If there's one thing games love to do, it's bring about the apocalypse.
So many games seem intent on introducing some sort of global crisis or disaster that threatens to end civilisation as we know it (except for the Civilization games, of course).
One way in which they differ, though, is in how they believe this Armageddon will happen. Some lay the blame at a natural disaster, others credit the end of all human life to war or a massive virus. And, of course, there's always the classic zombie outbreak.
In the gallery below we take a look at the many different fates that befall humanity in gaming, so you can see for yourselves exactly how we're probably all going to peg it.
Because we're cheery like that.
Nuclear Holocaust (as seen in Fallout, Wasteland, Metro: Last Light)
From the Commodore 64 game Wasteland in 1988 to Metro: Last Light in 2013, we just love attempting to survive in radiation-saturated landscapes. The Fallout series in particular manages to hand over a grim view of a post nuclear environment but one with excellent futuristic wrist wear, a brilliant soundtrack and both friendly and hostile mutants to contend with in the '50s retro Wasteland that was once the US of A. The free roaming nature of Bethesda's Fallout 3 delivered a beautifully bleak end of days.
Metro: Last Light delivers a far darker approach to the nuclear apocalypse as it turns the majority of the lights out for you and takes you into Moscow's Underground system. While, ironically, Dark Ones live above, mutated and twisted on the surface, the remainder of the humans live below in the many tunnels and stations. This is a haunting world you might wish you hadn't survived to see.
Zombie Attack (as seen in Resident Evil, Dead Rising, House of the Dead, The Walking Dead)
What would the world be like without the now staple groaning horde? Well, there would be a lot less 'Dead' in our game titles for starters. The imaginatively titled Zombie Zombie on the ZX Spectrum - Google it, noughties child - might have kicked off the zombie genre back in the dark broadband-less days of 1984 but it was the release of the first Resident Evil on PS1 in 1996 that gave the shuffling undead an open invitation to gnaw on our collective gaming brains.
Proving that the only way to demolish the undead is with serious amounts of firepower - and a properly calibrated light gun - House of the Dead dragged itself into arcades in the same year that Resi was released. Once again, bad science is to blame as corpses are resurrected in their droves and the chances of survival become rather slim without Hawkeye-like aiming skills to pop those skulls. The newest generation delivered another level of zombie action when Dead Rising 3 lumbered onto Xbox One and was given a new-gen performance boost to fill the screen with even more endless swarms of Romero-inspired shufflers.
Death by Mushroom (as seen in The Last Of Us)
No, Mario didn't eventually pick the wrong type of fungi - it's bound to happen one day - we're of course talking about Naughty Dog's apocalyptic PS3 farewell. Whether it's the murderous fungus infection that turns you into a clicking monstrosity or the cannibals and thieves left behind, Earth just isn't the place for those who enjoy the sensation of having skin on their face. Brain-melting spores make hosts of the infection become murderous mushroom heads after a mere bite and if you don't have Joel's indifference to constructing shivs and embedding them in skulls, chances are it's the end of the road for you.
Plus, even if you manage to avoid the bites of the terrifying Clickers, deadly spores lurk everywhere just waiting for an innocent victim to breathe them in. Even 20 years after the initial infection, the world is still in constant flux with only those callous enough to steal and smuggle populating the bleak quarantine camps or living out in the wilds.
Underground Monsters (as seen in Gears Of War)
Nobody learns from Avatar do they? Another case of humans colonising a planet for some valuable treats and this time we're attacked by the Locust Horde and, eventually, city-swallowing space worms.
Natural Disasters (As seen in I Am Alive, SimCity, Disaster: Day Of Crisis, SOS: The Final Escape)
For something that's a lot more common than zombie invasions or nuclear holocausts, the natural disaster is seriously under represented in the world of games. And yet, uber earthquakes seem to have potential with both SOS: The Final Escape and I Am Alive delivering tremor-based experiences. The former, a 2003 PS2 actioner, sees you as hapless reporter avoiding debris as he attempts to escape an artificial island.
I Am Alive was Ubisoft's foray into disaster-struck America that delivers an ultra-bleak view of the world of the future. Dust clouds blanket cities and gangs of thieves stalk the streets after society crumbled in The Event. After a shaky development, this was a well-constructed end of days yarn that threw in the curveball of stamina to make perilous climbs across the environment even more bottom clenching.
The rest of the natural disasters are down to you - yes, you - when you get bored of a functioning city or find your 32-hour SimCity save has disappeared into EA's server blackhole. Don't worry; we know what it's like. Suddenly you're gripped by the maniacal urge to destroy everything with a well-placed tornado, earthquake, big lizard or meteor strike. Just don't turn up the volume to hear their tiny screams...
Solar Flare (as seen in Assassin's Creed)
Not only are you at risk of evil Templars controlling everything or someone stabbing you in the back if you happen to stand in front of a haystack to update your Twitter, the Assassin's universe has the helpful threat of a solar flare wiping out life on Earth for the second time.
Those Who Came Before were the original victims of the first flare; a colossal CME (coronal mass ejection) wiped out all but 10,000 humans as an uber blast of electromagnetic forces flipped the polarity of Earth's magnetic fields and exposed the planet to the Sun's flaming gaze. Catchily known as The First Disaster in Assassin's Creed lore, it's Desmond and co's job in Assassin's Creed III to make sure there isn't a Second one.
Synthetic-Organic Machines (as seen in Mass Effect)
Things don't look good when the Reapers and their indoctrinating ways decide to fix their murderous gaze on the innocent people of Earth in Mass Effect 3. It's up to you and Shepard to make sure humans aren't all turned into Frazzles.
Alien invasion (as seen in XCOM, Resistance, Space Invaders, Saints Row IV)
We've been fighting off aliens since time began, or at least when games as we know them began, with classic arcade time sink Space Invaders. Times haven't really changed much since the brightly coloured horizontal shooter. The hardware and the execution have been tweaked slightly but we're still spraying aliens with bullets as fast as possible before they reach us for Game Over.
The X-COM (Extra-terrestrial Combat) series started back in 1994 with strategy PC title UFO: Enemy Unknown chartering an alien invasion towards Earth in the then near future of 1999. While it might have changed developers since, the series is still sending little green men in our direction to destroy the earth. Whether it's the top down XCOM: Enemy Unknown or last year's The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, the galaxy is still very much out to get us.
Perhaps showing the ridiculousness of the genre, alien invasion got the Saints Row treatment last year when the Boss and co took on an evil race with the desire to destroy all life on earth. The alien warlord Zinyak captures all of the US Cabinet and sends them into simulations of their greatest fears before happily atomising the planet. So long, earthlings.
Planet Crash (as seen in Majora's Mask, Rage, Final Fantasy XIII)
Between world-ravaging floods and never getting a chance to have a childhood, Link never has it easy and Majora's Mask is no different with the impending threat of the Moon colliding with the land of Termina in the small matter of three days. In a darker turn for the series, he must quest to defeat whatever is keeping the four Giants from defending the world.
ID's Rage, on the other hand, takes place after the 99942 Apophis asteroid has made a serious dent in the earth as predicted in 2029 and has you racing and battling across a ravaged wasteland. An underground shelter known as The Ark was used to cryogenically freeze humans in order to continue humanity after the asteroid but everyone ended up dead and the project was a failure. You play as the only survivor of the Ark, gifted with super human powers to survive the harshness of the world above.
Being rolled into a giant ball (as seen in Katamari Damacy)
Being collected by the Prince's Katamari ball might feel a lot like that extreme sport, zorbing. Or, alternatively, it might be like being crushed into a smooth peanut butter-like paste as something even bigger than you is inexplicably hoovered up on top as trees, houses, skyscrapers and mountains are rolled into one.
Monster plague (as seen in Prototype, Left 4 Dead, Lone Survivor)
Are we splitting hairs to define the difference between a zombie and a monster? We don't think so. Zombies, no matter what later Resis will try and tell you, are categorised by their shambling walk and dead eyes gaze while monsters can be as fast and deadly as developers want them to be. Be it Left 4 Dead's standard Infected, the gross acid spewing Boomers or the screeching terrifying Witch, these are definitely monsters and make it even less likely to find any survivors lurking in the rubble between safe rooms.
These Infected are a cut above your regular undead as they require brains and not just bullets to bring them down - as those who have accidentally shot a car in game will testify. Conversely, indie game Lone Survivor lets you choose whether to shoot your infection ravaged mutant enemies or sneak past. A side-scrolling psychological survival horror in a pixelated Silent Hill vein, Lone Survivor sees you desperately trying to explore an abandoned city to find survivors and avoid infection.
Enormous insects (as seen in Earth Defense Force 2025)
The recently released EDF 2025 stars a host of gigantic insects that love nothing more than chowing down on human beings like Happy Meals. Ant-like Crustaceous Giants armed with acid are trying to take over the Earth while giant robots are all that stands in their way. Going by the fact that the environments are completely destructible, if the big bugs don't get you, the mechanical soldiers will be the ones to watch out for.
The Four Horsemen (as seen in Darksiders)
A small case of premature apocalypse in the first Darksiders sees War - the second of the four horsemen - arrive on Earth alongside the armies of Heaven and Hell and mistakenly aid in the destruction of all mankind. Oops. At least your morning's mistake was just forgetting to take a plastic stirrer for your daily caffeine intake.
A big flood (as seen in The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker)
Long before Link's story begins, the Great Flood - not to be confused with any of Britain's recent weather - saw Hyrule buried deep beneath the waves to save it from the invasion of the evil Ganondorf. Wreaked by the gods - who politely warned the citizens to reach higher ground - a torrential downpour of rain buried the land far beneath the waves, leaving only the mountaintops as islands for the citizens to create their new homes. This all seems a little too similar to our weather situation a while back. Get packing that handkerchief on the end of a stick.
Bio-electric Bomb (as seen in InFamous)
Not every explosion can gift you with super powers but the enormous bomb that erupts in Empire City hands over some seriously powerful wattage to Cole McGrath. The Ray Sphere destroys blocks of the city but somehow McGrath survives as a human Tesla Coil and quests to uncover the medieval terrorists responsible.
Time-travelling dinosaurs (as seen in Tokyo Jungle)
Whether you thought hunting and breeding a Pomeranian in a lion and dinosaur-packed polluted Tokyo was a good idea or not, Tokyo Jungle is an insane masterstroke of an apocalypse yarn. A time travel plot is uncovered as you progress through various animals and survival situations and it turns out that a device created to save humankind was the very means of its destruction. Future humans don't have much of a chance due to over pollution so the wise scientists of 2215 utilise their time travel technology to send messages back to 2019 and teach the earlier humans the same tech.
We all know this isn't going to go well but the Japanese government aid the building of a time machine that is carelessly misused. Due to a physics law known as the Law of Conservation of Mass, if someone goes back in time then they must be replaced with another life form. Suddenly people are being replaced with dinosaurs and other animals are invading and going feral. In a flood of animal and human violence - and probably a few Jurassic Park 'raptors in the kitchen' moments - humankind disappears entirely by 2027. Now it's up to you to send a message into the future to save humanity from itself. And you thought the plot of Looper was complex.
Terrorist Bio-attack (as seen in Tom Clancy's The Division)
Oh-so-reassuringly, the devastation on offer in Tom Clancy's The Division is inspired by the very real world problems of smallpox simulation Operation Dark Winter and US Government catastrophic emergency plan Executive Directive 51. On Black Friday - a day that surely deserves its very own emergency service anyway - a man-made virus sweeps through New York City, taking only five days to cause utter devastation. An exercise in the domino-like nature of our fragile society, this won't keep you up all night at all.