The Resident Evil series is one of gaming's most popular and recognisable franchises, dating back to the PlayStation 1 and encompassing more than 25 years of history. With a hardcore following across the globe that hotly anticipates all upcoming entries — no matter where it's a mainline instalment or spin-off — Capcom has a mainstay on its hands that won't be going anywhere any time soon. The series has its highs and lows, but the potential will always remain. It does contain some of the greatest games ever made, after all. And because of that, it will always attract new players who want to know where to start with the ever-growing franchise and what titles are the best.
This guide is designed as a catch-all, comprehensive breakdown of the Resident Evil series that offers advice based on your tastes and preferences. We shall detail the best games to start with depending on the sort of experience you are looking for, no matter whether it's a quick catch-up to enable you to play the latest instalments or a deep dive into the classics that got us to where we are today. Finally, we will rank every Resident Evil game released to date on PlayStation consoles regardless of their style, camera angle, or mechanics.
Best Resident Evil Games to Start With
At its heart, Resident Evil is the king of horror. It's been terrifying fans for generations at this point, but it has done so in a number of different ways. It's been a classic survival horror experience. It's been a third-person action game. It's been a first-person horror undertaking. It's even been an online multiplayer disaster. As such, it's impossible to recommend a single experience that captures absolutely everything it means to be Resident Evil.
We are instead going to put forward a few different options that prioritise what various entries did best. Suggestions include one that fast tracks you to playing the latest and greatest Capcom classics, another which explores the roots of the series, and one more situated in between the two extremes. These are the best Resident Evil games to start with.
Best Resident Evil Games for Newcomers
Perhaps the biggest differentiator between various eras of the Resident Evil series is the camera angle. Fixed camera angles were the bread and butter of early entries before the third-person perspective took over on PS2. However, the latest instalments on PS5 and PS4 have now switched to a first-person camera. It's unlikely Capcom will ever revert back to the fixed camera angles of the PS1 generation (outside of special modes or unlocks), so this approach to the series will help you quickly get to grips with its most modern titles.
In order, the Resident Evil games we recommend you play are:
This shortlist allows you to experience the Resident Evil franchise in a very approachable manner as well as sample the series from both the first and third-person perspective. For a start, all three games are available on PS4 so it's unlikely you'll need to buy a new console in order to begin proceedings. PS5 owners can also play all of these titles through backwards compatibility. And secondly, you will have both aforementioned camera angles covered.
Resident Evil 2 on PS4 is a remake of the original game released on PS1 back in 1998 that completely modernises the experience. Featuring the same story and locations, the game is the perfect place to start as it blends the old with the new to give you a fantastic taste of all things Resident Evil in the modern era. If you enjoyed your time with police rookie Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, we recommend you move on to the former's crowning adventure. Resident Evil 4 is the best game in the series — it's the quintessential undertaking that represents the peak of the franchise so far. There's no getting around this one: you simply have to play it.
Finally, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is the start of a new story that introduced a new protagonist named Ethan Winters. It's best to become familiar with him since he'll feature in future games, but it also marked the moment when the mainline series adopted the first-person camera. An important moment for Resident Evil, completing this chapter will leave you ready for what comes next.
Best Resident Evil Games for Nostalgic Players
So you want to turn the clock back to the late 1990s and understand what it was that made Resident Evil so beloved in the first place. That's a commendable task, but it's the toughest to perform of our three recommended approaches. This is because two of the four titles cannot be played on modern hardware, meaning you'll have to buy retro systems. The proposal is also all about fixed camera angles and the possibility of tank controls — love or loathe them.
In order, the Resident Evil games we recommend you play are:
- Resident Evil (PS4)
- Resident Evil 2 (PS1)
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (PS1)
- Resident Evil Code: Veronica X (PS4)
Thankfully, this task is no longer as hard as we first thought it would be. Sony will be keeping the PS3 and PS Vita storefronts online for the foreseeable future, meaning you can buy both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis as PS1 Classics. They can then be played on a PS3 or PS Vita. Or there is always the option of buying the physical PS1 releases and experiencing them that way.
Luckily, the HD remaster of the original Resident Evil game as well as the Resident Evil Code: Veronica X port can be played on both PS5 and PS4. With all that out of the way, you'll get to experience the origins of the franchise. The first Resident Evil title looks outstanding in HD, allowing you to select a modernised control scheme or those classic tank controls, but the fixed camera angles remain.
In fact, this approach to playing Resident Evil is all about them. You'll learn all about the horror and tension the fixed perspective can create as well as infiltrate the Spencer Mansion and escape Raccoon City twice over. The plight of Claire and Chris Redfield in Code: Veronica X then represents the series' first evolution of fixed camera angles, adding 3D environments and dynamic camera movement. This is survival horror at its best, so if you can get your hands on all four titles, they're the best place to start if you want to see what kickstarted Resident Evil.
Best Resident Evil Games for Everything the Series Offers
If you really want to understand the long journey the Resident Evil franchise has taken from inception up until now, this approach would be best. We're going to focus on some of the series' biggest moments and turning points, such as when the camera angle changed and the PS3 era wobble which saw Capcom focus on action instead of horror. All of these titles are absolutely worth playing though, so this strategy is both a history lesson and a bundle of fun.
In order, the Resident Evil games we recommend you play are:
- Resident Evil (PS4)
- Resident Evil 2 (PS4)
- Resident Evil 4 (PS4)
- Resident Evil 5 (PS4)
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PS4)
The approach starts with the HD remaster of the first Resident Evil game, which still looks good to this day and is by far the most accessible version of that classic survival horror experience. The fixed camera angles remain and the tank controls are only an option — using the updated scheme doesn't take away from proceedings at the classic Spencer Mansion too much. We then move on to the PS4 remake of Resident Evil 2, which shines in the modern era with a third-person camera and a faithful recreation of the original PS1 scarefest.
Next up is Resident Evil 4 because it's the best entry in the series to date, simply put. Need we say more? Our next recommendation is where things get interesting, however. Capcom opted to prioritise action during the PS3 generation, and many hardcore fans see the instalments released during that time as the mainline series' low point. That may be true, but we still think you should give Resident Evil 5 a shot. Playable entirely in co-op, bring a friend along and you can have a lot of enjoyment with this trip to Africa to put a stop to a terrorist threat. It doesn't go quite as far as its awful follow-up, retaining just enough of the Resident Evil DNA to make it a fairly solid recommendation.
The approach is rounded out by Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which sees the core series adopt the first-person camera that is being utilised for upcoming titles. It also introduces new protagonist Ethan Winters, so it's best to get that meeting out of the way during his inaugural undertaking. Follow this strategy and you'll have a good understanding of where Resident Evil has come from, where it somewhat stumbled, and where it's headed in the future.
All Resident Evil Games Ranked
We will now rank all 23 Resident Evil titles released on PlayStation hardware so far from worst to best. This is a purely subjective list based on our own opinions and experiences with the games in question. We shall update this ranking as and when new Resident Evil games are released.
We begin with the game that wasn't even good enough to have the series' name placed in its title — that's just how bad Umbrella Corps was. The online multiplayer spin-off was based on historical environments throughout the Resident Evil franchise, but it just ended up being incredibly naff in the end. Prioritising action over horror, it failed on all fronts. The single player offering wasn't any good either, offering up a simple Horde mode instead of actual story beats. You should avoid playing Umbrella Corps at all costs even if it does look like a bargain during PlayStation Store sales.
Are you noticing a pattern here? The Resident Evil games with a heavy online focus are at the back because, quite frankly, most attempts to incorporate multiplayer into the series have been rubbish. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is absolutely no different. Let's forget this one existed too as these were definitely the darkest times for the Resident Evil series as Capcom prioritised action over bumps in the dark.
Did you know that Capcom did first-person way before Resident Evil 7: Biohazard? It did so all the way back on the PS2, in fact, with a sub-series that used the mechanics of light gun games and gave you control of the protagonist. Resident Evil Survivor 2 Code: Veronica was the worst of the lot, but it was a novel experience for the time. There's no need to play any of them in the modern era unless you really want to experience quite literally everything Resident Evil has to offer. A neat idea nonetheless.
We've got a bit of nostalgia for Resident Evil: Survivor, which is why it ranks slightly higher on the list than its sequel. This is once again a light gun-esque experience that sees you venture across Sheena Island following the destruction of Raccoon City. The controls were fairly clunky and the visuals weren't much better, but there was a certain charm to the game that has stuck with us to this day. Remove the rose-tinted glasses, however, and it's probably not very good in the modern era. Still, we sort of liked it — as youngsters at least.
The final lightgun game (for now) is Resident Evil: Dead Aim, which rounds out the sequence of four games in this sub-series. The third entry, funnily enough, was a sort of Dino Crisis spin-off, which is why it won't feature on this list. Anyway, Resident Evil: Dead Aim is generally considered to be the best of this lovely lot, but that's not exactly saying much. Rather interestingly, however, is that Dead Aim features both a third-person and first-person camera at the same time. You'd move in third-person and then aim your gun in first-person. Again, that's not to say any of this is actually good, but it's a perfect example of how Capcom was experimenting with different perspectives throughout the years.
Platforms: PS4, PS3
The worst entry in the mainline franchise? That unwanted accolade simply has to go to Resident Evil 6. Capcom flew too close to the sun with a very heavy emphasis on action that just didn't sit well with the core fanbase. The flashy melee moves might have been cool in the moment, but the amalgamation of campaigns and characters didn't amount to anything more than a bit of an insult. If you hate everything that makes Resident Evil what it is, maybe you'd enjoy this entry. One for shooter fans instead of survival horror enthusiasts.
After a single mainline entry in the Resident Evil series, we're straight back to talking about lightgun games. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is a purely on-rails experience that documents a lot of the events found in Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. There was also a bit of new content that delved into the downfall of Umbrella, but the five acts retread known ground for the most part. That's not to say it's a bad game, however.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was a fairly fun lightgun title that even featured counter-attacks and weapon upgrades. While not exactly the most thrilling experience, Capcom did a good job of adapting Resident Evil for a purely on-rails undertaking. It's quite enjoyable if you're interested.
And here's another on-rails lightgun game! Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is the direct sequel to The Umbrella Chronicles, this time around focusing on Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica X. There's also a secret chapter that sort of serves as a prequel to the events of Resident Evil 4, but gameplay-wise, this is essentially the exact same as The Umbrella Chronicles. Devoid of control, you'll shoot zombies and whatever else the T-Virus comes up with. They're two enjoyable titles indeed, but not really what Resident Evil is all about.
Now we're getting to the really good stuff — Resident Evil: Outbreak is just about the series' only successful attempt at doing online multiplayer. Split across multiple three to four-hour scenarios you could complete with a long list of unique characters, Capcom was ahead of its time with a special experience that is currently held hostage on PS2. Everyone had their own attributes and weapons, and you could even contract the T-Virus and slowly turn into a zombie! If there was ever a game on this list in desperate need of a reboot, it's Resident Evil: Outbreak.
While the Resident Evil: Outbreak sub-series did die an untimely death, at least we did get a sequel. File #2 added more scenarios and characters to an experience that remained much the same as the original game. It was all about that classic survival horror experience of managing your inventory and battling against fixed camera angles as well as the undead haunting whatever location you were working through. It was good stuff Capcom, now greenlight a reboot.
Platforms: PS4, PS3
Here's where things get a little dodgy. Resident Evil 5 is a pretty good game in its own right, but it also marks the moment where Capcom started to prioritise action over horror during the PS3 generation. It doesn't go quite as far as its sequel, which is why Chris Redfield's trip to Africa alongside series newcomer Sheva Alomar still holds a place in the hearts of some fans. It's a great experience in co-op and the DLC expands upon that with a really cool second campaign that's certainly worth a look. Horror in broad daylight? Resident Evil 5 did it pretty well, complete with entertaining gunplay and a lengthy campaign that will keep your attention for hours on end.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, PS Vita
Barry Burton is back and playable! Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a return to the campy nature of titles past complete with an interesting story and characters. Playable alone or entirely in co-op, the trek across an island in the Baltic Sea to find Barry's daughter is a thoroughly enjoyable one — especially with a friend alongside you. The bonus Raid mode was great too, so that's always nice. Play it all at once instead of the episodic nature Resident Evil: Revelations 2 was released in and you've got a 10-hour side story worth digesting.
Resident Evil 3 really should have been so much better. Pitched as a remake of PS1 game Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Capcom completely ditched entire locations and enemies from the original version. It resulted in an experience that was over before you knew it, which coupled with the fact that Nemesis itself was a huge letdown, meant that this remake is nowhere near revered as much as Resident Evil 2.
It's still a pretty good game with some good combat here and there, but puzzles are very few and far between. At least Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira both looked great with updated graphics? We're clutching at straws here because Resident Evil 3 has to be chalked up as a disappointment.
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Platforms: PS4, PS3
Resident Evil Zero feels like the mainline instalment everyone always forgets about, but it's actually a great example of classic survival horror. Detailing what happens before the Mansion incident, Rebecca Chambers and convict Billy Coen must escape a derailed train packed full of zombies. It features tank controls and fixed camera angles — perfect for those looking for a quick dose of nostalgia. Thankfully, the PS4 remaster allows it to look great whilst doing so. It's by no means the most essential game in the series, but as a title that explores the origins of the series, Resident Evil Zero is definitely worth checking out if you're starved of survival horror and you've ticked every other title off.
The one most people forget about when reflecting back on the PS1 entries, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis deserves a lot more recognition than it currently gets. The PS4 remake could have made that happen. It did not. Anyway, Jill Valentine stars in this classic survival horror experience where Nemesis really is the big differentiator. In fact, Resident Evil still hasn't done it the same since. Giving you the choice to fight the gigantic monster or run away, those options fuelled replay value and gave you the chance to feel like you were really there in Raccoon City.
Elsewhere, it's more of what fans had already come to know and love with puzzles, inventory management, and a little bit more ammo to help you get by the legions of undead. One of the few games where it's still better than its remake? Resident Evil 3: Nemesis belongs in that category.
Platforms: PS4, PS3
What if Resident Evil was set aboard a sort of ghost ship? That's the premise for Resident Evil: Revelations, which might be one of the best side stories in the whole series. It's crazy to think how the game started out life on the Nintendo 3DS considering how good it looks with the latest PS4 remaster, and Jill Valentine shines in this throwback to the elements that put the franchise on the map in the first place. That means little ammunition and limited movement mechanics instead of fast-paced combat. Good stuff.
It's been a while since Capcom developed a new entry for this sub-series, but we most certainly wouldn't say no to another one. If it's as good as Resident Evil: Revelations at least, we'd have another high-ranking classic on our hands. Play this one if you haven't already.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, PS2
Where's the remake of Resident Evil Code: Veronica X? Come on Capcom, get on with it. Many consider this entry in the franchise to essentially be a mainline one on the same level as a Resident Evil 2 or Resident Evil 4 — it's that good. Camera angles evolved with the PS2 generation, allowing them to move about in time with your actions but keep the tension created by those fixed angles. Gothic horror was another change for the series, and it's one that helps to set Resident Evil Code: Veronica X apart. Although, it's still very much a Resident Evil game at heart and that's what fans love so much about it.
Resident Evil 2 on PS1 is what we would consider survival horror perfection. If you want to understand why those early entries are so revered, this is the one to go with. Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield's attempted escape of Raccoon City is a stonewall gaming classic that is still more than worthy of a playthrough in this day and age. The horrors of the Raccoon Police Department hold up to this day, the micromanagement of your inventory is enjoyable, and the quality of puzzles are at an all-time high. We reckon a few other entries have surpassed it at this point, but it's clear to see why fans return to Resident Evil 2 time and time again. What a special game.
It was with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard that Capcom dramatically overhauled what it meant to be a Resident Evil game, switching the perspective to first-person and largely breaking away from the narrative of the previous mainline titles. While there are ties to other games, new protagonist Ethan Winters has to escape the terrifying clutches of the Baker family and try and rescue his wife Mia at the same time. What follows is survival horror at its best, with limited ammo to take down the estate's grotesque inhabitants and dramatic boss fights that live long in the memory.
The entry represented a bold, new direction for Capcom that has paid off with renewed interest from a wider audience of gamers. Resident Evil Village will continue that commitment to first-person horror, and we can't wait to see what the Japanese publisher has in store next for Ethan Winters and co.
Platforms: PS4, PS3
The original Resident Evil is still one of the shining examples of classic survival horror, with inventory management, fixed camera angles, tank controls, and limited saves. It really did have the lot. That experience was modernised visually for PS4 with an HD remaster following the remake on Nintendo Gamecube, and the two attempts help to make Resident Evil feel somewhat modern in the current era. And even if you feel it doesn't, it's still a great trip down memory lane to see how far the series has come in the time since.
This remake of the Resident Evil 2 experience is different enough from its source text that we think it's worth ranking each version separately, and it's the latest PS4 edition that comes out on top. Shifting the perspective to behind Leon S. Kennedy with a third-person angle and handing over camera controls to the player, Capcom reinvents some of the series' most popular locations with a horrifying touch. Both Claire and Leon's campaigns remain essential, while Mr X remains one of the most terrifying video game villains of all time.
Capcom managed to both do the original game justice and bring all of its best bits into the 21st century with a single project. Resident Evil 2 is positioned as the perfect stepping stone between what the series used to be and what it has become today, providing both hardcore fans and newcomers with an unforgettable adventure through Raccoon City.
Platforms: PS5, PS4
Resident Evil Village comes so close to taking the top spot. Its story is captivating, villains outstanding, and locations memorable. Ethan Winters returns after series favourite Chris Redfield murders his wife and steals baby daughter Rose, triggering a different sort of Resident Evil experience — one packed full of werewolves rather than the undead. It's the five rulers of the village Ethan stumbles upon that really steal the show, however.
Some of the survival horror franchise's best boss fights make up the 12-hour playthrough, while other memorable sequences rival classics of the genre like P.T. Capcom even improves the first-person combat with Resident Evil Village, making it the developer's best attempt in 16 years. An incredible experience for anyone who loves the series that raises expectations for what comes next.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, PS2
The king reclaims its rightful throne once more. Resident Evil 4 is one of the greatest games of all time and still the best instalment in the series. What needs to be said about this title has already been repeated a thousand times — such is the rate at which Capcom has ported the game to every platform under the sun. However, that doesn't take away from how truly special it actually is.
It's the quintessential Resident Evil experience that perfectly blends action with horror, packed full of memorable characters and locations we could visit time and time again. From the desolate Spanish villages and their wooden huts containing all manner of foreboding Las Plagas through to Saddler's almighty castle, Resident Evil 4 is the closest to perfection the series might ever get. Let's hope Capcom manages to better it one day, however.
What Resident Evil games would you recommend newcomers start with? And what do you make of our overall series ranking? Do you agree or would you move a few titles about? Share your thoughts in the comments below.