What are the best zombie games on PC in 2022? You can hardly take a step on Steam without these clutching at your ankle, so it’s a valid question. Don’t dismiss the entire genre just because there are tons of brainless clones, though. Luckily, our list of dead-good hits has everything an zombie enthusiast could ask for.
Zombie games range from simulation-style management games, to co-op games that are more Lovecraftian period pieces, and if you like, you can even take a shambling detour through tower defense games and post-apocalypse parkour. Popular culture’s fascination with the undead has given us many gifts – and a lot of memes – so it’s important you get your bearings and learn what’s what. Whatever state of decay your taste is in, these are the best zombie games on PC and no, we will not be taking any questions at this time.
These are the best zombie games on PC in 2022:
State of Survival
State of Survival is a game that’s very obviously been influenced by The Walking Dead, with many things (from character tropes through to soundtrack) that will be familiar to those who are fans of the franchise. Also Daryl is in it. Nonetheless, if you’ve ever thought that you’d like the experience of taking care of a group of survivors in that world, then this is a game that you should definitely take for a spin.
The gameplay takes several different forms. You’ll spend a lot of your time managing your base and making sure that you’ve got enough resources and that you’ve trained enough people to be able to fight against the zombies. Then there are tower defence-style battles where you have to deploy your people, along with turrets and other weapons in order to stop an advancing horde of the undead. Finally, there are overworld battles, where you see your units go up against zombies (or even other players). It all comes together to provide a zombie game that’s as nuanced and tactical as it is atmospheric.
It was a long time coming, but the Resident Evil 2 remake delivers on fan expectations in a big way. Opting for an over-the-shoulder perspective rather than the fixed camera angles of the original, it faithfully recreates the classic horror game’s iconic police station and other spine-tingling areas filled to the brim with zombies waiting to eat your face off.
Of course, there’s also the constant spectre of Mr. X stomping around like he owns the place or the hideous monstrosity lurking in the sewers keeps you on your toes. It’s the best of the classic Resident Evil games, and since future games such as Resident Evil Village shamble away from undead people as their main enemies, it’s one of the best Resident Evil games with zombies in.
Honestly, you could elect any of Treyarch’s Call of Duty games to this list, because their zombie horde modes are the best around. Black Ops 4 had an excellent good zombies mode, but we’ve singled out Black Ops Cold War because it’s a nice entry point for those who’ve not played this mode before, and is a fantastic FPS game overall.
It also has a fresh story, great tutorials, easter eggs galore, and the original map is much easier for the classic survival modes. There are still tons to sink your teeth into and the reception from those who have played it has been more positive than prior instalments.
Those looking for a game similar to Left 4 Dead may find a lot to enjoy with Back 4 Blood. While it initially had a rocky launch, balance patches and updates have made Back 4 Blood’s campaign a worthy entry. You can upgrade the playable characters, known as Cleaners, by equipping cards to buff their skills or give them more uses for healing items.
All the while though, the ‘Game Director’ constantly adjusts the difficulty level based on your team’s performance, introducing new threats. Since its release, there have been two expansions, each with new playable characters, weapons, and chapters for your team of Cleaners to wade through.
“This is how you died,” Project Zomboid tells you as you walk gingerly into the overrun American countryside for the first time. This is not going to end well. But you can drag out the inevitable for some time – eking out an isometric existence through the shrewd scavenging, food sourcing, and first aid skills you will have honed well from the best survival games.
The entire map is open, and guidance is minimal – only good preparation and a tab open to the Zomboid wiki can save you. Once you have established a domestic base, the game becomes a matter of tense smash and grabs, weighing up potential loot against the chance of zombie encounters. Long-term survival means rebuilding rural America – constructing and maintaining farms and adopting a defensive playstyle.
Where most zombie games are about hitting the dead with something weighty before moving onto heavier artillery, Zomboid is about avoidance, careful management, and slow-burn strategy. Speaking of slow burn, Zomboid has been in open development for nearly half a decade – so see what we make of it in our Project Zomboid Early Access review. But do not be put off by the Early Access tag: this is one of the richest zombie games in existence.
Days Gone is a zombie game for those who feel that experiences such as Dead Rising need a more open-world focus. It starts rather slowly, with the motorcycle-riding protagonist scavenging from ravaged roads of the Cascade region, but soon revs up to become a rather intense experience. While most zombie games lose their threat as soon as you find a vehicle, the Freakers in Days Gone are more inclined to recklessly leap at you as you speed along the debris-ridden roads, and before too long, you’ll have to contend with hordes of zombified humans and animals. If that doesn’t sell you, how about the prospect of fending off zombie bears?
Despite stretching supporter’s patience to breaking point with its arguable abuse of the Early Access concept, there is more than enough to standalone DayZ to remind you why the mod garnered all that goodwill.
You will still endure that nervy survival phase, flitting from greenhouse to gas station in an effort to gather gear and avoid conflict – DayZ is one of those simulation games where the ravenous undead are the not what haunts your every step. You will still have those Cormac McCarthy moments on the road, scanning a stranger for clues as to their intentions. Once you are subsisting on soda and scraps, however, DayZ opens up. That greenhouse becomes a proper farming plot. It is enough to keep you and passing traders alive.
Banditry is no longer DayZ’s default – there is potential for trading centres, large-scale farms, and stable villages. Unfortunately, we are a few updates away from the post-societal civilised dream, and over time the bugs and performance issues can chomp away at your enthusiasm. But DayZ is not just a survival sim any more – it’s also a living sim.
If you’re looking for story then you’re beter served by the original State of Decay, however, the sequel does an admirable job of fleshing out the systems of the first game to make for a more satisfying survival / open-world game.
Playing like an RPG, State of Decay 2 has a simple yet satisfying core loop. You will pick a protagonist from your community of survivors and take them out into the wild to find the necessary food, fuel, or drugs to keep the rest alive. Once they collapse into bed back home – or under the blows of the undead – you can take control of another character from your base with their own background, personality, and combat abilities.
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Whenever you choose to let another stranger into your growing base, you are letting in another playable character; another new story to write a middle and an end to. We can’t wait to see what State of Decay 3 is like.
One of the best co-op games on PC – apart from Left 4 Dead 2 – Killing Floor 2 is a chaotic, frantic rush as you blow out undead brains to rambunctious heavy metal.
Zombies of all shapes and sizes come at you thick and fast, making Killing Floor 2 an excellent pick-up-and-play co-op title. But as you devote more time to indulging in a spot of zombie bashing, Killing Floor 2 becomes a zombie game with an engrossing tactical element: do you spend your blood-soaked resources now, or save them for a tougher future confrontation?
Techland built on the runaway – shuffle-away? – success of Dead Island with Dying Light – another open-world zombie game kitted out with customisable melee weapons and four-player co-op. Then the studio (eventually) gave us Dying Light 2, and we couldn’t be happier.
What sets Dying Light 2 apart from its rivals is the excellent parkour system. Already decent in the first game, it’s living its best unlife in Dying Light 2. While this open-world RPG game is not without its problems, it’s still off to a strong start and easily earns a place as one of the best zombie games of the past year.
Like its survivors in a post-outbreak world, Dying Light 2 is a scavenger. Its map icons and diversions are ripped from the Ubisoft formula. The parkour is nicked from Mirror’s Edge. But the clambering informs every other aspect of the game, turning this into an explorative, emergent adventure. For best results, ignore the more repetitive missions and take to the rooftops, built with vertical meandering in mind.
This zombie game homage to the most famous old game game of all time is tough as nails. Organ Trail tasks you with guiding a station wagon of survivors on a journey out west and like all zombie survival games your primary concerns are keeping a good stock of food, medicine, and ammo, not to mention avoiding roaming packs of flesh-eating undead.
The real stars of Organ Trail are the random events encounters, which will continue to catch you off guard hours into the game with everything from zombie boss fights and gangs of raiders, to your survivors contracting diseases or receiving curious jobs from strangers. In Organ Trail you’re always on the back foot, managing your party’s gradual descent into illness and hysteria one horrific encounter at a time, but every fight you manage to scrape through feels like a herculean accomplishment, and it’s that feeling that drives your feeble station wagon onward.
It’s been thirteen years, but Left 4 Dead 2 is economical in the way Valve shooters are. That means that unlike many zombie games, it has aged well – despite the lack of any fancy, physically-based rendering or global illumination. It is a zombie game that certainly has not been bettered, even when compared to differently-themed siblings Vermintide and the two Payday crime games.
While some post-apocalyptic scenarios default to a familiar version of zombie-dom we have long been desensitised to, Left 4 Dead 2 presents a world in which normality is all too recent. Though cities have emptied out after waves of evacuations, humanity feels close enough to touch thanks to the messages scrawled on the walls of safe houses. There is a unique warmth here, too: the cultural influence of New Orleans and its environs seeps from the swamps to the streets and into the soundtrack.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead series is best described as a conversation system tied to a timer, inspired by social anxiety. A sense of interpersonal warmth framed by overarching gloom, like a campfire on a cold night. There is a tendency to disarm you with humour and half an hour of respite before swiping cruelly at the characters you have come to care about in a way that only the best adventure games on PC can. Those evil geniuses.
It is something we would like to see from more zombie games: The Walking Dead is not really about the walkers. They are merely the backdrop for a series of stories about human nature. The key characters here are capable of both great kindnesses and unforgivable evils in the name of protecting their own. The only reassurance is found at the end of each episode, when you get to see what percentage of fellow players made the same terrible compromises as you. You’ll have plenty such agonising decisions to make by the time it comes round to finale, but The Walking Dead: The Final season is the series at its best.
Atom Zombie Smasher is one of very few zombie games going for the big picture. It puts you in charge of the city of Nuevo Aires’ defence forces and tasks you with saving as many citizens as you can. From your top-down perspective you call in rescue helicopters, direct sniper teams, and make monstrous sacrifices to achieve your goal.
Your goal for most maps is simple: airvac as many citizens as possible. You tell your helicopters where to land, place your marine teams, and set up explosives. Then, when you hit start, zombies flood in from different entrances around the level. If a zombie reaches a civilian they are instantly infected, and all too quickly a city block can become swamped with undead.
Sometimes you have to cut your losses. Every time you put up a game-saving blockade, you are inevitably trapping some of your charges on the wrong side. The distanced top-down perspective – which casts yellow dots as civvies and pink ones as zombs – encourages distanced utilitarianism. You are not Francis, Bill, Zoey, or Louis this time – you are the military dropping bombs on their heads.
For those looking for zombie games on a budget, there’s always the free PC game Unturned. Here you’ll find a world filled with items to loot, a large map to explore, and many blocky-looking zombies. Constant updates ensure that it remains somewhat fresh, even if the core gameplay is similar to DayZ.
It may not be the most realistic survival game out there, but it’s much more accessible thanks to the simple concept of just surviving for as long as you can. Unturned is at its best when you’re patrolling the zombie-infested streets with a few trustworthy buddies.