Minecraft players love collecting achievements. Some do it to brag to their online friends, others…
Survival games let players experience the fantasy of surviving in a hostile environment. Players must remain alive while battling hunger, thirst, disease, and limited resources, as well as conventional enemies such as creatures of all kinds and rival players.
Most video games feature survival mechanics (e.g., resource management, exploration, crafting) to some extent, but survival games make this the focal point of the entire experience.
If you’re in the mood for some survival action, here are the 20 best survival games for PC to try out in 2022.
Minecraft is the reigning champion of modern survival games. The blocky art style and lighthearted tone do well to mask the cutthroat battle of survival that lies at its core.
In Minecraft, players construct buildings, gather food, and fend off attacks from hostile wildlife to progress through the game. While trekking through the wilderness or exploring underground caverns, they can drown, get crushed by rocks, fall into pits, set off traps, or get mauled by zombies and other horrors that lurk in the dark. If that isn’t enough, multiplayer adds another layer of difficulty to the game for a truly Darwinian survival experience.
Terraria is Minecraft’s 2D cousin. The game is directly inspired by Minecraft, and features many of the same mechanics, including mining, crafting, farming, cooking, and base building.
What sets Terraria apart is a greater emphasis on combat. It also offers a superior choice of weapons, spells, enemies, and boss encounters, making for a more varied survival experience.
Terraria is often on sale on Steam, sometimes going for as low as $1. As a result, most players on Steam have it in their game library, making it easy to find multiplayer servers. The multiplayer mode works well thanks to low system requirements.
3. Oxygen Not Included
Oxygen Not Included is a game about operating a space colony. Buried deep inside an alien space rock, your crew of space colonists must master science, neutralize bizarre alien lifeforms, and harness advanced space technology.
The main challenge of the game is building a self-contained environment that can efficiently handle internal and external threats. To do this, you must consider the welfare of your colonists, who are vulnerable to a host of dangers, including injuries, disease, and mental illness.
4. Don’t Starve
Don’t Starve is an indie survival game with charming aesthetics and unforgiving gameplay.
Snatched by a mysterious figure and dropped into an unfamiliar wilderness with nothing but the shirt on your back, your goal is to uncover the mystery of how you got there and find a way out. To escape, you must hunt, scavenge, craft, mine, and fight hostile flora and fauna.
What sets Don’t Starve apart from other similar games is its sanity mechanic. As you get hungry, bruised, and wet, your sanity starts to drop, leading to nightmarish hallucinations, which can eventually cost you your life.
Darkwood is a survival horror game set in a mysterious wood ravaged by an unknown plague. Your goal is to explore the wilderness in search of a cure while fending off attacks from the wood’s nightmarish inhabitants.
The game has two phases. During daytime, you scavenge for resources, craft items, and explore the surroundings of your cabin. At night, you hunker down in your hideout and defend yourself against horrors surging from the forest.
While mechanically light, Darkwood boasts a first-rate atmosphere, making for a terror-inducing survival experience.
6. Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a turn-based survival game set in a post-apocalyptic world following a massive biological weapons war.
Players wake up in a facility long after the attack, and have to survive in a harsh, persistent, procedurally generated world. To do this, they scavenge the remnants of dead civilizations for food, equipment, vehicles, and other resources needed for survival. They are also beset by post-apocalyptic monstrosities such as zombies, mutants, robots, giant bugs, and other fiendish survivors.
Frostpunk is a hybrid city-building and survival game set in alternate-history 19th century, after a massive volcanic eruption has blanketed the world in ash, cutting access to sunlight and causing a worldwide winter.
The survivors huddle together in small cities and live under the constant threat of resource depletion, food shortages, and the ever-present cold. Unlike other survival games, Frostpunk has story-based gameplay that takes players through multiple linked scenarios. In each scenario, players build a settlement, improve its economy, and then expand into the surrounding wilderness in search of resources and survivors.
8. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl is a survival FPS set in the ominous Zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Although the game doesn’t include many of the standard mechanics found in other survival games (i.e., crafting, base building, resource gathering), it nails the unsettling atmosphere of desperately fighting for survival in a hostile land. In search of artifacts, ammo, and equipment, players explore haunted factories, ruined underground bases, desolate forests, radiation fields, and other hazardous environments, the most terrifying of which is the Chernobyl reactor itself.
The game is notable for attempting to simulate a complex ecosystem, where NPCs, monsters, and enemies interact in unpredictable ways.
9. Metro 2033
Metro 2033 comes from the same Eastern Bloc milieu as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. It is a survival-horror FPS set in Moscow’s subway tunnels, the last bastion of humanity after a worldwide nuclear holocaust.
Unlike S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and its expansive wilderness areas, Metro 2033 is more linear and claustrophobic, with a strong emphasis on horror. Players have extremely limited supplies, forcing them to choose their battles carefully and count every resource spent.
In terms of gameplay, it is closer to a conventional FPS game, but the exceptional atmosphere brings out the full potential of players’ survival instincts.
10. Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill is a franchise of Japanese survival horror games centered around the titular town of Silent Hill.
Taking on the role of James Sunderland, a man tormented by the recent death of his wife, players visit Silent Hill in search of closure, only to find that things are not what they seem. In the town perpetually enshrouded in fog, flesh-warped monstrosities roam the streets, and mysterious strangers are seemingly oblivious to what is going on around them.
Silent Hill 2 de-emphasizes combat in favor of puzzle solving, stealth, and evasion, making for an authentic survival experience.
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11. Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil is another renowned survival horror franchise from Japan. Where Silent Hills focuses on the themes of mental illness, abuse, and alienation, Resident Evil is more about visceral, sickening, bio-horror.
Resident Evil 4 takes place in a remote Spanish village, where a cult is holding the US president’s daughter. You take the role of special service operative Leon, whose job is to save the kidnapped girl. As you battle through dilapidated villages, zombie-infested swamps, and hidden military bases, you put your survival skills to the test against cultists, mutants, mercenaries, and other assorted horrors.
Outlast is the latest iteration exploiting the formula pioneered by the likes of Silent Hill and Resident Evil.
In Outlast, you take the role of Miles Upshur, a freelance journalist on a mission to investigate the Mount Massive insane asylum. The game is played from the first-person perspective and focuses on stealth and puzzle solving. Combat is limited, as you have no means to attack enemies directly.
The game realistically puts into focus out the psychological aspects of survival. Your character constantly feels vulnerable, forcing you to be extremely cautious if you want to survive in the company of lunatics, serial killers, and other deranged individuals lurking in the asylum.
13. The Forest
The Forest is a survival horror game that takes place in a remote forest infested by cannibals, featuring non-linear, open-world gameplay focused on combat, scavenging, and crafting.
The main highlight of the game are tribes of cannibal mutants. Their AI is superb, and they exhibit complex group behavior such as fleeing when outnumbered, attacking during nighttime, creating diversions, etc.
If you really want to ramp up the horror experience of the game, you can play The Forest with the Oculus Rift VR headset.
14. Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead is a classic of the zombie shooter genre. The game is intended for 4-way multiplayer, with players taking the role of four survivors trying to escape a city ravaged by zombies.
Left 4 Dead features story-based campaigns, each consisting of 4-5 scenarios or levels. The goal of each scenario is to reach a safe house while fighting dynamically placed zombie hordes and Special Infected, mutated zombies with special abilities.
Left 4 Dead encourages survival through cooperation as team members have to share resources and look after each other if they want to make it to the end of the level intact.
15. 7 Days to Die
7 Days to Die is a game inspired by Left 4 Dead, albeit with a greater focus on crafting, base building, and stationary survival. In addition to fighting zombie hordes, players must mine resources, upgrade their base, craft better weapons, farm, etc.
Rust belongs to a new wave of multiplayer survival games, inspired by the success of the open-world zombie mod DayZ for Arma 3.
Rust ditches zombies in favor of direct PvP combat between different tribes of players. There are crafting mechanics to spice things up, and greater emphasis is placed on melee combat.
Rust can be an unforgiving experience, especially for new players. The game accurately portrays what would happen if you suddenly woke up naked in the wilderness and had to fight tooth and nail just to live for another moment.
17. ARK: Survival Evolved
ARK: Survival Evolved came out around the same time as Rust, and features many of the same survival game conventions.
What sets it apart are more detailed building mechanics, a sci-fi storyline and most notably, dinosaurs. Players are encouraged to hunt and tame dinosaurs, which then become allies in combat, and a method of transport across the wilderness.
ARK is a slower-paced game compared to other survival titles. It takes a while before you have enough dinosaurs and equipment to engage in massive PvP battles, but it’s well worth playing the game just to get to this point.
Check out our in-depth comparison of ARK vs Rust.
Valheim is an up-and-coming survival game with a Viking theme. It takes place in the mythological Norse after-life, where players have to prove their worth to gain entry to Valhalla.
Valheim features open-world survival gameplay from a third-person perspective. Players must craft tools, build shelters, and fight enemies to survive. The game offers support for cooperative multiplayer, with some PvP elements. Each map is procedurally generated, and consists of multiple biomes, including meadows, dark forests, swamps, mountains, etc.
The game is still in early access but has already received praise from both critics and players for its unique take on the survival formula.
19. Conan Exiles
Conan Exiles is a survival game set in Hyperborea, the fictional world of Conan the Barbarian.
Players start off as criminals, deserters, and outcasts sent to the Exiled Lands, a harsh desert environment where few survive. The game features standard survival mechanics such as crafting, resource gathering, and base building, but also boasts a couple of novel ones. Notable among these is the Thrall System, which allows players to take characters from the game as slaves in order to gain benefits such as faster crafting, new item recipes, or combat benefits.
Along with Valheim, Conan Exiles is one of the few survival games that takes inspiration from fantasy writings rather than science fiction.
Scum is a multiplayer survival game with a prison theme. Up to 64 players are interred in an island facility, where they have to build, fight, trade, and negotiate to escape and win back their freedom.
Scum seeks to revolutionize the survival genre through a high level of character customization, control, and progression. Characters possess four main attributes: strength, dexterity, constitution, and intelligence. These enable players to create characters to suit their preferred playing style. The game attempts to simulate the human body through an interface called the BCU monitor, used to track a character’s calories, vitamin levels, health, and other stats.
Scum is still in active development, with new features being added with each update.
There you have it: 20 survival games to get your teeth into for the coming year. Each of these games will push your survival skills to the limit, challenging you to master the environment and stay alive in a hostile world.
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