There’s no getting around it. Zombies are incredibly popular from films to television shows and even video games. You can probably name off quite a few zombie games such as the iconic Resident Evil franchise. However, if you’re after an open world zombie experience then you’ve come to the right place. There are plenty of upcoming zombie games even some that are made to be set in an open world such as Dying Light 2. Today, we’re going to dive into some of the best open world zombie games that are available today.
Platform: PC. PS4, Xbox One, Linux
Release Date: PC, Linux July 7, 2014
PS4, Xbox One, XSX November 12, 2020
Unturned is a free to play game so nothing is stopping you from trying it out right now. The title is a bit simplistic so think of your typical voxel kind of game that plays out similar to DayZ or other online multiplayer-focused zombie survival titles. You’re left in a world that’s filled with undead and to survive you’ll need to scavenge for resources that can be used to aid you throughout your journey. There are also NPCs available that can give players quests or a storyline to progress through.
As mentioned, this game is available online so you can connect with friends and go through the title together. However, not every player is friendly and that’s where you’ll come across some PvP situations. You’ll even find roleplay servers that encourage players to stay in character as you create this post-apocalyptic story. Overall, it’s a lighthearted game but you can at least give it a try without spending a dime.
#12 Dead Rising 3
Platform: PC, Xbox One
Release Date: Xbox One November 22, 2013
PC September 5, 2014
Dead Rising has become quite the iconic zombie franchise from Capcom. The same development company that brought out the Resident Evil franchise also brought out another zombie game series that featured some over the top action gameplay. With Dead Rising 3, players take the role of a mechanic named Nick Ramos that finds himself having to survive an overwhelming zombie outbreak within the city of Los Perdidos, California.
Just like before, this game focuses on a wide range of weapons to use against the undead. Players could even make special weapons that combines normal weapons together to further expand the craziness of the combat. Unfortunately, this franchise hasn’t seen much love lately so there’s no telling if we’ll see another Dead Rising video game release into the market, but we do have four mainline installments available.
#11 Project Zomboid
Platform: PC, Linux, OS X
Release Date: June 20, 2011
Genre: RPG, Strategy, survival horror
In Project Zomboid the video game has players stuck in a city that’s become flooded with the undead. Just like with any good zombie game, it’s all about survival. It may be against the odds, but the title forces players to think about where to go and what risks they are willing to take.
To survive, players must scavenge items and take care of their various vitals such as hunger, tiredness, pain, and mental state. For gamers who are looking for relaxed gameplay or an even more difficult experience, a sandbox mode will allow users to switch up various aspects of the video game such as how many zombies are available to even weather conditions. The game may have released in 2013 but it’s still a title stuck in early access which means that the developers are working to bring the game out fully.
#10 Dead Rising 1
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Release Date: Xbox 360 August 8, 2006
PC, PS4, Xbox One September 13, 2016
Another Dead Rising game makes it to our list and it’s the original Dead Rising video game. This video game is much like Dead Rising 3. It’s an over a top action-packed zombie video game that relies more on melee combat but, the storyline puts players into a different area. Rather than being stuck in a city, the setting for Dead Rising is set within a mall where players have access to countless stores to raid for weapons and resources while taking out an undead horde. It’s a bit silly, but the game was such a big hit when it launched back in 2006 and it took quite a while before PC players were able to dive into this game but thankfully in 2016 the title saw a release once again for the PC platform.
#9 Night of the Dead
Release Date: 28 Aug, 2020
Night of the Dead is a zombie wave survival type of video game. It’s in early access right now so the story is a bit light and we’re bound to see some changes to the game as it progresses through development. Overall, you take the role of a young woman named Lucy who’s been part of a scientific experiment and trapped on an island left to die. To make matters worse you find yourself not the only thing inhabiting the island as there are hordes of undead zombies.
This is where players start as they’ll have to go around and find new resources and weapons to keep themselves alive. There are also structures that players can build as defensive measures against the hordes but ultimately you’re forced to go beyond your comfort zone and explore the open island. Meanwhile, the end goal is to find the necessary equipment to build up a means for an SOS message to get off the island. Again, it’s an early access title but if you can play it right now and it even features some cooperative gameplay modes where you and a buddy can go through the game together.
#8 Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Red Dead Redemption is an amazing game by itself. The whole story of being John Marston, an outlaw that’s turned good but somehow gets the short end of the stick once again is a video game narrative that’s well worth going through. However, there was a DLC expansion released that turned the old west outlaw video game into a zombie title, which is another thrilling journey to play.
If you didn’t catch the DLC release when it came out, Undead Nightmare once again throws players into the role of John Marston but in a new standalone campaign storyline. This time around, a zombie plague has hit John Marston’s wife and son which prompts John to seek out a cure. Just as before, players can roam around the open world map and progress through the narrative or take on side quests However, the main antagonist group in this game isn’t more outlaws or the law enforcement but zombies which can vary such as the standard slow-moving walkers to larger tank kind of zombies.
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: December 13, 2018
Xbox One March 27, 2019
PS4 May 29, 2019
DayZ first started as a mod for the video game title ARMA 2: Operation Arrowhead which later inspired developers to see a full video game release. Here in this game players are tasked with surviving the fictional post-Soviet Republic during the zombie pandemic.
Starting out players have practically nothing and it’s up to them when it comes to scavenging items. Likewise, the video game also has a focus on human interaction where players can join forces or go against one another. The DayZ title had a bit of a rocky release but as of now, the title has made a decent comeback.
#6 Dead Island Definitive Edition
Platform: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, OS X, Linux
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Dead Island was developed by Techland, who went on to develop Dying Light, a game we’ll also talk about in this list. Overall in Dead Island, players start the game out from one of four playable characters each with their unique kind of traits they can bring into the gameplay. However, the narrative remains the same as players will find themselves stuck on an island that has been hit by a zombie plague. For whatever reason, it turns out that you’re immune to the disease which means you’re the last potential means for the rest of the survivors to escape this resort island safely.
This game mixes in melee combat with gunplay while you explore the island and handle various missions or tasks requested by survivors. Zombies can vary as well such as your standard slow moving zombies to Rams which are big tank-type zombies that are very fast and will bash into you at full speed. The Definitive Edition is the version to get for this game now as it comes packed with the DLC along with developers going into the game deliver improved visuals. There’s been a sequel for this game in the works for several years now and it’s even been passed around to different developers, but at this point, it’s been stuck in development hell with no indication if it will see a release.
#5 Strange Brigade
Platform: Stadia, PC, PS4, Xbox one,
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Genre: Third-person shooter
From Rebellion Developments comes Strange Brigade a cooperative third-person shooter filled with both puzzles and survival horror elements. Set during the 1930s, in this game the British Empire has established a fearless group known as the Strange Brigade. You just happened to be part of this group where your goal is seeking out strange and supernatural oddities.
However, because of the hostilities that usually come lurking around these supernatural areas, you’ll need to carefully work with your team and scavenge for useful items. This game puts players against all kinds of undead enemies and creatures such as giant scorpions. Fortunately, you’ll have all kinds of uniquely powerful weapons and supernatural abilities of your own to fight back with. Outside of collecting goods and fighting enemies, the maps you’ll get to play within are filled with all kinds of useful traps and puzzles to solve.
#4 7 Days To Die
Platform: PC, PS4, Linux, Xbox One, OS X
Release Date: PC, OS X December 13, 2013
Linux November 22, 2014
Xbox One, PS4 June 28, 2016
Genre: Survival horror
7 Days to Die is a pretty popular zombie game from developers The Fun Pimps. The game takes place after a world war that caused much of the planet to be wiped out due to nuclear weaponry. Exposed to the radiation, a large majority of humans became mindless zombies leaving the remaining few survivors to scavenge for survival. Much like other zombie survival games, this is a wave-based title where players will need to seek out shelter, food, and of course, water.
There’s quite a bit of crafting in this game and as the title suggests you have a week to prepare your settlement as at the end of the week you’ll find a horde of zombies rampaging your area. If you survive the night then you’re able to once again go out and gather supplies, refortify your base, and even make some useful upgrades. This game also comes with the added benefit of cooperative gameplay so you could build a base up with friends and prepare for the fight ahead. It may seem like a theme for this list, but players will find that this title is also stuck in early access.
#3 Days Gone
Release Date: April 26, 2019
Days Gone was quite the hyped-up title before release simply because it was being developed by SIE Bend Studio. This is a group we haven’t heard from for a long while although they were pretty popular from their Syphon Filter franchise. Within Days Gone, the video game takes place after a virus outbreak turns most of humanity into zombies. Players step into the role of a biker named Deacon St. John, who is making by the harsh world doing odd jobs for various factions.
With that said, you’ll want to be mindful of your surroundings as this game features a horde feature that will have a massive collection of zombies wandering around the map together. Without spoiling too much of the narrative, Deacon lives his life on a day to day basis without much of an end goal. However, he learns that there’s a chance that his wife may still be alive somewhere in the world during all this madness which sets him on a new path for more information about what happened to her during the pandemic.
#2 Dying Light
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Linux, macOS
Release Date: 28 January 2015
macOS 15 December 2016
Much like how I mentioned earlier, Dying Light was a game developed by Techland. This video game follows an agent named Kyle Crane who is tasked with infiltrating a quarantine zone city of Harran which has become infected with a virus turning civilians into ruthless zombies. The zombies in this game have a play with the day and night cycle. During the day the zombies are lethargic, not giving much of a fight for players during their exploration. However, things quickly change for the worse at night as they become incredibly more aggressive.
Developers have also tossed in some parkour elements within the game allowing players to easily traverse the city and its obstacles when fleeing the undead hordes. Combat well has been changed from the melee focus in Dead Island towards gunplay, giving players an action-adventure experience. It’s worth mentioning that there’s the DLC expansion as well, called Dying Light: The Following. This expansion puts players into a new map filled with more content such as modifiable vehicles. Meanwhile, zombies are still very much a threat but alongside them is an ancient cult, but I won’t spoil what’s to come in this game narrative if you haven’t played it yet.
#1 State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
Platform: PC. XSX, Xbox One
Release Date: PC, Xbox One May 22, 2018
XSX December 2, 2020
Lastly, we have the State of Decay franchise, in particular, State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition. In State of Decay 2, players are dropped into an open world where they must build up civilization. This means making a settlement and finding a community to help fortify your base. You can even recruit one of these members to go with you on scavenging runs or further seek out survivors to bring back.
There is a campaign attached and you’ll find a cooperative game mode attached where a friend can jump online and check out your community that’s been built up. If you’re after this game then I suggest checking out the Juggernaut Edition. This gives players more content to go through, along with a new open world map, more weapons, not to mention that you have the base game and the DLC already released for the title as well.