Scientists haven’t figured out what makes shooting zombies so fun, but there’s got to be a reason why this subgenre of survival games has become so popular. From series like Resident Evil to Call of Duty, there are more than enough games to get your blood pumping.
Even if the general premise remains the same, each zombie game offers its own experience, and it’s a good idea to know what you’re in for before you buy. We have tested several zombie games to figure out which ones are the goriest, scariest, and, above all, most fun to play.
1. The Last of Us
The Infected in The Last of Us aren’t technically zombies since they haven’t died and risen again, but let’s face it, they share the same basic traits. They have a hunger for flesh and move at Joel and Ellie with the same voracious intensity seen in other zombie games. They’re frightening, especially in Clicker form, with their disgusting fungus limbs and mushroom heads.
The Last of Us excels in every imaginable facet, from its methodical third-person action gameplay to its stunning presentation to the delivery of its sterling story. Even if you are completely sick of zombie games, The Last of Us is a must-play. The Infected are far better developed than most traditional zombies, and the overarching story is one of the best the medium has seen, especially as a horror game on the PS4.
The Last of Us is available as a PS3 game and PS4 game (remastered version).
Read our full The Last of Us review
2. Dying Light
Dying Light mixes parkour, re management, and crafting to create a game that you probably either love or hate. Playing as an undercover agent in a quarantined area, Dying Light forces you to scavenge for materials to survive. The strong emphasis on scavenging and crafting may be a turn off for some, but if the loop clicks, it really clicks.
In the daylight, zombies are easy to avoid with gadgets that allow you to practice parkour. At night, however, the zombies can run and are a major threat to your survival. To complicate matters further, the vast majority of the tools at your disposal are melee weapons. So Dying Light promotes, by nature, lots of close quarters, tense conflicts. Dying Light winds up as one of the best, most complex open-world zombie games around.
A sequel, Dying Light 2, is currently in development. Dying Light is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Read our full Dying Light review
3. Back 4 Blood
While it seems like we may never get another true Left 4 Dead game, more on that series later, we thankfully got a sequel in all but name. Back 4 Blood was made by the original brains behind the influential co-op zombie shooter, and is exactly what fans have been asking for. You will team up with a group of up to three friends, each selecting your own character, as you shoot, punch, and explode your way through various campaign missions.
The twist in Back 4 Blood is the new card system that makes every run unique. Yes, zombies and special infected are always randomized, but these cards add another layer of unpredictability on top of that. You may have a run with more of a certain type, or one where the map is covered in fog, limiting visibility. You can also build your own deck of cards that act as perks, upgrade guns, and more.
Back 4 Blood is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC
Read our full: Back 4 Blood review
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War
The cooperative zombies mode has been a Call of Duty fan-favorite since its debut in Call of Duty: World at War. The horde-style mode tasks players with eliminating waves of zombies while repairing structures, gaining access to new areas, and unlocking new weapons and gear. As a co-op game, it’s an unexpected treasure.
While we think all of the zombie modes in CoD have their merits, Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War stands out the most among the best Call of Duty games. Along with its excellent maps and new wrinkles to the tense Zombies formula, this version has a new progression system that makes replaying each map feel like you’re always building toward something.
Cold War is available on PS5, PS4,Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.
5. Dead Rising 3
The Dead Rising series from Capcom is a more lighthearted take on zombies. Filled with comedic dialogue and wacky weapons, Dead Rising 3 shined as one of the Xbox One games that came with its launch back in 2013.
Unlike the first two games, Dead Rising 3 was set in a true open world. With this came bigger environments and more opportunities for massive standoffs with the undead. Areas are often flooded with zombies, with dozens upon dozens on screen at once.
While most could be mowed down easily, the strength that came with staggering numbers forced you to make use of the fairly deep crafting system. Dead Rising 3 felt like a B-movie zombie apocalypse simulator, and we say that as a compliment. An argument could be made that Dead Rising 4 upped the ante, considering the increase in zombies and all, but we prefer 3’s environments and progression.
Dead Rising 3 is available on Xbox One and PC.
Read our full Dead Rising 3 review
6. Resident Evil 2 (2019)
Resident Evil 2 is one of the greatest survival horror games of all time, and one of the best Resident Evil games to boot. The original’s tank controls and camera perspectives created much of its frights. Somehow, though, Capcom recreated Leon and Claire’s adventure in Raccoon City to be even more terrifying with modern control systems.
Playing like a less action-packed version of Resident Evil 4, RE2 has some of the most spine-tingling zombie encounters we’ve experienced. From the crunch of a ravenous zombie chomping on your neck, to the sheer fear of Mr. X stomping down the hall, Resident Evil 2 is a nerve-wracking romp from start to finish. And then you have to play it again as the other hero to see the real ending.
Resident Evil 2 is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Read our full Resident Evil 2 review
7. Resident Evil 4
While we tried to only include one game from each franchise on this list, we’d be remiss not to feature Resident Evil 4, one of the greatest action games of all time. Capcom’s turn to an action-oriented Resident Evil was somewhat controversial, but wow, did it deliver.
Leon Kennedy’s solo adventure to rescue the president’s daughter from a rural area in Europe overrun by villagers turned to zombies was simply memorizing. Ammo was more plentiful and true scares were somewhat subdued, but the zombies themselves were better designed than ever before.
Resident Evil 4 ushered the iconic franchise into a new era emphasizing more frequent firefights against larger groups of zombies. Sure, we’re happy the franchise returned to its roots with Resident Evil 7, but RE4 remains a high point of the series.
Resident Evil 4 is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch.
8. The Walking Dead: Season One
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Season One offered a different type of zombie experience. Using Telltale’s patented brand of interactive storytelling, The Walking Dead was light on mechanics, reserving them for dialogue decisions, quick-time events, and other button prompts.
More interactive fiction than anything else, The Walking Dead relied heavily on its story. And the beginning of Lee’s and Clementine’s adventure was breathtaking. The episodic format split the impressive narrative into five chunks, each more consequential and revealing than the last.
The Walking Dead: Season One is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, mobile, and numerous legacy consoles.
9. Plants vs. Zombies
Plants vs. Zombies from PopCap Games is a colorful, cartoony game about protecting your garden from zombies. It’s decidedly less bloody and gory than most of the other games on this list, and the zombies are actually kind of cute?
Designed as a tower defense game, you place various plant-based protectors along your garden grid to stave off the invading zombies. It’s not the most complex tower defense game around, but it is certainly one of the most charming and addictive.
A sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2, and a big-budget spinoff series, Garden Warfare, are also available. All of the Plants vs. Zombies games are worth your time, but nothing beats the sublime simplicity and joy of the original.
Plants vs. Zombies is available on PC and also makes our list of the best Android games and iPhone games.
10. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare came out of nowhere. Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption was one of the most serious open-world games we’d ever played, and then the storied developer went and turned the western world into a zombie apocalypse. Yes, it was strange, and maybe it even undercut the serious nature of the original story, but it sure was a good time.
Undead Nightmare is one of the best expansions ever made, and we’d love to see a proverbial sequel in Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that impressed us even more than the already impressive original.
Undead Nightmare is available on PS3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One through backwards compatibility.
11. Left 4 Dead 2
Valve’s take on cooperative zombies proved to be a worthy alternative to Call of Duty’s. This was in large part due to the nuance added by the AI Director, the puppeteer who dynamically influenced each run through the game to make sure tension remained high throughout.
The cooperative campaign was the best part, but Left 4 Dead 2 also had an innovative versus mode that pitted infected players versus survivors. It’s been almost ten years since Left 4 Dead 2 launched, but we still think about how its marked impact on cooperative and versus modes today.
Left 4 Dead 2 is available on PC and Xbox 360.
ZombieU is one of the most underrated games of the last decade. Originally a Wii U exclusive (probably didn’t help), Ubisoft took us to London for a survival horror experience unlike any other. With a focus on scavenging and a surprisingly neat story, ZombieU had an eerie atmosphere filled with cool weapons and stellar frights.
By far, the best part of ZombieU was how it played with permadeath. You could die relatively easily, and once your character died, they were dead for good. The dead character’s body transforms into a zombie as you take on a new character. To take back your items, you’d have to kill zombie-you (ZombieU).
ZombieU is now available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One as just Zombie. We guarantee you’ll enjoy playing.
13. State of Decay
State of Decay is part zombie apocalypse and part job. The risk of creating such an unconventional game paid off — players love it. State of Decay was a radical game, crossing genres with outpost and base buildings like you’d normally find in modern RPGs.
The game has something for everyone, with action gamers opting to fight zombies face to face and strategy gamers choosing a more systematic, one-by-one takedown. Fans love the dynamic setup that keeps you coming back for more.
State of Decay puts players right in the center of the action every time, making it an immediate success. Many of us counted down the days to the sequel, which promised to build collaborative choices, but the design was glitchy and didn’t take off like the original.