When it comes to video game viruses, the minds of many a gamer may well go to Trojans and malware. However, a number of games themselves revolve around nasty contagious diseases. Whether wiping out humanity altogether, or changing those infected into hungry beasts, getting sick in the world of gaming is rarely a minor inconvenience.
Because of this, perhaps it’s best that gamers are given a list of viruses that should definitely be left alone. With hand sanitizer at the ready, here’s our rundown of the video game diseases that should be avoided at all cost.
The world of Fallout is an incredibly dangerous place, filled with gangs of villainous bandits, savage radioactive beasts, and mysterious robot hordes. However, it’s not just these deadly challenges that wasteland survivors need to watch out for.
Aside from the Deathclaw, perhaps the most fearsome enemy of the Fallout franchise is the Super Mutant. These formerly normal human beings were subjected to the FEV (or Forced Evolutionary Virus) by numerous nefarious groups, in an attempt to create a superior form of human. The end result was hulking, violent creatures, hell-bent on turning the rest of humanity into further mutants.
The fungal infection from Naughty Dog’s survival horror classic The Last Of Us is a terrifying prospect. Humans who become infected by the parasitic fungus lose higher brain functions, before losing their sight and eventually succumbing to the disease. All the while, infected humans become highly aggressive, and are able to spread the parasite through bites and airborne spores.
The most horrifying thing about the Cordyceps Brain Infection is that it is based on a real-world parasite. Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is a fungal parasite that takes control of ants, and was the inspiration behind the plot of The Last Of Us. According to Naughty Dog, the version of the infection in-game is a mutated variant of its real-life cousin.
Not every video game virus manages to transform those infected into a enemy to be defeated. One such example of this is the Green Poison from Ubisoft’s MMO shooter The Division. Initially contracted through coming into contact with contaminated bank notes, this virulent strain of smallpox caused a full-on crisis in New York City.
With Midtown Manhattan under strict quarantine, and the threat of similar destruction across the world, it did not take long for different factions to brutally try to take control of the city. If the Green Poison didn’t get the inhabitants of New York, there’s every chance the Cleaners or Rikers would instead.
It’s not just planet Earth which is home to some particularly nasty diseases and infections. In the case of The Flood from Halo, extraterrestrial viruses can have huge ramifications. In fact, The Flood was nearly responsible for the destruction of all life in the Milky Way, with the parasitic creatures consuming a vast quantity of life in the galaxy.
Incredibly adaptable, The Flood is able to infect a wide variety of life forms, including both humans and forerunners. Capable of transforming those infected by the parasite into highly aggressive beings, it’s no surprise that so many galactic species have had difficulty combating this invader.
Although The Flood proves to be a highly intimidating parasitic being, the genophage from Mass Effect has a much more tragic story behind it. This infection was deployed on the highly aggressive krogan race by the turians, causing a mutation in the species that led to widespread infertility. This attempt to thin out the numbers of krogan galaxy-wide was incredibly successful, but the cost to the species itself was astronomical.
As a result, there have been numerous attempts to reverse the genophage through the creation of a cure. However, these projects have never been for the krogans’ own wellbeing, instead being used to amass armies to try and take control of the galaxy. Although some within the Mass Effect universe believe that the genophage was necessary to preserve peace and stability in the galaxy, it nonetheless leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the player.
Although the idea of a zombie outbreak is a well-trodden path in a variety of media, perhaps the most bleak and chilling version of this virus is from The Walking Dead. Somehow, the entirety of humanity has been infected with a pathogen that brings the dead back to life as aggressive, mindless beings. Outnumbering normal humans by huge amounts, it becomes an immediate struggle to merely survive.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Telltale Games’ fantastic adaptations of the horror franchise. The player is forced to make tough choices against insurmountable odds, making questions of morality bubble to the surface while danger surrounds on all sides. What’s more, those in the game know deep down that there is no permanent escape from the infection; eventually, everyone will die, and when that time comes the person will inevitably become part of the horde.
From the tight corridors of the Ishimura through to the expansive frozen wastes of Tau Volantis, there’s nowhere that the Dead Space franchise’s Necromorph threat has been unable to take a stranglehold. Spread through both a mutant pathogen and via electromagnetic signals broadcast by mysterious Markers, the Necromorph infection manifests in two ways: first through dementia, homicidal thoughts, and even paralysis in the living, and second through the reanimation and mutation of the dead.
The end result is nightmarish body-horror creatures, varied in size and stature depending on the host organisms in which the infection took over. The end goal of the Necromorph virus is to infect the life of entire planets, resulting in the creation of massive beings known as Brethren Moons. As a result, the Necromorph infection is a huge danger to humanity.
Although zombies are traditionally seen as a shambling horde, sometimes the classic horror monster decides to move with a little bit more speed. That’s certainly the case with the infected of the Left 4 Dead series, who are as energetic as they are deadly. To make matters worse, alongside the traditional infected humans there are also a number of ‘special’ infected, who pose their own dangers to any survivors hoping to find a safe haven.
Initially explained as a form of influenza, those who survived the initial outbreak of the Green Flu instead suspected that the virus was actually some kind of mutated rabies pathogen. However, the exact history of the disease is unclear. What is clear, however, is that the Green Flu is highly contagious, and those infected with the virus are a real threat.
Although the Locust were a big enough problem for humanity to deal with in the Gears of War universe, the protagonists of the series also had to deal with the Lambent. A catch-all name for those suffering from the latter stages of Lambency, the virus was able to infect a wide variety of different species. With the early stages of the disease known as Rust Lung, the eventual effects for the host are far from pleasant.
Caused by prolonged exposure to Imulsion, it’s not long before those infected begin to mutate into savage forms. Becoming more aggressive as a parasite takes control, eventually the hosts become entirely different from the beings they were before. What’s more, the infected have a nasty habit of exploding, allowing the infection to spread even further.
The t-Virus from Resident Evil is perhaps the definitive video game virus. Developed by the shady Umbrella Corporation as an infectious bioweapon, the pathogen itself has been released a number of times with devastating effect. First unleashed on a secret laboratory, the virus was responsible for the eventual destruction of Raccoon City.
The highly contagious virus, which is extremely resistant to many antiviral methods, makes tremendous changes to its hosts. Although it had originally been designed with the aim of genetically modifying an organism into a killing machine, the t-Virus was perhaps at its most devastating through its changes to the general population. Turning normal people into ravenous, hard-to-kill zombies, it’s no surprise that the virus is notorious in the world of gaming.
So there we have it – ten video game viruses that all gamers will want to stay away from. Some of the above may seem a little less dangerous than others, but the list will no doubt spur on some to wash their hands more regularly.
What do you make of our list of video game diseases? Are there any others that deserve a mention? Sound off in the comments below.