Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One?

Resident Evil 4 Remake is finally in the wild and, I think it's fair to say, I rather enjoyed our time with it here at Pure Xbox. In my glowing review - some might almost say raving fanboy review - I gave the reimagining of this 2005 classic a big fat 10/10, going as far as saying that it improved upon perfection:

Well, in some respects I'm going to have to eat a few of those words a little right now because, in the spirit of all things Resi, I've put together my own personal ranking of the main entries in the series, and yep, Resident Evil 4 Remake hasn't made it to the number one spot.

Of course, being my own personal picks, there's reasons beyond just how straight-up good a game is for picking one over the other, and I'm sure plenty of you fine folk will have a fairly different ordering to how you line up the entries in this fantastic franchise. So, let's jump in and take a look at the bloody mess I've made.

Best Resident Evil Games, Ranked

13 - Resident Evil 6

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 10

Let's get the worst one out of the way straight off the bat here and, as much as I love this series, as much as I'd say I'm willing to play any of them at any time, Resident Evil 6 is a tough old slog. It all starts off well enough, Leon's campaign is a solid if unspectacular effort, but it soon falls apart as multiple campaigns try to please everyone.

There's a little survival horror, a little bit of gung-ho action and some woeful stealth thrown into the mix here and the result is a bloated, messy experience that gets worse as it goes along. A duff story, bland bullet-sponge enemies and some awful retconning of franchise history, makes for an experience that's advisable only for completionist fans out there. It's telling that Capcom began to right the Resi ship after this low point, completely redirecting the course the franchise was headed in with the pure horror excellence of Resident Evil 7. Let's hope we never sink this low again.

12 - Resident Evil 0 (HD Remaster)

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 4

Ah, Resident Evil 0. This prequel has some good ideas, the fact that Rebecca is the item-creating wiz while Billy excels in combat made for an enjoyable setup that fed into puzzles in a nice way. However this is also a game that just spent far too much of its short running time (about 7 hours) explaining aspects of the original Resi instead of just focusing on being its own thing. It's got a weak story full of rather lame reveals as a result of this, and is further dragged down by bland enemies and, the biggest issue of the lot, incredibly annoying inventory management. Yep, we love a little bit of resource management in our survival horror, but it's frustrating and far too restricted here. 0 is a passable entry, it's got the look and feel of good old Resi (and this HD Remaster is slick) but it's also a frustrating and rather sloppy effort all things told.

11 - Resident Evil Code: Veronica X HD

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 3

I've always been a bit torn over Resident Evil Code: Veronica. On the one hand I love the pacing and style of this entry, it's got some genuine scares and a great overall atmosphere, and it's more puzzle-heavy than anything we'd seen to this point in the series - I love me some puzzles. It also does a great job of instilling dread in the player with some decent scares, and the inventory system is a joy this time around.

However, this is also a game that's caught between two phases of the franchise in may ways. It replaces the pre-rendered backdrops with polygons, shifting away from the past and putting one foot into what would become the future, but it then sticks with the old controls, the fixed camera angles and loading screens (even in this HD revamp), making for a bit of a messy adventure all things told. In a way this one feels like the last of the old-school Resident Evil games, and I enjoy my time with it for this reason, but it also always felt as though the leap from pre-rendered backdrops was going to bring more gameplay changes with it, which is something that just didn't happen.

10 - Resident Evil 3 (Remake)

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 2

Coming off the back of the rather glorious remake of number two, I think everyone had high hopes for Resident Evil 3 Remake. However, what we got here felt like a bit of a jumbled, watered down rush job. Fair enough, there's weaker source material to work off, but this is no excuse for ripping out entire locations, puzzles and sequences and replacing them with a very short and abruptly ending adventure that funnels players through a lot of noisy, heavily scripted action.

On the plus side, it all looks amazing, as expected, the controls feel slick and there are a handful of impressive sequences dotted along the way, including a return to the RCPD that ties in nicely to the events of 2, a spooky hospital visit, and an extended blast of action with Carlos that left us rather breathless. Oh, and there's an an opening sequence in the city that's rather good too. It's not all bad then, just disappointing coming off the back of it's predecessor. This is a highly playable, flashy looking remake, for sure, but imagine if they'd expanded upon the events of 3 instead of ripping so much of it out.

9 - Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 9

Yes, it's not a game that made it to Xbox consoles but it's here for completion's sake and because, for me, the OG Resident Evil 3 still pips the flashy remake. This is a game that hasn't aged particularly well, of course, but back in the day it was a pretty big deal. The Nemesis system was an amazing addition in terms of upping the tension, we got a 180 quick turn stripped (I believe) out of Dino Crisis, and you had "live choices" to make that took you to different areas and affected other aspects of the game depending on how you reacted. Oh, and you could even dodge enemy attacks now and this is where The Mercenaries mode started out. How modern. It may be antiquated at this stage, not something that younger gamers are going to want to return to, but Resi 3 is still up there for me.

8 - Resident Evil 5

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 13

I think placing this one quite so high up my listing might be somewhat controversial but I spent an ungodly amount of time playing and replaying the overblown nonsense that is Resident Evil 5, and I loved every second of it.

Returning to 5 now, it's easy to see the issues but at the time I was blown away by the setting, the bright daylight, the nonstop action, the wonderful Sheva and a Mercenaries mode that myself and a few friends wore holes in our controllers playing. It's also a game that still holds up, (again, just my opinion), with a handful of nerve-shredding face-offs against hordes of foes, the co-op campaign was a delight to blast through with a pal and replaying the story as Sheva felt different enough that it gave the whole thing lots of replayability. I can certainly see why it's not a favourite for many fans, but Resident Evil 5 is a game I've got a lot of fond memories of.

7 - Resident Evil 2

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 5

Ah, now we're into the really good stuff. Resident Evil 2 was a revelation when it first released back in 1998. Taking everything fans loved about the first game and increasing the scale and scope, this was by some margin the best-looking thing I'd ever seen when I first clapped eyes on it. Its iconic locations too, Raccoon City's ruined streets and the RCPD, made for jaw-dropping and genuinely intense sequences of survival horror that really just blasted everything from the original game out of the water at the time. If you were playing video games back in the late 90s, this one blew your mind, there's no two ways about it.

6 - Resident Evil Village

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 11

An absolute pivot away from the pure terror of Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil Village made a rather successful attempt to recapture the vibe of Resident Evil 4, this time with added werewolves and a great big sexy vampire lady.

This is a game that's really grown on me through multiple replays. Initially I came away a little disappointed due to what I saw as a lack of genuine scares (I only gave it a 7/10 in my review) but over time I've come to love the pacing of this rollercoaster ride.

From the opening village section, which sees you thoroughly outnumbered by vicious lycanthropes, to the majestic castle sequence and then on to the twisted House Beneviento - the one standout creepy part of the game - this is an adventure that manages to remain highly entertaining for its entire running time. I'm not a huge fan of Ethan Winters - so I quite enjoyed the ending - but he's been dumped into a super solid Resident Evil here that's got some of the best action encounters in the series, including a breathless blast through a werewolf stronghold that had me full-on panicking.

5 - Resident Evil 2 (Remake)

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 6

I was torn on whether this remake or the OG Resi 2 should place higher up this list but, having just replayed this one recently, there's no doubt that it's a better experience. Resident Evil 2 Remake takes the best parts of the 1998 game and reworks them into a taut and tight campaign that doesn't waste a second of your time.

From an opening sequence that showed us just how far the RE graphics engine had evolved, to the perfect pacing of tense corridor shuffling, puzzles and terrifying Mr X sections, this remake is a thrill-ride from start to finish. As I concluded back in my 9/10 review in 2020:

"It manages to perfectly combine old and new, taking the very best aspects of Hideki Kamiya's original vision and transplanting them into this comprehensive and thoroughly modern reworking."

4 - Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 14

Now we're getting right up into the real heavy hitters for me. Resident Evil 7 absolutely blew my socks off. Ethan Winters' first outing is an absolutely relentless terror trip that manages to keep up an almost unbearable level of tension right up until it finally switches to action for a short burst towards the end.

This is a game that I absolutely adore but it's so scary, so grim and gory, that it's also something I find quite hard to settle into for a replay. Once you're back into its rhythm though, back to the Baker's house of horrors, it's impossible to put it down, but gosh it does take a little stealing yourself when you know what you're in for. This was exactly what the core franchise needed after the shockingly bad number six, a hard reset that returned the series to survival horror with a capital H.

3- Resident Evil 4 Remake

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 8

I thought on this for a bit, but taking everything into account, the absolutely sublime Resident Evil 4 Remake lands in third place here - I just can't place it over the game from which it draws all of its best aspects.

I was genuinely concerned going into this one that they'd make a mess but by the time I'd blasted through the famous village opening, well, I knew I was in for a huge treat. This remake scraps a few bits here and there, something some fans aren't too keen on, but for me the adventure flows better now, the combat additions are all winners and it strikes a balance between being thoroughly modern whist still feeling like the good old Resi 4 that we all know and love.

2- Resident Evil 4

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 7

For many, if not most, this one is the absolute pinnacle of the series. A game that switched up the template, binning the slow-burn survival horror tension for wonderfully OTT action and campy theatrics and introducing mechanics - such as that close-up over the shoulder camera - that influenced and informed a generation of action games. Resident Evil 4's influence can still be felt to this day and, no matter how many times and in how many different forms I've played it (you've gotta try this in VR btw) I never tire of the rhythm and flow of this masterpiece.

The flashy new remake may improve upon it in some ways, but that remake wouldn't exist without this landmark in gaming. I'll try not to go too overboard but Resi 4, in its OG form, remains one of the all time greats.

1 - Resident Evil (HD Remaster)

Best Resident Evil Games Ranked - Which Mainline Entry Is Number One? 12

The game that started it all is still number one in my book - and this HD revamp is a beautiful way to return to the Spencer Mansion if you're not down with the old-school tank controls. I still remember excitedly making my way into the nearest town to grab my copy of this one on release day back in 1996, after months of poring over every magazine article and screenshot I could find, and it's amazing that the finished product exceeded all of my lofty expectations.

The OG Resident Evil probably hits a little different when you're not of a certain vintage, that's perfectly reasonable, but for me this is where it all started, this is the one that hooked me on the series and has kept me coming back for every subsequent instalment over the past 28 years. It's 100% a nostalgia pick, and I'm not sorry. That first glimpse of a zombie as it slowly turned its rotten head towards the camera, undead zombie dogs crashing through windows, the live action nonsense of a pre-credits sequence, "I hope this is not Chris's blood!" BARRY BURTON! There's just nothing else like it.

It still stands up amazingly well, too. Jump into the revamped version, even switch to more modern controls if you need to, and the flow of the story, the puzzles and set-pieces, it's still a gloriously atmospheric and addictive experience that fully belongs in the #1 spot.

And that's my own personal ranking of the Resi franchise's mainline entries. But I also want to know how you folks stack this lot up. So, make sure to let me know in the poll and comments how you rank them as well as how badly wrong my choices are!

Best To Worst, How Would You Rank These 13 Resident Evil Games? (13 Points = Best) (1,590 votes)

  1. Resident Evil10%
  2. Resident Evil 06%
  3. Resident Evil 2 (Original)8%
  4. Resident Evil 2 (Remake)11%
  5. Resident Evil 3 (Original)6%
  6. Resident Evil 3 (Remake)7%
  7. Resident Evil 4 (Original)9%
  8. Resident Evil 4 (Remake)10%
  9. Resident Evil 56%
  10. Resident Evil 65%
  11. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard9%
  12. Resident Evil Village8%
  13. Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X6%