The survival video games have surely gained traction in the last couple of years. That’s the reason Steam charts are filled with all kinds of survival games most of which are unfinished projects and can be accessed through Steam’s early access platform.
In a typical survival game, players begin their campaign with minimal equipment. They are then required to scavenge/pillage resources, tools and weapons, build shelter and craft tools. Most survival games are based on randomly generated surroundings, allowing playing characters to interact with each other.
These games are known for their intensity, open-world nature and often demand creativity, tactical planning and above all presence of mind. Below, we have compiled a list of best survival games that you can enjoy this year.
Table of Contents
12. ARK: Survival Evolved
Image Courtesy: Studio Wildcard
Platform: Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Console
Developer: Studio Wildcard
Have you ever fantasize being trapped in an island where you battle your way to the safety through wildlife and groups of hostile folks? If you do, then this is your chance to experience that virtually.
ARK: Survival Evolved is a unique survival video game in which along with other players you get to interact with wildlife and by wildlife I mean the Dinosaurs.
The game can be played in both single and multiplayer mode. You need to scavenge, build bases, stockpile firearms and do all things necessary to defend against wildlife and other players. As usual, players have to keep an eye on their vitals such as hunger, thirst, stamina, and health.
Your interaction with wild creatures in ARK goes well beyond simple hunting as you can domesticate them to help your cause. At the moment there are more than 130 different species of life forms feature in the game many of which can be tamed.
11. Sunless Sea
Platform: Windows, PlayStation 4
Developer: Failbetter Games
Sunless Sea is a single-player, roguelike survival video game set in the fictional world of Unterzee. As captain of a ship, you travel from one location to other trading goods and gathering wealth. But beware of the dangers. Here, you’ll not only battle sea monsters but captains of other ships in Unterzee.
Throughout the game, you will come across multiple companions who affect your in-game stats and will assist you in combats. Winning condition depends largely on what type of personality and ambitions you have chosen for the character.
10. Last Day on Earth: Survival
Last Day on Earth is a popular survival game set in a fictional post-apocalyptic world where almost all humanity is eradicated by the outbreak of a mysterious infection. Like most survival games, those who were infected have now turned into zombies.
Your character’s survival depends on how well you manage in-game stats like hunger and thirst, how efficiently you scavenge goods and craft important tools. Supplies can also be looted from territories of other (non-playing) survivors. Apart from regular raids, you can send your character marauding in seasonal locations in case you are looking for a tougher challenge.
Though the app is free, you can unlock additional features through in-app purchases.
9. This War of Mine
Platform: Windows, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch
Developer: 11 bit studios
This War of Mine is a unique, war-themed survival video game in which you will lead a small group of civilians who are trying to survive in a devastated neighborhood. Your objective is to outlast the war by scavenging and crafting important tools with the help of survivors who are completely under your control.
The game has night and day cycle. During daytime, snipers and hostile scavengers (non-playing characters) will make it tough for you and your survivors to marauder outside for supplies so the night time provides the best opportunity to gather food and medicines. However, shortages of food and important supplies can force you to think otherwise and take difficult decisions.
The War of Mine doesn’t have certain popular gaming elements like XP earning or shooting someone/something dead, neither it’s fast-paced but there is something satisfying about this game that alone makes this game worthy of your time.
8. The Long Dark
Platform: Windows, Linux, Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Hinterland Studio
A lot of survival games have at least two things in common; an island (mostly tropical) and zombies, so it’s quite easy to get bored at one point in time. That’s where The Long Dark is more effective. It trades islands for lands covered in show and zombies for wild animals like wolves and bears. Your character assumes the role of a pilot who has crash-landed on a frigid, barren land following an apocalypse.
Nature is, of course, the biggest threat in this game. In order to survive you need food, water, medicine, and weapons. Fire is also important to keep wild creatures at bay during night time. Temperature fluctuations are common which occurs randomly during the gameplay which will force you to keep tabs on weather and make smart decisions.
The game has four different experience modes; Pilgrim, Voyageur, Stalker, and Custom which were added to allow different playing styles.
SCUM, often labeled as a “Prison riot” survival game, is a sturdy and feature-rich game that’s already creating a lot of buzz before its full release. SCUM is one of the many games which are currently benefiting from the Steam’s early access program.
You will find yourself in a high-security island largely inspired from the cultural and geographical settings of the Mediterranean region where more than 60 other players (per server limit) will try their luck to survive and escape the island simultaneously.
Instead of having just plain survival gaming elements it allows users to take part in various action-based events through which you will receive fame points. These points will come in handy in various stages of the game.
SCUM has a special body simulation mechanism in place that carefully tracks what you eat, how much you eat, drink and defecate. You’ll get fatter in case you’re taking more calories than you are burning and vice-versa. This will affect your reflex levels, strength, energy, stamina, and other in-game attributes.
6. They Are Billions
Image Courtesy: Numantian Games
Developer: Numantian Games
Like few others on this list, They are Billions is also starting its life on Steam Early Access platform. Instead of being a traditional survival video game, it takes a slightly different approach by putting several elements of real-time strategy into the mix.
Your primary objective here is to build a base, plan and lay defenses to protect yourself from the never-ending horde of zombies. In order to run those defenses effectively, you need supplies time-to-time.
There are eight types of resources essential for survival; food, workers, wood, stone, iron, oil, energy and gold, most of which can be plundered from nearby villages. But keep in mind that these pillages may have bad consequences.
Though zombies are mostly slow and unpredictable, they almost always follow a pattern in their attack which might help you with defenses. Occasionally, a huge wave of undead will show up to test your resilience. Since it is in early access stage, you can expect some minor changes and fixes now and then but make no mistake that the game is already well stocked.
Image Courtesy: Minecraft
Platform: Windows, Linux, macOS, Android
Often considered as a pioneer, Minecraft is responsible for popularizing the survival game genre, influencing many contemporary games. No list of best survival games is complete without Minecraft.
Set in a virtually infinite world, the game allows you to mine resources, build houses and survive by fighting off pixel monsters. There are no specific goals so you can do almost anything you want.
The sandbox nature of the game gives you the freedom to choose your own playing. You could either forge weapons and hunt hostile creatures in the dark and most dangerous places or adopt a defensive style by building strongholds and fending off creatures at night. Minecraft also has a creative mode which allows players to build huge structures without worrying about hunger and health damage.
The game became an instant hit soon after its launch in 2011. By February 2017, about 122 million copies of the game had been sold. In January 2018 this number stood at 154 million, making it the second best-selling game of all time behind Tetris.
Image Courtesy: Facepunch Studios
Platform: Windows, Linux, macOS
Developer: Facepunch Studios
Rust is a popular, multi-player game that will test your surviving skills to the limit. The game’s objective is to survive by scavenging or plundering important stuff, building strong bases and joining clans.
Although the game has a fair amount of wildlife (wolves and bears) into the mix, the main threat comes from other players and non-playing characters who will occasionally attack heavily armored players. The game can be best explained as a mixture of DayZ and Minecraft.
Read: 12 Best Star Wars Games
3. Don’t Starve
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Surviving as a team, making human alliance and enemies are all good but what’s more horrifying is doing it alone. Build in beautiful yet scary Tim Burton style 2D art, Don’t Starve allows you to experience the terror of surviving in the wild, where you are surrounded by strange creatures all by yourself.
You need to keep your character, Wilson, alive as long as possible (it’s a roguelike game so death is imminent). He needs an adequate supply of food, firewood, and other resources to fend-off Charlie, an invisible monster from attacking.
Factors such as loss of health, poor sanitation, hunger, and spoiled food play an important part in this game. From one-eyed birds to tree monsters almost every creature can attack or do harm to the character even small frogs, who somehow try to steal things. You will be able to unlock new playable characters once you gather a certain amount of experience points.
Platform: Windows, macOS, Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Subnautica is without a doubt one of the finest survival games ever created having all necessary ingredients a gamer would like. The gameplay takes place on a fictional planet 4546B where your character crash landed after a mysterious incident. Your goal is not just to endure the harsh, alien environment, but craft tools, construct bases and interact with the native wildlife.
In order to survive you need to carefully manage your food and water supplies just like other games in this genre, but there is one element that separate Subnautica from others and that’s oxygen. Since most of the gameplay is underwater and you can’t breathe there, you have to monitor your oxygen levels at all times. Any mistake and you will suffocate to death.
Apart from the basic mode, there are three other modes available for you to play; freedom, hardcore, and creative mode all having certain elements of the basic game switched off. A standalone expansion of the game called Subnautica: Below Zero is scheduled for release sometime near the end of the year 2018.
Image Courtesy: Bohemia Interactive
Platform: Windows, Xbox One
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
DayZ is perhaps one of the best survival games available right now. The gameplay takes place in a fictitious post-Soviet union state, Chernarus which has turned into a wasteland after being hit by a mysterious plague.
The main objective here is to survive zombie outbreaks and you can do it either by avoiding or cooperating with other players. The game doesn’t feature any significant crafting element. If you’re wondering how multiplayer works in DayZ, this Reddit thread might help.
As usual, water and food are essential so are medical supplies and weapons. It is easy to get killed by a disease especially if you fail to correctly diagnose your illness or don’t pay attention to the wounds. The villages, buildings, jungles and other surroundings of Chernarus somewhat captured the atmospheric setting of the former Eastern Bloc.