The 2019 virus outbreak took us all by surprise. Within a few weeks it spread across the globe, changing the daily lives of millions of people. With the number of infected growing by the day, and the death toll also on the rise, it is hard to foresee what the future has in store for us. Or is it?

For years, global epidemics were at the center of the interest of popular media. Countless movies, books, and graphic novels warned us about the effects of diseases taking over the word. The pandemics varied in nature – although most of them involved some form of a zombie plague – but they were enough to leave a solid mark on the mass consciousness.

Ready to jump into the chaos of a viral outbreak?
Experience the thrill of survival with these top-rated video games about viral outbreaks
The Last of Us Part 1 2023-03-28 Adventure Naughty Dog
Resident Evil 4 Remake 2023-03-24 Horror Capcom Development Division 1
Dying Light 2 2022-02-04 Action Techland Publishing
A Plague Tale: Requiem 2022-10-18 Action Asobo Studio
Tom Clancy's The Division 2 2019-03-15 Shooter Massive Entertainment
They Are Billions 2017-12-12 Strategy Numantian Games
World War Z 2019-04-16 Shooter Saber Interactive
Resident Evil 2 2019-01-25 Action Capcom Development Division 1
Resident Evil 3 2020-04-03 Action M-TWO
A Plague Tale Innocence 2019-05-14 Adventure Asobo Studio
Resident Evil 7 2017-01-23 Horror CAPCOM
Plague Inc Evolved 2016-02-18 Indie Ndemic Creations
DayZ 2013-12-16 Adventure Bohemia Interactive Studio
Left 4 Dead 2 2009-11-16 Action & Shooter Valve
Left 4 Dead 2008-11-17 Action Certain Affinity
The Last of Us Remastered 2014-07-29 Adventure Naughty Dog
The Last of Us Part II 2020-06-19 Action & Adventure Naughty Dog
Dying Light: The Following 2015-01-26 Adventure Techland
Back 4 Blood 2021-10-12 Shooter Turtle Rock Studios
METAL GEAR SOLID V: The Phantom Pain 2015-09-01 Adventure Kojima Productions

Especially video games, the most interactive of the media, had a significant influence on how we perceive the current situation. While the coronavirus is not a laughing matter, we might as well take a look at some games, which helped to shape the gamers’ definition of “outbreak apocalypse” and what lessons could we learn from them.


Release year:2015-03-24
Developer:From Software

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: some scalpels have to be really big, and there might be hidden abominations observing us with too much intent.

You came to Yharnam to seek a cure for Paleblood, but during a transfusion, you black out and wake up to a city overrun by monsters and people turned bestial. Terrible time to recuperate.

Over the course of the game you’ll clash and defeat many denizen of the city affected by the weird plague, and, in the process perhaps you’ll uncover the illness’s source and cure for it.

Bloodborn is possibly studio FromSoftware’s most respected and beloved production. An intense, fast-paced, brutal action RPG game set in a deliciously gloomy Gothic city with more than a little cosmic horror in its plot and worldbuilding. As the Hunter, you have a bloody way to cut, using an interesting arsenal, your own skill, and the game’s built-in progression system. The choices and discovering you make will influence the ending you’ll see. So, what is it going to be, Hunter? Can you brave the infested city’s horrors and emerge with your mind intact?


Release year:2009-06-10
Developer:Radical Entertainment

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: if we eat people, we can see their memories.

You wake up in a morgue and escaping before getting gunned down by armed guards protecting the facility. When you hop right over a tall gate, you realize things aren’t going to be simple.

It doesn’t take long for Manhattan to be in the grips of a virus causing not only disgusting mutations, but also an open intervention from a paramilitary group.

To reveal the exact nature of the virus would be considered extremely spoilery, being exposed to it gives the protagonist, Alex Mercer, incredible abilities, ranging from enhanced strength and resilience to turning parts of his body into weapons and impersonating consumed NPCs. Prototype is effectively a superhero game starring a very anti-heroic main character. It also features an interesting storytelling gimmick: while the core story is revealed to you as you progress through missions, the Web of Intrigue features nodes you can only fill by consuming specific NPCs in the open world.

The Last of Us Part I

Release year:2023-03-28
Developer:Naughty Dog

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: shivs are useful, but puns are the only way to maintain morale.

In 2013, the United Stated were hit by an aggressive strain of the Cordyceps fungus, which turned thousands, if not millions of people into violent, mutated “zombies” quickly after being exposed to the infection.

Two decades later, a potential cure was found: Ellie, a girl immune to the fungus. To give humanity a chance to survive, she needs to be taken across the US, to people who have a shot at making a vaccine.

This is the premise of The Last of Us Part I, and the game has you playing as Joel, a hardened, broken smuggler tasked with protecting Ellie from fungal zombies and desperate, evil, corrupt humans alike. It’s going to be lengthy, emotionally and physically draining journey, and its story has stuck with millions of people since original 2013 release. Now, with a hit show and a full-blown remake for modern hardware, it’s the perfect time to relive Joel and Ellie’s trials once again, or to experience it for the first time.

Resident Evil series (especially remakes of 2 and 3)

Release year:2019-01-25
Developer:Capcom Development Division 1

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: that zombies are highly susceptible to headshots, and some of them can walk through walls.

Resident Evil can be considered a series that put the theme zombie virus outbreak on the gaming world map. The adventures, or rather misadventures, in undead-infested Raccoon City, gave the players a first-hand experience of trying to survive the apocalypse.

Stepping around each corner was fraught with danger, each open door could lead into a trap, each shadow could hide a new T-Virus monstrosity waiting to kill us. But, thanks to the fleshed-out protagonists – Leon, Claire, Jill and Carlos – we felt a little bit more in control.

The recent remakes of the 2nd and 3rd installments of Resident Evil bought the series into 21st century with state-of-the-art-graphics and excellent mechanics combining all the best elements of the original titles with modern gameplay solutions.

World War Z

Release year:2019-04-16
Genre:Third-person shooter
Developer:Saber Interactive

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: that it’s dangerous to go alone against the undead hordes.

World War Z was a groundbreaking book in how it presented the zombie apocalypse. The work of Max Brooks told a unique story of an outbreak, which turned the population of the world into carnivorous monsters. Rather than a novel, World War Z was a chronicle of what happened after the outbreak, focusing on different efforts humanity took to stop it.

While not as novel as its literary progenitor, 2019’s World War Z did a good job of conveying the main theme of the book – desperate efforts for survival that unified people towards a common goal. The game was based on cooperation between the players, who had to work together to survive against the hordes of the undead, flooding the level from every corner. With decent mechanics and well-written characters, World War Z is a competent action game, despite not having much to do with its source material.

Left 4 Dead 1 & 2

Release year:2008-11-17
Developer:Certain Affinity

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: that taking on hordes of the undead with friends when friendly fire is on can lead to really awkward situations.

Left 4 Dead is another game where cooperation between the players is the key to their survival. The game is set during an apocalypse caused by a viral outbreak, which turned infected into rabid monsters. The player’s job is to survive against the hordes of the infected, employing various weapons and cooperative tactics.

The game features various types of enemies – from bile-spitting Boomers to tongue-lashing Smokers. Each enemy requires a different approach and cooperation from the players to take them down. Friendly fire mechanics are included in the game, which can lead to some confusion during heated firefights against the infected. The player should be careful not to hurt their friends…or not. After all, when you’re surrounded and outnumbered, it’s every man for himself.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release year:2019-05-14
Developer:Asobo Studio

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: that even during the time of plague, family bonds remain strong.

In comparison with the previous installments on our list, A Plague Tale: Innocence may initially seem a bit dull. What, no shooting zombies with heavy machine guns, no mobs or bosses filling up half of the screen?

If you find yourself thinking along those lines, please reconsider. Innocence might not be the most action-packed title in history, but what it lacks in thrills it makes up for in the story. Set in France during the Hundred Years’ War, it tells a touching story of siblings, one of which is believed to be the carrier of the plague. The player travels through decimated villages and towns, seeing the effects of the plague on people’s lives. The game focuses on stealth as Amicia, the player’s character, is no warrior. To sneak past the guards and other enemies, the player will have to employ various evasive maneuvers and distraction tactics.

Plague Inc. Evolved

Release year:2016-02-18
Developer:Ndemic Creations

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: that the safest places in the world Are Australia and Madagascar.

Plague Inc Evolved is a unique entry on our list. While other games had the player outgunning or outrunning the outbreak, in Plague Inc. the player is the direct cause of it.

Choosing from a variety of pathogens – from bacteria, viruses, and fungi to bioweapons, the player spreads the disease across the globe, evolving it along the way, with the sole goal of exterminating all of life on earth. The player can develop their pathogen in few different ways, acquiring new symptoms, methods of spreading and resistances with each new level, while simultaneously racing against the doctors who waste no time preparing the vaccine. At the end of the gameplay, the player is left with a feeling of sadistic satisfaction that thanks to their clever strategies, humanity has been wiped from the face of the Earth.


Release year:2013-12-16
Developer:Bohemia Interactive Studio

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: that in the world infested by zombies, your worst enemy will be people trying to steal your car in the middle of a road.

Are you ready to spend most of your days building a base, filling it with the best vehicles and weapons only for someone to break in and steal everything the moment you step outside.

DayZ gives the player a unique chance to experience the world after the zombie apocalypse, where the most dangerous enemies are other humans. In the game the player is tasked with surviving in the harsh world, in which literally everything will try to kill them -from the infected to other players, to starvation.

The game heavily emphasizes staying fit and healthy, which can be done by eating consumables, wearing appropriate clothing, collecting medical supplies etc. With all that, DayZ provides the player with a genuine experience of surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, where even the smallest misstep may cause the player to kick the proverbial bucket. And get robbed. Not necessarily in that order.

They Are Billions

Release year:2017-12-12
Developer:Numantian Games

What does it teach us about surviving the apocalypse: that in staying at home during an outbreak is not all that bad – as long as your home is a fortress.

Set in a world after an outbreak, which turned most of the global population into – you guessed it! – zombies, They Are Billions tasks the player with building a base and defend it from the hordes of the infected.

The player will have to strengthen the defenses of their fortress through the exploration of nearby areas and collection of necessary materials. In the Villages of Doom – heavily infested locations on the map, the player will find resources that they can use – wood, stone, iron, and oil, among others. However, scavenging it those areas may result in a vicious counter-attack from the undead. Developing the fortress’s defenses will be crucial to avoid a base-wide infestation – inf the zombies get inside the player’s fortress, they may cause a domino effect, which may lead to the base’s downfall.