From wandering through the wasteland in search of resources to battling mutated animals, the best apocalypse games have a lot to do.
Looking for a list of the best apocalyptic PC games? There is still something tempting in the theme of the end of the world, perhaps even too tempting. No laws, no order, and no (at first glance) consequences – the world appears before us as a kind of wild territory where you can do whatever you want. And if anarchy doesn’t appeal to you, you can spend time exploring new territories, looking for resources in the bombed-out ruins of a lost civilization.
Whether the end of the world is due to a zombie invasion, an uprising of machines, or a nuclear war, post-apocalyptic settings are a rich field for plot experiments in any field of narrative art. Games here are one of the most successful implementations of these ideas because in them you can decide for yourself how you live on the ruins of a lost world.
We’ve got you eight of our favorite apocalypse games that have everything from horror and anguish to tactical combat and exploration. Whether you’re looking for drama, action, or vast uncharted territory, this list has a game that will delight you.
No one will consider ELEX the most perfect post-apocalyptic game that can only be played, but at the same time you cannot call it banal. Typical bugs from Piranha Bytes can sometimes disrupt the atmosphere, but still not enough to prevent you from appreciating its strange charm. The title is not at all like other ARPGs.
When the population of Magalan suffered from a meteorite, the survivors overcame the dark days and founded tribes, the strongest of which were the Albs. They use the full power of the Elex, and you play as a renegade and are free to decide which faction to join now. If you can get used to ELEX in the first ten hours or so, you will love a lot about this game.
Fallout Shelter may be the first game that comes to mind when looking at Sheltered, but the tone of Bethesda’s spin-off is much lighter and more optimistic. Sheltered, on the other hand, can be described as grim and almost depressing, with its continuous tests of survival for you and your family in the post-apocalypse environment.
Also, this game is much deeper than the Fallout Shelter in terms of resource gathering and turn-based battles. In Sheltered, you can create your own story and transform it into an omnipotent patriarch if you want to. You can make your family members anyone you want, but don’t get too attached to them: who knows when death will come to the wasteland.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Poor Enslaved, she never got a chance. In a market dominated by grayscale shooters, a post-apocalyptic game with no multiplayer and unusual aesthetics would never have succeeded, leading to the downfall of a promising new title before it even took off.
Written by Alex Garland, writer of Out of the Car and 28 Days Later, Enslaved features the protagonist Monkey, played by Andy Serkis, who is forced to escort a girl to her home village through hordes of robots on their way. With a unique style and a decent mix of platforming, puzzle, and action, Ninja Theory and Bandai Namco would do well if they decided to adapt the game for the current generation and give it the love it deserves.
State of Decay
As one of the best zombie apocalypse survival games, State of Decay also demands the well-being of those around you. And each time, the death of a beloved member of the group of survivors plunges into despair to such an extent that it seems that on this sorties will forever be banned.
While the second part is more ambitious and perhaps deserves more praise, it is also slightly underdeveloped. The first State of Decay has its drawbacks, but it’s easy to forget about them as you explore house after house and collect whatever supplies you can find before crushing the zombies with your car while escaping.
The incarnation of a jack of all trades among post-apocalyptic games. RAGE had quite a few interesting ideas at the time of release, although none of them succeeded. Nevertheless, given the number of activities available, which is enough for long hours of gameplay, you can forgive the creators for forgetting about the plot, which … well, it just is.
Whether you’re raiding raiders with a bizarre death boomerang, chasing your clunker, or simply falling into harmless gambling addiction, RAGE provides a pretty interesting take on life after the end of the world. With id Software at the helm, RAGE has made up for some of the bugs with its firefights.
Met with controversial criticism at launch, Mad Max has become a cult classic in recent years. Combining the mechanics of games like Assassin’s Creed and the Arkham series, Mad Max hits with the idea that it starts with your puny car, which eventually turns into a veritable scourge of the wasteland. It won’t happen right away, but it’s worth it.
Games based on films tend to be as “passable” as possible and very rarely – good, but Mad Max, albeit not becoming a contender for the title of the game of the year in 2015 (it was not lucky to come out in the same year with Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain), managed to gather around a whole cult, which has not disappeared to this day, all thanks to spectacular views, intense car battles and a feeling of loneliness that creeps to the bone.
Despite the fact that the release of the game took place in the same year with the film Fury Road, the plot in it is completely different. The player is offered an open world in the style of Ubisoft, where you have to complete typical tasks such as freeing outposts or bounty hunting. But there is also a distinctive feature – car battles, which make up a surprisingly significant part of the game.
The driving is great, but the combat system seems like a pathetic semblance of Rocksteady. However, with an interesting approach to collecting water and fuel, Mad Max is a game that constantly keeps you on your toes and tempts to smack the Tin Man on his annoying face. The game can now be purchased for mere pennies, so be sure to check out Mad Max and get lost in the dunes there if you haven’t already.
Upgrading Max’s vehicle (a vehicle called the Magnum Opus) is your path to success, as many battles boil down to shooting your vehicle and ripping parts away from enemy vehicles. The car here is similar to a character in RPG games, only instead of pumping skills – modifications, each of which gives its own pros and cons, and therefore moving along the improvement tree resembles throwing between twisting parameters to maximum/minimum and making difficult decisions. Driving through the endless sandy desert of the Mad Max world in a carefully tailored killing machine is quite a post-apocalypse experience.
Here’s something new to our list: RAD is a post-apocalyptic game in which you play as a teenage clone tasked with clearing out mutant-infested wastelands with the trusty baseball bat. It’s about Double Fine, so be prepared for some madness.
This is a charming roguelike, unlike other similar games: in it you can mutate and acquire unique abilities. Want to become a unicorn and lay eggs on unsuspecting enemies? So go ahead! Of course, the attack range can be frustrating and the difficulty can grow prohibitively, but give RAD a chance and you will be fully rewarded with pure pleasure.
One of the forerunners of a massive invasion of harsh roguelikes over the past decade, whose influence is evident in popular titles like entering the Gungeon. Unlike most post-apocalyptic games, here you appear not as a survivor tempered by all sorts of trials, but rather a mutant who needs to inflict as much damage as possible.
Nuclear Throne is an aggressively challenging game that will surely make you explode after your first fifty (or so) ridiculous deaths. However, after a couple of successful races and opening up access to better weapons, you will chew this cactus over and over again.
Here’s a truly underrated blast from the past. While the Resistance franchise may never have surpassed Halo or Gears as Sony hoped, it still has enough personality to justify the cost. The solid plot and interesting mechanics will surely remind you of the somewhat shocking ending of Resistance 2.
However, if you want a real post-apocalypse, then you should play Resistance 3. Humanity is on its knees while chimeras ravage the Earth in an alternate history. You play as Joseph Capelli, who fights against invaders to end the disaster once and for all. Striking locations and an authentic atmosphere make Resistance 3 an unmissable shooter. If Sony has plans for PS4 exclusives a place for FPS in the open-world …
Kojima’s first game after Konami isn’t for everyone, so we’ve put it in the middle of the list. If some players proclaim this title as a masterpiece, then others find it difficult to feel its monotony and eccentricity.
Death Stranding is certainly a controversial game, but at the same time, it offers the most original take on the post-apocalypse of the past year. You play as Sam, who is tasked with rebuilding America with various deliveries. Truly Death Stranding comes alive when you use useful items left behind by other players and then leave your own – a strong reminder that we’re all on the same side.
When, after a global catastrophe, the whole world plunges into an endless winter, you must bring one of the last remaining strongholds of humanity to warmth. We’ll have to build a city with a giant generator and do everything possible to make its inhabitants happy, although they should be thankful for the fact that they are even alive. Oh, and the inhabitants of Frostpunk love to complain …
Frostpunk, which is primarily a control simulator, constantly confronts you with the most difficult decisions. Stick to strict law enforcement and dictatorship, or try to become more liberal and optimistic? Some of your subordinates may not like both options, so choose for yourself how to convey your vision to them. This unpredictable walk on the edge, which will likely cause you to lose sleep and peace, is exactly what we expect from the best post-apocalyptic games.
Some of you will probably not like that Days Gone ranks above Death Stranding on our list. The fact is that Days Gone is much more accessible than Kojima’s grand debut, and is also a great game in itself.
Unjustly ridiculed by many at the time of release, Days Gone came out not without roughnesses, which are especially pronounced in the early stages, but if you do not give up at the beginning, then you will love Deacon St. John, an exciting fight against hordes of freaks and interesting ideas presented by this title.
The developers have tirelessly supported the game from the beginning, so give Days Gone a try if you haven’t already.
The Long Dark
After a plane crash in a geomagnetic disaster in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, you must make every effort to simply survive. Much calmer compared to many other post-apocalyptic titles, The Long Dark is a more introspective and patient experience that will delight those who want to spend more time and immerse themselves in the game.
Given the limited resources that can be found in the tundra, every find in The Long Dark is like a birthday present. You will enjoy a regular chocolate bar as if you just won the lottery, as it gives you extra time to immerse yourself in this magnificent world. The Long Dark does not require you to be very active, although encounters with bears and wolves always make you nervous. If you love rabbits, then this game is definitely not for you.
Anyone tired of the changes in the Fallout franchise since Bethesda got down to business should check out Wasteland 2. The project from the producer of the original Fallout brings post-apocalyptic games back to the CRPG genre.
The Wasteland franchise, which actually became the spiritual successor to the aforementioned isometric games, feels like a Fallout that many fans did not expect to see after the fate of the series fell in the hands of Bethesda. Quite an interesting twist of fate, considering that the 1988 Wasteland was a key source of inspiration for Fallout developers. While the retro-futuristic world of post-nuclear America has benefited from the move to 3D, Wasteland 2 deliberately continues to use top-down views, and it does it admirably.
As with the aforementioned thought follower, your decisions in Wasteland 2 can have long-term consequences, which means that guilt is guaranteed. The amazing degree of customization in Wasteland 2 allows you to create your own post-apocalypse in the way you want.
With turn-based combat, in which some decisions can change the course of the game, Wasteland may seem too difficult for those who try this genre for the first time. But Wasteland 2, inheriting the main “set of genes” from the progenitor, at the same time offers us a world full of details, where you stumble upon the echoes of life before the war everywhere: quiet school offices, empty hospital corridors and more. All this helps the game overcome the limitations of the top view and remain expressive, even if the camera looks at what is happening from a bird’s eye view. It should be noted that the quality of the narrative is excellent – it is it that in Wasteland 2 creates a sense of immersion that you will not experience in most first-person games.
Metro: Last Light
The Metro series has always been known as a cult favorite in the FPS genre. While the first game, 2033, is based on the novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Last Light decides to create its own story. You again play as Artyom, who, together with the rest of the survivors, is trying to escape after a nuclear apocalypse. You will have to face many enemies, people and not only, some of which are completely different from anything you have seen before.
Minimalistic in nature, Last Light does not overload the player with information and does not lead him by the hand to the main goal. This is a complex shooter that offers different approaches to certain situations, as well as the ability to customize weapons and change the ending depending on your actions. Given the overall availability of the franchise’s games, you simply have no right to pass by.
The Walking Dead
If we talk about a separate season of The Walking Dead from Telltale, then the first should be considered the main one, although the fourth is not far behind in terms of promoting gameplay. At the beginning of its journey, the franchise gave players significant freedom to explore the world around them, and all difficult decisions had real weight due to the attachment to the characters.
Lee Everett is not just one of the best protagonists in post-apocalyptic games, but one of the best heroes in general. As a conscientious man with a difficult inner world, Lee is obliged to protect a girl named Clementine, fighting her way to hope of survival through hordes of zombies across America. To some, the game may seem a little too easy in terms of gameplay, but the choices you have to make will be remembered for a long time.
Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3 did not reinvent the wheel within the Gears franchise, although it was not necessary. The core of the first two games (including the unusual but excellent reloading mechanics) was used for the third part with some improvements to make the whole action feel more cohesive than ever.
Continuing the chain of events of the second part, Gears of War 3 reintroduces you as Marcus Phoenix – the most courageous hero in the gaming world. Humanity is on the verge of annihilation after the Locusts have effectively wiped out an entire civilization, so you will have to fight the Horde for the last time. Considering the total testosterone in Gears of War 3, this is a surprisingly dark and emotional game that is considered the face of the Xbox for good reason.
They Are Billions
They Are Billions is a steampunk-style strategic colony simulator in which you have to defend the last refuge of humanity from the hordes of the infected, which are growing every day. You start by defending an agricultural outpost with a bunch of units and quickly transform the site into a walled city, whose external defenses will drive hordes of undead into traps and turrets.
But if at least one infected person can enter the city, then you will only have to silently watch how its entire population turns into the same zombie in a matter of seconds. If you are looking for strategy games that immerse you in an atmosphere of horror and awe, then They Are Billions is for you.
Remember the first Rage? Many do not remember, because in addition to the impressive graphics in this game as if there was nothing remarkable.
Id Software, of course, considered that the franchise still had potential, and teamed up with the developers of Just Cause Avalanche Studios, resulting in a sequel, which turned out to be a completely different post-apocalyptic first-person shooter. Take, for example, the punk rock vibe that pervades the world of Rage 2 – spiky hairstyles are as common here as machine guns. And then there are superpowers that can be used in battle with mutants.
Even if in the open world of Rage 2 there are not so many side quests and entertainment as in the games of the Fallout series, the ability to throw an enemy off a cliff with a “push of Force” or call air support on the heads of villains and mix them with the ground delivers so many positive emotions that you can close your eyes. Thanks to well-developed movement and shooting mechanics, Rage 2 is played more like a well-tuned first-person shooter like Doom, and in this regard, it will give a head start to any RPG or other open-world game.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Compared to the rest of the post-apocalyptic games on our list, Horizon Zero Dawn is pretty optimistic. In a world filled with vibrant colors and life, where people take their former place in the food chain, you play as Aloy. Mechanical beasts roam the Earth, and it is obvious that something terrible has happened to humanity, as evidenced by the remnants of a long-term advanced civilization.
This open-world game with an emphasis on exploration invites players to tame or hunt robot animals as they see fit. A fantastic storyline will help immerse yourself in the history of this universe, although it is difficult to blame those who just decided to relax a bit on the top of the mountain and admire the beautiful … horizon.
Metro Exodus, the latest installment of 4A Games’ Russian doomsday simulator, is not for the faint of heart. The world here was destroyed by a nuclear war, and the survivors are hiding in the subway, hiding from radiation and from all the mutated muck that now lives on the surface.
In Metro Exodus, you and a group of survivors leave the claustrophobic corridors and tunnels of the subway and go in search of a better life across the continent. Instead of the gray and cold architecture of Moscow that survived the nuclear strike, large open spaces and occasional green countryside are now open to the eye, in contrast to the faded, dead subway from previous games in the series. As you travel east across Russia on an old steam locomotive that plays the role of a mobile base, your motley company will periodically make stops in order to get supplies and fuel.
Metro Exodus is a genius in knowing when to slow down, give the player an open-world experience, or propose a combat scenario that is intense and varied by the way. Thanks to the novels of Metro by Dmitry Glukhovsky, the world of Exodus is rich in detail and frighteningly realistic.
Overland embodies the idea of futility, perhaps even more so than other apocalypse games. Making your way through these minimally depicted places, you will see horrors that will not leave your subconscious for a long time even after you exit the game.
While you hunt for food, irradiated monsters do the same. Will you be able to save your new companion? What will it cost you? What if this companion is an adorable dog? There are no guarantees in Overland, but in this case it’s for the best.
Each decision here feels like you are balancing on the edge of an abyss, and only a fine line separates success from failure.
The invasion of mechanical invaders from another galaxy is definitely a fresh approach to inventing reasons for the apocalypse (at least in games), and NieR: Automata throws itself headlong into this plot madness. The protagonist is the combat android 2B, one of many sent to destroy the machines while humanity licks its wounds on the moon.
The battles here are stylish and well-developed, and genres change each other: it can be third-person action, and gameplay in the style of “shoot them all”, and platformer, and even more – and the transitions sometimes occur within a single mission. The same variety applies to the endings, of which there are as many as 26 pieces.
And that’s not to mention the sumptuous soundtrack, where synthesizers interspersed with mechanical percussion and classic tunes, creating one of the greatest game pieces of music of the past ten years. Well, for every epic apocalypse – an unforgettable soundtrack.
The Last of Us
If you want a post-apocalyptic game that does not hesitate to show humanity in its most unsightly forms, The Last of Us is what you need. After the pandemic turns most people into creatures like zombies, the last remnants of civilization while away their days without much hope for a bright future. At least that was before Ellie came along.
You play as Joel, a truly grief-tempered man who tries to protect Ellie as he travels across America to deliver her to the Cicad. The game allows you to fully enjoy the atmosphere of the apocalypse in the form of destruction and bricks as weapons (there are not so many cartridges here). The Last of Us is an emotional and always fun adventure with a carefully crafted story and characters.
For all its fascination with retro-futurism, the Fallout games have greatly influenced our understanding of what the United States might look like after the apocalypse.
The first games in the series, which took place in an isometric perspective, offered us interesting adventures and endless possibilities for role-playing, but it was thanks to the transition to 3D (and Bethesda’s Gamebryo engine) that Fallout’s visual style and the universe became so famous. Bethesda Softworks took the world of these isometric RPGs, with their Pip-Boys, Power Armor, the cunning Vault-Tec corporation conducting social experiments in their many hideouts, and more, and breathed new life into it with their imagination, detail and personality.
The main storylines here aren’t even as interesting as the side quests, which range from weird to downright delightful. It is not surprising that they are delaying: here you will receive additional information about the game world, and the need to make sometimes difficult decisions, equally making you feel like a savior and a thunderstorm of the wasteland.
And besides this, the last part of the series can generally be turned into a game of your liking by putting on it the best mods for Fallout 4.
This franchise may and has been in hibernation for a long time (Calling Pripyat for ten whole years), but it still remains an important milestone in the history of post-apocalyptic video games.
The local version of Chernobyl devastated as a result of the second catastrophe (this time metaphysical forces also intervened), and phonite atmospheric, and radioactive monsters and limited reserves of resources make each skirmish intense.
After the incident, the surroundings of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are teeming with lethal anomalies, and people are flocking to the exclusion zone looking for the so-called Artifacts – items that endow the owner with special abilities.
STALKER to this day can be considered one of the best representatives of the survival horror genre: here you need to quickly dress up your wounds so as not to die of blood loss, and deadly radiation waiting at every ruin, and clashes with local inhabitants, and mutated monsters, which can be found everywhere. These are intense, intimidating, and utterly outstanding games, more than worthy of making our list today.