As a species we’ve been familiar with the idea of the undead long before anyone even considered coining the phrase “popular culture”. Vampires, ghosts, people asking the dead for advice, and, indeed, reanimated, usually mindless corpses me tend to define zombies as. In 1978 George A. Romero releases his genre-defining movie Dawn of the Dead, releasing swarm of zombies into what’s known as popculture.

Since then we’ve seen the zeds in all forms, including some that aren’t quite dead, just “infected” with some form of pandemic virus, bacteria, or fungus that typically transmits via a bite. Sometimes zombies are failed clones, or the opposite: a result of successful experiment of some deranged scientist. Regardless of the origin, we can rely of a zombie to be nearly mindless, aggressively hungry for flesh (or brains), and safe to kill without remorse.


Best Zombie Games 2020

GameRelease
7 Days to Die2013Buy
Arizona Sunshine2016Buy
Call of Duty: Black Ops 42018Buy
DayZ2018Buy
Dead Effect 22015Buy
Dead Island2011Buy
Dead Rising2006Dead Rising 1

Dead Rising 2
Death Road to Canada2016Buy
Dying Light2020Buy
Killing Floor 1&22020Killing Floor 1

Killing Floor 2
Left 4 Dead 22020Buy
Plants vs Zombies2020Buy
Project Zomboid2020Buy
Resident Evil Remakes2020Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 3
Resident Evil 72020Buy
State of Decay 1&22020State of Decay 1

State of Decay 2
They Are Billions2020Buy
Telltale’s The Walking Dead series2020Buy
World War Z2020Buy

Each game will have their own specific take on the zombie threat and how the living deal with it, and there are enough games with zombies for anyone to find something that suits their gaming preferences. So, without more generalisation, let’s take a look at just under 20 games with zombies you can play on your PC.

7 Days to Die

Release year:2013
Genre:Survival horror
DeveloperThe Fun Pimps

7 Days to Die would have you believe that the key to surviving during a zombie outbreak is sequestering oneself in a remote part of Arizona and spending daylight hours building bases. It might not be the best advice, but it does certainly make for an entertaining gameplay, as many people have discovered since the 2013 initial release. It’s definitely one of the genre’s fundamental titles.

7 Days To Die

Each day you have to gather resources and use them to build a house, fortify it as well as it is possible, and prepare for the night. After that you just have to hope that when the zombies come, they’ll crash against your defences rather than crashing through them. Thankfully, the long you survive, the more tool are at your disposal, including automated turrets and various traps.

Key features
  • Strong focus on crafting and construction
  • Features both a singleplayer and a cooperative multiplayer modes
  • Detailed progression
  • You can play on a pre-generated map, or a procedurally generated one

Arizona Sunshine

Release year:2016
Genre:First-person shooter
DeveloperVertigo Games, Jaywalkers Interactive

There must be something about Arizona that makes it vulnerable to zombie outbreaks. After we got just 7 Days to Die in one Arizona county, Arizona Sunshine brings us back there again. This one is quite unique, however, because instead of just being a shooter, it’s a shooter… in Virtual Reality. There’s nothing quite like getting face-to-face with a rotten corpse reanimated by unclear forces.

Arizona Sunshine

The story is based on a simple premise, with your character waking up in a cave only to see the state of the world has gone south and there are zombies everywhere. The only thing to give the PC hope is a radio picking up signal from some nearby facility. It’s time for fighting off hordes of zombies in VR for the best balance of immersion and risk to the player’s health. Good luck in Arizona, Sunshine.

Key features
  • A VR-exclusive first-person shooter with zombies
  • Simple, but effective story
  • Two DLCs set before the vents of the main game
  • Immersive environment

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Release year:2018
Genre:Battle Royale
DeveloperTreyarch

The Call of Duty series’ Zombies cooperative mode is so unlike any of the games’ core campaign, that it’s staggering. It usually has the energy of an enthusiastic B-movie, dealing with dimensions, time travel, primordial conflicts and vivid archetypes as the playable characters. CoD Zombies modes are strictly co-operative affairs, gleefully taking players from one cheesy locale to another on a wild adventure.

Call of Duty 4 Zombies

In Black Ops IV there are even two stories to play, the Chaos Story and the Aether story, both quite entertaining, especially since all playable characters are dubbed by experienced actors. If you have up to three friends willing to kill zombies across history and dimensions, you’re bound to have a good, cheesy time. The zombies themselves fit weirdly well in every set piece you blaze your way through.

Key features
  • A cheerfully convoluted storyline
  • Excellent co-operative experience
  • Vivid archetypes
  • B-movie in Call of Duty form

DayZ

Release year:2018 (Full release)
Genre:First-person & third-person shooter, survival
DeveloperBohemia Interactive

DayZ is the seminal multiplayer survival game. Set in a fictional country of Chernarus affected by a deadly virus with disturbing effects. Those who’d survived got really into survivalism, those who hadn’t got really into brains. Although these two things can’t reconcile with benefit to both parties involved, they make for a great premise for a survival game with roaming undead menace.

DayZ

DayZ allows up to 60 players on the server, but you’re free to try to make in your own instead of making tenuous alliances of convenience. Together you’re more likely to resist the infected, but resources won’t multiply. Can you trust the other player to share with you the food if you trade them some ammo? Can you trust the others to stay unseen when you do? It’s up to you.

Key features
  • Open world multiplayer zombie survival game
  • Gloomy, dangerous post-Soviet setting
  • Huge map
  • Began as a modification to ARMA 2

Dead Effect 2

Release year:2015
Genre:Survival horror, role-playing fps
DeveloperBadFly Interactive

The Dead Effect series began its life on smartphones but turned out to be so solid and satisfying that it got ported over to stronger hardware. When Dead Effect 2 landed on Steam, it boasted not only co-operative multiplayer, but also a dose of PvP to round things out with the most dangerous game instead of shambling dead. There is even character and equipment progression!

Dead Effect 2

The storyline continues right after the first one, and takes place on a huge spaceship which alongside cyborgs and mutants also apparently transports zombies, letting you shoot away without intrusive second thoughts. And you’ll have plenty of implements of destruction for slicing them up and shooting holes through them. AND you can get it for a smartphone, so you can shoot zombies on the go.

Key features
  • Tonnes of available equipment
  • The Steam version boasts cooperative and competitive multiplayer
  • Progression and upgrade systems
  • Continues the themes of the first Dead Effect

Dead Island

Release year:2011
Genre:Action role-playing, survival horror
DeveloperTechland

Dead Island was Techland’s first attempt at making a game focused on fighting zombies, and it was a good one. To this day Dead island is very fun to play and has laid the foundations for what became Dying Light in 2015. If you want to destroy some zombies to the backdrop of a tropical party island, Dead Island has several things that might convince you to give it a fair shot.

Dead Island

Dead island gives you a choice of four characters, each with backstory, personality, and specialties. Your task, which you can accomplish in singleplayer or in co-op, is ultimately to escape the deadly island you found yourself trapped on. The zombies are, as they often are, a result of a mysterious plague, which means they could theoretically be cure, if only you had the proper medicine.

Key features
  • Four playable characters in the core game
  • The Definitive Edition has remastered graphics and includes all DLCs
  • Several types of zombies including shambling ones and sprinters
  • Co-operative campaign available and very fun

Dead Rising

Release year:2006 (DR1) – 2016 (DR4)
Genre:Survival horror, beat ’em up, hack and slash
DeveloperCapcom Vancouver

Capcom’s Dead Rising series find an odd balance between ridiculous and desperate settings pushing people to the brink of sanity. The series has had several protagonists so far, but probably the one that pops up the most often is Frank West, a bold photojournalist with a penchant for McGyvering absurd contraptions to get him through the zombie hordes in supermarkets.

Dead Rising

The storylines feature corporate antagonist which produces the only medicine preventing zombification, provided it’s taken daily. This requirement is essential, since the games track time and certain events happen at specific hours. This is especially important in Dead Rising 2, when the protagonist Chuck Greene needs to keep his daughter unzombified.

Key features
  • Crafting odd weaponry is a key element of the games
  • Bizarre, deranged bosses
  • Several protagonists across the entire series
  • Frank West was cool enough to cameo in other games

Death Road to Canada

Release year:2016
Genre:Action-RPG
DeveloperRocketcat Games

Death Road to Canada has a solid pitch: a Randomly Generated Road Trip Simulator. As you take the road north to Canada in your car you’ll encounter hordes upon hordes of zombies, plenty of ridiculous events, and you’ll do things other games don’t dare to dream about, including driving the dog car from Dumb and Dumber, or making one of the character a gun-toting dog. Truly wonders never end.

Death Road to Canada

The game boasts that even five hundred zombies can crowd on the screen at a time, and it isn’t unlikely, especially given the game’s almost family friendly appearance, abstracting the horror and the violence into unthreatening pixels. The game doesn’t take itself seriously at all, evoking more Shaun of the Dead than Dawn of the Dead, but it doesn’t mean zombies are not a credible threat.

Key features
  • You can use a couch to smash through a zombie crowd
  • There’s a ton of silly (and threatening) events and bizarre character encounters
  • Offers local co-op for up to four players
  • Pixel-based art style makes the game look almost family friendly

Dying Light

Release year:2015
Genre:Survival horror, action-adventure
DeveloperTechland

A spiritual successor to Dead Island, Dying Light features extremely fun parkour, a tightly packed urban setting, and punchy melee combat taking precedence over shooting. The quarantined city of Harran provides a solid backdrop to hacking, slashing, and dropkicking zombies (of the “infected-with-a-virus” variety), and there is a pleasant day-night cycle changing substantially what you’re doing..

Dying Light

The night is the time when the infected are the strongest: faster and less passive, but also rewarding the player with more experience points which translate into skill points to spend on upgrades and unlocks. The storyline is quite decent, and it takes a turn for the better in the expansion, The Following, where both your character’s and the city’s fate is going to be decided.

Key features
  • Fantastic, impactful melee combat
  • The day and night cycle influences zombie behaviour and experience gains
  • The crafting system allows you to create some interesting elementally charged weapons
  • Features co-operative modes for up to four players

Killing Floor 1&2

Release year:2009 (KF1) – 2016 (KF2)
Genre:First-person shooter, survival horror
DeveloperTripwire Interactive

Both instalments of Killing Floor have the zombie horde mode survival down pat, but KF2 is undoubtedly better, with more polished gameplay. Probably the most essential new feature implemented in Killing Floor 2 is the shared bullet time that might trigger when you, or other players, score a headshot on one of the zombies. The slow down doesn’t last long, but benefits everyone.

Killing Floor 2

There’s also a story, which involves a corporation’s attempts at making a batch of military clones, something that never goes well. In the second game the outbreak has spread outside of Europe, making it a global crisis that can only be solved with overwhelming firepower from a few dedicated individuals. During the waves you’ll collect experience, which translate into new skills

Key features
  • Excellent zed time mechanic slowing time for all party members
  • Perk progression based on player performance
  • Several classes the players can switch before every match
  • Optional asymmetrical mercenary vs. Zed mode PvP


Left 4 Dead 2

Release year:2009
Genre:First-person shooter, Survival Horror
DeveloperValve

Valve-made Left 4 Dead 2 perfected the already impressive job the Turtle Rock Studios did making the original Left 4 Dead. A character-focused co-operative first-person shooter throwing the players against hordes of generic zombies as well a few specialised specimens that have their own way of dealing with your ammo and your hitpoints. All under supervision of AI Director 2.0.

Left 4 Dead 2

The AI Director is in charge of making sure that you always get just the right kind of challenge for the performance during the mission. If you start doing really well, the Director will pour more zombies at you to make things difficult again. On the other hand, if you’re getting wrecked by the zeds too hard, it will try to lower the challenge a bit, just enough to make things dramatic, but not prohibitive.

Key features
  • A fantastic follow up to a great cooperative zombie shooter
  • Several strong personalities in the team
  • Tense missions with dramatic tension ensured by the AI Director 2.0
  • The story revolves around a Green Flu pandemic, turning people into ravenous undead

Plants vs Zombies

Release year:2009
Genre:Tower defence, strategy
DeveloperPopCap Games

There aren’t many comedic and oddly upbeat games about zombies, and most of them seemingly are various instalments of the Plants vs. Zombies series. It all dates back to this game, the cheerful and sunny tower defence game featuring shambling zombies shuffling along a garden against a relentless bombardment from seemingly sentient and weaponised plants. It’s silly, but it’s very fun.

Plants vs Zombies

The zombies come in variations you’re unlikely to see anywhere else, such as zombies riding in a bobsled, for some reason. Or zombies floating in inflatable floats across a pond. The series on the whole is completely unconcerned with being serious or realistic, but thanks to a very entertaining gameplay it not only doesn’t work to the game’s detriment, but makes this tower defence much better, instead.

Key features
  • Cheerful 2D aesthetic make PvZ one of the best zombie games for kids
  • Plenty of creatively zombie designs and numerous plants to hold them off
  • Numerous instalments to check out beyond the first one
  • Several substantially different modes

Project Zomboid

Release year:2013
Genre:Role-playing, survival horror
DeveloperThe Indie Stone

Project Zomboid poses an essential question: How will you survive during a zombie apocalypse. And, oddly enough, actually lets you test out your theories in a fairly realistic way, albeit one abstracted via its use of isometric camera. Project Zomboid has a clear, easily readable style that puts more emphasis on the solution you try out rather than on the physics or visual extravaganza.

Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid is very much playable in multiplayer, both as a split-screen for up to four players, and online on persistent servers. You won’t be playing an action hero, Chris Redfield isn’t available at the moment, you’re just a person in a city. Nothing special about the character, there’s even boredom and other psychological complications. It certainly more realistic than other games on this list.

Key features
  • Perhaps the most realistic take on life during a zombie apocalypse
  • Players without a plan get their characters dead
  • You have to deal with several problems your character’s wellbeing, like hunger or depression
  • There is a fair bit of character progression, with skills and perks acquired through practice

Resident Evil Remakes

Release year:2017
Genre:Survival Horror
DeveloperCapcom

The Resident Evil series of survival horror has been going since 1996, and has produced a good number of excellent, memorable games. And Capcom has been hard at work remaking the earliest ones. In 2015 RE1 was launched, but it was a remaster. Meanwhile Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 should be considered full remakes, giving the classis stories a third-person rather than a fixed camera.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

Resident Evil 2 Remake, for example, did a really great job turning Mr. X into a looming, inexorable force that will come at you through walls, doors, and a hail of bullets if need be. The games look fantastic, with excellent engine making the familiar character look better than ever, and the unfortunate victims of the Umbrella Corps. Experiment look appropriately disgusting and dangerous.

Key features
  • Classic Capcom survival horrors modernised without losing their unique atmosphere
  • Mr. X is more imposing than ever, even walls don’t want to get in his way
  • The third-person camera works great
  • Familiar character and places look amazing thanks to this engine

Resident Evil 7

Release year:2017
Genre:Survival horror
DeveloperCapcom

We’ve covered the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, but one should forget that there was also a brand-new Resident Evil game launched in 2017. On first glance it didn’t look like RE, but its legacy quickly became clear, not least because of the odd puzzles, and the fact that the Umbrella corporation is clearly to blame for what’s going on in this corner of Lousiana.

Resient Evil 7 Welcome to the family

RE7 is the first FPP game in the mainline Resident Evil game, and it works amazingly well, and sell the claustrophobic nature of the mansion your character finds himself in. An essential difference from games such as Amnesia, is that your protagonist can, and will, defend himself with a usually deadly effect. After all RE isn’t a series about being helpless in the face of adversity, after all.

Key features
  • Substantial change of perspective makes Resident Evil feel fresh again
  • The Baker family are great antagonists and interesting characters
  • Great graphics provided by the RE Engine
  • Although the game is quite removed from the usual RE settings, the ties are obvious

State of Decay 1&2

Release year:2013 (SoD1), 2018 (SoD2)
Genre:Action-adventure, survival horror, stealth
DeveloperUndead Labs

The first State of Decay game (launched in 2013) was a strictly singleplayer experience, tasking the player with taking care of a group of survivors amid a zombie apocalypse in full swing. The second SoD (from 2018) introduced cooperative multiplayer for up to four players total, but otherwise didn’t really change the core gameplay of the first one, other than to add more options and content.

State of Decay 2

The interesting thing about either State of Decay is that you don’t really play as a single distinct character. Instead you have a number of NPC with procedurally assigned perks, flaws, appearance etc. and you can take control of any of them, leaving the others for AI to manage. Together you’ll set up and maintain a base that has a chance of resisting even the Juggernaut zombies…for a time.

Key features
  • Dozens of procedurally generated NPC for you to control
  • State of Decay 2 allows you to play with up to three friends
  • Large maps leaving a lot of space for a nice base
  • Decent variety of zombies

They Are Billions

Release year:2017
Genre:Real-time strategy, survival
DeveloperNumantian Games

They Are Billions doesn’t literally live up to the promise of its title within a single scenario, but it isn’t too far outside of realm of possibility during your entire prolonged fun with the game. The premise is simple, but evocative. Your task is to establish solid defences around a time, including strong walls and turrets, and then helping the city weather an onslaught of a massive zombie horde.

They Are Billions

The hordes assaulting your walls and your soldiers in mechanised suits can number in thousands. The seething mass of zombies looks great, and it’s very satisfying to watch your carefully prepared defences repel the attack with minimal losses. If just surviving against undead hordes isn’t enough, there also The New Empire story campaign letting you experience the setting to a greater degree.

Key features
  • The zombie hordes get truly massive the more you play
  • An RTS where turtling is the entire point
  • A great mix of strategy and a survival game
  • Zombies come in several varieties you need to account for

Telltale’s The Walking Dead series

Release year:2012 (first episode) – 2019 (last episode)
Genre:Interactive drama, graphic adventure
DeveloperTelltale Games

The Walking Dead games were the core product of the Telltale Series, despite several other great titles such as A Wolf Among Us. In their TWD adaptations Telltale captured the human side of a zombie apocalypse, something there is rarely time for in the action-packed games. The very first season follows a convict Lee Everett, who rescued a young Girl and their travel through the Walker-infested USA.

Walking Dead Game

Telltale’s games are always full of dramatic decisions for the player to make with a very short time to thinks, and the choices influence the way the story plays out. Some characters will die while other survive, some will die in different circumstances later down the line. It feels dramatic, cinematic, and many decisions carry over to other games in the series, giving you a great sense of continuity.

Key features
  • Carefully-paced episodes delivering dramatic situations and resolutions
  • Dozens of hours of adventure set in the world of The Walking Dead comic book and TV show
  • Many memorable characters
  • Many Quick-Time Events of various kinds

World War Z

Release year:2019
Genre:Third-person shooter
DeveloperSaber Interactive

World War Z takes more from the 2013 film adaptation rather than Max Brooks’ original book from 2006. The movie set the style and the tone that’s useful for a game to follow. The zombies of this franchise aren’t the slow shambling zeds, or rare, but threatening silhouettes on the border of the draw distance. These zombies will swarm you like it’s They Are Billions except you don’t have a wall.

World War Z game

The game is the best when you’re playing it in co-operative multiplayer, but a singleplayer mode is just as viable. There are several large-scale missions, taking place in several places all over the world, including Jerusalem and Moscow. WWZ includes the AI Director just like Left 4 Dead (2), and it works quite well, keeping the zombies a constant, engaging threat that always ALMOST overwhelms you.

Key features
  • The zombies are a fast, deadly, disturbingly swarming flood
  • Based on a 2013 movie based on a 2006book
  • Features locations from all over the world
  • Can handle hundreds of zombies on the screen at the same time

Aim for the head

So ends the zombie apocalypse…at least as far as this list is concerned. Hopefully we’ve helped you discover some title that makes popping zombie head with a bullet sound like your kind of fun.