Mainline Resident Evil Games: A Ranking
In honor of the Resident Evil 2 Remake releasing later this month, I can think of no better ranking to do than to rank the mainline line Resident Evil games from worst to best. Surprisingly, this was one of the easiest rankings I have done on the blog. These are games that have gotten multiple replays out of me, and placing them in a ranking is something I have done mentally several times. I would love to see where you all would rank the franchise, so either send in an email to the show or leave a comment on the blog itself. So with all of that being said, let’s start off with the game that I definitely thought was going to be the death knell for the franchise.
7. Resident Evil 6 (2012)
Woof. Now I have to caveat a few things here. First, the story is not really all of that terrible. Second, the gameplay is nowhere near the worst that I have ever encountered in gaming. The problem is that no matter how you cut this, Resident Evil 6 is just not a “Resident Evil” game. To me, a RE game has to be about resource management, combat strategy, and jump scares. I really think that RE4 broke the franchise in a lot of different ways for awhile, mainly because it forced the devs to make a false binary choice. That choice that they made was, do we double down on combat/action or keep a focus on survival horror? They chose the former in RE5 and then went all in on that formula for RE6. And this is why it ranks so low. I loved being able to play as Leon, Chris, Ada and Wesker’s son. But its not at any point scary (with the exception of the beginning of Leon’s campaign) and I think doesn’t even qualify as a survival horror game. But enough of me complaining, I am sure most of you agree with this placement.
6. Resident Evil 5 (2009)
This is one I remember well, because it was the first game that I ever played on a PC. I was attending West Point when this game was released, and let’s just say game consoles were frowned upon. But we all had PCs, and I was going to be damned to not play the follow up to RE4. I was even more excited because it was our first time seeing Chris Redfield in a mainline game since the original. The controversy around it still annoys me to this day. The game takes place in Africa, at the location of where the plant that started it all was originally discovered. Because it took place in Africa, obviously the majority of the infected are African i.e. black. Some of the woke crowd decided to say that the game was racist because a white man was going around killing black men. To this I say, go outside and stand in the sun for awhile. There are no racist overtures, there isn’t a deeper message to the gameplay, and if all the zombies were white in Africa you would have accused it of white washing. That aside, this game is still low ranked for me. Mainly because the QTE that started in RE4 were increased ten fold and although there were some horror aspects in this entry, you can definitely see what I previously discussed starting to take place (a focus on action/combat over survival horror). I will say that I did enjoy playing this game co-op though!
5. Resident Evil (1996)
I am curious how people will feel about me placing the game that started it all in the bottom half. But I want to start off by saying that placing RE6 and RE5 was very easy, the rest of these were difficult (with one exception). I have played the original version a few times, but once REmake came out I mainly focused on playing that version. This game does a great job at laying out what exactly to expect from the franchise going forward. We know that item management is a huge component, the games will use forced perspective to deliver the horror, there will be a compelling story moving you along, and finally there will be puzzle to solve and the solutions are not going to be just laid out for you. I really like the story of this game, and I still think that Wesker is one of the most compelling main bad guys in the franchise. The original game does show its age when it comes to gameplay mechanics and graphics. But this is definitely a game that is worth your time and honestly I think that it is a great starting point for getting into the franchise.
4. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999)
There is truly one thing about this game that sticks with me even though it has been awhile since I have played this one, and that is Nemesis. And honestly, that was enough for me to place it above RE. The first three entries in the mainline franchise are very similar when it comes to gameplay mechanics and resource management. RE3 definitely has more action, with more zombies roaming around as well as impact to decisions made while playing the game that affect the ending. I also loved playing as Jill Valentine, a character that I would love to see more of in a modern game. But back to Nemesis. He is such a great boss, and his presence is felt (or imagined) throughout the entire game. He is an omnipresent threat, and he is better than you. For someone like me who constantly played RPGs where the solution to a boss is to grind until you are better, Nemesis was the first boss I encountered that that was not the solution. He is there to mess your day up, and you have to run. It’s a reason why I like to watch Twitch streamers speedrun this game. You can be having an amazing run, and then you hear, “Starssssssss” and out pops Nemesis and he wrecks your face. I wish more games had an enemy like him.
3. Resident Evil 2 (1998)
Now we are into the hard three, but I am happy with where they fell. All three of these games are amazing in their own right, and honestly it came to personal preference for how I placed them. RE2 is great. We will be reviewing it on the podcast here in a few weeks in anticipation of RE2 Remake coming out here in a few days. I think back to the first time I played this game. I was in the fifth grade, and a friend of mine had it. Whenever I would go over to spend the night, it would be all we would play. I asked my parents to get it for me, but all it took was a look at the cover to ensure that they would not be getting me that game. So I would play it at my friends, getting good enough to beat the game in hours, unlocking the infinite submachine gun and infinite rocket launcher and infinite gatling gun. The game was no longer the horror it was my first time playing it through, it was a giant maze with puzzles and I was on a clock to beat it as many times as I could in that allotted time. I was able to beat it again with ease on this playthrough, with solutions to puzzles flowing back to me like a long forgotten friend popping in to say hello. The reason it is third truly is because of gameplay. The tank controls have aged poorly, and because of that the other two entries on this list surpass it. But it has a special place in my heart and I cannot wait to review it for the show.
2. Resident Evil 7 (2017)
I do not think that there would be anyone who would contest that RE7 is a great game. I do however anticipate some questioning how I could place it above RE2. There are two reasons. The first was mentioned in why RE2 was ranked third, the controls are dated and can make the game hard to play. I do not know why tank controls were ever a thing, but they were and they are terrible. The second is that in my opinion, RE7 saved the franchise and if not for it I do not think that we would have seen RE2 Remake. RE5 and RE6 left very bad tastes in the community’s mouth. I was one of them. I was amongst those who were ready to accept that just like with shows like “Dexter”, the franchise forgot what made it great and now it would die an unjust death. But Capcom took a huge risk and changed everything. Gone was the combat focus of the previous two entries and instead the franchise quadrupled down on making a truly horrifying game experience. One way they did this that I truly felt delivered in the best way was a switch to a first person perspective, a first for the franchise. I truly felt that I was the protagonist, making my way through the Baker farm trying to find my girlfriend and figure out what the hell was going on. I platinumed this game, played all of the DLC (which is great, even if a little overpriced) and started speedrunning Madhouse knife-only. My best time was sub two hours and thirty minutes and I am proud of that. I am excited for RE2 Remake, but in my heart I am more excited for RE8, to see where the story goes for Ethan…
1. Resident Evil 4 (2005)
Listeners of the podcast most likely had zero doubt that this would be my top pick for the franchise. This game is on my Mount Rushmore of video games, and is in a constant fight for the top slot with Final Fantasy X and Pokemon Silver. I own this game in every release, even the extremely crappy iPhone port. I have beaten this game more than any other game I have ever played. I used to be able to quote the game line for line and I bet that I still could give it a pretty good shot. The story is perfect. The gameplay was designed perfectly for the Gamecube and made for an amazing gaming experience. The difficulty was just right and Professional Mode was a really rewarding challenge. Mercenaries was a very fun add on that eventually went on to get its own side game. Ashley at times could get frustrating but she added a fun gameplay mechanic that forced you to slow down even in the tensest of situations. The voice acting across the board was awesome. The return of Ada Wong was a high point for me, as she was my second favorite character out of RE2. The game in a lot of ways set a bar too high for sequels to try and follow in its footsteps, but that is not a fault I attribute to it. It is a game that deserves an annual playthrough from all horror fans, and I am very content having it top my best of list.