A Field Guide to Zombies

Don't know a Walker from an Infected? Should you find yourself face-to-face with a zombie, this handy guide will teach you to identify the most common types of zombies and how to kill them.

Don’t know a Walker from an Infected? Should you find yourself face-to-face with a zombie, this handy guide will teach you to identify the most common types of zombies and how to kill them.

Walkers are literally walking corpses, identifiable by their rotting, dessicated flesh and palpable stench of death. They also have yellowish eyes and tend to make a loud, moaning/grunting sound. You’ll usually find them feeding on human flesh.

Walkers are reanimated dead that are controlled by a mutation of the brain, so to kill one, you have to go for the brain. Like most zombies, they’re impervious to pain and will ignore most damage to their bodies, including severed limbs and gunshot wounds. But destroy the brain and they’re down for good.

The Infected have been killed and transformed by a mysterious virus called Solanum. Solanum strips the host of all normal bodily functions and intelligence. Infected do not feed on flesh like other zombies; their only purpose is an instinctual need to spread the Solanum virus, which infects victims via bite, scratch, or other exchange of bodily fluids.

Solanum Infected are slow movers, so you do typically have some wiggle room to play with, such as time to grab your weapon of choice. When it comes time to attack, you have to destroy the brain if you want to live to fight another day.

Don’t bother trying to get a glimpse at an individual Infected — these creatures move crazy fast, so all you’re likely to see is a blur. It hardly matters, though, since Infected typically travel in massive numbers, scaling walls and structures with remarkable agility. You don’t have to bother identifying them. They’re impossible to miss.

Killing individual Infected isn’t any harder than killing other types of zombies, but since they’re usually found in overwhelming numbers, your best option is to run. If you’re bitten, you’ll become one of them in approximately 12 seconds.

The most stereotypical kinds of zombies there are, Romero’s zombies are lumbering undead that stagger ever onward with arms outstretched and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. On rare occasions, they may show signs of remembering parts of their former lives, but don’t be fooled: the person they were is gone forever.

Just about any method of killing a human will kill a zombie, but head trauma is still the most effective. They also fear fire, so carrying a flaming torch could give you a tactical advantage. But beware: a handful of unique zombies have been known to pick up and use weapons.

Like their older brothers, these zombies are reanimated dead that seek to feed on human flesh. Unlike Romero’s originals, these guys have gotten themselves a physiological upgrade: they can run. They can’t climb, but they can seriously hoof it.

All the usual stuff works here, so feel free to get creative. Just whatever you do, don’t stop moving.


The longtime enemy of the citizens of Raccoon City (and eventually the world) got their start from a product of the Umbrella Corporation called the T-Virus. As one of the strongest zombie infections of all, the T-Virus can infect animals and plants in addition to humans. T-Virus zombies follow a standard evolutionary path, changing their physiology and behavior over time. They start out as fast movers that are super-humanly strong. Then later they grow stronger with claws instead of fingers, breathing out a toxic gas. Finally, they lose their sight but gain super-hearing, a crazy long tongue, and the ability to Spider-Man up a wall.

Since this is a video game series we’re talking about, there are gazillions of zombie variants, including undead humans, animals, plants, monsters, bosses, and more. Your best bet is — you guessed it — to go for the brain. And don’t be afraid to make liberal use of fire.

The Rage virus was designed as a drug to suppress violent anger, but it achieved the opposite effect in test subjects. Rage Infected are technically not dead (or undead), but they exist in a permanent state of adrenaline-fueled heightened rage, so they eventually burn their bodies out. They also vomit blood profusely, spew gibberish, move fast, and sport blood-red pupils.

Even though they’re susceptible to all the same methods you can kill a standard human being, the speed at which Rage Infected move — not to mention their 10-to-20 second gestation period after infection — make your best defense a hasty retreat.

Basically, if someone walks up to you and they have glowing eyes, you’re screwed. Mutated by exposure to the radioactive Element 115, aka Ununpentium, this variety of Infected were created by mad Nazi scientists (I hate those guys), endowing them with superhuman strength and a taste for flesh and blood.

Best killed by a shot to the head, though other less efficient methods work as well. Be careful out there — E115 infects animals as easily as humans. Survivors have noted sightings of mutated dogs and monkeys in the field.

One of the most unusual of all zombie types, Headcrab Zombies are those who’ve been mutated and commandeered by a small alien creature affixing itself to a human head. The resultant zombie looks a little kind of like it has a Thanksgiving turkey covering its head. Headcrabs alter their hosts, mutating human arms into long, claw-like limbs. Headcrab Zombies are usually covered in their own blood as well. Another difference: they feed on both the living and the dead.

A Headcrab Zombie’s entire body should be destroyed to properly kill it. Headshots alone rarely get the job done. A word of warning: occasionally a Headcrab will detach from a destroyed body and crawl toward their attacker in an attempt to find a new host.

With their glowing eyes and quick, aggressive movements, Green Flu Zombies are among the most deadly of all types. The Green Flu is believed to be a mutated form of Rabies, turning humans into mindless undead monsters. They possess heightened dexterity, allowing them to grab their prey and land damaging (if rather chaotic) blows. Like other fast-moving infected, they hunt to spread the infection, not for food.

Green Flu Zombies are known for being hard to kill, though this has more to do with their speed and strength than any lack of vulnerabilities. In fact, they’re susceptible to headshots, multiple bodily gunshot wounds, and they’re extremely vulnerable to fire.

This unmistakeable variant is guaranteed to terrify and induce night terrors, should you ever encounter one in person. Which is one of their primary purposes. Created by the malevolent alien race the Reapers as foot soldiers and a kind of psychological warfare, Husks are created by impaling a victim on a massive spike, which produces nano-machines that implant cybernetics into the dead, reanimating them via technology. They come in not just human undead, but all manner of deceased alien species.

Husks move fast, travel in swarms, and attack with fierce lethality. They lack the precision of the living and carry no weapons, but their speed and sheer numbers make them an enemy to beware. Putting them down usually requires multiple shots from a very large gun.

Put simply, Cordyceps Infected are essentially “fungus zombies.” They’ve been transformed by a parasitic fungal infection called “Ophiocordyceps unilateralis,” which doesn’t kill them but does mutate them into a new life form. Similar to T-Virus Infected, Cordyceps Infected go through three stages of transformation, slowly becoming more and more grotesque and dangerous.

These guys can be notoriously hard to kill, but they take damage the same way that humans do. They just require more of it before they’ll go down. They’re relentless and lethal when attacking, so always be prepared. If you have time for tactics and you’re very lucky, a good headshot will end one.



There are many, many more zombie variants. There’s Inferi [Harry Potter], zombies reanimated by magic. Bonies [Warm Bodies] are walking skeletons, zombies who’ve shed their flesh and lost all semblances of humanity. Blackwing zombies [Star Wars] are infected by an Imperial bioweapon, turning them into flesh-craving undead, though in a twist, Blackwing zombies can operate machinery, weapons, and even fly ships.

What kinds of zombies have you encountered in the field, and what are your best methods for killing them?

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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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