We love zombies in our games. Whether you see them as hunks of flesh waiting to be put out of their misery, humans waiting for a cure, or a metaphor for some negative aspect of society, the one thing we can all agree on is that they make fine enemies for shooting games.
Any shoddy AI can be passed off as brain degradation, they can move exactly as quickly as you need for your combat to be fun, and no-one really minds if you're killing people who are already dead.
That said, not all zombie shooters on PC are much cop - older players might remember the dreadful adaptation of Land of the Dead. Let that one hang in the back of your memory while we check out the best ones to have graced our screens.
- Check out the rest of our PC Gaming Week coverage
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II - Zombies
Release date: 2012
Black Ops II wasn't the first Call of Duty game to have a zombie mode - that dubious claim to fame falls to World at War, Treyarch's pacific island set shooter. And the Zombies co-op horde mode also appeared in the first Black Ops game.
But Black Ops II has the best zombie shooter of the series so far, with four separate modes. You can fight endless waves of zombies in the traditional four-player survival mode, battle it out four-on-four-on-zombies in the versus Grief mode, play custom games of Zombies, or play one-to-four player co-op in the huge plot-driven open world Tranzit mode.
Gameplayer is focused around killing increasingly strong waves of zombies, in return for points that can be used to build barricades, buy weapons, unlock new areas or activate special items. Players play as a bizarre range of characters, ranging from JFK and Nixon, to Sarah Michelle Gellar and Danny Trejo, following a frankly ridiculous Nazi Zombie time travel plot.
Release date: 2013
The ARMA/Operation Flashpoint series of games has an odd dual-life; as highly-accurate team-based open world combat games and as military simulators used by, well, the military. However, there have always been zombie mods for the games, understandable given the odd obsession amongst zombie fans with surviving a zombie apocalypse in the most realistic way possible.
Day Z was the latest mod, created in 2012 for ARMA 3, which spawned players unarmed into an open world packed with zombies, where players scavenged for food, water and weaponry amidst the ruins. The real threat, though, was other players, who have a horrible tendency to kill, abuse or even enslave other players, and really display all the worst aspects of humanity.
Following the mod's huge popularity, the developers Bohemia Interactive brought the project in-house, and started to rebuild it from scratch. It's been in achingly-slow development given that it was originally scheduled for the end of 2012, and still hasn't come out, but has taken millions in alpha funding.
The game has also spawned many, many imitators, including the terrible Infestation (once known as War Z, before the movie's lawyers noticed) and the equally slow-developing Rust (which has changed its approach to a more sci-fi universe since it restarted from scratch).
3. Dying Light
Release date: 2016
Techland had worked on two zombie games before this - Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide - which were both technically impressive first person co-op zombie shooters inspired by the third person Dead Rising. However, both games were too plodding and disempowering to be popular - after all, it isn't much fun to stumble into a zombie pack and get tired of hitting them after two or three swings of your weapon.
Dying Light is Techland's self-published follow-up, which fixes the problems the developer saw with those games. The player is much more agile, almost to Mirror's Edge levels, and capable of killing many, many zombies before he gets tired. It also contains substantial RPG elements, meaning that players can have almost as much fun as Dead Rising, messing around with hordes of zombies, albeit without that game's ludicrous humour.
And at night, highly agile and tough 'volatile' zombies emerge, reducing the player to prey again - alongside some truly horrible player-controlled zombies, who can wipe out a team of co-op players by themselves.
4. Left 4 Dead 2
Release date: 2009
Turtle Rock is more recently known for its Evolve game, where four players must face off against a single player controlled monster in a science-fiction environment. But the studio made its name with the Left 4 Dead series, where four players faced off in co-op against zombie hordes.
The series is unique because of its cinematic pretensions - each campaign has a B-movie film poster and name, and features a series of connected maps. The players must battle from safe room to safe room, against hordes of zombies, often holding areas for extended periods of time against waves of zombies, frantically reloading and hunting out ammo or weaponry. An AI director assesses the player's performance, throwing zombies and super-zombies against them at moments designed to heighten the tension - as well as putting in nerve-wracking gaps.
The strangest thing about Left 4 Dead is that, considering its success on both PC and console, there haven't been any more sequels.
5. Resident Evil HD
Release date: 2015
Known as Biohazard in Japan, Resi has been a mainstay of games since 1996, following the adventures of the doomed Stars Alpha team against the Umbrella Corporation's virus-created zombies. Even if you don't know the game, you'll have seen the many schlock action movies starring Milla Jovovich - thanks to these, Resi has the dubious accolade of having the most movie adaptations of any game series (as well as the award for 'worst game dialogue ever').
PC gamers got their hands on it many years after the initial PlayStation release, but this HD remake came out early in 2015, and looks much, much better. You take control of one of two team members, investigating a mansion that they've been forced to take cover in with the rest of their team. You meet (and kill) a variety of zombies throughout the game, as well.
6. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
Release date: 2010
Though traditional zombies were cut from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of games during development, zombified stalkers appear in all three games. The zone around Chernobyl is full of stalkers and bizarre creatures and structures, some of which (such as the Controller, or the Miracle Machine or Brain Scorcher) can destroy a man's higher functions, reducing him to an aggressive drooling lump, which still can just about aim and reload a weapon. Stalkers that are caught in an emission are also likely to be zombified, which is why it always pays to take cover.
In game terms, zombified stalkers are just another bloody horror to deal with in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s unique open world. They'll often be found wandering around in packs, not using cover, and sometimes even stumbling into lethal anomalies. They'll fire wildly from the hip if they happen to detect an enemy, but can easily be taken down at range.
It's notable that, whilst they're mind-controlled by the C-Consciousness in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky
7. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
Release date: 2013
The House of the Dead series probably owes its popularity more to the cutting-edge graphics it once displayed in arcades, than to its so-so light-gun rail shooter gameplay and crazy-short campaigns. But when that light-gun is taken away and replaced with touch-typing training, you end up with a strange, wonderful and unique experience.
Typing of the Dead isn't just a mechanic shift though; it involves a complete rebuild of the game, including new character models, pacifistic zombie weapons and a ton of Easter Eggs. There are also several DLC packs for different dictionaries, including Shakespeare, Filth and Love at First Bite.
8. Doom II
Release date: 1994
The genre-defining shooter on PC, Doom is riddled with zombies - though they're not the biggest threats by any means. The Former Humans, Former Human Sergeants and Former Human Commandos are all low-level baddies you face often throughout the game, whilst the Revenants could be construed as human. Whatever they are, they're all possessed by demons.
Oh, and of course, hidden away behind the giant Icon of Sin at the end of Doom II is John Romero's severed head, which must be destroyed to win the game.
9. Killing Floor
Release date: 2009
Growing out of the Unreal mod scene way back in 2004, Killing Floor is something of a precursor to Call of Duty's Zombies mode and Left 4 Dead. Players take the role of a team of police and soldiers attempting to suppress a zombie outbreak in the cities and countryside of England, following a science experiment gone horribly (wonderfully) wrong.
The game got a remake and commercial release back in 2009, but stayed fundamentally the same. Players have to survive successive waves of enemies, which get progressively more difficult, with kills earning players money to buy a huge range of weapons and gadgets, as well as gaining super-powered perks between rounds. Survive long enough and you must fight the Patriarch, a lethal boss specimen armed with a rocket launcher, mini-gun, cloaking device and multiple health packs.
Despite its relatively ugly look and cheesy theme, Killing Floor has been thoroughly supported by its developers for six years now, meaning it's had a huge amount of additional content and polish added - and has sold three million copies. The sequel is due out soon.
10. Space Pirates and Zombies
Release date: 2011
A very different sort of zombie shooter, the unfortunately-named SPAZ is mainly an old-fashioned space exploration game, like Space Rangers II, with a (not very well-) hidden zombie infestation at the heart of it.
Whilst you explore a procedurally-generated galaxy, pursuing the plot of the mighty scrapheap Clockwork, the zombie infestation is spreading elsewhere. Meanwhile, you're battling the remains of the human navies, miners and perhaps some space pirates too as you seek to increase the size of your fighter fleet. It's a ridiculously-deep game with RPG, trading, fleet management, research, and blueprint discovery elements (and an oddly-shonky voiceover.)
11. Dead Space 2
Release date: 2011
The Dead Space series was cancelled after the third iteration because it didn't sell the five million copies the series needed, according to EA. Which is hugely sad, because the game is so cinematic and brilliantly-horrifying, riffing off both System Shock and The Thing.
The first and third games are solid, but the second game was the peak of the series, combining a science-fiction horror with a really quite creepy horror plot. After the events of the first game, where the crew of the Onimusha found that a space station had been corrupted by infectious monstrosities called Necromorphs, this one follows survivor Isaac Clarke attempting to regain his sanity, even though he keeps hearing the voice of his dead wife.
Like the creatures in The Thing, the Necromorphs take quite some taking down - the best way is to immobilise them by slicing off limbs with Isaac's quite-ludicrous array of mining lasers. That's if they're not the size of a moon...
12. Dead Rising 3
Release date: 2014
If you think zombie games are dumb, Capcom Vancouver's Dead Rising 3 is a game that embraces it. Revealed as an Xbox One-exclusive launch title back in 2013, the superior PC version was dead-set on rising a year later with unlocked frame rate support.
Although it's grittier than the previous two by appearance, don't fret. There's still as many jockstraps, haphazardous weapon concoctions and a wardrobe full of badass dresses just begging to be rocked.
If all of this sounds like a kneeslapper on steroids, just wait'll you hear about the multiplayer. That's right -- you can have a friend jump in with you without hindering the first player's experience. The second player, on the other hand, just has to bear with playing as a truck driver named Dick.