The zombie-hunting genre is alive and well, so let’s take a look at the best of the bunch.
Zombie co-op modes have one of the most popular aspects of multiplayer over the last decade, and most of us have fond memories of spending way too many hours smashing The Infected in Left 4 Dead 2.
Games like The Last of Us and The Walking Dead have helped revitalise the single-player zombie mode, adding more character and depth to what was originally gore-filled diversion from main campaigns.
We’ll be looking at a mix of old and new zombie games, covering both single-player and co-op favourites across all platforms.
Best zombie games
The Last of Us
The Last of Us is one of the best PS4 games out there, and for good reason. It blends together a gripping, tear-jerking plot with some of the best stealth and survival mechanics of the generation, along with some true horror moments.
Joel and Ellie’s quest to find a cure for the zombie fungal plague that has devastated the entire globe. People are separated into quarantined zones away from the infected and the citizens of the good ol’ USA are under strict martial law.
Ellie’s immunity is the obvious cause for concern throughout The Last of Us and she acts as the basis for the cure. Some factions want to use her for less benevolent means, however, and the father-daughter bond between Joel and Ellie grows as the threats against them escalate.
The Last of Us 2 is due some next near year, so watch this space for more information soon.
Days Gone follows the tale of Deacon St. John in post-apocalyptic Oregon, who is searching for his wife, Sarah. It’s one of the few open-world zombie games that has you traverse the map on your trusty motorbike.
Zombies in Days Gone are called Freakers, and you can defeat them by way of stealth or guns-in-your-face combat. After Sarah was stabbed and airlifted away, Deacon and his pal, Boozer, set off to find her.
Having adopted a mercenary-for-hire lifestyle, Deacon encounters various enemy factions, such as the Rippers, who are out for blood. There are a few interesting plot twists throughout Days Gone that feed into the usual distrust for the government vibe found in many zombie titles, and it was received to mixed reviews from critics.
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re looking for an open-world adventure that’s off the beaten track, Days Gone is worth a go if you're playing on PS4.
World War Z
Dubbed the spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead 2, World War Z is a third-person shooter where you play in teams of four against massive hordes of zombies.
There are six classes to choose from, each specialising in different playstyles, such as Medic, Gunslinger and Slasher. WWZ can support up to 1000 enemies on screen at a time, so I’m not fucking about when I say you’re fighting a horde.
While there’s not a whole lot of story going on, you do pick up bits of lore from completing missions during the four location-based missions. You start off playing stealthily until you reach the first big locations, then the shit hits the fan.
Pyramids of zombies will rise up from the ground floor - remember to hit the base, not the tip, folks - and it’s up to you and your pals to force a path through and survive for as long as possible.
If you’re looking for a fun zombie co-op on a Friday night with your pals, WWZ is definitely worth picking up.
Dying Light is another open-world survival-horror zombie game, following the story of Kyle Crane as he attempts to infiltrate Harran. It has a dynamic day and night cycle that dramatically affects how enemies appear and act, as well as having a surprisingly fluid parkour mechanic.
You use mostly melee weapons throughout, though your best bet is to slide and run to avoid getting into a fight in the first place. As Dying Light is a survival game, there’s a robust crafting system you can use to create deadly weapons. You can find guns throughout but ammo is super scarce.
Enemies are obviously much deadlier at night and can sprint after you which is as terrifying as it sounds. You can use your Survivor Senses to try and locate the infected and plan a route that takes you as far away from them as possible.
As is the norm in zombie games, you’re on the hunt for a cure, with a few twists and turns along the way. Dying Light 2 is due for release in 2020, so check back for more updates soon.
The Walking Dead
Based on the popular comic by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead begins with the story of Lee, a former lecturer who was on his way to prison for murder. Unbeknownst to the driver, a zombie crawls out in front of the police patrol car and you’re thrown headfirst into the zombie apocalypse.
He befriends - and in the end, practically adopts - a young girl, Clementine, who goes on to be the heroine for the rest of the series. There are four seasons, each with around five episodes that have Game of Thrones level plot twists throughout.
It’s a brilliant mixture of bittersweet interactions and relationship building with the other characters, intense quick-time events and selective story-telling where you can easily kill off any characters that are annoying you.
While the story at Telltale Games has a much sadder ending, The Walking Dead is the best example of what episodic story-telling can do. Just get ready to cry a lot.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Resident Evil 2 Remake was met with thunderous applause when it released early this year. It captures all the best features of the original - including alternate playthroughs - and dragged it kicking and screaming into the current generation of consoles.
If you’ve somehow missed the classic survival-horror franchise, Resident Evil 2 Remake is a great launchpad. As is customary with modern games, there are several mods you can install that can make moments with Mr X even more frightening and hilarious, such as the Mr X Gon’ Give it To Ya mod.
You can complete both Leon and Claire’s playthroughs in search of the elusive S rank, as well as find various collectables and secrets. You can check out our Resident Evil 2 Remake guide here for all your completionist needs.
There are other Resident Evil classics we could cover, but as this is the latest entry, it feels the most relevant.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4: Zombies
Zombies are no strangers to the Call of Duty franchise, but Black Ops 4 handled them in an all-new way.
Alongside an easter-egg filled Zombie multiplayer, Zombies made their way onto Call of Duty’s first battle royale game, Blackout. In Blackout, Zombies will spawn all over the map and present an extra challenge to players as you try to avoid both them and your opponents in a proper PvPvE battle.
Killing Zombies in Blackout will net you some rare loot, so it’s worth engaging them. Of course, you could also lure them towards an enemy and watch them do the hard work for you.
The Zombies co-op mode comes with its own story, and you can play it with AI party members, online with teammates or in private, four-way split-screen matches like it’s 2004.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare comes to PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 25, 2019, but will sadly not feature a Zombies mode, so it’s back to Blacks Ops 4 for you, or Modern Warfare 2 if you’re feeling particularly nostalgic.
Killing Floor 2
Killing Floor 2 is one of the few FPS zombie games on this list, where you fight against waves of Zeds either alone or in a team of six players.
If you play in a team of six, you’re going to encounter way more enemies, as the enemy count is determined by the number of players. Bosses roll randomly and there are different approaches to killing each boss, whether that’s focused on melee or firearms.
The more headshots you rack up, the more Zed Time you’ll get, where time will slow down and you can adjust your plan of attack. It’s a good idea to use Zed Time to locate a Trader, who can sell your better armour and weapons.
You can pick from a wide variety of classes and skills, as well as four difficulty modes, ranging from Normal to the aptly named Hell on Earth. You can also play as Zeds and hunt down mercenary opponents a la Left 4 Dead.
If you prefer an FPS over third-person shooter, Killing Floor 2 offers a better experience than the likes of WWZ, with just as impressive and overwhelming hordes of enemies. There are also regular and seasonal updates that come with some pretty scary looking skins and items.
State of Decay 2
State of Decay 2 is an open-world zombie RPG that comes with quite an aggressive permadeath system. You can choose your protagonist from a pool of characters, but once they’re dead, they’re gone forever.
There’s a bit of base building going on, as you scour the land for resources for your community. You can shape your character’s personality as you play and can build on your group's background depending on whether you welcome new bodies into your midst or are staunchly private.
A multiplayer mode was also introduced to State of Decay 2 where you pals can help you defend your settlement and scavenge for loot.
DayZ finally released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One this year after a lengthy early access period. You’ll need to scavenge for food, water and materials to craft weapons and medicine as you traverse the wilds of Chernarus.
You’ll want to avoid the infected enemies as you go, of course, but DayZ throws in an MMO element - you can kill or work alongside other players.
While there are lots of players who’d want to join forces and help you, there are just as many who’d rather kill you and loot your corpse for resources or sport.
You'll be relying on melee weapons most of the time, though there are small supplies of firearms and ammo for when things get a little desperate. You’ll also want to avoid diseases such as dysentery, cholera and hepatitis as you explore the world. Sharing dirty needles is no joke, kids.
Much like hardcore modes found in the likes of Fallout: New Vegas, drinking dirty water is going to make you very sick, so try your best not to. You will also experience the real effects of bloodloss if you are injured, such as deterioration of vision and becoming unconscious.
Some planned features for the future include long-distance radio towers to allow players to communicate more broadly as well as better base building with security systems to protect their worldly goods. The latest expansion, Heartlands, is available now.
Left 4 Dead 2
It wouldn’t be a zombie game list without this classic FPS from Valve. This co-op zombie shooter comprises of five campaigns, each with around three to five smaller levels to complete. The aim is to plough your way through waves of The Infected to reach safe zones, which is much easier than it looks.
There are different classes to choose from for each mode, and while there is a decent story, the online co-op modes are what the series is best known for.
You can play in Survival and Scavenge modes, which involve trying to survive for as long as possible and looking for fuel canisters in order to repel The Infected. There’s also the ever-popular Versus mode, where teams can play as humans or The Infected, which teams switching roles at each stage of the game.
There’s also a Realism mode that disables “video game aspects” in Left 4 Dead 2, such as silhouettes and less weapon visibility. It also means that the Witch is definitely going to kick your arse to the curb.
Left 4 Dead 2 set the bar high for future zombie games and few have ever reached the gold-tier standard of its co-op multiplayer. The developers behind Left 4 Dead have announced a new co-op zombie shooter called Back 4 Blood, which we are eagerly awaiting more news about.
And there you have it: our list of the best zombie games. If you think we’ve missed any, leave a comment and we’ll consider adding it.