Once we gave up on the visions of lustrous future we replaced them with post-apocalypse. The brutal, unforgiving wastelands and restructured societies are a good fodder for video games.

This article discusses some of the best games taking place in post-apocalyptic worlds for quick reference.

What is a post-apocalypse in the first place?

In broad strokes, any story set some time after the previous status quo of the world has fallen to a cataclysm is post-apocalyptic.

Whether the cataclysmic event was an asteroid, a nuclear war, or an invasion of demons, the old world is gone. Maybe some remnants remain, maybe the local population was scattered and changed its way of life entirely.

Most post-apocalyptic worlds, especially in video games which thrive on conflicts, are very dangerous with bandits, crazed cults, monsters, and wild animals. If you play a post-apo game be prepared to fight tooth and claw to survive a world in shambles.

Now that we have established a common ground, we can move on to discussing the games themselves.

Best Post-Apocalyptic Games
GameReleaseGenre
The Last of Us Part I 2023-03-28 Action-adventure
The Last of Us Part I | Deluxe Edition 2023-03-28 Action-adventure
Frostpunk 2018-04-24 Simulation
NieR: Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition 2017-03-17 Adventure
Wasteland 3 2020-08-28 RPG
Mad Max 2015-09-01 Adventure
Darksiders III 2018-11-27 Adventure
Far Cry New Dawn Deluxe Edition 2019-02-15 Adventure
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition 2020-08-07 Adventure
Rage 2 Deluxe Edition 2019-05-14 Action
Horizon Forbidden West 2022-02-18 Adventure
Metro Exodus 2020-02-14 Adventure
Dying Light 2 | Deluxe Edition 2022-02-04 Adventure
Stray 2022-07-19 Adventure
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition 2010-10-21 Adventure

The Last of Us Part I

Release date:2023-03-28
Genre:Action-adventure
Developer:Naughty Dog

The Last of Us tends to come back every few years as a hot topic of discussion, most recently thanks to an excellent remake (which also came to PC) and a great HBO show adaptation. Millions of people have joined Joel and Ellie on their grueling trip across the United States consumed by a fungal infection turning people into volatile, mutated zombie-like creatures.

The Last of Us Part I is a third-person, story-driven action game with strong horror and stealth elements, especially where the nerve-wracking clickers are roaming. TLoU knows how to balance quiet and tense moments, to sell both the humanity surviving the apocalypse, and the nightmarish reality driving people to the depths of desperation.

Key features
  • Excellent modern graphics thanks to a full remake
  • Gripping, emotional, psychologically complex story
  • Tense third-person gameplay mixing stealth, action, and exploration
  • A chilling concept of post-apocalypse brought by a mutant fungal infection

Frostpunk

Release date:2018-04-24
Genre:Simulation
Developer:11 bit studios

Usually, when apocalypse hits, it strikes the modern world, leaving picturesque abandoned cars and majestically leaning skyscrapers behind. Not so in the case of Frostpunk, here the ice age came to 19th century Earth. The game takes place in England, and you’re a leader of a group of survivors who gathered around one of the few coal-powered heat generators staving off the biting cold.

Frostpunk is a rare post-apo game which instead of making you a regular nobody trying to survive it makes you a person in power to ensure said survival. Your job is to keep your people alive, which means making a lot of difficult decisions, and relying on questionable methods. It’s a fascinating take on a city-management genre, and one that’s set for a second installment in the near future.

Key features
  • A city-building game set during a freak ice age striking 19th century Earth
  • You have plenty of moral dilemmas to figure out as the city ruler
  • Keeping the city operable is a challenging task
  • Several scenarios

NieR: Automata

Release date:2017-03-17
Genre:RPG
Developer:PlatinumGames

NieR: Automata is set thousands of years after a war between humans and robots reduced much of the Earth to ruin through means that would require us diving into the weirdness of the Drakengard series. The point is: the Earth is hostile to humans, robots are running the show, and you’re playing as a fighty Android sent down from humanity’s base on the moon to strike at the robots.

NieR: Automata’s vision of post-apocalypse is a fantastic setting backdrop and a basis for a fascinating, complex story revealed over the game’s odd, but satisfying take on New Game system. But it’s not all story, in fact, N:A is also a very, very competent action RPG with fantastic hack and slash combat and more bullet hell moments than you’d expect from a TPP game.

Key features
  • Interesting story with a surprising amount of philosophy and existentialism
  • Great, action-packed gameplay
  • Many endings, several playthroughs
  • Connected to the Drakenguard series in a bizarre manner

Rage 2

Release date:2019-05-14
Genre:Action
Developer:Bethesda Softworks

Although the original Rage didn’t gain much traction, Rage 2 seems distinctive and lively enough to carry the franchise to success. The intensely colorful designs of the Rage 2 apocalypse bring to mind Mad Max if it was made by graffiti artists.

Rage 2 is going to be a no-holds-barred first-person action game, with superpowers, power-boosting Overdrive mode, devastating weapons, deranged enemies, and no regard for the limits of a human body. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Key features
  • Distinctive visual identity makes the open world look like few others
  • Special Overdrive mode gives you a burst of power
  • You play as one Ranger Walker
  • Nanotrite-fueled superpowers

Wasteland 2

Release date:2014-09-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:inXile Entertainment

Wasteland is an old franchise — it not only predates Fallout but can be pointed at as one of the biggest inspirations for that series. Wasteland 2 is a Kickstarter-funded, demanding role-playing game with turn-based tactical battles.

Build your team of Rangers and start investigating the death of one of your colleagues. Track the mystery from Arizona to Los Angeles and solve the troubles of communities you find along the way. The ending will tell you what your actions have wrought.

Key features
  • Engaging, tactical turn-based battles
  • A story based around investigating a murder mystery
  • A resurrection of a series which inspired Fallout
  • Choices have consequences, sooner or later

Mad Max

Release date:2015-09-01
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Avalanche Studios

If you enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road, you’re likely to have a good time with this adaptation of George Miller’s classic series. This open-world action-adventure has brawling and vehicular combat in spades.

Max’s Interceptor has been stolen, and he’s in need of a new ride to defeat the crazed warlord of the wasteland and recover what’s rightfully his. The dried-up sea floor making up the game’s map is a unique and surprisingly diverse locale for this adventure.

Key features
  • Excellent vehicular combat
  • Improving the bases of several allied communities
  • Impactful hand-to-hand combat system
  • Car-building and ability progression looks amazing

Darksiders 3

Release date:2018-11-27
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Gunfire Games

The kingdoms of Hell and Heaven invaded the kingdom of Earth, responding to the alleged signal to begin the apocalypse. Between their arrival and humanity’s demise, seven deadly sins took root on Earth. Kill them, would you?

in Darksiders 3 you play as Fury who, like her brothers War and Death, has a mission which would escape the bounds of what she thought she knew about the world… and kill many enemies with her deadly barbed whip in fast-paced, action-heavy combat.

Key features
  • Exquisite art direction typical for the Darksiders franchise
  • A beautiful vision of ruined cities and demonic demesnes
  • Several forms you can assume, each providing unique abilities
  • A continuation of an excellent franchise

Far Cry New Dawn

Release date:2019-02-15
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Ubisoft

Far Cry New Dawn is a sequel to Far Cry 5, taking place 17 years after the bombastic ending of Far Cry 5. New Dawn is set on FC5’s map of Montana reimagined to reflect what happened in the meantime. There are even some returning characters, who may offer commentary on the last 17 years.

New Dawn presents a vivid and lively view of the post-apocalypse, which, like in aesthetically similar Rage 2, meshes well with the series typical intense, often ridiculous, player-instigated action. And the story is just silly enough to work with that setup!

Key features
  • Vivid and colorful image of post-apocalyptic Montana
  • Characters from Far Cry 5 make a comeback
  • Player-generated action as entertaining as ever
  • Upgradeable base and recruitable Specialists

Horizon Zero Dawn

Release date:2020-08-07
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Guerrilla Games

One of the several singleplayer hits which launched on PlayStation 4, Horizon Zero Dawn takes place in a stunning post-apocalyptic world overgrown by nature and ruled by both small and massive robots with bestial shapes.

As Aloy, a young hunter, you’ll track and hunt the animalistic machines, craft tools using their parts, and get to the bottom of the recent wave of attacks from the robots. The world of HZD is beautiful and its history is quite interesting.

Key features
  • Creative designs of animalistic robots
  • Interesting lore of the setting
  • Hunting monsters gives a lot of satisfaction
  • Stunning vistas with a photo mode letting you easily capture the best scenes

Fallout: New Vegas

Release date:2010-10-21
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment

One of the most famous role-playing games of the last decade, Fallout: New Vegas takes place on the sun-scorched Nevada desert, torn apart by a conflict between the Caesar’s Legion, New California Republic, and the city of New Vegas.

Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, New Vegas offers the players a lot of freedom in many aspects, including what kind of character they play, with whom they want to ally, and what is their chosen approach to solving problems.

Key features
  • A large map worth exploring
  • Several routes for the main storyline to follow
  • Deep and broad character progression, with many perks and items to pick from
  • Players can quickly switch between turn-based and action-based combat.

Supplementary apocalypses

The games listed above are by no means all productions with post-apocalyptic themes out there. Below you’ll find an additional list with a few more suggestions which didn’t make it to the main list.

Other Post-Apocalyptic Video Games

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This is the end

This concludes our selection of games about the end of the world and beyond. There are many more out there (such as Fallout New Vegas’ predecessors Fallout 1 and FO2), and most likely there are many more still to be imagined and created, as post-apocalypse is a fertile ground for games full of danger and with stories about restructured societies. The cause of the apocalypse being natural or man-made, scientific or mystical, doesn’t change that fact.