The survival genre has always been popular among gamers, as it’s intrinsically built into our nature to try and survive. There’s never been a better time to enjoy games in the survival genre than now, so we’re here to show you the best survival games for PC that you can get your hands on and challenge yourself with.
There’s something extra special about the thrill of trying to fight for your life, but since it’d be pretty dangerous to do it in the real world, we look to video games instead. The survival game genre is one that only goes from strength to strength and with good reason, staying alive is a basic human instinct and one that motivates us to rise above and beyond.
The best survival games for PC capture this thrill and give us the adrenaline of fighting for our lives but with the safety of knowing we’re doing so in our gaming chairs. Even though there might be no real threat, it sure feels that way at times, and what better way to get some of the excitement than with some of these games.
There’s never been a better time to enjoy survival games as they now come in so many different formats. There are ones where you escape from zombies, dinosaurs, or against other players, but whatever the scenario you’re guaranteed a thrill.
Best Survival Games for PC
In recent years, there have been some truly spectacular titles emerge and the best survival games for PC list has continued to grow. We’ve done the rounds to find the top rated at the moment to show you which ones are worthy of adding to your collection.
1. The Long Dark
If you’ve never been to Canada before, what better way to visit the country than playing a survival game set there? The Long Dark is set in a post-apocalyptic Canada and you rely on your atmosphere and environment to survive. There are no other players or mutant zombies to fight, it’s just you and nature trying to get through to the other side. This one can really help you hone some skills for real life, should your plane ever crash in the middle of nowhere and leave you stranded.
As one of the newest titles on our list, it’s no surprise that Frostpunk is also incredibly stylish. This is a beautifully made game that puts the best of survival, city building, and society together for you to enjoy. Not only do you have to survive for yourself, but the city depends on your skills and strategy to help all of them survive. This game is seriously addictive but so stylishly made that you mind spending hours of your day dedicated to it.
Duskers is a completely unique spin on the survival genre that we rarely get to see. Rather than being set in the wilderness or during a time when zombies are attacking, it’s a futuristic game set in space. You control the drones that must explore the spooky and abandoned spaceships, and it will give you the same amount of thrill as any other game in the genre. The situations are dangerous and you’ll be on the edge of your gaming chair the entire time, even if you know you’re not really in space.
4. Survival (Division Expansion)
Survival is a pretty old game when compared to some others on here, and is one of the best known in the genre. The released of The Division Expansion at the end of 2016 gave us a whole new way to enjoy it though. This expansion starts off in a deadly blizzard and through each challenging level, players are given a new disease to deal with. Not only do you have to make it through the cold, but other players and NPC enemies, so there’s no shortage of drama to deal with.
5. Oxygen Not Included
This game is still in early access but from what we’ve seen so far, we’re impressed. More of a cartoonish vibe that others on our list but nonetheless nail-biting, Oxygen Not Included features a bunch of 3D characters who live in an underground colony. The best part about this game is that it’s easy as pie to learn the basic commands so all of your time is spent on trying to survive. It’s your job to keep your colonists alive, whether it’s with clear air, happiness, or any other basic needs, so there’s quite a lot to do.
6. Don’t Starve
If the name wasn’t enough to scare you off, perhaps the gameplay will be. Don’t Starve is set in a cartoon wilderness and although it was made many years ago there are plenty of updates and expansion packs available. Get your way through the daytime in survival mode and then prepare yourself for all manner of attacks that happen at night. This is seriously challenging and there’s no time to have a break, so don’t even think about closing your eyes.
To mix things up a little, we head underwater with Subnautica. This is a chance to craft, survive, and strategize under the sea and helps you think outside of the box a little. Living in an underwater alien world, it’s up to you to come up with new tech to survive. People have compared this to Minecraft and there is a resemblance, however, the special underwater touch makes it a one of a kind in the survival genre.
Another Early Access game that’s doing the rounds is Miscreated, but it’s one that’s known as a great multiplayer game as well. Miscreated starts off simple enough, you’re given a flashlight and a change of clothing, and the rest is up to you. You must battle through mutants and the tense and spooky surroundings that used to be your home to make it out alive. However, keep an eye out for other survivors, as they’re twice as bad as the mutants.
How could we leave off the king from our list of survival games? No doubt everyone has heard of Minecraft, even those without a computer, and it’s constantly rated as one of the best. Minecraft is all about crafting and building to help find solutions, and it’s easy to get lost in here for days. There’s a good reason why it’s so popular, and it isn’t just the cute blocklike characters you get to control.
Hurtworld kind of looks like something Bear Grylls would play for light entertainment before going to bed, but don’t let the cartoonish look fool you. This is a serious survival game where the weather can have serious effects. If you can make it through the first couple of hours of combat, you’ll find out the real challenge is yet to begin. There are mutants and other human players to battle, so not only is the great outdoors against you, everyone else is as well.
No doubt one of the most popular titles on the list, DayZ is an online streaming game set in Eastern Europe. This is the ultimate zombie survival game that will have you playing with the lights on, just to be safe. DayZ is in early access and people are dying for it to come out of it so they can enjoy more. You’ll need to keep on top of hydration, nutrition, health, and more, as well as avoiding those darned zombies, so there’s plenty to keep you on your toes.
If you’ve got a thing for old-school pixelated games, Starbound might be the one for you. This survival game may not have the up to date graphics that can scare you but you’ll have to do plenty to get out alive. This is both a survival adventure game and a fun little pastime in one, as you can either tend to your home and crops or head into outer space and battle alien bosses. Best of all, you can play with friends, which adds even more value to this one.
13. Ark: Survival Evolved
What’s harder than trying to survive in the middle of nowhere with nothing but your bare skin to keep you warm? Trying to do the same but in a land where dinosaurs still roam free, of course. You’ll have to survive with barely anything but keep your nutrition, hydration, and health all up to scratch and crafts weapons and other gear in order to stay alive. Not one for the faint-hearted as there’s not a moment to rest while playing Ark.
A huge name in the survival game genre and with good reason, Terraria has been around for 7 years now but shows no signs of slowing down. This huge sandbox multiplayer game lets you connect and explore different worlds and realities while you craft whatever’s necessary. Play alone or with friends and get lost for hours exploring the seemingly endless possibilities that Terraria has to offer.
Who said you had to spend big just to get a quality survival game? Unturned is a premium multiplayer survival sandbox that won’t cost a cent to enjoy. Don’t be fooled into thinking this means less quality because it doesn’t. Since its inception in 2014, it’s been given over 150 updates and has millions of players as well as a strong community. The graphics are a little blocky but you need serious survival and crafting skills to make it through.
16. This War of Mine
One for those who prefer their survival to take place in a post-war city where you’re not a soldier, but rather a group of civilians. This is as desperate as it gets in terms of survival and you’ll literally be searching for scraps of food just to stay alive. What makes this one so thrilling is that it’s as close to reality as you can imagine and gives you a real-world view of what war can really do to a city.
17. The Forest
The thought of your plane crashing in the middle of nowhere is scary enough, but imagine landing somewhere a tribe of cannibals has lived undisturbed for years, and you’re looking like their next meal? The Forest takes place on a mysterious island where you need to stay alive, not just in fear of the cannibals but also all other basic survival needs like shelter and food. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, but on steroids and in someone’s nightmare.
This is still in early access and primitive, just like the premise of the game itself. Rust is set back when we had very little, which makes it even more challenging. You’ll have to survive with things like rocks and sticks at the start until you’re able to build up more skills and resources. There are heaps of other players on the server to contend with and they’ll be your real challenge, so be prepared to fight to the death, quite literally.
The Rise of the Survival Game Genre
Nothing quite beats the thrill of trying to fend for your own life, especially when you know there’s no real risk that you’ll actually die. Survival games tap into our most basic instincts of trying to stay alive and therefore make a truly thrilling gaming experience.
Finding the best survival games for PC is simply a matter of trying them out until you find what you like. These top rated games are just the tip of the iceberg for what we can expect in this genre, so if you enjoy the thrill of trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world or one filled with zombies, mutants, dinosaurs, or just other dangerous players, you can be sure there’ll be more to enjoy.