Scorched Earth is an awful and beautiful view. Surviving is human nature. So, we have an alloy of aesthetics and general fears. In literature, apocalyptic events are the fundamental archetype. The popularity of these games was just inevitable. Today, the PA style is global in many genres.
What are the criteria of post-apocalyptic entertainment? It is simple:
- The essential catastrophe before or during the timeline. The gap between events can be very different;
- A stable survival part. Humankind is struggling, and resources are scarce. So, this phase is something you need to wear down. The opposite fractions often are too dangerous;
- Indomitable barriers and limits. Mighty monsters, radiation, energetic barriers, or other natural and artificial gates to the zones. Remember about the Scorched Earth. The game that hasn’t a challenge on the map can’t consider as a hardcore survival title;
- Completely new societies. Local, continental, or global commonwealths rose from the ashes of the old world;
- Craft system is not mandatory but gives an additional activity for vibe and immersion. Resources are limited. Weapons from scrap are everywhere;
- Looting is essential. Very seldom gun and ammo manufacturing is functioning even after the cataclysm. Still, raiders, vigilantes, local militia, and other paramilitary groups use the mechanisms from the quiet life era.
The PA style is successful. Even in the best UK slots, you could hunt for treasure and battle against raiders, although the theme belongs to the shooters, third-person actions, strategies, etc. The narrative has a hero or a group of survivalists, and the main goal could be the standard fantasy trope or the postmodern parody. The core part is always the same: a journey across the dying world.
The Mastodons and Cult Franchises
This theme has maybe the strongest franchises of all time. Though, success baits mediocre teams with corny ideas. Let’s see the trends in the post-apocalyptic world.
It is the half-forgotten founding father of the genre on PC. It has two modern sequels from the old-school developers that are decent and even joyful. The premise is our post-nuclear world. The place is the former Southwestern states of the fallen USA. A hardened group of Arizona desert rangers (and, occasionally, volunteers) is in the dangerous quest against various menaces. Raiders, cannibals, wild savages, mad robots are included. The trilogy is a classic party RPG with developed tactic skills.
Alpha and omega of the genre. The spiritual successor of Wasteland. Just a popular modern blockbuster. These are the faces of Fallout. The games are different. The premise is always a post-nuclear America after 2077, when “the bombs fell.” The first part is a relatively short game about saving your Vault, and in the end, you will save the world. The second part is the same wasted California, but more dark humor and quests. Chris Avellone made the most cult narrative of the franchise. Fallout Tactics was the bland game, made almost in the original X-Com style. Then, the original creators from the Black Isle Studio committed bankruptcy. All the new parts were developed by Bethesda (and one old-school spin-off from Obsidian Entertainment). The core gameplay changed as well. Today it is a good solid action RPG, with craft and a lot of shooting. Though the last part went online, and it was a massive fail. Fallout 76 is extremely buggy, with broken online activities and a cruel donation. The future of the title is pretty uneven. The most beloved part of the new 3D action RPGs is a spin-off called New Vegas.
Another icon of the PA theme but in the movies. Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most renowned action movies nowadays. The game was released in 2015, and it follows the fourth movie. It is a decent installment of Max Rockatansky’s adventures. The biggest issue of the game itself is repeating activities and annoying scrap collection. The combat system is pretty joyful, but you can be tired of it during hours of battles. The atmosphere is straight from the fourth blockbuster. Adrenalin and Valhalla, shiny and chrome!
The franchise is based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033 book series. It is a rare sample of a post-Soviet and post-nuclear world at the same time. In the future, lone survivors struggle in the battle against mutants in the tunnels of the Moscow subway. Deadly radiation reigns over the surface barrens. But rangers have to overcome the fight against the remnants of the world and the hideous new race of telepathic black aliens. The Ukrainian creative team made a good game with an ex-USSR vibe. At the same time, this is a decent action title. Shooting is dynamic, and every enemy has an impact. The resources are few. The Metro trilogy is the best choice for rookies and hardcore PA fans.
The post-apocalyptic atmosphere there is in a colorful cell shading. The action takes place on a distant planet, and the main activity is looting. It is one of the most successful cooperative shooters among modern hits.