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The best Resident Evil games and movies to enjoy at home

From the original 1996 game to the cinematic masterpieces of Paul W.S. Anderson

Milla Jovovich as Alice firing guns with explosions in the background in Resident Evil: Retribution. Image: Sony Pictures Entertainment

The Resident Evil TV series, the latest live-action iteration in the long-running survival-horror franchise, premieres July 14 on Netflix. Set alternatively in 2022 and 2036, the series follows Jade (Ella Balinska/Tamara Smart) and Billie Wesker (Siena Agudong) as they attempt to survive a nascent zombie infestation in New Raccoon City alongside their father, recurring series antagonist Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick).

To someone new to the franchise, Resident Evil can feel as amorphous and imposing as any of the mutated T-Virus monstrosities that populate its many installments. And with Netflix’s new series boldly attempting to acknowledge and exist explicitly within the multifaceted and often retconned canon of the games, the franchise can feel even more impenetrable.

“What are the Resident Evil games and movies I should care about?” you’re probably asking aloud. We’ve pooled together Polygon’s collective Resident Evil brain trust to give you a breakdown of our top recommendations to play and watch after finishing the Netflix series. Here are the best Resident Evil games and movies to enjoy at home.

The games

Resident Evil (1996)

Where to play: The HD remaster is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch

Screenshot of Jill Valentine fighting a dog in a hallway in Resident Evil (1996). Image: Capcom

When thinking of my favorite Resident Evil game, nostalgia wants me to say Resident Evil (1996), because it — along with Metal Gear Solid — just absolutely changed the way I saw video games. Going back and playing it, it obviously has a lot of rough edges (lol the polygons) that even the 2002 remake doesn’t really fix. —Chris Grant

From our review of the 2015 HD remaster:

The original control scheme still exists in the 2015 HD re-release, but there’s also a slightly modernized replacement available. In this updated option, movement is more on par with other third-person action games — i.e., pressing left or right on the control stick makes your character more or less instantly turn and move in that direction. It’s a nice change, and for those who are concerned, it definitely doesn’t make the game too easy.

The 2015 version of Resident Evil also features a modest visual upgrade. The gorgeous background art from the GameCube version has been modified into a high-definition resolution. As with the controls, the game allows you to swap back and forth between the old-school 4:3 and the modern 16:9 looks. Character models have also been beefed up to being on par with Resident Evil 6’s graphics. Those newer-gen models occasionally felt strange against the less detailed backdrops, but in general the upgrades work fine.

Resident Evil 7

Where to play: Available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch

In this Resident Evil 7 screenshot, the antagonist Jack is seen approaching the main character with a shovel raised, ready to attack. The main characters bloodied hands can be seen, aiming a pistol and shooting it at the crazed attacker. Image: Capcom

My heart wants me to pull for this one, because it was the game I didn’t have a lot of hope for, but it managed to exceed all expectations and then some. —CG

As Chris Grant wrote in Polygon’s Game of the Year list:

That Resident Evil 7 would be an improvement following the cacophonous Resident Evil 6 shouldn’t be a surprise; after all, there was almost nowhere to go but up. But Resident Evil 7 is something far more ambitious. It’s a game full of reference — both to itself and to the world of horror games that have filled the half-decade void while Resident Evil figured out what it was again — but in assembling the parts, the development team has managed to create something greater than the sum of those parts. Resident Evil 7 isn’t only one of the best games in the storied, two-decade-old series, but a confident new entry in the survival horror landscape.

Resident Evil – Code: Veronica

Where to play: The HD remaster, Code: Veronica X, is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X

Claire Redfield shoots mutant moths in a screenshot from Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD. Image: Capcom

Worth celebrating for changing the formula for RE games to a more real-time, 3D world and action focus, five years before RE4 came out. —CG

The movies

Resident Evil (2002 movie)

Where to watch: Available to watch on Hulu or for free with ads on Tubi

Milla Jovovich wears a red dress and holds a big gun while surrounded by glass in Resident Evil. Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The first of Paul W.S. Anderson’s six-movie franchise starring his wife and collaborator Milla Jovovich, this is the most “straight horror” of the bunch. Introducing us to Jovovich’s amnesiac action hero Alice, she and Michelle Rodriguez (among others) try to survive a zombie outbreak in the facility they are in (as well as contain it from spreading into the world). With unforgettable imagery and sequences (the laser grid trap!!!), it’s a blast. —PV

Resident Evil: Extinction

Where to watch: Available to watch on Hulu or for free with ads on Tubi

Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), Jill (Milla Jovovich), and Claire (Ali Larter) in Resident Evil: Extinction. Image: Constantin Film/Sony Home Entertainment

Zombie Western! Zombie! Western! —PV

The return of P.W.S.: (Resident Evil: Afterlife, Resident Evil: Retribution, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)

Where to watch: Available to watch on Hulu or for free with ads on Tubi (Final Chapter is only available on Tubi)

Multiple Millas Jovovich in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The previous two movies from this series mentioned here are great fun, but it’s in the final trilogy that Anderson, Jovovich, and company pull it all together, perfecting the frenetic style that make these movies work, harnessing pure chaos into a rip-roaring good time of action horror. —PV

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