Way back in 1968, a movie called Night of the Living Dead premiered and changed the world. With a budget of $114,000, the film ended up grossing 12 million dollars domestically and 18 million dollars internationally (which was A LOT OF MONEY in 1968). It was a huge hit, and it catapulted zombies into the public conscious. 47 years later, we’ve got a vast and varying assortment of zombies spanning all manners of the entertainment industry. Some fast, some slow, some gluttonous and disgusting, some victims of horrible experiments gone wrong, and some legitimately terrifying.

Video game zombies are responsible for some of the most tense and fun moments ever experienced in gaming – multiplayer or otherwise. Let us take a moment to celebrate these games with a ranked list that I’ve arbitrarily created. This is the definitive video game zombie list. There is absolutely no chance you will have a problem or disagree with any of my choices here.

10. Minecraft

Minecraft Zombies

Minecraft zombies are simple creatures. They’re slow, dumb, and they sound like their voices were recorded on someone’s cell phone for a school project. They do have their charms, and they’re responsible for injecting a lot of interest into the ludicrously popular game’s Survival Mode. Their appeal parallels the rest of the game in their simplicity. The regular zombies are easily outwitted and outrun, but those damn creepers…

9. Halo

Halo Flood

The Flood must be the most annoying variation of zombies I can recall fighting against. The Halo series won’t be remembered for the Flood – a species of parasitic and infuriatingly resilient creatures – but we can’t ignore its significance in this discussion. Insect-like creatures swarm the maps of campaign missions involving the Flood. They crawl all around and they’re very difficult to completely eradicate before a handful of them have found a host. They burrow into dead bodies, reanimate the corpses, and the worst part is that they can be bullet-sponges if you aren’t equipped with a shotgun. The Flood are worthy of their name, and they bring along with them a feeling that is otherwise absent from the Halo universe: dread.

8. The House of the Dead

The House of the Dead Zombies

Remember when you could go to the mall and find an arcade to play this one in? There’s a good chance you don’t – and that’s okay – but I recommend you put it on your bucket list. Seriously, find someone who owns one of the old cabinets and befriend them. The House of the Dead was a rail shooter arcade game played with light guns and steely nerves. The zombies were usually slow and meandering, but it took a lot of concentration and skill to stay alive. I had a lot of fun back in the day targeting specific limbs and dissecting them.

7. Dead Rising

Dead Rising Zombies

When the 360 led off it’s generation of consoles, we saw the result of more powerful hardware in the number of enemies possible on screen at one time. Dead Rising zombies are unique in their numbers. It’s a game that gave you the satisfaction of cutting down hundreds of zombies in a way that resembles that of Dynasty Warriors – only with more creative and inventive ways to get the job done. Your protagonist is a photographer who’s been trapped inside of a shopping mall and tasked with… surviving. You followed a very non-linear path. To me, it was nothing more than a sandbox to slaughter zombies in, but it was a great time.

6. Call of Duty

Call of Duty Zombies

Call of Duty has become a polarizing example of how divided the gaming community can be. Its reach has extended far beyond the “typical gamer” and into the realm of much more casual players. On one side, you have the diehard gamers that have seen it all and are no longer impressed by grandiose Hollywood style quick-time events and twitchy, reflexive death matches. On the other, you have an army of chest thumping dude-bro-types that use leader boards as a means of personal validation. Granted, It’s not that cut and dry, but that divide does exist to varying degrees. However, there’s a outlying niche that I believe is responsible for quietly helping COD maintain its success: the zombies mode.

It’s shown up in several COD iterations since 2008’s World at War. COD zombies always involves holding out against wave after wave while upgrading your weapons and buying perks to secure your surroundings. It deserves to land in the middle of the pack of this list for becoming such a beloved and refreshing staple of the otherwise predictable COD formula. These zombies are the reason a huge demographic even continues paying attention to COD at all.

5. Dead Island

Dead Island Zombies

There was a startlingly emotional trailer that still probably sticks out in your mind when you think of Dead Island. It was almost too good, as it set the bar too high for the rest of the game to deliver a comparably powerful story (it didn’t come close). Our zombies in Dead Island came to us in many different sizes and afflicted with many different kinds of disgusting and debilitating deformities. The combat is what really shines here as we saw some of the most gritty and visceral zombie killing to date. The fact that you could team up with 3 of your friends made it even more memorable.

4. Killing Floor

Killing Floor Zombies

Have you ever read a Clive Barker novel? Killing Floor features zombies (known better to fans as “specimens”) this man would be proud to have dreamed up. Its collective atmosphere is brimming with locations and creatures that are violently disturbing. The specimens are leftover from a shady government program aimed to clone super-gross-deadly-monster soldiers. The engine is laughably outdated at this point, but Killing Floor was created by an indie studio and Killing Floor 2 should put that weakness to rest soon enough. It remains a fantastically addictive experience.

3. Dead Space

Dead Space Necromorphs

Necromorphs may arguably just loosely read as zombies to you, but I consider them to be a part of the “zombie arena.” I don’t really consider myself to be a Marker Head, personally, but I can vouch for the game’s scare factor. Look, I’m one of those weirdos that spends most of my nights tracking down horror films and trying to squeeze some semblance of terror out of them. I’m addicted to the now elusive feeling of a true and genuine scare. I’ve sat through Inside, Martyrs, A Serbian Film (regretted that one), The Ring, Paranormal Activity, Jacob’s Ladder, The Descent, [REC], V/H/S, and so many more. Dead Space scared the hell out of me, and for that it deserves the #3 spot.

2. Resident Evil

Resident Evil Zombies

If Night of the Living Dead changed the world of film for zombies, Resident Evil changed gaming. Resident Evil pioneered the survival horror genre when it came to the Playstation back in 1996. Zombies were of the slower variety, but your movement in the game limited you to standing in place to aim and fire. This meant that keeping a cool head under pressure was extremely important. Resident Evil takes a seat at #2 because of its fame and unquestionable influence in every other zombie game to date.

1. Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead Zombies

Sitting squarely atop this list at #1 is the undisputed king of all zombie games: Left 4 Dead. This was easily the most fun, frantic, tense, and hilarious achievement of it’s kind, and maybe even in all of multiplayer gaming. It struck an impeccable balance between the survivors and their enemies. There were so many different choices to make and situations to be wary of. An AI “director” would cue the music and send a hoard your way if it sensed things getting a bit slow. Different classes of special infected mixed things up and the thundering Tank was always around the corner waiting to ruin your life.

Left 4 Dead actually started out as a Counter Strike mod that involved arming groups of bots with nothing but knives and sending them in against players. Some genius at Turtle Rock Studios thought “Hey. How about Zombies?” One of the greatest multiplayer games of our generation was born.

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If you disagree with this list, feel free to tell me about it in the comments and maybe make your own list. Then shine it up real nice, turn it sideways, and stick it STRAIGHT UP YOUR CANDY ASS!

8 Responses

    • John Lusky
      John Lusky

      Yeah, I realize Resident Evil would probably be number 1 in a lot of people’s minds. Just comes down to personal experience for me.

      Reply
  1. PrincessPwnies
    PrincessPwnies

    Just want to leave this here for your mention of Night of the Living Dead. I found this on a website somewhere and watched it and although such a waste of time, still pretty hilarious. If you can find it, gather some drunken friends, and watch the shit out of this terrible dubbed version, please do.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0230575/

    Reply
    • John Lusky
      John Lusky

      So this is one of those so bad it’s good movies? I feel like I’ve heard of it before… I’ll keep it in mind.

      Reply
  2. Luke VanTrieste
    Luke VanTrieste

    As far as your list is concerned, I would move Killing Floor zombies to the top of the list. Sometimes they were cannon fodder, but when people started to die and you were the only one left and weren’t equipped to deal with them – nightmares. Especially when the poundfist shows up and starts to charge at you

    Reply
  3. Luke VanTrieste
    Luke VanTrieste

    I had an inspirational dream the other night, or perhaps it was a nightmare. Anyway, I was being chased by horrific faceless creatures whos forms twisted in impossible ways. It reminded me that the christmas event in killing floor always creeped me out far more effectively than the standard game.

    That’s because the christmas event is nightmarish. Relevant to what I wrote about better character design, I think there’s a lot of potential in a game that would take a nightmare approach instead of a realistic zombie approach. Take any of the zombie genres and replace the zombies with completely bizarre strange things straight out of a nightmare and I think it might be more effective at being scary. Kind of like five nights at freddy’s

    Reply
  4. John Lusky
    John Lusky

    You seem very afraid of Killing Floor. I’d imagine the updated graphics in KF2 are going to make you cry.

    Reply

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