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The survival genre is one that has really picked up some traction in the last decade, and while it’s mainly down to a wide variety of excellent, varied titles on offer, you could argue that the regular pairing with a zombie apocalypse angle has helped keep eyes on the sub-genre.
While zombies seem like a pretty tapped-out narrative tool in most forms of media, gaming keeps finding ways to bring them back into the cultural zeitgeist. This is because traditional survival and undead monsters go hand in hand.
Survival is, presumably, a challenging thing to ensure in the middle of an apocalypse, never mind one with semi-sentient, flesh-eating beings crouched behind every corner.
The imminent threat of a zombie bite motivates the player to think critically, engage with all the survival mechanics at their disposal, and usually, makes them a pretty sureshot with a shotgun. One in the head, one in the heart, that’s the rule, right?
So, with all of this being said, why don’t we look at some of the best zombie survival games currently on the market?
As this genre continues to grow and the fanbase for more and more intense zombie-survival games continues to clamor for more content, I realized that to properly construct a list detailing the best of the best about this hyper-saturated genre; I would need to choose a series of rules to make said selection a little bit easier. These rules include:
- All games must be available to play right now. Early Access games will be considered
- The game in question must primarily be a traditional survival or survival horror game. Or, at the very least, have quite a few distinct survival mechanics.
- The games in question must have an aggregate score of 65% on Metacritic or higher
- These titles must include zombies as one of the critical underpinnings for the survival aspect of the game.
- Only one entry per franchise
Okay, arm yourself, folks; we are going out into the streets to push back the horde. Follow me!
- Developer: Capcom
- Metacritic Score: 93%
- Release Date: 24th March 2023
We begin with the most recent release coming out of the Resident Evil camp. Although, it is a remaster of a game that debuted in the mid-2000s, so fans of the series will find this one very familiar, with just enough tweaks to make a return to Valdelobos.
You’ll take control of Leon Kennedy as he must travel to Rural Spain to rescue the president’s daughter and uncover the secrets relating to the Los Illuminados Cult.
While many might have expected this one to be a pretty like-for-like remake, the remake takes a lot of big swings to improve on an already staggeringly polished RE experience, improving on the existing combat, exploration, and, naturally, the visuals on offer.
This game is an example of how to take something so beloved by the gaming community and lovingly drag it into the modern era. It’s a great RE title for Racoon City veterans and newbies alike, and for us, it’s the best RE title to jump into right now!
#2 – Project Zomboid
- Developer: The Indie Stone
- Metacritic Score: 76% (Based on User Score)
- Release Date: November 2013
It’s weird to think that Project Zomboid is still in Early Access in 2023, because when you play this game, you’ll be blown away by the sheer volume of survival systems, complex mechanics, and finer details that even some AAA games that are completely finished can’t boast.
Project Zomboid sees you plopped into a vast open-world zombie sandbox and simply asks the player to use all the tools in their arsenal, and the environment around them to survive as long as they can.
The Zombies will get you eventually, but bragging rights are earned by keeping them at bay for as long as you can.
The game boasts local and online co-op, a vast array of locations, vehicles, weapons, zombie variants, intense high-difficulty modes, and so much more. If you truly want to feel what it would be like to wake up and find the world filled with zombies, there is no better way to role-play as a survivor in the zombie apocalypse than this.
#3 – State of Decay Y.O.S.E
- Developer: Undead Labs
- Metacritic Score: 78%
- Release Date: 15th June “013
While there is the option to play the more recent installment in the State of Decay series, we would argue that the original far outdoes its successor, serving as a wonderful base management meets zombie survival epic.
This title is a little like the Project Zomboid experience, only this time, you will have to manage a community of characters, each with their own respective skill sets, as you seek to create a sanctuary in this new zombie-filled world.
Yet it also has some similarities to This War of Mine, as players will have to manage each NPC’s mental and physical health, have to engage with the risk and reward format of going on raids to get supplies, and every day that passes represents a new challenge.
Due to this approach, it’s one of those survival games that flirts with the idea of being an RPG at times. So, if you want a game that blends these two genres to an extent, this is probably the one for you.
#4 – 7 Days to Die
- Developer: The Fun Pimps
- Metacritic Score: N/A
- Release Date: June 2016 (Early Access)
Here we have another title that is still technically in its alpha stage, but feels more fleshed out than a lot of games out there.
7 Days to Die is a wonderfully open title that simply places the player in a vast open world with five huge biomes to explore, a ton of zombies to kill, and then leaves you to your own devices.
This naturally leads to a lot of frantic scavenging and some pretty clutch moments in the beginning, but before long, you’ll be an accomplished zombie killer with pretty of resources to maim, mutilate and cripple undead foes in very visceral and creative ways.
The game has co-op functionality, base-building mechanics, tonnes of survival considerations, an in-depth crafting system, randomly generated areas to explore that effectively offer infinite looting opportunities, and you’ll have a range of sick rides to get around in.
It’s yet another example of a zombie-filled adventure where you make your own rules. So, if you like to embrace in-game anarchy, this is a great option.
- Developer: Valve Corporation
- Metacritic Score: 89%
- Release Date: November 2009
I don’t know how Valve does it, but every time they deem to bless us with a new game, they somehow manage not only to create something that sets a new benchmark for developers everywhere. But also, they usually manage to create something timeless, and Left 4 Dead 2 is a prime example.
During a regular playthrough of this game, the player will choose one of four characters and, either accompanied by AI or friends, work their way through a series of maps and stages to reach the safety of ‘safe rooms’, with the ultimate goal being extraction from these zombie-infested environments.
While many have tried and failed to capture the co-op FPS magic of the L4D franchise, with Back 4 Blood being the latest swing and a miss, this late-2000s title remains the best example of multiplayer FPS survival.
Through refined gameplay and an accessible format, this game is still arguably the best Zombie FPS game ever made. So go play this one, and a little tip. Don’t shoot the Witch!
- Developer: Techland
- Metacritic Score: 76%
- Release Date: 4th February 2022
Do you remember that scene in The US Office where Michael, Dwight, and Andy burst into the office shouting and performing Parkour?
Well, imagine a genuinely terrifying zombie title with grotesque and vicious zombies, and in this world, Parkour is your primary tool to get around and stay out of the reach of sharp claws and sharper teeth.
Dying Light 2 is the follow-on from the successful free-running meets zombie-survival game, Dying Light, allowing players to explore a vast open world, engage in a much more interesting story when compared to the original, and acquire skills to get around with style, as the majority of residents in Villedor aren’t all that friendly, and I don’t just mean the zombies.
You can also play this game with up to three friends; the day/night cycle from the first title remains a key part of this game’s risk and reward structure, and there’s also plenty of DLC if that’s your bag too. All in all, it’s an open-world epic you need to check out!
#7 – Killing Floor 2
- Developer: Tripwire Interactive
- Metacritic Score: 72%
- Release Date: 16th November 2016
Here we have another classic of this genre, Killing Floor is easily one of the most fun and time-consuming games in the Zombie sub-genre, and after the original’s breakout success, Killing Floor 2 follows on from the original as the failed experiment takes its tole on Europe, and you must enter the dreaded red-zones to cut the horde down to size.
The player can either do this solo or with up to six players in online co-op, and the game offers some new considerations, such as new weapons, perks, and zombie variants, but the game mainly succeeds through delivering the same Killing Floor experience fans initially loved, albeit with more bells and whistles.
You’ll have a new Zeds vs. Humans mode to play around in, but equally, you’ll see the return of Zed bosses and Zed Time mechanics, making it all feel pretty familiar.
With the recent announcement of Killing Floor 3, there isn’t any better time to get acquainted with the series. So go on, grab a rifle, and get blasting!
- Developer: Endnight Games
- Metacritic Score: 83%
- Release Date: April 2018
Okay, we are going to break the rules ever slightly for this one, as the enemies present in The Forest are technically deranged cannibals. However, if they are dumb, mute, often mutated monsters that would love nothing more than to chow down on your flesh, then I ask you, what’s the difference really?
The game sees you crashland on a mysterious island, and when you awake, you find your son has been kidnapped, which will either lead to you gathering supplies, fashioning makeshift weapons, and taking to the intricate underground cave system to find him. Or, more likely, you’ll abandon your son to build a wicked treehouse base.
Whatever you choose, The Forest is a wonderful survival game, and while Sons of the Forest, the sequel, is more technically impressive, we still think that until that one is fully complete, The Forest is the optimal way to enjoy this series.
Here’s our complete The Forest Getting Started Guide.
#9 – Days Gone
- Developer: Brend Studio
- Metacritic Score: 71%
- Release Date: April 2019
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. I am not one of those out there who think Days Gone was hard done by when PlayStation users unanimously decided that this title was miles away from the usual standard of game within the Sony exclusive line-up. That being said, it’s still a pretty serviceable open-world zombie survival game with some cool ideas.
This game sees the player progress through a rather linear storyline as Deacon St. John, a former motorcycle gang member turned widower, survives in the harsh, zombie-infested, Pacific Northwest of the United States. But the story isn’t what makes this game worth playing. In fact, the game succeeds in spite of the lukewarm story.
Thanks to the incredible zombie swarm mechanics, the on-the-fly crafting system, the fluid combat, and the sheer amount of things to do and explore on the map, Days Gone provides an engaging gameplay format that allows you to go off on your own and cause mayhem, and really, that’s all we want as gamers, right?
See Also: Best PS4 Survival Games.
#10 – Dead Rising
- Developer: Capcom
- Metacritic Score: 85%
- Release Date: August 2006
While we have seen quite a few more modern entries to the Dead Rising gaming catalog, I still have a real soft spot for the initial title that put you in the shoes of Journalist Frank West.
He thinks he’s sniffed out a big story, and devastatingly for him, he has. A zombie outbreak occurs nearby and forces him to take refuge in the nearby shopping mall, which then sets off a timer, and you must survive until help arrives.
It’s a title that doesn’t take itself too seriously, allowing you to chop zombies down to size with just about any inanimate object you happen upon in the variety of stores in the mall and beyond.
Plus, the joy comes through exploring the contained world, and encountering the deranged humans that, as is usually the case, are more of a danger to you than the zombies.
It’s pure, unadulterated fun, and perfect for someone who wants to engage with the more comical and slapstick aspects of a zombie outbreak.
- Developer: Deep Silver/ Dambuster
- Metacritic Score: 75%
- Release Date: 21st April 2023
Speaking of pure unadulterated fun, next up is Dead Island 2, a game that my wife has actively worked on, but I promise, it’s on this list on merit alone. I’m a very cynical man, and I don’t play favorites.
So why is this zombie-killing romp featured on this list? Well, because despite being delayed for almost a decade, the game is better than it has any right to be.
It has a series of wonderfully charismatic player characters, accessible yet versatile crafting and combat systems, a selection of expansive open levels, and the game looks really impressive, too.
I will admit that the Ubisoft-format curse of open-world fatigue brought upon by simply following quest markers does set in after a while. But if that’s something that you enjoy in a game, then this may be the not-so-comforting comfort game you are looking for.
#12 – The Last Of Us Part II
- Developer: Naughty Dog
- Metacritic Score: 93%
- Release Date: 19th June 2023
Unless you belong to a contingent of the internet that review-bombed TLOU2 and not so coincidentally share a lot of troubling beliefs with a wispy-haired orange man who just had his mugshot taken, then you’ll know that TLOU2 is a brutal and gritty masterpiece.
After a twist that the 4Chan regulars have probably already spoiled for you, the game pivots to tell a story that is much more focused on Ellie as she aims to exact vengeance on those who have wronged her.
The gameplay keeps to it’s survival meets action RPG roots, offering compelling stealth combat, pristine visuals, and a narrative that will have you riding the TLOU rollercoaster of emotions just as the first in the series had us do years prior.
I will admit, that I do prefer the original The Last of Us outing personally, but you can’t deny that visually, mechanically, and in terms of accessibility, this game was a huge step up, earning this spot on the list.
- Developer: EA
- Metacritic Score: 89%
- Release Date: 27th January 2023
I’ll be the first to admit that when I heard EA was remaking one of my all-time favorite games, I was a little worried.
They have a pretty bad track record, and they are also the ones responsible for what happened with Dead Space 3. Yet, against all odds, this is practically the perfect remake of an already timeless horror epic.
This remake tightens up the experience in every department, with a host of quality-of-life fixes, a huge overhaul of the visuals while largely maintaining and polishing existing sound design.
Then EA also made a point of voicing Issac and offering more context and storybeats to make the runtime more engaging outside of battle.
As a general rule for any big-name developers reading, this doesn’t mean I endorse any old team remaking games that are better off left alone, but if this is the level you are operating on, then I can maybe get behind it.
#14 – HumanitZ
- Developer: Yodubzz Studios
- Metacritic Score: N/A
- Release Date: 18th September 2023
We have another early access release, and this one is geared toward those who have played Project Zomboid to death and need a new world to explore.
HumanitZ is an isometric top-down survival adventure that has you survive as long as you can in a world where zombies outnumber humans drastically, and only through careful planning, and combat proficiency will you be able to avoid turning into a shambling corpse yourself.
We will admit that due to the fact that this game is still very much in production, there have been some criticisms, such as a large but desolate map, and a number of bugs marring co-op experiences. That being said, it’s one to check out and watch grow for sure.
#15 – World War Z
- Developer: Saber Interactive
- Metacritic Score: 67%
- Release Date: 16th April 2019
If you’re looking for a game that takes the campaign approach of Left 4 Dead, and bundles that together with Days Gones’ horde mechanics, then World War Z is the perfect blend fot you. This title allows you and up to three pals to explore vast levels, take on innumerable zombies, and hopefully get out of there alive.
It’s essentially the Left 4 Dead co-op format turned up to eleven, which leads to a very intense set of campaigns for players to work through, and high replay value. However, it has some of the same drawbacks that the L4D franchise had leveled at it.
Primarily, the game is only fun if you have a party with you, as the AI simply doesn’t do enough to help you.
Plus, even now, the game has some connectivity issues. However, due to consistent updates over the years, this game has gradually grown to become the best co-op zombie FPS game since L4D. Sorry, Back 4 Blood.
#16 – Zombi
- Developer: Ubisoft/Straight Right
- Metacritic Score: 77%
- Release Date: 18th August 2015
While the original version of this game was one of the rare gems exclusively found on the doomed Wii-U, Zombi was eventually created from the ground up for PC and console, allowing zombie fans to roam the streets of London with the sole hope of avoiding turning into an undead monster.
Zombi is a game that plays a lot like Dead Island, allowing you to battle your way through a real-world location with melee and ballistic options aplenty. While the story is a little bit underwhelming, the game has all the whacking, shooting, and explosions you came for anyway.
Plus, it also has some cool mechanics that will see you track down older characters to retrieve lost items, essentially fighting a beefed-up zombie boss that you created. All in all, far from the most refined game on the list, but definitely a guilty pleasure game worth checking out.
#17 – Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
- Developer: Rockstar Games
- Metacritic Score: 87%
- Release Date: 26th October 2010
Is it cheating to include paid DLC as a full entry? Well, if it is, then apologies in advance, but we need to talk about RDR Undead Nightmare.
This DLC add-on to Rockstar’s initial cowboy outing sees you take control of John Marston from beyond the grave. It effectively re-writes the original timeline and sees the reluctant outlaw work to find a cure for the zombie curse that has infected his wife and son.
Which naturally sees you embark on a number of quintessentially Rockstar quests within this wild-west world, saving towns from zombie hordes, and giving them the tools to fend them off when they inevitably come back in droves.
It’s a little light on the survival aspect, and again, I apologize for that, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about some of the strongest paid DLC ever released.
If this is something you want to check out, there’s a very expensive port for PS4 and Switch that allows you to play this classic on modern consoles, so go check that out!
#18 – Deceit 2
- Developer: World Makers
- Metacritic Score: TBD
- Release Date: 14th September 2023
You may remember a certain social deduction game that rose in popularity over lockdown that asked us to complete tasks on a spaceship without being murdered by imposters.
Well, Deceit 2 is a much more dark and more sinister version of Among Us that has ‘The Infected’ conspire to sacrifice the remaining innocent players to ‘The Game Master.’
The innocent players work together to exact a banishing ritual that will rid the world of these infected killers. However, the Infected will have options to lead these players astray and into ‘The Inbetween.’ A world where their necrotic powers manifest themselves, spelling disaster for those nearby.
It’s a perfect party game with a zombie twist. So, if that sounds like a dark, twisted, and brilliant night in, then check this one out.
#19 – They Are Billions
- Developer: Numanitan Games
- Metacritic Score: 72%
- Release Date: 9th July 2019
The typical zombie survival game tends to be an experience where you fire bullets and ask questions later. You know, real seat-of-your-pants kind of stuff.
Well, They Are Billions acknowledges that the zombies outnumber you drastically, and encourages players to take a more methodical and tactical approach to ensure victory.
In this title, you will need to push back the horde by creating colonies of survivors, decking them out with mechs to explore the city and complete missions; you’ll need to expand and innovate by unlocking new structures, resources, and perks. Plus, you’ll also have a pretty engaging narrative to sink your teeth into as you work toward reclaiming the Imperial City.
It’s effectively zombie survival meets Civilisation meets Command and Conquer. Something that seems pretty unlikely to work on paper, but trust us, it’s a blast!
#20 – Deadlight
- Developer: Tequila Works
- Metacritic Score: 68%
- Release Date: 1st August 2012
Then, finally, we have Deadlight, which sees us play as Randall in a post-apocalyptic 1986. The player will explore the ruins of Seattle in a puzzle-based, sidescrolling adventure wherein the player must survive through myriad attacks of the undead and the crazed remaining Seattle citizens.
This game will also see the player explore several locations, using Randall’s outstanding free-running ability to explore incredibly intricately designed levels, full of extra content and hidden items.
This game focuses much more heavily on the horror element of the genre than the survival side of things, forgetting mostly about most survival elements seen in other entries into this list.
Then, before we sign off, we have a handful of Zombie-related epics that either weren’t all that well-received or haven’t quite broken through to become household names.
These may not represent the cream of the crop, but they are still worth a look when you play everything listed above and still need another fix of zombie action. Here is a quick list detailing the best of the rest below:
- Call of Duty Black Ops 3 (Zombies Mode)
- The Walking Dead Telltale Series
- The Callisto Protocol
- Back 4 Blood
- Arizona Sunshine
- House of the Dead
- Dead Nation
- Dead State
- Lollipop Chainsaw
- Plague Inc.
- The Evil Within
- Plants vs Zombies
- Forbidden Siren
Question: Can you play DayZ on PS5?
Answer: Whilst there is no actual PS5 release for this title, there is a PS4 release after its port from the PC. Therefore, due to the PS5’s backward compatibility function, the player can get bloody on DayZ.
Question: How many hours of play does State of Decay 2 have?
Answer: If the player decides to complete the title’s main objectives as quickly as possible, the average gamer will likely spend up to 16 hours on this title. However, if the player is a perfectionist, desperate to see each aspect of their game, they will likely spend up to 100 hours on State of Decay 2.
Question: Can you play DayZ offline?
Answer: For the longest time, players were not able to play DayZ without an internet connection on a populated server. However, due to a recent update and expansion, the player is now able to play the title offline.
Question: Is Project Zomboid still getting updates?
Answer: Since the initial release of Project Zomboid, the title has been getting slow updates throughout its lifespan. However, recently, a massive amount of funding must have gone into the title as huge overhauls have been made to almost every aspect of the game, including animation, combat, audio, and music. Recently, there has also been a huge new multiplayer aspect added to the game.
So, there you have it, a list of the best Zombie Survival Games you can pick up and play in 2023. Many cynics out there will be quick to tell you that zombies as a plot device are old news.
Well, to that, I say, they don’t know much about zombies. See, the thing about zombies, is that they don’t stay dead for long.
With all this being said, I truly hope you enjoyed this list and got something out of it and as always, thanks for reading RGS!