The Worst Zombie Apocalypses In Gaming, Ranked

Highlights

  • Not all video game zombie apocalypses are the same, with each possessing varying and unique takes on infections and outbreaks.
  • Some zombie games have compelling plots and detailed settings brimming with lore, making them harrowing and terrifying experiences.
  • From Dying Light to The Last of Us, we look at how games can feature different types of zombies, from plodding slowpokes to unstoppable hordes of nature.

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Not all zombie apocalypses are the same. Sometimes zombies in movies like Night of the Living Dead are plodding and rarely dangerous if you can keep your wits about you. Other types of zombie hordes, though, are unstoppable forces of nature.

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There have been various renditions of zombie apocalypses in video games, with some not even directly referencing zombies. The varying and unique takes on infections, outbreaks, and unsettling plots can be harrowing, terrifying, and may even inspire you to build an underground bunker.

Updated September 6, 2023 by Jack Pierik: Just as the sun rises each morning and falls each evening, you can count on the same consistency and certainty that more zombie games, each with their own set of apocalyptic settings, will be released as time goes on. Thus, it’s a reasonable expectation that on occasion, a game studio will have a successful strike at the flint of brilliance, creating the spark necessary for the flames of novelty. That is to say, there are a few more zombie games that have popped up that have compelling plots and detailed settings brimming with lore.

12 Minecraft: Creeper Infestation

Minecraft Zombies At Night From Trailer

Minecraft is a fun, relaxing, resource gathering and building game, right? Wrong. It’s actually a zombie apocalypse simulator that makes you fear the night. From the very first night in Minecraft, zombies spawn in the dark, in the mines, and in any other areas that aren’t properly lit.

This spawning power alone makes the Minecraft zombie apocalypse particularly terrifying. While you can build great bases with plenty of anti-zombie measures, it takes just one creeper (which is close enough to a zombie) to ruin all your work.

11 Dying Light: The Harran Virus

Dying Light Zombie At Night

Dying Light starts the series with one city: Harran. The city is plagued by a viral outbreak that turns people into zombie-like creatures. While things eventually get better for the city’s residents, and the world starts to feel more hopeful, it’s discovered that the Global Relief Effort seeks to weaponize the virus and bomb the city’s survivors.

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After the first game’s events, a variant of the Harran virus escapes a GRE lab and devastates the world – leaving just one human city, Villedor, surviving. Humanity is on the edge of extinction and outside the city walls, there is very little left of a once great civilization that brought this downfall on itself.

10 Resident Evil: T-Virus

Resident Evil Zombie From Original Trailer

The Resident Evil series is another self-inflicted zombie apocalypse. The Umbrella Corporation develops the T-Virus and other chemical agents that eventually result in the destruction of Raccoon City and outbreaks elsewhere in the world. Perhaps what’s most terrifying about the T-Virus zombies is a single bite or scratch means you’ll turn into one yourself.

These monsters are also extremely tough and can even walk-off gunshot wounds. Though the other types of monsters that come around later in the series are something we would like to avoid altogether.

9 Zombie Army: Occult-Fueled Nightmare

Zombie Army 4 Zombies

This seems like the worst possible combination of baddies: zombies and Nazis. The Zombie Army series presents an alternate history where, in the final days of World War 2, Hitler somehow succeeded in using occult rituals to raise an undead Nazi army of the dead.

After the brave actions of Allied soldiers results in the death of Hitler, he comes back as a sentient zombie. Soldiers are able to send zombie Hitler to hell, but the zombie hordes push the Allies out of Germany. Eventually it’s found out that Hitler is running his Nazi army from Hell, using Hell’s supernatural energy to supercharge his army. Where the heck is BJ Blazkowicz when you need him?

8 World War Z: Solanum Outbreak

World War Z Zombies Running

The original book portrays a victory of mankind over a zombie outbreak, but the Brad Pitt movie and the 2019 World War Z video game focuses more on the horror of the hordes. The video game showcases waves of fast-moving zombies that can pile on top of each other to get over large, physical obstacles.

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The game throws various types of zombies each with unique abilities at the player; meaning survivors would need to be extremely well-versed in how to deal with them. With thousands of zombies rendered on screen at one time, World War Z’s zombie apocalypse would be very difficult to overcome.

7 Left 4 Dead: The Green Flu

Left 4 Dead trailer zombie horde silhouette

Left 4 Dead gives its unique take on a zombie apocalypse via the Green Flu. The game throws wave after wave of infected at you, so survivors would have to contend with many types of zombies, making it unlikely that most, if not all of us, would survive.

Massive Tank zombies can absorb a horrifying amount of bullets and wreak havoc, while the Witch, one of the most terrifying creatures in the game, can kill some players with one hit. Left 4 Dead may be fun to play, but would be hell to live through.

6 Blight: Survival

A knight in heavy armor walking into an abandoned, plague ridden settlement in the middle of Autumn.

Despite the horrific nature of zombie apocalypses, there are typically hidden gems of modernity you can still count on. From foods with long shelf lives, firearms and ammunition that easily dispatch zombies from a distance, or medicines that can treat or protect you from various illnesses and diseases, survivors can occasionally cash in on a bit of luck.

In Blight: Survival, the same can’t be said; you’re thrown into an alternate medieval reality set in the 14th century. Even worse, zombies aren’t the only thing you have to worry about: you’re in the midst of a war between two kingdoms with only your armor, sword, and bow to protect you. Suddenly, the black Plague of the 1300s doesn’t sound so bad.

5 The Last Of Us: Cordyceps Virus

Joel fighting off a Clicker in Last Of Us

The Last of Us portrayed how the zombie apocalypse spreads in a particularly nasty manner. A fungus that can spread via airborne spores, while also contaminating food to make its way into a host. When a person becomes infected, they mutate into different types of monsters as the infection continues to take hold.

Civilization is reduced to a few quarantine zones and settlements, as survivors wander an apocalyptic nightmare. And if you want to survive, you should probably carry a gas mask to avoid infection. Oh, and if that wasn’t horrifying enough, infected persons are still conscious and aware of what is happening to them.

4 Days Gone: The Freaker Virus

Freakers surrounding a building in Days Gone

Days Gone features an outbreak that turns humans into zombie-like creatures known as Freakers. Humanity itself was relegated to safe zones. The Freaker Virus, as it is known, is similar to the Rabies virus, as Freakers show an aversion to sunlight.

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While there is some semblance of a response to this disaster by the National Emergency Response Organization, their orders are to shoot any Freakers or civilians they see roaming around. That doesn’t exactly bode well for survivors, especially since they already have to worry about Freakers that are evolving to become more dangerous.

3 They Are Billions

A massive horde of zombies run into the bright orange streams of flame spewed from steampunk defenders.

Picture this: It’s the late 22nd century, and a mutated strain of rabies has ravaged humanity to the point of near extinction. With only a few thousand humans remaining, the only refuge left standing lies within a crater that the zombies are unable to get into. Despite this small victory, there’s another problem: humanity has lost much of its technology and advancements.

Quintus Crane, the emperor of the crater, intends to remedy this problem in a bold way: expand outside the crater. That’s where you come in, taking on the literal billions of zombies that roam the wastelands of the Earth, which have the capacity to mutate, coordinate, and adapt. Oh, and given the technological recession, you’ll be forced to use a mix of medieval and steampunk technology.

2 Halo: The Flood

The Flood Footage Halo

The Flood from the Halo universe makes zombies look quaint. The parasitic race looks for sentient forms of life to consume, and during a 300-year period was responsible for consuming most life in the galaxy.

It apparently came from outside the galaxy, and you’ll find these creepy crab-like creatures are capable of both infecting all kinds of organisms, and using firearms. The Flood is an all-consuming force, and given how rapidly it infects and controls hosts, it’s the biggest threat to the galaxy.

1 Dead Space: Necromorphs

Isaac Clarke trying to take down a zombie monster in Dead Space

This is the video game version of NOPE. Dead Space’s Necromorphs are very similar to zombies; the only difference is they look for dead flesh to infect and repurpose, so they can continue to spread. The Dead Space series does a pretty good job of conveying that you don’t want to go anywhere near a Necromorph.

Necromorph-infected corpses will reshape themselves into horrific otherworldly beings. Hosts must be killed first before the infection begins mutating the cells, but Necromorphs are pretty good at coming up with horrific ways to create dead cells out of victims. They can also take a beating: shooting off a limb or two doesn’t stop these creatures from crawling towards you. Billions of Necromorph corpses also make up “moons” which end up attacking Earth and the end of Dead Space 3’s expansion, Awakened.

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