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The best zombie games of all time

Scientists haven’t figured out what makes shooting zombies so fun, but there’s got to be a reason why this subgenre of survival games has become so popular. From series like Resident Evil to Call of Duty, there are more than enough games to get your blood pumping.

Even if the general premise remains the same, each zombie game offers its own experience, and it’s a good idea to know what you’re in for before you buy. We have tested several zombie games to figure out which ones are the goriest, scariest, and, above all, most fun to play.

Further reading

The Last of Us Remastered

The Last of Us Remastered
95%
M
Platforms
PlayStation 4
Genre
Shooter, Adventure
Developer
Naughty Dog
Publisher
Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (SCEI)
Release
July 29, 2014
The Infected in The Last of Us aren’t technically zombies since they haven’t died and risen again, but let’s face it, they share the same basic traits. They have a hunger for flesh and move at Joel and Ellie with the same voracious intensity seen in other zombie games. They’re frightening, especially in Clicker form, with their disgusting fungus limbs and mushroom heads. The Last of Us excels in every imaginable facet, from its methodical third-person action gameplay to its stunning presentation to the delivery of its sterling story. Even if you are completely sick of zombie games, The Last of Us is a must-play. The Infected are far better developed than most traditional zombies, and the overarching story is one of the best the medium has seen, especially as a horror game on the PS4. The sequel is in a league of its own as well, but can’t quite match the surprise and originality of its tight predecessor.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Dying Light 2: Stay Human
77%
3/5
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer
Techland Publishing
Publisher
Techland Publishing, Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd.
Release
February 04, 2022
Dying Light 2 mixes parkour, resource management, and crafting to create a game that you probably either love or hate. Dying Light 2 forces you to scavenge for materials to survive and make tough choices about who to side with. The strong emphasis on scavenging and crafting may be a turn-off for some, but if the loop clicks, it really clicks. In the daylight, zombies are easy to avoid with gadgets that allow you to practice parkour. At night, however, the zombies can run and are a major threat to your survival. To complicate matters further, the vast majority of the tools at your disposal are melee weapons. So Dying Light 2 promotes, by nature, lots of close-quarters, tense conflicts. Dying Light 2 winds up as one of the best, most complex open-world zombie games around.

Back 4 Blood

Back 4 Blood
81%
4/5
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Shooter
Developer
Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release
October 12, 2021
While it seems like we may never get another true Left 4 Dead game, more on that series later, we thankfully got a sequel in all but name. Back 4 Blood was made by the original brains behind the influential co-op zombie shooter, and is exactly what fans have been asking for. You will team up with a group of up to three friends, each selecting your own character, as you shoot, punch, and explode your way through various campaign missions. The twist in Back 4 Blood is the new card system that makes every run unique. Yes, zombies and special infected are always randomized, but these cards add another layer of unpredictability on top of that. You may have a run with more of a certain type, or one where the map is covered in fog, limiting visibility. You can also build your own deck of cards that act as perks, upgrade guns, and more.

Call of Duty: Vanguard

Call of Duty: Vanguard
67%
5/5
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Shooter
Developer
Sledgehammer Games
Publisher
Activision
Release
November 05, 2021
The cooperative zombies mode has been a Call of Duty fan-favorite since its debut in Call of Duty: World at War. The horde-style mode tasks players with eliminating waves of zombies while repairing structures, gaining access to new areas, and unlocking new weapons and gear. As a co-op game, it’s an unexpected treasure. While we think all of the zombie modes in CoD have their merits, Call of Duty: Vanguard stands out the most among the best Call of Duty games. Along with its excellent new map, going back to the classic WW2 zombie setting, and new wrinkles to the tense formula, this version has a new progression system that makes replaying each map feel like you’re always building toward something.

Dead Rising 3

Dead Rising 3
67%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer
Capcom Game Studio Vancouver, Inc.
Publisher
Microsoft Studios, Capcom
Release
November 22, 2013
The Dead Rising series from Capcom is a more lighthearted take on zombies. Filled with comedic dialogue and wacky weapons, Dead Rising 3 shined as one of the Xbox One games that came with its launch back in 2013. Unlike the first two games, Dead Rising 3 was set in a true open world. With this came bigger environments and more opportunities for massive standoffs with the undead. Areas are often flooded with zombies, with dozens upon dozens on screen at once. While most could be mowed down easily, the strength that came with staggering numbers forced you to make use of the fairly deep crafting system. Dead Rising 3 felt like a B-movie zombie apocalypse simulator, and we say that as a compliment. An argument could be made that Dead Rising 4 upped the ante, considering the increase in zombies and all, but we prefer 3’s environments and progression.

Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2
88%
4/5
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre
Shooter, Adventure
Developer
Capcom
Publisher
Capcom
Release
January 25, 2019
Resident Evil 2 is one of the greatest survival horror games of all time, and one of the best Resident Evil games to boot. The original’s tank controls and camera perspectives created much of its frights. Somehow, though, Capcom recreated Leon and Claire’s adventure in Raccoon City to be even more terrifying with modern control systems. Playing like a less action-packed version of Resident Evil 4, RE2 has some of the most spine-tingling zombie encounters we’ve experienced. From the crunch of a ravenous zombie chomping on your neck, to the sheer fear of Mr. X stomping down the hall, Resident Evil 2 is a nerve-wracking romp from start to finish. And then you have to play it again as the other hero to see the real ending.

Resident Evil 4 HD

Resident Evil 4 HD
89%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Shooter, Adventure
Developer
Capcom Production Studio 4
Publisher
Capcom
Release
September 08, 2011
While we tried to only include one game from each franchise on this list, we’d be remiss not to feature Resident Evil 4, one of the greatest action games of all time. Capcom’s turn to an action-oriented Resident Evil was somewhat controversial, but wow, did it deliver. Leon Kennedy’s solo adventure to rescue the president’s daughter from a rural area in Europe overrun by villagers turned to zombies was simply memorizing. Ammo was more plentiful and true scares were somewhat subdued, but the zombies themselves were better designed than ever before. Resident Evil 4 ushered the iconic franchise into a new era emphasizing more frequent firefights against larger groups of zombies. Sure, we’re happy the franchise returned to its roots with Resident Evil 7, but RE4 remains a high point of the series.

The Walking Dead: Season One

The Walking Dead: Season One
86%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Point-and-click, Shooter, Adventure
Developer
Telltale Games
Publisher
Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (SCEI), Telltale Games
Release
April 24, 2012
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Season One offered a different type of zombie experience. Using Telltale’s patented brand of interactive storytelling, The Walking Dead was light on mechanics, reserving them for dialogue decisions, quick-time events, and other button prompts. More interactive fiction than anything else, The Walking Dead relied heavily on its story. And the beginning of Lee’s and Clementine’s adventure was breathtaking. The episodic format split the impressive narrative into five chunks, each more consequential and revealing than the last.

Plants vs. Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies
78%
E10
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, Nintendo DS, Android, iOS, PlayStation Vita, Windows Phone, Nintendo DSi
Genre
Puzzle, Real Time Strategy (RTS), Strategy, Tactical
Developer
PopCap Games
Publisher
PopCap Games
Release
May 05, 2009
Plants vs. Zombies from PopCap Games is a colorful, cartoony game about protecting your garden from zombies. It’s decidedly less bloody and gory than most of the other games on this list, and the zombies are actually kind of cute? Designed as a tower defense game, you place various plant-based protectors along your garden grid to stave off the invading zombies. It’s not the most complex tower defense game around, but it is certainly one of the most charming and addictive. A sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2, and a big-budget spinoff series, Garden Warfare, are also available. All of the Plants vs. Zombies games are worth your time, but nothing beats the sublime simplicity and joy of the original.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
86%
M
Platforms
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre
Shooter, Adventure
Developer
Rockstar San Diego, Rockstar North
Publisher
Rockstar Games
Release
October 26, 2010
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare came out of nowhere. Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption was one of the most serious open-world games we’d ever played, and then the storied developer went and turned the western world into a zombie apocalypse. Yes, it was strange, and maybe it even undercut the serious nature of the original story, but it sure was a good time. Undead Nightmare is one of the best expansions ever made, and we’d love to see a proverbial sequel in Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that impressed us even more than the already impressive original.

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2
82%
M
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox 360, Mac
Genre
Shooter
Developer
Valve Corporation, Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher
Valve Corporation
Release
November 17, 2009
Valve’s take on cooperative zombies proved to be a worthy alternative to Call of Duty’s. This was in large part due to the nuance added by the AI Director, the puppeteer who dynamically influenced each run through the game to make sure tension remained high throughout. The cooperative campaign was the best part, but Left 4 Dead 2 also had an innovative versus mode that pitted infected players versus survivors. It’s been almost ten years since Left 4 Dead 2 launched, but we still think about how its marked impact on cooperative and versus modes today.

ZombiU

ZombiU
73%
M
Platforms
Wii U
Genre
Shooter, Adventure
Developer
Ubisoft Montpellier, Ubisoft, Ubisoft
Publisher
Ubisoft Entertainment, Ubisoft, Ubisoft
Release
November 18, 2012
ZombiU is one of the most underrated games of the last decade. Originally a Wii U exclusive (probably didn’t help), Ubisoft took us to London for a survival horror experience unlike any other. With a focus on scavenging and a surprisingly neat story, ZombiU had an eerie atmosphere filled with cool weapons and stellar frights. By far, the best part of ZombiU was how it played with permadeath. You could die relatively easily, and once your character died, they were dead for good. The dead character’s body transforms into a zombie as you take on a new character. To take back your items, you’d have to kill zombie-you (ZombiU).

State of Decay

State of Decay
76%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox 360
Genre
Shooter, Role-playing (RPG), Simulator, Strategy, Adventure
Developer
Undead Labs
Publisher
Microsoft Studios
Release
June 05, 2013
State of Decay is part zombie apocalypse and part job. The risk of creating such an unconventional game paid off — players love it. State of Decay was a radical game, crossing genres with outpost and base buildings like you’d normally find in modern RPGs. The game has something for everyone, with action gamers opting to fight zombies face to face and strategy gamers choosing a more systematic, one-by-one takedown. Fans love the dynamic setup that keeps you coming back for more. State of Decay puts players right in the center of the action every time, making it an immediate success. Many of us counted down the days to the sequel, which promised to build collaborative choices, but the design was glitchy and didn’t take off like the original.

Editors' Recommendations

Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
The best State of Decay 2 mods
State of Decay 2 Review

You can't say State of Decay 2 hasn't gotten more than its fair share of developer support. Not only did it receive plenty of extra content and updates after launch, but it even continues to be worked on years after State of Decay 3 was announced. Being an open-world zombie survival game with tons of RPG and management elements, it wasn't long before modders saw all the potential there was to tweak, add to, and fully customize this great game to be even better. Modders have done everything from increasing the difficulty to enhancing the immersion with new lighting, so we've scavenged the net for only the best State of Decay 2 mods to recommend.
Unlock Developer Menu

When a game is still being made, developers often include a special menu they can access to change various settings on the fly to test things out. Typically, these menus are then disabled for the full release since they would essentially allow anyone to cheat and break the game. The Unlock Developer Menu mod brings that feature back so you can change all sorts of options with ease. You can think of it like accessing a command menu, only it's much more user-friendly. With it, you can do things like spawn weapons, zombies, and plague hearts, and add followers and enclaves just by hitting F2. The only thing to be aware of is that not all the functions are enabled, and the modder isn't planning on fixing them since it was not created by them, only reenabled.
No More Room In Hell

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The best accessories to use with Delta game emulator
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Once Apple opened the floodgates and allowed emulators onto the App Store, Delta was one of the first on the scene. This Nintendo emulator allows you to load up your ROMs for all the classic systems, from the NES and Game Boy to the N64 and DS. With so much nostalgia suddenly available right on your phone, it's no wonder that Delta has become one of the most downloaded apps on the store. And while the emulator itself is fantastic, none of these games were intended to be played on your iPhone -- and more specifically, with the touchpad. Even the old Game Boy games can feel cramped and cluttered when you are blocking parts of the screen with your thumbs, but there are plenty of handy accessories to make your iPhone the perfect platform for Delta games.
Backbone Controller

The Backbone controller has been around for a few years and is the perfect combination of convenience and quality. It easily slides onto your iPhone and adds two thumbsticks, a D-pad, four face buttons, and two pairs of triggers. It's more than enough for any game you could emulate with Delta. The best part is that it allows you to view your screen with no obstructions so you can fully enjoy your gaming experience.
Razor Kishi Ultra

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All Fallout games, ranked
The courier in his nuclear gear and holding his gun in Fallout: New Vegas key art.

Who would've thought the post-apocalypse could be such a fun time? The Fallout franchise has taken the idea of a Mad Max-like future and not only made it into a wildly popular game franchise but also a hit TV series. The core franchise has been around since the late '90s, and yet we've had only a handful of mainline entries in the series since it was revived by Bethesda with Fallout 3. With Starfield in the rearview mirror and the next Elder Scrolls title currently being the dev team's focus, it could be close to another decade before we can set foot in the wasteland ourselves once again. What better time, then, to look back at the franchise and rank all the games from best to worst?

Fallout: New Vegas

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