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What order should you play the Resident Evil games in?

Resident Evil Village
(Image credit: Capcom)

If you're wondering what order you should play the Resident Evil games in, it's actually not as straightforward as you might imagine. Since the Resident Evil series began in 1996, it has received numerous entries spanning across various genres. Of course, frights and scares are the driving force behind each game, but how they’re presented tends to change. Considering there are over 20 entries in the series such as spin-offs (including some that aren’t canon), multiplayer games, and remakes - along with mainline installments that tend to jump around on the timeline, things can get confusing quickly.

Whether you’re a newcomer looking to jump into the series for the first time, or are simply wanting to make sense of the overarching narrative, you’re probably wondering how to play these beloved horror games in chronological order. That’s why we’ve prepared a helpful list of the mainline games in the series in chronological order, with a few of the more popular spin offs sprinkled throughout. Though, we won’t be covering some of the more obscure installments (sorry, Resident Evil: Dead Aim). We’ll also be replacing some original mainline entries with their remakes since they’re easier to track down and play today.

Here’s how to play the Resident Evil games in chronological order. (Minor spoiler warning.)

Resident Evil Zero

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil Zero is up first

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2002

While there’s a lot that happens prior to Resident Evil Zero, this is the earliest game on the timeline. In it, you play as police officer Rebecca Chambers and convicted criminal Billy Coen. This marks the only entry that features those two characters as protagonists, and follows their story as they make their way through an Umbrella training facility. 

While there, the two discover a lot about the T-Virus, which plays a major part in the franchise as a whole. Resident Evil Zero was released after 2002’s Resident Evil Remake, so it feels modern compared to the earlier installments. It also leads nicely into the next entry.

Available on GameCube, Wii, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Resident Evil Remake

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil Remake

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in 2002

Next up on the Resident Evil timeline is the first Resident Evil game, though we highly suggest playing the remake, which launched for the GameCube in 2002. It’s the game that started it all. In this entry, you make your way through the famous mansion as Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, two members of the S.T.A.R.S elite task force. Their goal is to locate Alpha team, with whom they’ve lost contact. 

Along the way, you discover some of the secrets of the biomedical company Umbrella Corporation while learning more about Albert Wesker’s past. The game has multiple endings, but the best and canonical one involves the two protagonists escaping the confines of the mansion. 

Available on GameCube, Wii, PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

First half of Resident Evil 3 Remake

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 3

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in 2020 

Here’s where the timeline gets interesting. Resident Evil 2 and 3 overlap with one another. For chronology’s sake, we recommend playing the first half of Resident Evil 3 remake - up to the hospital portion that has you playing as Carlos, an Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service member. Up until that point, you’ll be playing as Jill Valentine as she journeys through a zombie-infested Raccoon City.

One thing to note is that the remake of Resident Evil 3 cuts out a lot from the original. The overall story remains intact, but in terms of gameplay, there are several missing sections. Though, the remake is much easier to play, so it’s a tradeoff. Of course, the main hook of Resident Evil 3 is the Nemesis creature, a deadly foe that stalks you throughout the game. You can’t defeat it, so your only option is to avoid it, which adds to the tension. 

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC

Resident Evil 2 Remake (2019) 

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2019

Just after that are all of the events of Resident Evil 2. For this, 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake is much closer to the original in terms of content, so you can get away with skipping the original if you want a user-friendly experience. This game puts you in the shoes of police officer Leon Kennedy, along with Claire Redfield who is searching for her brother Chris (from the first game).

What’s interesting about this game is that it has two campaigns total, each from the perspective of Leon and Claire. Both campaigns have two scenarios, giving you four possible playthroughs that have some smart overlap with one another. 

Half of the game takes place in the Raccoon City Police Department, while the rest of it sends you underground through the sewers and into a secret Umbrella lab. Both of these characters develop tremendously over the course of the game and end up being major characters in the series overall. 

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC

Second half of Resident Evil 3 Remake

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 3

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2020

After you’ve finished all of Resident Evil 2, including the various scenarios for each character, go ahead and pick up where you left off with Resident Evil 3. Without spoiling the story too much, you play a large portion of the latter half of the game as Carlos before switching back to Jill. 

The last act of the game sends Jill on a quest to retrieve a vaccine for the T-Virus while taking on the Nemesis creature once again. The game ends with the city being destroyed by a missile sent from the U.S. government, as Jill and Carlos escape via helicopter. 

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC

Resident Evil - Code: Veronica 

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil: Code Veronica

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2000

As mentioned above, Claire spends most of her time looking for her brother Chris in Resident Evil 2. Unfortunately, she doesn’t end up finding him in that game, which leads to the story of Code: Veronica. While this isn’t a numbered installment, it picks up right after the events of Resident Evil 2, and is well worth playing.

In Code Veronica, Claire and Chris reunite at  Rockfort Island, an Umbrella prison close to Antarctica. Chris encounters Albert Wesker from the first game and manages to rescue Claire, who had been imprisoned. The downside of this game is that there isn’t a great way to play it on modern hardware, though fans are hoping for a remake in the style of Resident Evil 2 and 3.

Available on Dreamcast, GameCube, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360

Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 4

(Image credit: Capcom)

Leon Kennedy became a fan favorite in Resident Evil 2, so it makes sense he’d get another chance to shine in a future game. In Resident Evil 4, you play as Leon once again, this time on a mission to rescue the U.S. president's daughter Ashley from a cult in Spain. This game marked a major turning point for the series, as it leaned more into action mechanics than survival-horror.

Despite this, it went on to be one of the most successful games in the series. It also featured modern controls (for the time), making it more approachable for newcomers. Gone were the static camera shots, in favor of an over-the-shoulder presentation that felt new. Resident Evil 4 is often remembered for having some wildly silly moments that continued into the modern installments. It blends action with horror in an effective way, making it one of the top games in the series, for sure.

Available on GameCube, PS2, PC, Wii, mobile, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil Revelations

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2012

Following the release of Resident Evil 5 (more on that later), fans expressed their worries about the series heading into a more action-oriented direction. Little did they know Resident Evil 6 would later be critically panned for its use of action. But nonetheless, Capcom took the series back to its roots with Resident Evil: Revelations, a game that was first designed for the Nintendo 3DS. 

It leans more into horror and places us back in the roles of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield from the previous entries. In this game, you mostly play on a close-quarters cruise ship, which was a nice twist for a setting since recent installments before this one were more open. Story-wise it doesn’t do a ton to expand upon the lore, but it’s still worth your time.

Available on Nintendo 3DS, PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 5

(Image credit: Capcom)

In a lot of ways, Resident Evil 5 built upon many of the ideas introduced in its predecessor. Though, Resident Evil 5 pretty much threw most of the horror elements out the window, with straight up action at the forefront. This entry stars Chris Redfield again, along with a new character named Sheva Alomar, who both serve as Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (B.S.A.A.) agents. 

Interestingly, this is the first Resident Evil game designed with cooperative play in mind. In fact, the AI partner was known for being relatively useless most of the time, so playing with an actual person was always recommended. Plot-wise, Chris and Sheva are tasked with taking down Ricardo Irving, who runs the risk of spreading a bio-organic weapon to the locals. 

In typical Resident Evil fashion, the duo comes across a handful wacky characters, some of whom are familiar. Up until this point, Resident Evil 5 was the most over-the-top entry, featuring large-scale enemies and even bigger locales to explore. It’s a far cry from the tight, claustrophobic design of the mansion from the first game.

Available on PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil Revelations 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2015

The main reason to give Revelations 2 a try is that it marks the return of Claire Redfield, who hadn’t appeared as a protagonist since Code Veronica. This game also came out at the height of the “episodic” craze in 2015, wherein it was split up into parts that were released every few weeks. 

This gave players a reason to keep checking back in, though we aren’t sure it was better off because of its stagnated release. Nonetheless, it has an enjoyable story that is reminiscent of the latter portion of Resident Evil 4. In it, Claire and Barry Burton’s daughter Moira must escape from an island that is filled with deadly creatures. You also get to play as Barry Burton himself, who first appeared in the original Resident Evil. 

Available on PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch

Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 6

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 

The infamous Resident Evil 6 sure gets lots of criticism, and while much of it is justified, we still think you should check this one out. It barely feels like a Resident Evil game, but if you go into it expecting an action game instead of a survival horror experience, you’ll be less disappointed. What’s fascinating about it is that it features four shorter campaigns, each with their own protagonist. 

The lineup includes Chris Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy, Jake Muller (son of Albert Wesker), and Ada Wong and for the most part, the campaigns all feel unique since the characters all have their own playstyles. The events of Resident Evil 6 take place 10 years after the first outbreak, and you can tell. The characters aren’t amateurs anymore and seem to be experienced when it comes to dealing with infected. 

Everything in this game is bigger than before. Bigger enemies, bigger explosions, bigger setpieces. Resident Evil 6 proved that bigger isn’t always better, as Capcom stumbled to find its footing with the series. Still, it isn’t as terrible as people think.

Available on PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 7

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2017

Following the less than stellar reception to Resident Evil 6, it was clear Capcom needed to head back to the drawing board to get the series back on track. And with that came Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a game that felt very much like the reboot the franchise so desperately needed. It changed so much while still preserving the building blocks of what made the original games so special. Most notably, it was played from a first-person perspective, which was a major change. Additionally, it starred a new protagonist named Ethan Winters. It turned everything on its head, so much so that Resident Evil 7 didn’t even have zombies. 

But this game is proof that Resident Evil doesn’t need zombies to be a fantastic game. It returned to the close quarters levels with an emphasis on survival-horror. Scrounging around every corner for ammo and supplies is commonplace in this game and it’s much more rewarding because of it.

Its plot revolves around Ethan looking for his lost wife Mia in the swamps of Louisiana. When Ethan is led to a mysterious house (not unlike the mansion from the first game), creepy things start happening and the story quickly goes off the rails. But in a good way. Capcom did a great job of making you think the game’s story is completely separate from the events of the other games, but it actually does tie in, which is oh-so satisfying for longtime fans. 

Plus it’s playable in PS VR, which is one of the scariest video game experiences out there - and one of the best PS VR games too. 

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil timeline - Resident Evil 8

(Image credit: Capcom)

Released in: 2021

And finally, that leads us to Resident Evil Village, the most recent release and the newest entry in the timeline. This game is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7 and once again stars Ethan Winters. This time, he and Mia have moved to Europe after the horrible events of the previous game. Though, as expected, things go awry, and the main driving force of this game’s plot is that Ethan’s daughter Rosemary has been kidnapped. 

You spend most of the game looking for Rosemary by exploring Castle Dimitrescu, which is home to a family of vampires. And of course, you’ll spend a lot of your time making your way through a village. This locale takes inspiration from Resident Evil 4, and almost feels like a spiritual successor to that game, but for modern hardware.

Chris Redfield also makes an appearance in this game, which is a satisfying callback to the rest of the series. It does lean into action a little more than the last entry, but even if you prefer the more horror-themed installments, we still recommend this one. 

Available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Joseph Yaden
Joseph Yaden

Joseph loves Nintendo and horror games. With the Nintendo Switch, he's ready to get spooky anytime, anywhere. He specializes in covering Call of Duty: Warzone and action RPGs like Dark Souls, so you can bet he's looking forward to Elden Ring, the brainchild of George RR Martin and Hidetaka Miyazaki. You can find Joseph's work at GamesRadar, Digital Trends, Inverse, and PLAY Magazine. When he's not writing about video games he can usually be found petting his cats and listening to some Progressive Metal. He thinks Meshuggah is tight.