Top 5 boss fights in Resident Evil history
The definitive Man vs. Monster list
The Resident Evil series has gone through many ups and downs. Long garnered as one of the best survival horror franchises, the last few entries have been met with lukewarm response – and that’s putting it kindly.
Following RE6, Capcom decided to go back to the drawing board with its newest entry, shifting Resident Evil 7’s perspective from third-person to first-person, and promising to bring back the thrills of survival horror. RE7 pits players against overwhelming odds as they strictly manage their inventory and health to survive the abominations they will encounter.
With RE7 ready to bring the franchise back to its horror roots, there is a lot to live up to. Zombies, hunters, Ganados, lickers, and spiders – the Resident Evil universe is chock full of enemies ready to tear you to pieces. But the boss fights are what get your blood pumping as these enemies force you to rethink your combat strategy so you don’t deplete your resources.
We expect the boss fights in RE7 to be no different. With just a few weeks to go until the game’s release, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable boss fights in Resident Evil history.
One of the most iconic bosses in the series, Nemesis is the embodiment of the Resident Evil boss fight: multiple encounters, grotesque in nature, and relentless in its pursuit of you.
Nemesis’ commitment to ending the S.T.A.R.S. team is what makes him so grandiose. Bio-engineered by Umbrella, Nemesis is sent to Raccoon City to destroy the remaining members of the special-ops squad in order to leave no trace of company’s viral atrocities. After picking off some of the weaker members, Nemesis spends most of his time hunting down Jill Valentine – and the hunt is downright terrifying.
Nemesis is unpredictable the first time you play through RE3. Your only signal to his arrival is a synth-heavy soundtrack that plays as you walk through the environment. When he appears, you have to act quickly and decide whether you will take him head-on or run away. The latter choice, however, is anything but safe as Nemesis craps on your feelings by busting through doors, windows, and walls, hoping to grab you for the killing blow. And this bio-organic weapon is so persistent in its mission it carries a frickin’ rocket launcher with it!
Nemesis keeps you on your toes through many encounters in the game, and the only way to finally kill him is to use an oversized laser beam – but even then, HE STILL comes after you one last time!
When Jill delivers the final blow, it’s immensely satisfying to rid yourself of one of the series’ best villains.
2. Tyrant / Mr. X
You first meet the Tyrant B.O.W. at the Spencer mansion in RE1, but his deadly clones also make appearances in Resident Evil 2. In the sequel, he’s known simply as Mr. X, but regardless of which form of the Tyrant you encounter, he is a behemoth to take down. His Jason Voorhees-esque pursuit of you makes him all the more terrifying as the emotionless giant packs an intense punch.
As is typical in an RE boss fight, there are multiple encounters with the Tyrant. Chris/Jill initially take him down in an underground lab after he plays shish kabob with Albert Wesker, but he reemerges moments later on the helipad. After a tense exchange and a major rocket assist from Brad Vickers, Tyrant is defeated, but not soon forgotten.
Umbrella did not make the same mistake twice as a Tyrant clone was created months later and unleashed on an apocalyptic Raccoon City to retrieve the last G-Virus sample. Of course, Leon and Claire had the honor of running into this supped up B.O.W., which busts through walls and climbs staircases, leaving you to feel hopeless as you fight it.
Ultimately, Mr. X felt like the blueprint for what would become Nemesis in the following game.
3. Jack Krauser
Resident Evil 4 was the tonal shift the series needed at the time. While many critics are quick to lambaste the game for introducing an action-heavy focus, RE4 contained some memorable moments in the series, including the fight against Leon’s former partner, Jack Krauser.
Introduced fairly late into the game, Krauser works as a double agent for Wesker, infiltrating Saddler’s compound and kidnapping the president’s daughter, Ashley. Once he learns of Leon’s involvement, he hunts down our favorite hero and engages in an intense knife battle. If you can survive the QTE event, you’ll then come across Krauser in his most dominant form.
This fight takes place in an old Spanish ruin. He uses modern weaponry like sub machine guns and flash grenades, but once you take him down a peg, that’s when you get a taste of his mutated blade arm. It not only has devastating range but can double up as a shield, forcing you to take aim at his feet or wait for an opportune moment to strike.
The Krauser battle is fast paced and intense, which is a natural evolution for this series. Krauser’s banter with Leon makes it all the more extreme as you know these two characters have a deep-seated hatred for each other.
It’s a giant, 40-foot long venomous snake. What’s there not to love?
Yawn was a genetically enhanced snake first found by the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team in the Spencer mansion. Players don’t encounter the beast until they cross paths with an injured Richard Aiken, who was bitten by the snake and required anti-venin. Once you push into the mansion attic, fighting Yawn becomes a claustrophobic battle.
The boss’ introduction is legendary. Unfurling it twisted body from the roof and revealing its gigantic fangs, Yawn snaps at you with ferocious speed. If you can manage to not get eaten whole, you’ve excelled where many have not. Unfortunately, many players are likely to get bitten, requiring you to search for more antivenin before you die.
It’s a great fight that culminates into a second battle in a library – and one for the history books.
5. William Birkin
The man who created the G-virus deserves a spot on this list for his ferociousness in hunting down Leon, Claire, Ada, and even his own daughter Sherry!
Birkin was betrayed by Umbrella after creating the follow-up to the T-virus. Ambushed by mercenaries in his lab and left for dead, Birkin had no choice but to inject the lethal virus into himself, turning him into a ruthless abomination. His revenge was swift, but it came at the cost of smashing several G-virus samples in the sewer and spreading it to the citizens of Raccoon City.
Your first encounter with Birkin is in the basement level of the Raccoon City police department after he infects poor reporter Ben Bertolucci. Not only is Birkin’s growl menacing, but his arm bulging eyeball is terrifying and gross – and he has a mean swing with that metal pipe.
You fight Birkin multiple times throughout the game, with each incarnation revealing a more grotesque version of the former scientist. He becomes so grotesque in fact, that he eventually turns into a massive sarlaac pit-like creature with fangs and tentacles as he chases Leon and Clair onto a runaway train. It’s a pulse-pounding finish to one of the best games of the generation, and deserving of this list.
Honorable Mention: Verdugo
Another RE4 boss? How dare you?
Hear me out.
Verdugo, which is Spanish for executioner, is one of the hooded baddies protecting the vile Napoleon-like a**hole, Ramon Salazar. Throughout your journey, Salazar taunts Leon before running out of patience and sending Verdugo after you – and the encounter is pure RE bliss.
Verdugo is quick and stealthy. The monster snaps at you with its lance-like tail through the roof or floor. When it finally appears, it runs toward you with such ferocity you barely have time to aim down the sights, and you can’t defeat him with conventional weapons. In order to kill Verdugo you have to freeze him with nitroglycerin canisters and then unload everything you've got on him hoping it will shatter him to pieces. And that’s not even the recommended strategy, as it takes A LOT of ammo to bring him down. You’re better off dodging his attacks and then making a run for the elevator … if you can last that long.
It takes about five minutes for the elevator to arrive, but during that time Verdugo is out for blood. You’re isolated and alone in a dark corridor with a violent beast, and it’s a great moment in RE history.
Pro Tip: the next time you play RE4, DO NOT use the rocket launcher you recover in the glass case inside the castle in chapter 3-3. Save it for the Verdugo fight, and when he arrives, freeze him with the canister, and blow him to kingdom come with one well-aimed rocket blast.