All Metro Games In Order Release And Timeline
Image: 4A Games

The 11 best post-apocalypse games to play while the world burns

Some people just want to watch the world burn.

Videogames, for a lot of folks, are a way to escape the trials and tribulations of life, be it work or exams. However, some of us like to revel in the what-ifs of global destruction to unwind, dipping into bleak future dystopias. So, for those of you who want to face the fearful future, here are the best post-apocalyptic games available.

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Fallout 4
Image: Bethesda

No list on end of the world wastelands is complete without the monumental Fallout series. Everyone has their favorites, but anyone who says anything but Fallout: New Vegas is incorrect. The writing of these wonderfully open worlds fully immerses any player in the nuclear wasteland of the United States of America.

The Fallout Franchise allows us to dig into the ‘Fallout’ a nuclear war would have on the United States. Once the ground becomes habitable again, what pulls itself from the rubble is anyone’s guess. I feel Bethesda has, mostly, created a convincing and attractive post-apocalypse in their series of games. I have always loved the variety of societies that the writers thought up from the peaceful folks of Nuketown to the charismatic supermind of Mr. House.


I started my venture into the Metro games through Exodous and fell in love with the aesthetic. A game set in post-apocalypse Russia fits with a lot of my love of Russian literature. I feel these games capture the bleakness and horror of the wasteland world in a very soviet way.

The icy wastes and Soviet design of each of these games draw the player away from an environment we are so used to seeing. Too many games are set in America, so to be amongst the wastes of Russia, is a breath of fresh, irradiated, air. What the Metro games bring to the table is wonderfully written, linear storylines that drop us deep into the horror of monsters, radiation, and freezing cold.

The Last of Us

best post-apocalypse game
Image via Steam

The Last of Us games are international hits and should be worshipped for what they have done, not only for the zombie apocalypse genre but for gaming in general. They have created a game that is just as gripping for the seasoned gamer as it is for the uninitiated.

What makes The Last of Us stand out is the exceptional writing. From the beginning of the first game to the closing scenes of the second, it is a cinematic masterpiece of set design and script. The games are dripping with horror, deep and complex relationships, and traumatic moral dilemmas. This is a game that can be played on the easiest level for anyone who wants to be carried along on a beautiful journey or turned up to 11 to struggle through the post-apocalypse with one bullet and a dream.


This is another fantastic post-apocalyptic series of games set 100 years after the nuclear holocaust. The RPG element of this game lets you completely build your party and shape the world around you much more than other RPGs available. Akin to Baldurs Gate 3, the game runs mostly top-down, with turn-based combat breaking out when you put a foot wrong.

Wasteland 3, which is my personal favorite, lets you explore the world with your squad, collected as you progress through the story. The game is incredibly open-ended, with every decision you make completely changing the way the game plays out. This kind of freedom means every new playthrough is unique in its own way. The storytelling throughout is masterful and will have you lamenting and laughing in equal measure.

Gears of War

best post-apocalypse game
Image via Xbox

In the golden age of Xbox exclusives, the Gears of War series is among my favorites of all time. I sat with a housemate and played through every single game in the couch co-op campaign back to back over about a week. This will forever be one of my best gaming memories.

Gears of War takes a slightly different approach to the post-apocalypse compared to most of the other games on this list. Rather than Armageddon being brought about by nuclear war or zombies, it is instead aliens from deep within the earth, brought to the surface by excessive mining. So, yes, we are responsible for our own demise again.

The color scheme, sound design, and visceral combat of Gears of War are what I loved so much about the series. Charging from cover to cover, unloading bullets as you go, before cutting a locust into pastrami felt so damn good. Stealth was never an option.

Nier: Automata

This game is both an art piece and a post-apocalypse masterpiece. The visual aesthetic is the director’s interpretation of the world an android would see, and I have to say, they nail it. The game will take you through the earth, abandoned by the humans, requiring a clean-up by the remaining robots. As you make your way through the cities and deserts via multiple viewpoints, the story opens up, piece by piece.

Nier: Automata does something that not many other games attempt and has to be played to be fully understood. The empty world is no wasteland and is often lush and full of life, but is no longer the world that humans inhabit. Maybe that’s a good thing?

Project Zomboid

The team for Project Zomboid has had their post-apocalypse game in early access for more than a decade. I expect the world may come to an end before they finally release the 1.0 version. However, this doesn’t mean the game is bad it means the opposite. They have added so much to Project Zomboid. Even hours and hours into gameplay, I am still finding surprises.

Project Zomboid best post-apocalypse game
Image: PC Invasion

The graphics are incredibly basic, think The Sims, but the game is wonderfully detailed. As you spawn in with your chosen buffs and boons, it is up to you to survive as long as you can. This can be done by building bases and collecting resources. You will eventually be bitten or die, but you can return to your own zombified body. Then, kill your old self, and continue. What makes this game stand out in the post-apocalypse genre is its attention to detail. The crafting and exploration are unmatched.


Think city builder in the end days, and you have Frostpunk. This is a spin on the traditional city management genre that puts you in the role of the mayor of a city trying to survive a nuclear winter. As you set up base and try to stave off the cold, it’s up to you to help everyone survive.

What sticks with me about this post-apocalyptic game is the mental and social struggle they have incorporated into it. As you have to start introducing concepts like triage or public discipline, the crowds can turn. It isn’t just about keeping the boilers running; you also need to keep the hearts of the population warm. Revolution is always just around the next frosty corner.


best post-apocalypse game
Image via BlueTwelve Studio

In the end days, there are few living things left roaming the earth. There are robots, cockroaches, and there are cats. This endlessly charming and wonderfully gripping game puts you in the furry paws of a cat in the post-apocalypse. Using only your meows, you can climb, lick, and explore to find out exactly what happened to the world.

Stray is a beautiful game that took me by surprise. I thought the simple premise would run its course, and yet, as the credits rolled, I found myself wanting more. This is a fantastic game for people who may be looking for something casual but very satisfying to play. I played it with a partner, and together we had a wonderful time.


The aesthetic is everything when it comes to post-apocalypse games for me, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R nails it. It is a clear love letter to Roadside Picnic, the book by Boris and Arkady. It pulls inspiration from sci-fi written behind the Iron Curtain.

Technically, this game doesn’t take part in the end of days, but rather a wasteland, lost to anomalies and horror. However, the aesthetic of a perfect apocalypse is all there. The struggle is real, as you are tasked to kill an adversary while putting back together the scraps of your lost memory. The monsters and oddities that exist in S.T.A.L.K.E.R are one of a kind. I can’t wait to play the next installment.


The end of days doesn’t need to be in greyscale, and the Horizon games make the most of that. Hundreds of years after the fall of civilization to the machines, it is up to Aloy to get out there and figure out just what went wrong.

Horizon Zero Dawn
Screenshot: Guerrilla Games

The beauty of the Horizon games goes beyond the writing and satisfying gameplay. What I love so much about these games is their wonderful color palette. I understand why most other post-apocalypse games tend to opt for the greys and browns of nuclear fallout, but Horizon brings something new to the table. Rich colors and flowing vegetation swarm the ruins of civilizations centuries past. Flowing grasses and rivers mask sound and sight as the game plays out.

A real gem in the genre, and one not to be skipped.

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Image of Leo Gillick
Leo Gillick
Leo is a Freelance Writer for PC Invasion. He has a degree in English Literature and Film Studies and more hours buried into videogames than he cares to admit. He has worked extensively in the Videogame and Travel writing industry but, as they say, get a job doing something you love and you'll never work a day in your life. He uses his writing as a means to support indefinite global travel with the current five year plan seeing him through Latin America.