The COVID-19 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. It is a truly sad reality that we l

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.

Pandemic and Virus Outbreak Games

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.

Resident Evil series (especially remakes of 2 and 3)

Release year2019, 2020
Developer/PublisherCapcom

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.

Key features
  • Survive against the zombie hordes in an infested city
  • Play as one of the series’ veterans – Leon, Claire, Jill and Carlos
  • Experience the city’s downfall, rendered with impeccable details

World War Z

Release year2019
Developer/PublisherSaber Interactive, Mad Dog Games

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.

World War Z

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.

Key features
  • Six-character classes to choose from
  • Various arenas, based on real-world locations, flooded by massive enemy mobs
  • Cooperative gameplay mechanics

Left 4 Dead

Release year2008
Developer/PublisherValve South, Valve

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.

Left 4 Dead 2 - gameplay

 

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.

Key features
  • Cooperative gameplay mechanics, including player healing and friendly fire
  • Different types of enemies, requiring a different approach from the player

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release year2019
Developer/PublisherAsobo Studio, Focus Home Interactive

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?

A Plague Tale: Innocence

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.

Key features
  • Excellent stealth mechanics
  • Realistic representation of Europe during the time of the plague.
  • A gripping tale of siblings’ love conquering even the greatest obstacles

Plague Inc. Evolved

Release year2016
Developer/PublisherNdemic 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.

Plague Inc: Evolved - gamescreen

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.

Key features
  • Various types of diseases with different string and weak points
  • RPG elements including leveling up the pathogen and equipping it with new abilities
  • Realistic depiction of the plague spreading across the globe and the world’s response to the outbreak

DayZ

Release year2018
Developer/PublisherBohemia Interactive

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.

Key features
  • Massively multiplayer online game, featuring both cooperative and competitive mechanics
  • A vast, open-world environment filled with the infected and other survivors
  • Survival-based gameplay, with features focusing on keeping the player character healthy

They Are Billions

Release year2019
Developer/PublisherNumantian 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.

They are Billions user interface

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.

Key features
  • Real-time strategy gameplay mechanics involving base management and world exploration
  • Manage your resources and strengthen the defenses of your stronghold against hordes of infected
  • Use the materials found in the world to create your units, each with their own variations