Thanks to their (almost) constant excellence, innovation, and longevity, the Resident Evil games have earned the crown of king of survival horror. Capcom released its world of mutants and mercenaries in 1996 and since then has turned Resident Evil into a multimedia franchise spanning over two dozen console games, six movies, two recent Netflix series, novels, comics, and even plays.
It can be an exciting franchise to explore given the amount of content it houses, though by the same token, it can be an equally daunting saga to tackle. This article focuses exclusively on video games and removes the confusion by presenting two ways to play only the most meaningful and accessible Resident Evil games in order from the narrative point of view.
How many Resident Evil games are there?
Hay Top 10 Resident Evil Games: the numbered ones, Village and Code: Veronica. However, the total number of Resident Evil games on console (including spin-offs and remakes) is around 30. This figure rises to almost 60 when mobile games and pachinko are taken into account.
How to play the Resident Evil games in chronological order
For this list, we focus on 12 Resident Evil games: The 10 main installments and the two spin-offs of Revelations. Although many others are considered canon, this is not an exhaustive timeline, but rather an accessible guide to entering and enjoying the world of Resident Evil video games.
in this list mobile and pachinko games, gun and Wii shooters are missing (Resident Evil Survivor, Survivor 2, Dead Aim, Umbrella Chronicles, Darkside Chronicles), y los spin-offs no canónicos/no consecuentes/difíciles de acceder (Resident Evil Gaiden, Outbreak, Outbreak: File #2, Mercenaries 3D, Operation Raccoon City, Resistance, Umbrella Corps, Re:Verse)
Taking newcomers to the saga into account, the brief plot synopses below contain only slight spoilerssuch as general plot points and character introductions.
1. Resident Evil 0
Resident Evil 0 is the fifth game in the series, but the first chronologically. It takes place just before the events of Resident Evil, with STARS medic Rebecca Chambers and ex-Marine Billy Coen discovering a train full of zombies in the Arklay Mountains (where Spencer’s mansion is located). Billy and Rebecca discover valuable information related to the series’ villains, Albert Wesker and William Birkin. We also learn more about the origins of the sinister Umbrella Corporation and its deadly T-Virus. The game ends with Rebecca heading to the mansion, where she will serve as a supporting character in the first Resident Evil.
2. Resident Evil
The first Resident Evil hit PlayStation in 1996, though those approaching the franchise in 2022 will want to play the 2002 remake (or its most recent HD remaster), as it improves gameplay and expands on the story.
Resident Evil picks up right after Resident Evil 0. You play as one of two STARS agents (Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine) who arrive at the Spencer mansion while investigating a series of murders in the woods outside of Raccoon City. Chris/Jill meets the mutated, murderous victims of the T-Virus and learns key information about Umbrella and its biological experiments.
3. Resident Evil 2
Taking place two months after Resident Evil 0 and 1, Resident Evil 2 introduces two new protagonists, rookie cop Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield (Chris’s sister), each with their own connected but distinct campaign. It also features recurring character Ada Wong and iconic enemy Tyrant.
We learn more about William Birkin and his work on an even more menacing virus called the G virus. Leon/Claire uncover more disturbing details about Umbrella’s clandestine work, as well as their ties to the Raccoon Police Department.
4. Resident Evil 3
The timeline gets complicated with Resident Evil 3, but for the sake of simplicity, we recommend playing it after 2. The first part of Resident Evil 3 takes place before the events of Resident Evil 2; the second, later. You could play half of 3, pause, play 2, and then come back for part 2 of 3. However, playing RE 3 after 2 will not detract from your experience or understanding of the story. We’ve decided to place it fourth on this list, as its conclusion progresses the overall narrative beyond RE 2.
You start RE 3 as Jill Valentine, still outgrowing her RE 1 experience, trying to escape an invaded Raccoon City. During part of the game, while Jill is unwell, control of her passes into the hands of her mercenary ally Carlos Oliviera. RE 3 also introduces Nemesis and reveals the fate of Raccoon City.
5. Resident Evil: Code – Veronica
Resident Evil: Code – Veronica fast-forwards the timeline a couple of months and sees Claire Redfield continue the search for her brother Chris that began in RE 2. This time Claire’s search leads her to an Umbrella facility in France, where she escapes from captivity and follow the trail to the southernmost region of the Earth.
Chris Redfield, one of the protagonists from the original game, returns as the second playable character in Code Veronica. Chris, like Claire, searches for his sister, and the search leads to an encounter with the series’ antagonist, Albert Wesker.
6. Resident Evil 4
Possibly the most beloved installment in the series, Resident Evil 4 puts players back in the shoes of Leon Kennedy six years after his time in Raccoon City during RE 2. Leon travels to a rural town in Spain on a mission to rescue the daughter of the president of the United States.
There, Leon encounters a cult and explores their ties to a mind-controlling parasite. The unfolding story intertwines the tales of two characters from Resident Evil’s past: Albert Wesker and Ada Wong.
A remake of Resident Evil 4 will be released on March 24, 2023.
7. Resident Evil Revelations
Resident Evil Revelations takes place between the events of RE 4 and 5. It explores another spin-off of Umbrella’s bioweapons development and introduces players to the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA).
Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are now BSAA agents, and Jill is the main protagonist of the game. The duo heads to the Mediterranean to combat the use of T-Abyss, a new variant of the T-virus.
8. Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5 is set five years after RE 4. Chris Redfield, as part of the BSAA, flies to Africa with his partner Sheva Alomar to stop the black market sale of a biological weapon. However, the inhabitants of Kijuju have already been infected with an enhanced version of the mind-controlling parasite seen in RE 4.
It’s a bigger story than previous Resident Evil stories, but Chris also embarks on a more personal quest to find his long-lost partner, Jill Valentine. We also learn about Albert Wesker’s latest nefarious plan.
Unlike previous games in the series, RE 5 can be played cooperatively; the second player controls Sheva.
9. Resident Evil Revelations 2
Resident Evil Revelations 2 takes place between RE 5 and 6. In it, Claire Redfield returns as the protagonist for the first time since Code Veronica. The game is divided into four episodes, each of which is divided into two parts: a sequence from the past with Clarie and Moira Burton, and a sequence from the present with Barry Burton (Moira’s father) trying to track them down. The story introduces another Wesker antagonist.
10. Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6 is an action-packed adventure that tells an even longer (and more convoluted) story than RE 5. It weaves together four campaigns starring Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Ada Wong, and a mercenary named Jake Muller.
The BSAA introduced in Revelations plays an important role in 6, as the quartet of protagonists work to crush the Neo-Umbrella bioterrorist group and prevent the spread of another mutant-creating virus (the C-Virus).
11. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
With Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Capcom reinvented the franchise in several ways: it’s RE’s return to mass acclaim and fandom after disappointing fifth and sixth installments, it introduces a new protagonist in Ethan Winters, and most of all, it changes the perspective of the series from third to first person.
Despite all these changes, RE 7 still exists in the canonical timeline of the series, presumably taking place in modern times, sometime after RE 6. The game is set in rural Louisiana, and the first part takes place in the home of the wonderfully insane Baker family. Ties to previous RE games are rather vague, though many of the series’ staples are here: clandestine human experiments, bioweapons, and, towards the end, a familiar face.
12. Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village is the continuation (and conclusion) of the Ethan Winters story, set three years after the events of RE 7. Biohazard and Village are two separate games. Although Village includes some more links to the saga’s past, such as a more prominent role for the aforementioned “familiar face” and more information about the origins of Umbrella.
A post-credits scene further extends the timeline. We’ll skip the details, but the curious can skip to the next section for a little more context.
Bonus: Shadow of Rose
Set shortly after the Village post-credits scene (16 years after the main Village story), Shadow of Rose advances the Resident Evil timeline further than any previous game. Assuming the events of the Village take place in 2021, Shadow of Rose takes the franchise into the near future of 2037.
The 3-4 hour DLC stars Ethan’s daughter, Rose, trying to get rid of unwanted powers inherited from her father.
How to play Resident Evil games in order of release
- Resident Evil (1996)*
- Resident Evil 2 (1998)*
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999)*
- Resident Evil: Code – Veronica (2000)*
- Resident Evil 0 (2002)*
- Resident Evil 4 (2005)*
- Resident Evil 5 (2009)*
- Resident Evil: Revelations (2012)
- Resident Evil 6 (2012)*
- Resident Evil: Revelations 2 (2015)
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)*
- Resident Evil Village/Shadow of Rose (2021/2022)*
*Main line games