Here are our recommendations for the greatest survival games ever, from The Forest to Minecraft.
The survival genre is one of the most well-known in video games, even though it doesn’t garner as much attention as games like Grand Theft Auto or God of War. From Minecraft to Valheim, survival games have a devoted following of players who are committed to creating their own distinctive worlds. They are motivated by difficult difficulties, an abundance of content, and the pure delight of building towns, communities, and even entire cities from an axe and a campfire.
Each entry is different, yet they all have in common the invitation to forge your own path to survival in a difficult environment, whether that environment is home to dinosaurs, monsters, or enormous ants. Using our techniques, we created our own ranking of the top survival games, selecting those with the most active online communities, intriguing gameplay, and captivating settings. Here are the top 10 survival video games in our opinion.
Rust might be perfect for you if you have a high pain threshold. Rust is both thrilling and extremely challenging, so if you’re searching for a survival game that will keep you on your toes, give it a try. Have we stressed enough how difficult this game is? The fundamental goal of Rust, according to its marketing, is to survive in a hostile environment where the terrain, the fauna, the weather, and, yes, other players, all want to do you in.
If you thought you were going to construct your rustic home in solitude because the game is multiplayer only, you were mistaken. This game looks a lot like Ark: Survival Evolved at first, but the open-world and FPS components are completely distinct. Rust goes far beyond the “you wake up naked and alone in a deserted area” concept with factions, raids, an electricity system, a wide variety of vehicles including hot air balloons and a massive network of trains, several types of highly moddable servers, a strong player base, and reasonably frequent improvements and updates. If you want to get the most out of it, bring a friend—or several. Rust will take up a lot of your time and ruin you.
We couldn’t believe the idea hadn’t been realized when Grounded entered Early Access back in 2020. It was already established in the film “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” that there is a vastly smaller world than what our eyes can see, thus it seems to reason that this concept would find its way into a video game. Grounded used that as the basis for creating a fully developed survival game. Let’s face it, you’d want to survive the event as well if you were abruptly shrunk to insect size and dropped into a backyard.
Obsidian’s foundation for Grounded is conventional but sound for a survival game. Everything else is used to keep yourself alive while fighting a variety of nasty crawling foes.
You’ll use grass blades as bases, sticks for weapons, and even the carcasses of the dead to make armor that you’ll wear. Considering that it is still in early access, Grounded has a lot going for it. When this beastly little game is fully released, we can’t wait to see what Obsidian has in store.
The tenth world of the Yggdrasil, Valheim, offers players much to explore and pillage because to its varied biomes and semi-impressionist design. Valheim provides hours of amusement for warriors, farmers, and architects alike by contrasting peaceful and pastoral base-building in early biomes with heart-pounding encounters against enormous Trolls and lethal Mosquitoes as you move from the world’s core. In order to advance in this game, you must fight the bosses that are present in each biome. By doing so, you’ll gain access to a wider variety of resources, crafting recipes, and unique powers, such as decreased damage or enhanced stamina.
Valheim is the ideal game to fight as Odin’s champion and win your spot in Valhalla if you have the warrior spirit.
4 This War of Mine
This War of Mine is a survival game that you play even after the main campaign is over. With its realistic, war-torn backdrop, varied, well-developed characters, and bluntly honest narrative. One of the most moving images of what it’s like to be a civilian attempting to survive in the midst of a vicious and ruthless civil war can be seen in the film This War of Mine.
Its simple gameplay makes it simple to be sucked into its morally dubious story and the difficult choices you’ll have to make to ensure the life of your crew. This War of Mine is a game you can return to repeatedly and still learn new things in, whether you want to play as an assertive leader or a cunning survivor.
5 No Man’s Sky
The hype around No Man’s Sky in 2016 even extended outside of the gaming community, with devs appearing on late-night talk shows to discuss the game ahead of its release. When it was published in August, everything seemed to fall apart because it lacked features that people had expected to find and offered very little in the way of gameplay, leading a sizable number of individuals to demand refunds.
But if your last thought of No Man’s Sky was in 2016, you’re doing yourself a disservice. No Man’s Sky has undergone numerous updates since then, and it has evolved into much more than the game that many of us anticipated in 2016. You can choose to concentrate on scientific research, learn about different cultures and languages, find Sentinels, classify different types of plants and animals, or accomplish all of these things at once. The game is enormous and offers each player a unique trip when they start it off.
And yes, you may now invite your pals to accompany you on your quest in addition to finding strangers in the game—though actually just in the enigmatic Anomaly. One of the most thrilling survival games on this list, the game is entirely up to you how you play it.
Few survival games do a better job of capturing the dread and solitude of their setting than Subnautica. It takes place on an alien world and follows a lone survivor who is marooned there as they travel far into extraterrestrial waters full of both giant and little predators (but mostly large, and sometimes absolutely gigantic). To solve the mysteries of the planet, you’ll construct submarines, underwater bases, and other machinery along the road.
Subnautica, which debuted in 2016, is currently accessible on almost all major platforms and is VR compatible. Few survival games can compare to the tension of watching your decreasing food and oxygen gauges as you descend into deep pits and underwater caves, despite its stage’s haunting underwater vistas still holding up quite well. The perfect survival game experience occurs when you eventually reach the safety of the Cyclops, which is nearly always accompanied by a sharp sigh of relief.
7 Don’t Starve Together
Together is a challenging but fair game that is both engrossing and addictive. The bleak gothic adventure Don’t Starve Together is distinguished from its contemporaries by its sanity meter; if you spend too much time alone or neglect your mental health, your anxieties will start to emerge as shadow creatures that will put an end to your run more quickly than hunger.
The challenging yet simple gameplay loop in Don’t Starve Together gives the game an incredibly high level of replayability. Just remember to keep out of the dark and bring some pals along for the ride.
8 The Long Dark
Buckle up and get ready for an adventure in the Canadian bush if you’re looking for anything that doesn’t entail science fiction or magic. The Long Dark entered the market in 2017, but ongoing improvements keep it interesting for both new and veteran players.
Although the final episode of the game’s story mode, Wintermute, has not yet been released, the game’s true appeal lies in its infinite survival mode and wide range of available challenges. While multiplayer isn’t available, it’s still a lot of fun to compete with your friends to see who can survive the harsh winter storms the longest while being pursued by wolves, bears, and moose.
Open up Survival Mode with Pilgrim difficulty if you’re looking for something more laid-back, and enjoy exploring different areas of the world and finding various goodies along the way. Even after all these years, The Long Dark is still a white joy.
9 The Forest
The Forest lets you explore the area before swarming you with monsters, like virtually every other horror-survival game. What it does differently, though, is challenge your assumptions about how these cannibalistic creatures will respond to your behavior. The cannibals of The Forest are not suicidally violent, which is what makes them so unnerving in comparison to many other video game foes. They’ll approach you quickly, pause just beyond your line of sight, and inspect you before running away, never to be seen again.
You question every action you do as a result of Endnight’s deft AI-driven strategies. Should you burn that effigy that cannibals constructed? Should the dead be burned at the stake? Although you can’t be sure, you can be sure that the animals in The Forest are keeping an eye on you.
Aside from having excellent AI, The Forest also has a sizable island to explore that is teeming with animals to skin and eat, berries and flowers to gather, and of course, an almost infinite supply of trees to fell in order to build bases with the kind of freedom that is only rivaled by the game that comes after it on our list. The Forest is an incredible must-play for any survival enthusiast, with a fully interconnecting cave system to explore, a ton of goodies, and a gripping story with an insane twist finale.
It’s simple to dismiss Minecraft, but it’s equally simple to overlook how great a survival game it can be. It has evolved through a literal decade of upgrades and success to the point where it now functions as a roleplaying platform, creative server, and instructional tool.
The fact that it allows for a wide range of experiences doesn’t change the reality that Minecraft is one of the most complex and approachable survival games ever created. Without ever switching servers, you can progress from scavenging apples while hiding from zombies in a dirt hut to actually creating functional computers out of Redstone components.
Few games (if any) have contributed as much to making this usually difficult genre accessible to such a large audience, but the opportunities it opens up as a result are nothing short of amazing.