15 Must-Play Survival Games (2024)

Tales of survival have long fired people’s imaginations. They bring together adventure, danger and ingenuity together in a thrilling mix that can be safety experienced in the comfort of the home. Video games are a natural fit for survival games by combining exacting worlds, resource management and deadly combat into their own genre. We’ve collected a list of some of the best survival games available on console and PC. New players should try out the classics while veterans might check out this list and discovered a new way to test their abilities.

Top Survival Games

Survival games focus on players working hard to make their characters survive and thrive in a harsh setting. They must gather resources, survive encounter with hostile life forms and construct tools and equipment to improve their chances on making it to the next day in game.

The games on this list have been chosen through a mixture of online popularity, critical acclaim and editorial consideration. They span settings ranging from hostile planets to other times and places. These are the best survival games available to play right now.

15. Ark: Survival Evolved

There’s one important thing that Studio Wildcard realized about the best survival games when developing Ark: Survival Evolved. What they need are dinosaurs because dinosaurs are cool. Building bases and crafting weapons can be fun but taming dinosaurs are what makes this title roar above the rest.

Not only has the game evolved during its early access release but the spin off games have come for different audiences. Ark: Survival Ascended revived the game for new generation consoles. PixArk brought a friendlier face to a procedurally generated version.

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Ark: Survival Evolved is avalable on Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch and Stadia.

14. Escape From Tarkov

Most survival games focus on a long term, emergent story. The players are dropped into a hostile environment with the bare necessities to survive. Part of the joy of the game comes in players looking back and seeing how far they’ve come after putting hours into the experience.

Developer Battlestate Games’ title throws much of those ideas out like so many spent bullet casings. Escape From Tarkov plays more like a wartime FPS mixed with the frenzied play of a battle royal. Players have to balance collecting resources which they can sell for upgrades in between rounds with surviving long enough to get to the extraction point.

Escape From Tarkov is available on Microsoft Windows.

13. Palworld

Palworld seems like the next evolution — if you’ll pardon the pun — of games like Pokemon and Monster Hunter. In a world where people compete to collect cute, furry creatures, it seems like the adults would do more than just lock them away in containers until they were ready to fight. Developer Pocketpair eyes the genre in a satirical light but backs it up with gameplay that’s seriously addicting.

Players have to gather resources, build tools and put together bases that act as fast travel points in the world. The pals can do battle too, through the can be just as valuable at bases doing tasks that work in the background while the players go out hunting. They also must be careful to play well not just with other players but with factions that have their own purposed for catchings pals.

Palworld is available on Windows, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S and macOS.

12. Frostpunk

For most survival games the focus is on the rugged individual. That makes sense for the genre, since many of the best survival games are one person against a hostile world. Frostpunk focuses on one person but it makes them the leader of a town trying to survive a world where volcanic winter has set in.

Mixing in city management elements change the nature of the needs to survive and the questions the player must ask and answer. What might be the right call for one person might be a horrible decision when it affects all the settlers of a city. It also adds the perils of politics with the result of too many hard choices meaning the game ends with the player out of power.

Frostpunk is available on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and macOS. Frostpunk 2 will be released b y 11 bit studios in 2024 for Windows, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

11. Don’t Starve

Not every survival game throws players into a harsh wilderness full of wild creatures. Don’t Starve brings players to the nightmare world of The Constant. Players must manage three essential elements of their human condition to survive; their health, their hunger an their sanity.

Klei Enertainment’s survival game that features permadeath where players must start over at the beginning if their character dies. Luckily, the Tim Burton style graphics and gameplay help take the edge off of losing a character’s progression. Don’t Starve is also one of the best survival games on mobile phones.

Don’t Starve is available on Linux,Windows, OSX PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS.

10. Sons Of The Forest

For most people, survivng a helicopter crash would be enough of an ordeal to make them want to go home and stay in bed for weeks. Sons of the Forest opens with that harrowing experience before dropping the player on an island where they must build shelter, gather food and try to survive until rescue. That’s before the mutant cannibals show up.

Endnight Games built a sequel to The Forest that improves on the original in many ways. That includes multiple endings, new ways to play and even a Peaceful Mode where players can just chill out in the woods without feeling watched.

Sons Of The Forest is available on Windows.

9. Pacific Drive

The classic American road trip is a small sampler of the best survival games. Everyone packs up essentials like snacks and songs and does their best to coexist in a small space to get to someplace fun. Ironwood Studios turns this experience into a full-on survival game with Pacific Drive.

In this game players must try to escape a Pacific Northwest that’s been fundamentally warped into a hostile place. The players only companion is their car which also serves as their home base full of upgrades and essential equipment. The game encourages run after run to try and escape with each failure revealing a little more about the bigger story and how to get a little further the next time.

Pacific Drive is available on Windows and Playstation 5.

8. Subnautica

Most survival games drop the player on an island or some hostile wilderness. Subnautica drops the player onto a vast alien world that is mostly water. In addtion to the usual metrics of hunger and thirst, the player also has to fight off an alien disease known as Kharaa.

Developer Unknwon Worlds Entertainment does a great job in balancing the danger of survival with the beauty of the water world. It can be a lot of fun to just float in creative mode and let the serene vibes of the deep take over. It’s also a great challenge in hardcore mode where if the player dies, their save file is permanently deleted.

Subnautica is available on Windows, mac OS, PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch.

7. Grounded

It’s easy to see that developer Obsidian Entertainment’s biggest inspiration for Grounded 1989’s Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. There are plenty of dangers in the typical backyard that don’t require a game to be set in a far off wilderness. When the players have been shrunk down, spiders and other bugs become massive creatures to be defeated.

The overall plotline of the game focuses on the four players doing their best to reconstruct the process that can return them to form. This game also has a bit of a sense of humor compaed to most of the other on the less. But it still can be a challenging experience to build and defend bases from big backyard creatures.

Grounded is available on Windows Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

6. Resident Evil Village

Every game on this list owes at least a tip of the cap to Capcom’s genre defining survival horror series. People that have never played any other survival game have still likely spent a little time on the run from the horrows spawned by the Umbrella Corporation. These games taught generations the importance of inventory managment, puzzle solving skills and the importance of using ammo only when absolutely necessary.

Resident Evil Village offers a return to form for the game which has experiments will all kinds of gameplay twists, tweaks and genre experiments. It’s also the birthplace of Lady Dimitrescu who set cosplayers and meme addicts on fire upon the game’s release in 2021. The recent remakes are worth checking out for fans who missed the originals but this game reflects a series that’s slowly changing with the times.

Resident Evil Village is available on Stadia, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, macOS, Nintendo Switch and iOS.

5. Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon Forbidden West and its predecessory Horizon Zero Dawn have become one of the breakout franchises in the current console era. These games blend stealth action, open world exploraton and survival crafting mechanics into a potent mix that’s won developer Guerilla Games dozens of awards.

No other games match the beauty of the dinosaur-inspired machines that Aloy hunts for parts and supplies. The game’s storylines offers a compelling mystery that give the survival aspects a strong spine. The series looks to expand into the beloved realm of LEGO games, too, with the recently announced LEGO Horizon Adventures.

Horizon Forbidden West is available on Playstation 4, Playstation 5 and Windows.

4. Rust

Facepunch Studios helped determine the state of modern suvival games when it released Rust into ealt access in 2013. Over the next five years, players helped the developers refine the game into a brutal survival experience. What started out as another zombie survival horror game turned into something more unique.

The developers continue to update the game to this day. Rust has more of a post apocalyptic feel to it appealing to fans of media like Mad Max. It can be a little harder to get into these days but its still a seminal survival experience.

Rust is available on Windows, PlayStation 4,Xbox One and mac iOS.

3. No Man’s Sky

This game is an example of suviving in real life as well as within the game. Hello Games released this game back in 2016 in a disaterous launch that upset many of the fans who were eager to play. But after years of refinements, community building and several free batches of downloadable content adding the features players wanted as well as new one, No Man’s Sky has become one of the giants of the survival genre.

Players fly from planet to planet engaging prospecting for resources, encountering aliens and building bases and other pieces of technology. There’s a big story arc that can drive players through the game or they can just decide to drift on the solar wind and do their own thing. This sprawling galaxy deploys seamlessly, too, allowing players to lift off from planet-side to orbit and beyond without loading screens.

No Man’s Sky is available on Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, macOS and iPadOS.

2. Valheim

Iron Gate Studio’s viking simulator is still technically in early access but most of Valheim’s fans would agree it has more polish already than many final releases on the marketplace. Rather than mere survival, the players of Valheim must survive to achieve a loftier goal; prove themselves worthy for Valhalla.

Players prove their worth by slaying the seven bosses of each region in their version of Valheim. Before that, however they’ve got to spend their time honing their skills, building safe havens and exploring to find the different creatures that give up important resources. Players can choose to go it alone or team up with friends to reach these lofty goals.

Valheim is available on Linux, Windows, macOS, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

1. Minecraft

It’s easy to forget that, buried uder years of tie-in novels, merchandise, spin-off games and saturation into pop culture, Minecraft kicked off what we now called the survival genre back in 2009. Mojang Studios laid down the fundamentals of crafting, building and combat under a simple set of graphics that have allows millions of players to build creations that would put the greatest real world architects to shame. It remains the best survival game even if it’s often written off as something for kids.

That’s part of its appeal. Anyone can pick up and play Minecraft on any one of a dozen platforms. It works well for casual play but also rewards hardcore grinding for players who want to marathon the game for hours on end. On top of that, there’s a robust marketplace of mods and add-ons that let every player customize the experience exactly the way they want.

Minecraft is available on Window,s, macOS, Linux, Android iOS, iPadOS, Xbox 360, Raspberry Pi, Windows Phone, PlayStation 3, Fire OS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Apple TV, tvO, Nintendo Switch, New Nintendo 3DS and ChromeOS.

Bottom Line

Survival games offer a thrilling mix of creation and destruction. Whether hunting dinosaurs, building space bases or creating blocky paradises, players can create their own worlds to show off to their friends.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are Top Survival Zombie Games?

The Resident Evil games from Capcom were foundational to the survival genre. The most recent game, Resident Evil Village shows how far the genre has come. The company is also remastering older gams like Resident Evil 4 for modern systems.

Multiplayer zombie survival games include DayZ and 7 Days to Die. This genre flourished in the 2010s during the height of zombie mania.

What Are Top Survival Games On XBox?

Minecraft is available on dozens of platforms but the developer is owned by Microsoft. This gives Xbox something of a homefield advantage. Playing on console also makes it easier for parents to play with their kids.

Valheim provides a great multiplayer experience that gives players a chance to build bases together. Players take pride in what they've build while also enjoying gearing up for big boss battles.

What Are Top Survival Games On PC?

Pacific Drive offers players a surreal road trip experience. Its one of the most recent best survival games because it taps into something nearly everyone has done by turning their car into their lifelong companion.

Palworld made a splash by combining the cute monsters of kids franchises with the fast violence of online shooters. The game continues to thrive thanks to its satirical edge and offers a play experience hard to find anywhere else, making it a top PC game.

What Are Top Survival Games On PlayStation?

No Man's Sky was Playstation exclusive for many years. Exploring the galaxy, crafting new tech and seenign strange new worlds make this a great choice. Owners of the Playstation 4 version can also get a free upgrade to the Playstation 5 version as well.

The Horizon franchise provides more open-world style gameplay but also has excellent survival mechanics. The unique creatures the player can hunt make for some memorable experiences. The story also offers some great breathtaking moments.

What Are Good Multiplayer Survival Games?

Escape from Tarkov mashes up survival mechanics with first person shooter gameplay. Rewards carry over from round to round for a satisfying game loop. The distinct shorter games also give players a chance to set their own schedules during play time.

Valheim encourages players to build a community as part of their strategy. It's easy for a group of friends to set up a commual camp and work on it at different time. Everyone can also play together at the same time, making it a great mulitplayer game.

15 Must-Play Survival Games (2024)
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