Zombies Suck, So Stop Putting Them in My Games

The zombie genre has gone rotten, and it's time for it to shamble on.

Gaming was different back in the mid 2000s. Wii systems were flying off store shelves, Valve was actually making games, and mowing through hordes of zombies in a video game was still fun and relatively novel. 

Of course, zombies existed in games before then, but they were rarely the main fixture of the game and were nowhere near being a genre unto themselves. Zombies were still fresh. But that was all about to change.

Like an infectious bite, Dead Rising showed gamers just how fun crafting ridiculous weapons and mowing through hordes of rotting flesh could be. A few short years later, gamers everywhere found themselves bitten -- in a good way -- by the likes of Call of Duty: World at War's Nazi zombie mode, and the Left 4 Dead series. The infection was spreading, and before long it was simply out of hand.

Arguably lead by the popularity of the American drama The Walking Dead, the zombie fad spread through both games and pop culture like an apocalyptic infection. The games just kept coming and coming like the ravenous flesh-eating monsters that inspired them.

These games include:

  • Dead Island
  • Rise of Nightmares
  • DayZ
  • Deadlight
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • ZombiU
  • State of Decay
  • The Last of Us 

With Days Gone, State of Decay 2, and more Metal Gear Survive showcased at E3 this year, it appears that the zombie trend isn't going anywhere. But let's be real here: it's time for this zombie fad to shamble on out.

The Genre is Full of Wannabes

The problem with many of these later zombie games is that they don't look past the aesthetic of the games, movies, and shows that helped popularize the genre. Dead Rising was fun because players were a powerful figure with unique weapons in a playground for destruction. Left 4 Dead and its sequel made us communicate closely with our friends to deal with a constant and capable threat, as did Call of Duty's Nazi zombies. The zombies were superfluous, really. It could have just as easily been alien Nazis.

Rather than focusing on memorable or unique game play mechanics, later zombie games simply sought to mimic the look and tone of The Walking Dead or George Romero movies. These games don't have any regard for what made zombie games so fun to begin with -- and that's meaningful game play.

Every Premise is the Same

Zombie games have become a genre unto itself now, which is ironic considering that these games are nothing like the ones that popularized video game zombies to begin with.

Imagine a game set in the near post-apocalyptic future. A virus -- or curse, or fungus, or whatever it may be -- has turned most of the world's population into rotting, ravenous husks. A handful of determined survivors must fend off a seemingly endless horde of undead, some of whom are faster or have more hit points than others. Oh, and these zombies are good at hearing.

If that description sounds like a generic trope, that's because it is. It's the premise of State of Decay, H1Z1The Last of Us, 7 Days to Die, ZombiU, Contagion, Dying Light, and more. Heck, you could even tell Days Gone had zombies in it before the E3 trailer even showed them, purely based on its aesthetics.

While none of these games are necessarily bad by themselves, they combine to form one stinking stale crowd of video games that's barely distinguishable from one another. You can compare these games to zombies themselves. I suppose that's some kind of irony.

Gamers Deserve Better 

Whether developers are trying to hop on the undead bandwagon or they see the appeal of creating a game with easily recognizable mechanics, this fad has gotten out of hand. Like the walking dead themselves, the zombie genre has quickly become stale.

Instead of developers crafting fresh enemies, new game play experiences, and unique settings, we are simply getting wave after wave of undead crowds shambling through a city street. The mobs are the same, the setting is the same, and the mechanics are the same. What gamers need are interesting enemies and fun game play. They don't need another stealth system that's the same as any other.

Generic World War II shooters had their day in the sun, as did movie tie-in games. I'm sure that with time, zombie games will also die out and fade away.

I just hope they stay dead. 

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What are your thoughts on this zombie fad? Do you agree with our assessment? Let us know in the comments!

Published Jun. 26th 2017

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