Best Post-Apocalyptic Games: The Top 10 Titles of All Time
There are few things more morbidly satisfying than a post-apocalyptic game. As gamers, we love exploring a ravaged wasteland, fighting mutated creatures and attempting to survive against all odds in a world gone bad. Something is exciting about being one of the last people left alive, forging an existence in a world that doesn’t ever stop trying to decimate your very being. In this guide, we’re breaking down the best post-apocalyptic games of all time, so you can join the legions of fans who love this genre.
From nuclear annihilation to the mysterious disappearance of an entire population, these are the best games set in the apocalypse that you’ll ever play. They’re legendary, with some of them having sold tens of millions of copies over a period lasting more than two decades. If you’ve got a hunger to explore the end of the world, then read on – these are the best post-apocalyptic games you’ll ever play.
Top 10 Best Post-Apocalyptic Games of All Time
10. Mad Max
Mad Max is a canonical take on the post-apocalyptic universe of the same name, released in 2015 to a very positive reception. In Mad Max, players assume control of the titular character, working to build up the Magnum Opus – a super-powered muscle car – and fight for survival against bloodthirsty gangs in a world ravaged by the apocalypse. It’s a solid game that boasts highly satisfying combat, sumptuous visuals, and an intriguing story.
9. Dead Rising
Dead Rising can be traced back to 2006, with the first game being released and taking the world by storm. In Dead Rising, players experience a zombie apocalypse set mostly within a shopping mall – a reference to Dawn of the Dead – but it’s a more laid-back, hilarious take on the zombie uprising. Dead Rising went on to spawn several follow-up titles, and by 2024, there were four games in total in the series, all of which are equally as wacky, inane, and bizarre as the next.
8. Days Gone
Days Gone was released exclusively on PlayStation in 2019 and quickly became regarded as a solid and highly enjoyable open-world post-apocalyptic game. In Days Gone, players assume control of Deacon St. John, a badass biker who has survived the zombie apocalypse and must now live in a devastated world, trying to get by. It’s a game that boasts intense horde technology, with the player often facing down hundreds of enemies at one time.
Horizon: Zero Dawn and the follow-up title, Forbidden West, are seen as being some of the best post-apocalyptic games ever made. They exist in a universe where a self-replicating, sentient race of robots destroys humanity and takes over the planet. Centuries later, humans reappear, living almost in tribes as they attempt to rebuild society. It’s a fantastic two-part series that boasts wide, open worlds, innovative combat, and some of the best acting in modern gaming.
6. State of Decay
State of Decay was first released in 2013 as an Xbox-exclusive game. It has since become one of the best post-apocalyptic games ever made, and in 2018, it spawned a follow-up title. There’s a third game in the works, but there’s no indication of when that’ll be released. In State of Decay, players are charged with surviving a zombie apocalypse, building up a settlement, and gathering followers. It’s a game based around resource and inventory management, and it’s one of the top cooperative zombie franchises out there today.
5. Left 4 Dead
The Left 4 Dead series is a memorable, age-old, and classic franchise that has entertained millions of players over the years. It’s a no-holds-barred, action-fuelled romp of a series that sees players slay hordes of zombies in some of the most desperate races against time imaginable. It’s a hugely popular post-apocalyptic game that never takes itself seriously, offering up cheesy one-liners, humorous scenes, and bizarre combat that can be enjoyed over and over again. As of 2024, there are two games in the series and one spiritual successor, Back 4 Blood.
Metro is a legend in the world of the best post-apocalyptic games. It has a legacy that stretches back decades, originating from a series of books written by a Russian author with a penchant for penning terrifying end-of-the-world stories. In Metro, players control ‘Artyom’, a survivor of the nuclear holocaust that decimated Russia and much of the world around it. It’s a game that takes place in the dank, dark metro of Moscow – hence the name.
However, over the years since the bombs fell, the metro became home to some gnarly, horrific mutants – as well as the dregs of society. It’s a place where people can survive and thrive or succumb to the darkness, but eventually, Artyom and his friends must leave the metro and go into the vast beyond of post-apocalyptic Russia. There are three games (as of 2024) in the Metro series, and they’re all fantastic.
3. Dying Light
If you’re a fan of the best post-apocalyptic games out there and you haven’t played a Dying Light game, there’s a problem. In 2015, the first Dying Light launched to an overwhelmingly positive reception, laying out a plethora of post-apocalyptic options for players to explore. It boasted innovative and unique mechanics – such as an intense parkour engine – that made the first Dying Light game a wonder to play. It was exciting, fresh, and highly entertaining.
In 2022, Techland – the developer – released Dying Light 2. This game featured more of a ‘post-apocalyptic vibe’, allowing players to truly experience a game about the end of the world. It was set years after the first game, in a world ravaged by a zombie virus. It was bleaker and more morbid than the first game, but so much more expansive, and as a live service game, it will be supported by Techland for years to come.
Any Fallout title can be classed as one of the most impactful post-apocalyptic games ever made. From the first game that was released in the late 1990s to the most recent, multiplayer-focused title – Fallout 76 – that dropped in 2018, each one has innovated and made a lasting impression on millions of players. Over a period lasting more than twenty-five years, Fallout has spearheaded the post-apocalyptic genre and inspired many more games that followed to popularise the niche.
In Fallout, which is now an Action RPG series, players assume control of a customisable character in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. They must survive against all odds, make a living for themselves, forge a path through the wasteland, and complete quests. They’ll meet intriguing factions and fearsome mutants, and make friends along the way – it’s a choice and consequence-driven series that offers superb levels of replayability.
1. The Last of Us
The Last of Us is a fantastic and heart-wrenching series rooted in a devastating post-apocalyptic setting. It’s one of the most emotional, masterfully crafted franchises in gaming history, and it has gone on to spawn a popular television series from HBO. This two-part series (as of 2024) sees players plunged into the heart of the United States amid a terrifying, overwhelming outbreak of a plague known as ‘Cordyceps’.
It’s a survival horror game that is post-apocalyptic through and through. From devastated cities to bands of raiders seeking survival at any cost, and from precious few resources to mutated freaks, The Last of Us has it all when it comes to listing it as the best post-apocalyptic game franchise ever. It’s beautiful, harrowing, and deeply satisfying, and the acting is second to none. There is no better game when it comes to the post-apocalyptic genre.