The post-apocalyptic genre is getting some much-needed attention after last year’s release of Fallout 4 reignited interest in the setting, and the likes of Gears Of War 4 hitting Xbox One this year and The Last Of Us: Part 2 promising to breath even more life into the genre. But what are the best post-apocalyptic games?
It’s clear that post-apocalyptic game worlds are embraced by gamers around the world, intrigued by the ageless question of “what if?”, and how the human race would survive after the bombs have fallen (or the aliens have attacks…).
So which games make the cut as the best post-apocalyptic games ever?
Gears Of War franchise
Well what better way to start this list than with one of the Xbox’s biggest franchises? Gears of War was undoubtedly the “must have” game way back in 2007 in the Xbox 360’s early years, and after almost a decade and three more games, it’s still regarded as one of the most important titles in Microsoft’s Xbox portfolio. The clunky, brute gameplay found a place on Xbox with the first Gears game, helping establishing the franchise as one of last generation’s most acclaimed shooters. Sure, it doesn’t quite have the “survival” aspect of so many other games in the genre, but it nails the post-apocalyptic setting, and has a human, emotional story to boot!
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead game series is obviously based on the comic book series of the game name, but it branches off in search of its own identity by telling a unique story. It still has the same powerful themes of survival and relationships, set in a confronting world where tensions flare. Its classic point-and-click gameplay offers a unique and charming way to engage with the game world, perfectly suiting its somber yet memorable story pacing.
As far as depressing games go, STALKER is right at the top of the list. This first-person survival horror franchise tells the story of a different protagonist in different areas of “The Zone”. Heavily influenced by your choices, STALKER rewards and punishes you in a way most other games just aren’t prepared to do. It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s undoubtedly one of the more rewarding post-apocalyptic game experiences out there.
It’s rare to see a book get the video game treatment, but Metro 2033 really set the standard for game adaptations from other mediums. Its sequel in Metro: Last Light was similarly powerful, with a confronting Eastern European world setting the scene where mutants run rampant and people merely “survive” rather than prosper. The Metro games really are that rare occurrence where the adaptation matches the tone and aesthetic of the source material.
Wasteland was one of those “easy to play, hard to master” games. Its rich plot dictated an insane amount of play commitment, being one of the first post-apocalyptic games to hit the market back when it was released in 1988. It’s just as enthralling as it is now, some 26 years later. Its sequel, Wasteland 2, was met with similarly positive praise, continuing on the daunting survival experience that its wonderful predecessor did so well.
No series in this list has evolved over the years like Fallout has. Irrespective of that, the Fallout series’ enthralling theme of survival and war has remaining. Fallout 3 really turned the series on its head, propelling it to new heights in the process, evolving the franchise’s iconic role-playing elements and really giving meaning to the player’s choices.
The Last Of Us
Few games have touched on the powerful bond between a father and daughter, and The Last Of Us does it in a way that makes it one of the bravest games of the past decade. The powerful tale of a father and a parentless teenager sets the scene for a stunning post-apocalyptic experience, embodying exhilarating survival, action and post-apocalyptic North American bleakness.
Left 4 Dead
What was great about Left 4 Dead was that it knew that the zombie apocalypse setting had been done to death, so it stuck to the basics and managed to deliver a pretty kick-ass shooting experience. It’s undoubtedly one of if not the best cooperative shooter of the past decade. Both Left 4 Dead games offer an enthralling sense of action that most multiplayer games can only dream of.
DayZ excels in its hardcore survival gameplay, not necessarily its intimidatingly large open world. You’re all on your own, fighting it out against other players in an online environment where a can opener is one of the most lucrative items you can own.
Gordon Freeman returns from the fantastic original, exploring a game world where his actions have led to an oppressed world. The dystopian alternate history of Earth has been taken over by an oppressive multidimensional empire known as the Combine, using the planet’s resources — and humans — as harvest. Few games do post-apocalyptic sci-fi like Half-Life 2.
What are your favourite post-apocalyptic games ever? Sound off in the comments below!