The best survival games on PC

Survival games have a unique appeal that is not found in many other genres. Often open with no predetermined goals, these titles give you the freedom to explore, design and create as you see fit. They’re often not the easiest games either – with death resulting in loss of items, progress, or your entire save file.

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a survival game, these ten items are sure to tick something off your list. Whether you want to build fortified shelters, explore dangerous caverns, or engage in competitive PvP, here are the best PC survival games.

Further reading


While that may have changed a lot over the years, Minecraft is still entirely focused on survival. Monitoring your hunger and health are the two main keys to staying alive, but you’ll also need to find shelter at night, extract resources from your lumpy surroundings, and explore an endless world filled with various dangers.

The multiplayer and continued developer support makes it interesting, as there is always new content being injected into the iconic game. And between updates, you can dive into hundreds of beautiful worlds handcrafted by other players. If you are looking for a survival game that will keep you occupied for years to come, look no further than Minecraft.

ARK: survival has evolved

ARK player shooting an enemy.

Take your standard survival game formula, mix in a healthy supply of ferocious dinosaurs, and you are close enough at the premise of ARK: survival has evolved. Most of them are hostile – and want nothing more than to turn you into lunch – but the resourceful survivors can actually tame them and turn them into allies.

Hunting and taming an ever-growing list of dinosaurs is the main draw of ARK, but there’s plenty of crafting and multiplayer stuff to keep things fun once you’ve gotten to grips with the standard gameplay loop. This is arguably one of the most unique survival games out there, and it is a great fit for any budding paleontologist.

Don’t starve

Do not starve the player in a small home base.

Although he wears a whimsical art style, Don’t starve has some serious survival chops. In fact, it’s not uncommon for new players to barely last a few days in its ruthless world. The “Sanity” resource adds a new layer of difficulty to the game, as you’ll need to keep an eye on your character’s sanity in addition to health and hunger.

Sanity is affected by a variety of factors – staying in the dark for too long, being surrounded by monsters, and even eating coarse food reduces your character’s well-being. If it gets too low, deadly shadow creatures will appear and the game will take on a shaky and painfully glowing appearance. You can make it a bit easier for yourself by picking up Don’t starve together – a standalone cooperative version of the game – which retains much of the charm of the original.


Rust player running near buildings.

With over 500,000 reviews on Steam, Rust is currently classified “Very positive” … and for good reason. Consistently among the most played games on the service, Rust only seems to improve with age. You’ll attempt to survive in a ruthless wilderness among dozens of other players – who start out as your predators, but quickly turn into prey as you gain experience and new gear.

Rust is a shameless survival game, and developer Facepunch Studios says it best:

“The sole objective of Rust is to survive. Everything wants you to die – the wildlife and other islanders, the environment, the other survivors. Do whatever it takes to last another night.


DayZ player aiming at an opponent.

While the groundbreaking survival game was first playable in 2013, it wasn’t officially released until five years later. At the time, DayZ flowered with a glorified ARMA II Full-scale mod to a game bursting with places to explore, gear to discover, and hunting, crafting, and building mechanics to master.

Getting ready and fighting against other players is only half the challenge, because DayZThe gigantic map of is overrun with dangerous zombies. Going solo is a very viable option, although brave players should consider teaming up with outsiders to thrive in this post-apocalyptic world.


Grounded player running on a wooden log.

Based literally brings a new perspective to the survival genre. Instead of fighting zombies and dinosaurs, the game sees you fighting ants, spiders, and koi fish as your miniaturized character struggles to survive in their own backyard.

While it’s still in early access, Based has already found a dedicated following of players – and new content is still only weeks away. He doesn’t stray too far from established gender norms, but the premise of playing as an ant-sized human makes him stand out in a crowded market.


Terrarium player near a small house.

There is no bad thing to say about Terrariums. Released in 2011, developer ReLogic has continued to update open world side scrolling more than a decade after its launch. This means that first-time new players literally have thousands of hours of content to explore.

Stunning pixelated graphics make Terrariums Look like a game from another era, but its modern craftsmanship and building mechanics make it easy to piece together the property (or castle) of your dreams. Adventure is arguably a bigger lure than crafting, as bosses, dangerous biomes, and unique gear litter the 2D world of Terrariums.


Valheim player standing in a field.

When it first became playable in 2021, Valheim was a real success. It quickly climbed the Steam charts, and – while it doesn’t hit those same sky-high numbers – there’s still a lot to love about the indie gem. Original graphics, enjoyable combat and a sturdy construction system add up to one of the best survival games we have seen in years.

Sure, Valheim also has its fair share of bugs to fix. Most of the titles on this list have been around for years, giving them time to smooth out some of their rough edges. But if you can look past a few details, Valheim is one of the best diving games in 2022.

No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky player near the NPCs.

It didn’t get off to a good start, but No Man’s Sky has established itself as one of the best survival games around. Playing in “normal mode” can be a bit easy – and lends itself well to crafting and exploring – but jump into “survival mode” and you’ll find an experience that will push you to your limits.

In this mode, you will find fewer resources, more dangerous enemies and death will result in the loss of all your inventory. If that’s not extreme enough for you, consider going into “Permanent Death Mode,” which wipes out all of your progress if you die.


Starbound player aiming a weapon.

Starbound is a bit like a science fiction version of Terrariums. You are immersed in a 2D world that strangely resembles Terrariums, although a unique combat system and the ability to explore different planets make Starbound feel like something fresh.

Capturing monsters, crafting powerful new gear, exploring the universe, and modifying your game are all at the heart of the game. Starbound experience. However, everything is made a bit more enjoyable with the addition of friends, which allows for easy “in / out” co-operation. And if the “survival mode” is a little too difficult, you can always practice in “relaxed mode”.

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