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The Best Survival Games on PC

The Best Survival Games on PC

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The allure of survival games lies in their ability to tap into our primal instincts, challenging us to persevere against formidable odds. These immersive experiences thrust players into perilous situations, testing their resourcefulness and resilience as they navigate treacherous landscapes teeming with dangers. From fending off ravenous predators to battling the unforgiving elements, survival games on PC offer an unparalleled thrill that keeps players engrossed and craving more.

Palworld: A Pokémon-Inspired Survival Extravaganza


In a nutshell: Imagine Ark: Survival Evolved, but instead of dinosaurs, you’re surrounded by Pokémon-esque creatures.

Status: Available in Early Access since January 18, 2024.

Link: Steam

Palworld burst onto the scene in 2024, captivating millions of players with its innovative blend of survival mechanics and collectible critters. This whimsical yet challenging game tasks you with building a base, expanding your menagerie by battling fantastical beasts, and even cooking and consuming your captured companions (if you dare). With its vibrant world and boundless possibilities, Palworld has rightfully earned its status as a mega-hit.

Valheim: Exploring the Viking Afterlife


In a sentence: Embark on a co-op adventure, exploring and building bases in the Viking afterlife.

Status: Released in Early Access on February 2, 2021.

Link: Official Site

Valheim, an Early Access co-op Viking survival game, quickly amassed a dedicated following thanks to its procedurally generated worlds, fearsome boss battles, and robust base-building systems. Whether playing solo or teaming up with friends, you’ll find yourself immersed in a vast, unforgiving realm where you must cook, craft, and construct to endure. Set sail across treacherous seas to uncover new continents teeming with danger, or focus your efforts on erecting an impregnable fortress – the choice is yours.

Sons of the Forest: Plane Crash Survivor vs. Cannibals, Round Two


In a sentence: After a harrowing plane crash, you find yourself stranded on an island inhabited by a terrifying tribe of cannibals.

Status: Released on February 23, 2024

Link: Steam Store

In Sons of the Forest, the sequel to the acclaimed The Forest, you awaken amidst the wreckage of a plane crash, only to discover that you’re not alone on this mysterious island. As you scavenge for resources, construct shelters, and set traps to snare animals, you’ll also have to defend yourself against the island’s hostile inhabitants – a tribe of cannibals with an insatiable hunger. Fortunately, you have an AI companion, Kelvin, to assist you in this perilous adventure.

Subnautica: Aquatic Survival in an Alien Abyss


In a sentence: Craft submarines and explore an alien underwater world while gathering resources and sustenance.

Status: Released on January 23, 2018

Link: Official Site

Subnautica transports you to an otherworldly, submerged landscape where you must pilot your hand-crafted submarine through mysterious depths. From vibrant coral reefs to ominous deep-sea trenches, you’ll scour the environment for resources, construct habitats, and develop new technologies to aid your survival. Drawing comparisons to Minecraft, Subnautica offers a unique twist on the survival genre, inviting players to unravel the secrets of an aquatic alien realm.

Project Zomboid: The Epitome of Zombie Survival Simulations

Project Zomboid

In a sentence: Prepare for the most intricate and comprehensive zombie survival experience available.

Status: Released on November 8, 2013

Link: Steam

If you crave depth and complexity in your survival simulations, Project Zomboid is the undisputed champion. Brace yourself for a steep learning curve as you grapple with intricate systems governing nutrition, hydration, health, and even boredom. Scavenge abandoned buildings, craft gear, farm and fish, and engage in tense encounters with the undead (or, better yet, avoid them altogether). Project Zomboid is a brilliant, unparalleled zombie survival simulation that will test your mettle at every turn.

Grounded: A Tiny Survivor in a Backyard Jungle


In a sentence: Shrunk down to insect size, you must survive in the treacherous wilds of someone’s backyard.

Status: Available in Early Access since July 28, 2020

Link: Official Site

Obsidian Entertainment has taken a unique approach to survival gaming with Grounded, shrinking you down to the size of a bug and dropping you into an ordinary backyard that now resembles a perilous jungle. Surrounded by killer spiders, ravenous birds, and pesky ants, you’ll need to forage for sustenance by roasting aphids and collecting dew drops. Build a base by chopping down blades of grass and revel in the beauty and wonder of this miniaturized world.

Pacific Drive: A Survival Odyssey in a Trusty Station Wagon

Pacific Drive

In a sentence: Embark on a post-apocalyptic road trip, using your trusty 1980s station wagon as a mobile survival hub.

Status: Released on February 21, 2024

Link: Steam

Pacific Drive offers a novel take on the survival genre, confining nearly all your survival systems within a vintage 1980s station wagon. Drive through a world ravaged by mysterious anomalies, gather resources, and outfit your vehicle with sci-fi gadgets to venture ever further. While undeniably unique, Pacific Drive is also unforgivingly punishing, challenging players to adapt and overcome in this unconventional automotive adventure. Further Reading: Pacific Drive review

Rust: Primal Survival and Player vs. Player Mayhem


In a sentence: Naked men running around, hitting each other with rocks, and building bases in a harsh, persistent world.

Status: Released on February 8, 2018

Link: Official Site

Rust offers a gritty, player-driven survival experience where you’ll start with primitive tools and weapons, gradually advancing to firearms and constructing massive bases. While you’ll need to contend with hunger, thirst, and wild animals, the primary threat in Rust comes from other players populating the servers. Choose to join forces, battle for dominance, or attempt to go it alone in this unforgiving, PVP-intensive survival sandbox that continues to evolve and expand long after its official release.

Escape from Tarkov: A Brutal Loot-and-Shoot Survival Ordeal

Escape from Tarkov

In a sentence: A hyper-realistic shooter that blends survival mechanics with a touch of battle royale, centered around hoarding and managing loot.

Status: In beta

Link: Official Site

Escape from Tarkov is a savage evolution of the survival genre, infusing it with a hint of battle royale excitement. Instead of a persistent world, you’ll spawn on maps alongside a few other players and numerous enemy NPCs. Your objective? Reach the exfiltration zone at the opposite end of the map while scavenging for loot that you can sell or use in subsequent rounds. What truly sets Tarkov apart is its hyper-realistic gunplay and astoundingly deep gun customization systems, making every encounter a heart-pounding affair akin to a high-stakes game of poker.

Frostpunk: City-Building and Crisis Management in a Frozen Wasteland


In a sentence: Construct a functioning city, manage resources, and guide your citizens through a grim, frozen world.

Status: Released on April 24, 2018

Link: Official Site

Frostpunk seamlessly blends city-building, society simulation, and survival in a harsh, ice-covered landscape. With a handful of cold, hungry, and disheartened people, you must erect a viable city within a snow-filled crater, heated solely by a massive coal furnace. Gather resources, hunt for food, and instill hope in your citizens by making difficult choices that will shape the future of your settlement. Frostpunk’s stunning visuals and uncompromising gameplay create an immersive and addictive survival experience.

RimWorld: Colony Management in a Sci-Fi Survival Sandbox


In a sentence: Inspired by Dwarf Fortress, RimWorld challenges you to oversee a colony of stranded survivors on an alien planet.

Status: Released on October 17, 2018

Link: Steam

After five years in Early Access, RimWorld has finally reached version 1.0, offering a richly detailed sci-fi colony management and survival simulation. As the overseer of a randomly generated group of colonists stranded on a procedural alien world, you must expand your base, maintain your people’s health and sanity, and confront disasters orchestrated by RimWorld’s AI director. From disease outbreaks to alien invasions and extreme weather events, the challenges are endless. But perhaps the toughest trial of all will be managing the distinct personalities, desires, and moods of your colonists, who may not always see eye-to-eye.

Raft: Floating Fortress against Hungry Sharks


In a sentence: Build and expand a raft while fending off ravenous sharks and gathering resources from the open ocean.

Status: Available in Early Access

Link: Steam

Raft presents a deceptively serene premise – floating peacefully on a raft, expanding and fortifying it as you fish flotsam from the ocean with a grappling hook. However, lurking beneath the waves are hungry sharks, eager to devour you or your floating home if given the chance. Survival hinges on your ability to secure food, fresh water, and a sturdy raft capable of withstanding the relentless assaults of these aquatic predators. Enlist a friend in co-op mode to double your chances of enduring this perilous oceanic odyssey.

The Long Dark: Atmospheric Survival in a Post-Apocalyptic Wilderness

The Long Dark

In a sentence: A bush pilot stranded in the frozen Canadian wilderness must endure the elements in the aftermath of a global catastrophe.

Status: Released on August 1, 2017

Link: Official Site

The Long Dark stands apart in the survival genre by emphasizing atmospheric storytelling and environmental survival challenges. As a bush pilot stranded in the frozen Canadian wilderness after a mysterious global calamity, you’ll face no zombies, mutants, or other players – just the unforgiving elements, wildlife, and your own human fragility. With its focus on immersive world-building and realistic survival mechanics, The Long Dark offers a gripping and atmospheric experience unlike any other.

DayZ: Zombie Survival in the Eastern European Countryside


In a sentence: Scavenge a decaying open world and engage in tense player interactions while surviving a zombie apocalypse in Eastern Europe.

Status: Released on December 13, 2018

Link: Steam Store

After a long and arduous journey through Early Access, DayZ has finally reached its full release (though development continues). At its core, DayZ boasts robust survival mechanics, with intricate systems governing nutrition, hydration, health, and more – far beyond simply eating, drinking, and bandaging wounds. Scavenge a sprawling, persistent open world, engage in tense encounters with other players, customize weapons, and craft gear, all while avoiding (or embracing) the ever-present threat of the undead. If you succumb, you’ll start over with nothing, adding an extra layer of tension to this unforgiving zombie survival experience.

Minecraft: The Quintessential Survival Crafting Sandbox


In a sentence: Build, destroy, explore, and fight monsters in this iconic, blocky world.

Status: Released on October 7, 2011

Link: Official Site

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Minecraft, the game that sparked a cultural phenomenon. This iconic survival crafting sandbox offers a multitude of playstyles, from solitary exploration and creative mode to multiplayer servers with custom game modes. As a survival experience, Minecraft shines with well-implemented hunger and thirst systems d an incredibly robust crafting and building system. Dive into its blocky, beautifully stylized world, and you may find yourself never wanting to leave its boundless possibilities. Whether you prefer to explore its vast landscapes, construct intricate structures, or engage in epic battles against hostile mobs, Minecraft offers an unparalleled level of freedom and creativity within its survival-focused gameplay loop.

With its diverse array of challenges, from battling the elements and hostile wildlife to fending off ravenous undead hordes and fellow players, the survival genre on PC offers an unparalleled level of immersion and replayability. Whether you crave the thrill of solo survival against nature’s fury or the added complexity of navigating treacherous online worlds populated by friend and foe alike, these exceptional titles are sure to put your skills and resourcefulness to the ultimate test. So, gear up, stock up, and prepare to embark on unforgettable adventures where every decision could mean the difference between life and a harrowing demise.