Zombies have been a common focus for the horror genre for many decades. The concept dates all the way back to the 1960’s in Night of the Living Dead or even further back to Haitian folklore in the 1800’s. Zombies are not a topic of the past, however, as they have made their way into many modern entertainment forms. Much like a zombies typical goal to spread everywhere and anywhere, zombies have made their way into the gaming world and they are here to stay.
Within the Steam universe, the zombie tag yields a search result of 1,502 different games. With so many different zombie games available (and more being added every week), how can one be expected to accurately choose a game that fits their desires?
With a little luck, this article will help you narrow down your search or, at the very least, give you an idea of what some of the most popular zombie games tend to play like, what the user experience is, and how the community has reacted to it. In our opinion, here is a list of some of the best zombie games available on the Steam marketplace:
Hunt: Showdown is a relatively new horror game released in late August of 2019. Since release, the game has received a massive amount of updates and newly added content which certainly gives users hope of a well-rounded and dedicated development team (Crytek). At its core, Hunt: Showdown is a PvPvE first-person shooter with a unique take on gameplay.
By combining player vs player and player vs environment into one, gameplay can look different for everyone. A typical hunt will consist of three different phases: spawning in, combat, and extraction. Before you spawn in, you get to choose what kind of hunter and equipment you will be bringing into the match. The more matches you play and equipment you gather, the stronger of a hunter you will be able to bring. However, if you die before extraction you will lose everything you brought on that hunter… and the hunter.
Combat is quite unique within Hunt: Showdown as it can go a couple different ways. You could run around the map killing zombies and other miscellaneous creatures for some decent points and then simply extract in a corner of the map. This would be a great way to go for newer players as they feel out the controls and get used to how the game feels. The real rewards, however, come in the form of the bounty system. Each map has different bosses placed around the map that give big points and rewards to those who are able to kill and banish the target. Once you start a boss fight, be prepared for other players to come try and steal it as everyone on the map can see that you (and your team if you have one) have started the fight. This is where the game can get extremely hectic and certainly be the most fun.
Overall, Hunt: Showdown is a fun, well-paced game that has respectable graphics, stellar ambience, and realistic sound effects (or at least as realistic as a one ton pig-man can sound). With a forty dollar price tag, there certainly is some risk to purchasing it. We recommend watching some gameplay online to make sure the game is a good fit for you!
Left 4 Dead 2 is one of the older games noted on this list (not the oldest, however!). Released back in 2009, Left 4 Dead 2 (and the original Left 4 Dead) set the tone for how a true zombie game should play with its co-op nature. In fact, the original Left 4 Dead game even managed to snag the number one co-op game of 2008. The sequel took many of those factors from the original game and simply improved upon them, along with an overhaul to more modern graphics for the time.
Gameplay is set up into missions that you will complete along with your team. If you do not have a team, you can play along with AI (but as expected they are not the best of teammates). Working together is vital to ensure you make it through the mission and come out on the other side in one piece. This may sound like it would get stale, but the developers have worked hard over the years to ensure the content is always refreshing. Every mission is procedurally generated which means you will see different boss zombies and uncommon zombies throughout making each playthrough unique.
They have also recently added a Versus Mode which adds a completely new element to the game. Instead of working together with everyone in the lobby, it gets split into two. The two teams then take turns playing as survivors or directing the zombies as they make their way through a given campaign. Whichever team manages to make it further and amass more points wins! This adds a much needed competitive element to the game and a ton of replayability. Plus, who doesn’t love getting to play as a Tank zombie?
Left 4 Dead 2 still has a thriving player base as it still frequents Steam’s top 100 current player count games. The game itself is a timeless classic many young adults grew up playing and that everyone should get to experience at least once. Even better, the price is only ten dollars compared to the sixty dollar price tag of any modern game!
Call of Duty: World at War is the oldest game on this list with a release date of late November 2008. Upon first glance, you may not even think this is a zombie game and technically you would be right. I can remember my first playthrough of the campaign (SPOILER ALERT) and getting to the end, only to see all of the Nazis I had slain come sprinting back at me in a much scarier form. I was so young that I screamed and ran to my older brothers for help. By the end of the night, I was addicted to the zombies mode and trying to beat my record round.
For those who have not seen or played Call of Duty zombies before, the gameplay is pretty simple but extremely challenging (for most). Your team spawns in on whatever map you decide to play and you have to defend yourself from never ending waves of zombies, with each wave getting progressively more difficult. You can buy guns, open doors, upgrade guns, activate traps, and perform many other interactions with the map but the objective is all the same: survive.
You may be wondering, “this is the oldest CoD zombies game out there, why this one?” To that, my answer is simple: custom zombies. Sure, some of the other older CoD zombies games have custom zombies but none are as easy to install or as detailed as the OG CoD zombies game. There are a ton of different custom maps out there all made by members of the community. There are some that are really easy, some with buyable endings (meaning you can win once you hit a certain number of points), and some REALLY difficult ones. Custom maps are a great way to add some spice to the game once you get bored of the original maps (which are still great!).
Call of Duty: World at War is arguably the most classic zombie game for those under the age of thirty, and rightfully so. On top of getting access to zombies, you also are paying for the campaign and multiplayer aspects which are both fun as well. That being said, I would personally pay the twenty dollar price tag solely for the zombie mode. There are a million videos of gameplay out there and even more of the custom maps so feel free to explore before you buy (in fact, we recommend it)!
Perhaps the most unique zombie game that made this list, They Are Billions is a top-down strategy game in which, you guessed it, you defend yourself from hordes of zombies. The game has a steampunk aesthetic that gets very satisfying the larger your base is. It plays similar to Clash of Clans or any tower defense game in which you build a base and slowly upgrade your technology through strategic resource management.
The most notable aspect to They Are Billions, however, is the difficulty curve of the game. In fact, many of the reviews on the steam page for the game compare it to a Dark Souls level of difficulty. The main reason for the game’s difficulty is its purposeful lack of the ability to revert to a save state. Some missions take up to three hours or more, but if you mess up right at the end you are starting the mission over from the very beginning. This makes the game not the perfect fit for a lot of people, but I know there are some sadistic gamers out there who simply love to suffer. If that Dark Souls type of experience is what you are looking for in a zombie game, you have found it here.
As a bonus, They Are Billions also has a survival mode that is completely separate from the campaign. In this mode, the player is placed in a randomized world and instructed to survive for as long as possible. At the end, you will face the final challenge of billions. This final wave is simply a massive wave of zombies and the final test for how your strategy has paid off. Survival mode usually has much shorter games and less of a time sink compared to the campaign. It is also a great way to get familiar with how the game works mechanically.
With a thirty dollar price tag, this game is up in the air for whether we recommend it. If the description sounded enticing to you and you enjoy games that are notoriously difficult, go for it! If you are looking for something a little more casual, then you should probably keep searching.
Hopefully, this list has provided a somewhat helpful buyer’s guide on a handful of our favorite zombie games available on Steam. There are plenty of other great zombie games out there so do not limit yourself to just this list. That being said, these are what we consider to be the best of the best for zombie games on Steam. Good luck in your defense against the undead and be sure to protect your head!
Image courtesy of gamingscan.com