Co-op Zombie & Survival Horror Mods You Have To Play (Or Watch Out For)

Co-op Zombie & Survival Horror Mods You Have To Play (Or Watch Out For)
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

The update to Zombie Panic: Source yesterday got me thinking about all the zombie mods I’ve ever played. Of them, there’s only a few I’ve dedicated extensive chunks of time to and I thought I’d share my thoughts specifically on those ones.

Many such mods start with high hopes and ambitions, only to die from a lack of interest or experience. It’s sad, but true. The reasons are totally understandable – a lot of the guys that work on these projects are studying or working full time, and finding even a couple of hours to code, map or model can be difficult. Having programmed freelance for a few years, I know how much time even just decent debugging can strip from your life.

That doesn’t mean nothing makes it our alive. Or should I say un-alive. Don’t worry, I’m expecting my comedy license to be revoked shortly.

As a bonus, I’ve included an honourable and dishonourable mention for two mods (well, a game and a mod) that are yet to be released.

Hit the jump for the full list, if you think you can handle it (of course you can).
Zombie Master (Half-Life 2)
Combine real-time strategy with a first person shooter. No, it’s not EA’s failed C&C: Renegade. For one, it doesn’t have zombies. Zombie Master on the other hand has zombies in spades, which you might have gathered from the name of the mod.

Like most mods for Half-Life 2, all you need to do to play is download the mod and join a server. Instead of selecting a team however, one person is chosen at random to be the zombie master, while the rest pose as survivors.

The zombie master has to stop the players from completing the map, be it surviving for a specific period of time, retrieving parts for a van or simply escaping. To slow down and prevent the players from succeeding, the zombie master can spawn creatures at fixed points, trigger deadly environmental effects or place traps.

Usually players only start with a pistol, but shotguns, rifles and machineguns can be acquired by exploring the map. Of course, if you’re looking for weapons you’re not escaping, and gives the zombie master time to get his act together.

The zombie master accumulates resources based on the number of active players in the game. The master also receives bonus resources for killing players. There’s a large cost associated with activating environment effects, such as dropping a shipping container or causing a floor grill to fall, so they usually can’t be used at the start of a match.

The zombie master can summon run-of-the-mill zombies cheaply, as long as he’s prepared to watch them die quickly. The stronger, faster creatures demand a large investment, with “Banshees” being a popular favourite, thanks to their ability to negotiate most obstacles by jumping.

The zombies have respectable AI, considering Zombie Master is a mod being made by a bunch of guys in their spare time, and you’re free to order them around or let them do whatever they want. Obviously, the best results come from putting together intricate encounters, but there’s nothing wrong with dumping zombies directly on an unsuspecting survivor and watching them get overwhelmed.

Early versions of the mod had hardcore lag issues, but the latest builds have come a long way to rectifying the problem. If you can get seven people to join you, ZM is great for a LAN, but it really shines with 16 or more players.

Killing Floor (Unreal Tournament 2004)
I discovered Killing Floor about a year and a half ago. At the time I was desperately looking for a zombie mod to fill the hole in my soul left by Resident Evil 4. Originally I’d been searching for Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 mods, so my trawling of sites such as and Planet Half-Life had, naturally, failed to pick up Killing Floor.

It was only when I expanded my search parameters to included pretty much everything that this sparkling gem popped up. Killing Floor is actually the second version of another mod. Not being satisfied entirely by the original mod, the creator decided to start from scratch.

The objective of Killing Floor is to outlast wave after wave of mutated creatures, with each wave stronger than the last. Some are zombie-like in appearance and easy to take down, while others resemble walking meat shields that require everything in your arsenal to obliterate.

Weapons are spread around at random locations on each map, however, you can purchase items from a shop that opens between waves. Here you can stock up on armour, ammunition and the more powerful munitions, including grenades and rocket launchers. A weight system prevents players from lugging around their own personal war machine.

Doors can be welded shut and players can heal each other. It is possible to heal yourself, but at a reduced rate, so it’s always beneficial for players to work together.

If you own UT2004, Killing Floor is my pick if you’re looking to put together a LAN of 2-4 players and don’t mind the dated graphics. It works best with this number, and I played the game for months until I was completely zombied-out.

Honourable mention: Left 4 Dead
I know, it’s still in development and technically not a mod, but from what we’ve seen so far, Turtle Rock Studios’ Source-based co-op FPS has me shivering in both giddiness and fear… at the same time. I can’t think of anything more exciting than running around an urban setting with three mates, trying to out-distance a bunch of crazy, fast-as-hell zombies. Throw in end-of-level bosses and player-controllable bad guys, and I think we’ll be in for more than a treat. It’ll be a scrumptious banquet of survival horror delight.

Dishonourable mention: No More Room in Hell
I think the guys behind this mod have been developing/planning it since before the release of Half-Life 2. In that time we’ve had a couple of episodes for Valve’s FPS come out, not to mention Team Fortress 2 and Portal.

Hey, I understand developing a mod on a part time basis isn’t easy, especially when you want to exude polish like sweat. But what are you going to do when you release it, after all these years, only to find that we think it’s crap? The Zombie Master guys are not only less in number, but smarter – an early public release with the core gameplay gave them crucial feedback. Now it’s more popular than ever. Sure, you guys might think you’re making the best mod ever – but no one else does.

I could be wrong – it might be unbelievably awesome when it does get released, but I doubt it considering the closed, secretive nature of the mod’s development team.

To put it simply, NMRiH has become the Duke Nukem Forever of the zombie mod scene. Not the greatest reputation to have if you ask me.

If you know of any good zombie mods, let us know. I’m eager to check out anything you’re willing to recommend, because these things are like crack rocks for me.

New mention: Zafehouse
Okay, so this isn’t a zombie survival horror mod, but it does have zombies and survival horror. Plus, it was developed by me as part of Kotaku AU’s Game A Week feature. It simulates an undead attack on a remote town, where it’s up to you to keep everyone safe.


  • lol uve most definately heard of this one but so far this is singlehandedly the best zombie mod ive played given the map is done well with lots of spawns and even when the games few players have all gone ill continue to play and map for it until the source one is released but anyway its brainbread for halflife 1 they pushed its engine to the extreme u may not like but hell to each his own thats wat i always say but in a nut shell theres just the slow moving classic zombies here unless u find another player (player zombies run and move at normal speed) but my favorite feature is the fact that theres both human and non human zombies (bots basically) so u dont need ppl to play it really u shoot a zombie in the head it blows off dead u can shoot arms off and i nice size part of their chest very well done (dont forget its not hl2 its 1 so its VERY impressive wat they did to it, while there is objectives to do in most maps getting thru the zombies can be hard byurself id like to see more ppl playing but wat can u do but so far no game or mod that ive ever played has come anywhere near this classic sometimes ull be totally surrounded by like 50-100 of em and thats basically when ur completely boned as they hammer u to 1hp (npc zoms can “kill” u players can but when ur hp reaches 1 u start turning into one but enough of this long story check it out for urself if u havent i love it greatly as im a huge zombie fan and no games had the zombie plague like thisnot this many sure most have “alot” but make a few maps set the zoms respawn and max live children to a nice level and ull be struggling to live i assure u. well thats all for me im out. god i cant wait for bb:source but eh i just hope it gets finished and that they push the hl2 engine to its limits like the original brainbread:P though one last thing to put it broadly if they tried to put anything else in bb the engine would crash the focus on the fact that a zombie plague causing havoc in a city or the world should have tons of infected to fight against not loads and loads of guns lol but anyways sorry for the really long post on here lol im just a majorly big fan of the mod and basically all mods except zom panic (the gameplay was good but it wasnt intense enough some plague no npc zoms just player and i hate the begining of each round how out of the 32 players 1 randomly starts as the zom if no one volunteered id like to have to flee because theres just too many to take down only to run into tons more anyways lol plus the made camping in bb really hard and boring dont base ur thoughts about it on that the zoms stop going after u if they cant get u, i make my maps so u cant camp, camping is for sniper who are being shot at not for slow moving zoms… -.- im just guna stop talking now be4 i need a publisher peace out \/,, maybe ill see u in the game who knows lol

  • New zombie mod for Unreal Tournament 3, its called “The Haunted”. Works pretty much the same as zombie master but with Gears of War type graphics. Still a beta but F-in sweet!

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!