash of hide-and-seek gameplay and western horror themes for good measure.

The result is a game that feels topical and old-fashioned at the same time, one that simultaneously honors the slow-burn survival-horror of the original RE series and modifies it for consumption by modern audiences.


Resident Evil 2


Directed by Hideki Kamiya and produced by Shinji Mikami, two legends in the field, Resident Evil 2 is the ultimate in old-school RE goodness. It built upon the foundation of the original game, adding more detailed environments, sharper graphics, and tighter controls. Its greatest attribute, however, is improved replay value, thanks to mini-games and four different scenarios. By starting A scenario with one of the playable characters, players can unlock B scenario for the second playable character, and vice versa. Actions taken in A will affect what happens in B. 


Resident Evil 4 


Depending on who you ask, Resident Evil 4 stands as either the triumphant moment the Resident Evil series broke free from its antiquated control scheme and molasses-slow pacing or the game that began the destruction and bastardization of the series. Others simply look at it as a brilliant example of strong level design, gameplay, sound, and presentation, its place in the Resident Evil canon notwithstanding.

By removing the fixed camera angled and "tank" controls associated with earlier games in the series and by focusing intently on gunplay, Capcom turned Resident Evil 4 into a third-person shooter and horror hybrid, something that worked majestically in 2005 but which proved deleterious in the years that followed. Despite its uneasy legacy, RE4 represents a high water mark for Resident Evil and for Capcom in general. It's a once-in-a-generation kind of game.


That's my list! What's yours?

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Bristow9091 (on 01 February 2017)

I've never played Resident Evil 4, but I'd happily put 5 and 6 in my top five in the series so far based on fun factor alone... only ones I've not played yet are 0, 4 and 7

  • +2
Wright Bristow9091 (on 01 February 2017)

I absolutely love Resident Evil 5. It's a game that never ceases to amaze me when I'm looking for some fun!

  • +1
Bristow9091 Bristow9091 (on 01 February 2017)

Yeah I don't see why it's looked down upon, it has huge replay value for me, god knows how many times I've completed it over the years... to be fair I feel the same way about Resident Evil 6 too... sure it's more cinematic action than horror, but I feel like the gameplay is solid, it's really fun to play with a friend, and has a ton of replay value too!

  • 0
Wright Bristow9091 (on 01 February 2017)

I like Resident Evil 6 too, but much less than Resident Evil 5 due to some of the choices made. It features the best iteration of Mercenaries in my eyes, though (aside from the very, very poor map selection unless you buy DLCs).
I've probably beaten Resident Evil 5 around ten times. And funnily enough, I did beat it last time a few days ago with a friend, which was a lot of fun, like usual. The game has its flaws, but I can't just stop liking it.

  • +1
WagnerPaiva Bristow9091 (on 01 February 2017)

If you have a chance, play it. It is cool.

  • +1
Bristow9091 Bristow9091 (on 01 February 2017)

I'm actually thinking of buying the PS4 version at some point, although it's not high on my priority list, maybe when I work through more of my backlog :P

  • 0
thevideogameninja (on 01 February 2017)

Wow. Despite the question posed being almost completely subjective I'm still a little surprised nobody is hating on anyone's opinions in the comments section, lol (Now you've brought it on yourself Ninja!). Good work Vgchartz community! -IMPRESSED NINJA APPROVED-

  • +1
Hiro94 (on 02 February 2017)

Great List. I still got to get around to playing 7

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Cloudman (on 01 February 2017)

Pretty good list. My only issue is that personally, I think RE2 is too high. I tried playing it and eventually quit because the visuals were very off putting. It's perhaps one of those situations where you had to play it at the time of its release to have fully enjoyed it. Nowadays, it seems poorly aged.

  • 0
invetedlotus123 (on 01 February 2017)

Surprisingly nobody is hating RE 4 on top of the list. And I pretty much agree with top position, RE 4 was a necessary evolution for the series.

  • 0
leedlelee (on 01 February 2017)

I haven't played any of the mainline games past Code Veronica (which I never finished) except for RE0, but seeing Nemesis below CV and 0 is quite surprising...

  • 0
jamesmarkus87 (on 01 February 2017)
  1. RE 6
  2. RE Zero
  3. RE 5
  4. RE 7: Biohazard (only played it once, so it could rise or fall on my list)
  5. (tie) RE 2 & Code: Veronica
  6. REmake
  7. RE 3: Nemesis
  8. RE 4
  • 0
Ariakon (on 01 February 2017)

Add your comment...Whoa, Nemesis at #7? Fair enough, though for me it is much higher. I know everyone loves 4, but I prefer the older games (I'm not a big Leon fan). My top 5 would be 2, 3, 1, 7 and 4, in that order.

  • 0
Teeqoz (on 01 February 2017)

Just out of curiosity, did you try RE7 in VR? I haven't played any RE games at all, so I don't really have anything to say about the list, just curious if VR could influence your opinion.

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TruckOSaurus (on 01 February 2017)

You have a good list but I feel like RE5 is too low. My personal ranking would be (missing games I haven't played or didn't finish):

RE4 > RE2 > RE5 > RE:Code Veronica > RE3

  • 0
KLAMarine (on 01 February 2017)

RE4. That is all.

Put it on the Switch, Capcom. I will hand over my money.

  • 0
Azzanation (on 01 February 2017)

Code Veronica is a mainline RE game?

  • 0
Shubham@vgc (on 01 February 2017)

Certainly re4 is at the top for me too...but I have 2 parallel lists for two different genre of resident evil...
And that is re4>re6>rer>rer2>re5
And the other is re3>re2>recv>re1>re0
Haven't played re7 but looks good game...
I have 2 lists because I can't compare resident evil games from different category...
They r simply incomparable...
After dividing into action and horror they r comparable to me...

  • 0
umegames (on 01 February 2017)

the Revelations series should be included. the 1st one was really good, haven't played the 2nd yet.

  • 0
NinjaFox (on 01 February 2017)

Resident Evil 2 will always be my top one and I'm really hoping they do it justice in the remake akin to what they did for the original on GameCube.

  • 0
Zoombael (on 01 February 2017)

2, 1, 4, CV, 3, 1R

Never played 6. 5 i bought some time ago... played it for an hour, deinstalled it, never touched it since.

  • 0
V-r0cK (on 01 February 2017)

In order: RE2>1> 3> 0>Code Veronica>5>6>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 4 is last. Haven't tried 7 yet.

  • 0
Hiku (on 01 February 2017)

My list is in the same order, except I haven't played RE7 and RE0, so I don't know where I'd place them.

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KLXVER (on 01 February 2017)


That might change after the RE2 Remake comes out though.

  • 0
Angelv577 (on 01 February 2017)

I agree though I would have had RE 2 as my top 1 and RE4 at number 2.

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Snoorlax (on 01 February 2017)

great list! I would put REmake above 7 and RE2 though.

  • 0
Jumpin (on 01 February 2017)

My Top 5

  1. RE2
  2. RE3
  3. RE1
  4. RE4
  5. Code Veronica
  6. RE7
  7. RE0
    Haven't played 5 or 6 through. But, IMO the series lost its edge after RE3/Code Veronica, and I only have RE4 that high because of strong gameplay. Aside from RE4, every RE game felt weak/watered down after Code Veronica.
  • 0
Ka-pi96 (on 01 February 2017)

Code Veronica is a main series game? 0 is also a surprise but that's kind of a numbered entry so...

Anyways, my list would be quite different.

  1. RE2
  2. RE3
  3. RE1
  4. RE6
  5. RE5
  6. RE4
  7. RE7
  • 0
Hiku Ka-pi96 (on 01 February 2017)

Sure, why not? Numerical titles are not the only thing that determines if it belongs to the mainline series or not, because title composition is some times just a promotional tool. I'm sure no one considers Final Fantasy 11 or 14 as part of the mainline series for example, but Square chose to number them to have them sell better. Likewise,

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Kanemaru (on 01 February 2017)

Number 1 RE2, number 2 RE1, number 3 RE3. There's no other real Resident Evil. RE4 was a good action game but not a RE. Never done Outbreak nor Code Veronica.

  • 0
Jumpin Kanemaru (on 01 February 2017)

Hat's somewhat accurate. Code Veronica had some good plot details, and RE4 had great gameplay, but that original trilogy was what Resident Evil was, and when it was the best. The other games lack that feeling, and the HD remake of RE1 lacks the same intensity of the first.

  • 0
hunter_alien (on 01 February 2017)

Good list :-) I still think that RE3 is so underrated in comparison. It most definitely a superior game IMO than 1 and 2. Nemesis was awesome, true, but the settings are also a step up. It really felt like a natural evolution for the series.

  • 0
SecondWar (on 01 February 2017)

Ive never played Resident Evil (although I may give 7 a go at some point). Still, I expected 6 to bring up the rear of this list. I remember the demo and saying 'its falls as a horror game as its not scary, and fails as an action game as its boring'.

  • -1
Random_Matt (on 01 February 2017)

4, 5 and 7 are bottom of my list.

  • -1
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