Our cultural obsession with the undead is astounding. From classic George A. Romero films to the 100th season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, zombies have infected almost every facet of our lives. Video games are no exception. We’ve been looking for any excuse to kill, dismember, and humiliate the undead since the first Resident Evil blew the genre wide open. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the seven best zombie games currently available for Xbox One. Thankfully, most of these titles are compatible with the Xbox Series X|S and available on PlayStation 5 and PC.
Black Ops Cold War: Outbreak Zombies
To kick things off, let’s dive into the largest zombie franchise in recent gaming history. Call of Duty has provided its fans with a new and improved zombie experience with every other installment since Call of Duty: World at War. In 2020, longtime fans got a never-before-seen experience as Treyarch, and Activision set aside their differences to bring zombies and Call of Duty: Warzone together. With the second season of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, players gained access to Outbreak Zombies, the first open-world zombie experience franchise fans have ever gotten.
In Outbreak Zombies, up to four players will work together to complete objectives and slay the undead as they warp between Cold War‘s three fireteam maps: Golova, Alpine, and Ruka. With each passing wave, you’ll need to upgrade your custom weapons while also buying perks, armor, and killstreaks. Each warp increases the overall difficulty. By wave 10, players will be facing armored zombies, deadly Megatons, and lethal Manglers at every turn. Outbreak is free to play for those who own Black Ops: Cold War and is only a glimpse of what the latest Call of Duty has to offer for zombies. Be sure to check out Die Machine and Firebase Z for added undead slaying.
Although an older game, Dying Light makes the list as fans patiently await Dying Light 2. Having been pushed back from its initial 2020 release, Dying Light 2 will hopefully be available in the summer of 2021. In the meantime, fans can still enjoy the game’s first installment as it beautifully blends parkour and zombie survival.
Play as Kyle Crane, an undercover operative sent to the Turkish city of Harran amid a viral pandemic. Its inhabitants have been overrun with undead hordes and deadly human factions. Venture out after dark at your own risk as the zombies grow far more lethal and are led by swift apex zombies that will chase Kyle across Harran’s rooftops. Dying Light‘s unique blend of parkour and zombie survival will have players running across roofs, sliding under obstacles, and gliding on ziplines to traverse the vast open world. Dying Light also features an online co-op where friends can help each other progress through the game or challenge other players in a human versus zombies competitive multiplayer.
State of Decay 2
The follow-up to 2013’s original release and the current placeholder as fans wait for the third installment, State of Decay 2 is an open-world zombie survival game focused more on scavenging and crafting than pure zombie slaying. Recently optimized in December of 2020 for Xbox Series X|S, State of Decay 2 will have players building communities, producing resources, and fending off hordes of zombies. As custom to most zombie media, other humans will prove the biggest threat to your survival. Make friends or enemies. It’s up to you.
Co-op with up to three other players as you scavenge and survive in third-person. State of Decay 2 has received mixed reviews as critics praise its combat engine but find the survival mechanics monotonous at times. Those looking for casual zombie survival will enjoy State of Decay 2. However, those looking for something high-octane may prefer some of the other titles on this list. Be sure to purchase the Juggernaut edition of the game, which improves many quality-of-life issues as far as pugs, patches, and gameplay are concerned.
World War Z
Speaking of high-octane zombie survival, World War Z is nothing but. Loosely based on the 2006 book of the same title and set in the same universe as the 2013 film starring Brad Pitt, World War Z plays in third-person as you and a team of friends co-op through major infested cities with one objective in mind: Survival. New York, Moscow, Jerusalem, Tokyo, and Marseille feature their own unique plot and characters as the outbreak has affected every corner of the earth. Players will fend off waves of undead as dozens, if not hundreds, of them charge at you full sprint.
World War Z will have players choose from seven different classes, each with a unique role to play during the mission:
- The Gunslinger — ranged combat
- The Hellraiser — explosives expert
- The Fixer — engineer/repairs
- The Medic — team healer
- The Slasher — melee combat
- The Exterminator — crowd control
- The Drone Master — controls both offensive and defensive drones
The coolest part about World War Z is its ability to render 1,000 enemies on screen at once. While zombies are relatively easy to kill, and little gun skill is required to be good at the game, the sheer number of incoming zombies can be enough to overwhelm the most coordinated teams. Outside of PvE Co-op, World War Z also features various competitive multiplayer modes in PvP and PvEvP styles like Swarm Deathmatch, Swarm Domination, and King of the Hill.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead franchise has staked its claim as a leader in zombie entertainment. From AMC’s long-running series to multiple spin-off shows, The Walking Dead has even made its way into the world of video games. This narrative-driven, choice-based game will have players moving through chapters of engaging stories comparable to that of the AMC flagship show. The game itself is more in line with the comic book series that put The Walking Dead on the map in the first place. Developed by Telltale Games back in 2012, The Walking Dead has since released four full seasons, each containing between four to six episodes and one minor season focused on Michonne.
The Walking Dead will keep track of the choices you make as the game progresses. Like many other narrative-choice games, certain decisions and dialogue options will have positive or negative effects later on in the game. Players will play as Lee Everette and Clementine through most of the game as the two fight for survival in a world full of walkers and hostile survivors. You’ll be able to explore specific areas in search of items and interact with NPCs with varying dialogue options. However, most of the game is tied to quick-decision button commands and difficult choices that can alter the story’s course.
The Evil Within 2
The follow-up to 2014’s title of the same name, The Evil Within 2 is at the pinnacle of horror games. While fans can argue that it isn’t a strict zombie game, there are certainly elements present that players would expect out of any undead action-adventure. Players control Sebastian Castellanos, a former police sergeant and detective now faced with exterminating the horrific creatures he’ll encounter on his expedition. The Evil Within 2 is more in line with Resident Evil’s playstyle, as players control a third-person protagonist and engage in over-the-shoulder combat. It makes sense that The Evil Within follows the Resident Evil formula, as Resident Evil series creator Shinji Mikami designed the game.
There is little to go off as to whether or not a third installment of the franchise is in the works. Bethesda is one of the most trusted game developers in recent history. Fans of The Evil Within franchise should be happy to wait for news from Bethesda. Keep in mind that Bethesda is currently hard at work on Starfield, their next massive undertaking.
Resident Evil 4
It feels like we’ve been playing Resident Evil 4 forever, and we have. The original game released for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2005 but has since seen multiple remasterings. Most recently, Resident Evil 4 was re-launched on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2017. Most fans are quick to call RE4 the best Resident Evil game ever made. Some have gone as far as to call Resident Evil 4 the single greatest video game in history. With recent remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, fans are clamoring for their favorite to see a complete overhaul. However, rumors of a Resident Evil 4 reremake indicate one may be coming in 2022.
Those who haven’t experienced Resident Evil 4 certainly missed out. Control Leon Kennedy, Racoon City’s most dedicated police officer turned special operative, as he embarks on a search-and-rescue mission for Ashly Grahm, the president’s daughter. Leon heads to a remote part of Spain and engages with Los Illuminados, the cult that kidnapped Ashley. Leon will face some of the most elaborate creatures ever presented in a Resident Evil game and tell a story that rivals The Last of Us. Outside of the main campaign, you can also test your skills in Mercenary mode, a wave-based, timed survival mini-game that will reward players with equipment to replay the campaign.