The Best Survival Games on PC

In case you don’t have enough to worry about functioning in the real world on a daily basis, spend some quality time stressing within these excellent survival games! These titles offer the possibility of exploring strange new worlds, collecting necessary materials, and building bases, tools, weapons, and refrigerators. All while keeping yourself well-fed, well-rested, well-minded, and not-dead. Here’s our picks for the best survival games available for PC!

Don't Starve


Image via Klei Entertainment

At a glance

  • Genre: Spooky survival
  • Developer: Klei Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, SteamOS, Linux
  • Original Release Date: April 23, 2013
  • Price: $14.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

Don’t Starve, and it’s multiplayer version Don’t Starve Together, drops you into a strangely charming albeit macabre world. You’ll face, well, starvation, on top of other threats. Ever get maimed by a sentient tree? Gored by bees? You'll know soon enough.

Don’t Starve offers an unforgiving survival experience, requiring you to not only keep your stomach full but also make sure you don’t go insane in the process. You’ll gather materials to aid in working your way up the game’s technology tree, which allows you to craft useful devices such as a Crock Pot.

Don’t Starve Together, sold separately, offers a great multiplayer experience with different unlockable characters and a slightly more forgiving ghost mechanic, in which dead players can spook their way back to the spawn portal to rejoin the game, although taking a maximum health penalty. It’s a nice alternative to the permadeath of the game’s single-player mode, but don’t worry--You won't last much longer.

The Forest


Image via Endnight Games

At a glance

  • Genre: Wilderness survival
  • Developer: Endnight Games
  • Platforms: PC
  • Original Release Date: April 30, 2018
  • Price: $19.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

If your interests lie not only in survival from the elements, then consider trying some bigger threats. The Forest offers an immersive survival experience, at risk in the unforgiving Canadian Yukon. You’ll gather materials, build a base, and craft tools to help you survive against the threats of the wild.

But that's not all! The Forest spices up its survival experience by adding cannibalistic mutants. These aren’t just mindless zombies, running about in search of brains. The mutants take the threat to a whole new level with an excellent AI. You’ll feel like you’re being hunted by actual enemy players.

The Forest offers both singleplayer and multiplayer co-op modes. The game does feature a story, in which you’re the lone survivor of a plane crash and are searching for your son, skillfully told through missions and clues you’ll come across in your travels. The Forest offers tons of gameplay for its relatively low price, and as such comes highly recommended.

Subnautica


Image via Unknown Worlds

At a glance

  • Genre: Underwater exploration survival
  • Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, Mac
  • Original Release Date: Jan 23, 2018
  • Price: $24.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

Subnautica is one of the biggest underwater-based exploration games, offering a unique change of scenery from the typical forests and abandoned wastelands found in many other survival games. The game is absolutely gorgeous. Subnautica’s fascinating biomes, accompanied by excellent sound effects and music, do a fantastic job of fully immersing you in its deep blue sea.

You’ll face all the necessary challenges of survival. Securing a safe place to rest your head at night. Procuring food to keep you sated. As the entire game takes place underwater, you’ll also need to keep an eye on your oxygen supply and, somewhat ironically, stay hydrated. Water, water everywhere. There’s also many sea creatures out there to discover, some which are nice. Others, less so.

Exploring in Subnautica is a pleasure, even when finding things we wish we hadn’t. There are a plethora of different biomes to experience, many filled with danger, and all filled with tons of new and interesting things to explore and discover. For the most satisfying experience, we recommend going into this one blind, discovering what the ocean has to offer. When you do need help, you'll know where to find us.

Rust


Image via Facepunch Studios

At a glance

  • Genre: PVP survival / first person combat
  • Developer: Facepunch Studios
  • Platforms: PC, Mac
  • Original Release Date: Feb 8, 2018
  • Price: $34.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

Rust is very, very unforgiving. And so very, very perfect for the survival crowd. Rather than tossing you into an unfamiliar and hostile environment and asking you to, “Play nice!” Rust offers a tense PVP experience in which you may find yourself at the mercy of player groups.

Progressing in the game can be time consuming, and your base will require upkeep or it won’t last long against enemies. However, there are custom modded servers available in case the official servers are an ill fit. You can choose to play Rust as a solo experience or teamed, the former offering a far greater challenge. If you’d prefer to team up with others in duos or trios, you can generally find players on Reddit.

It’s worth noting that game’s official servers will wipe at least once a month, some custom servers more frequently, so don’t expect to get too attached. You’ll keep blueprints you’ve learned, so you’ll still feel that sense of progression even as the rest of your haul vanishes. Wipes typically occur on the first Thursday of each month. You can keep an eye on updates and impending wipes by checking out the developer’s blog.

The Long Dark

At a glance

  • Genre: Exploration survival
  • Developer: Hinterland Studio
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Original Release Date: Aug 1, 2017 (Early Access)
  • Price: $29.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

The Long Dark is unique, offering three different single-player survival experiences. Wintermute, the game’s narrative-driven, episodic story mode, tells the story of two characters separated after a plane crash in the snowy wilds of Canada. As of this writing, two episode have been released with another three planned. All are included in the game’s price.

The Long Dark also offers a sandbox Survival Mode. Survival offers multiple difficulties. Your primary focus is on exploring and gathering supplies to ensure that you’ll last through the night (and ideally nights to come). You’ll also have to keep an eye on your health, lest you fall victim to the harsh cold and succumb to hypothermia. Or worse. There’s worse. It’s worth noting that Survival mode has permadeath.

As if Wintermute and Survival weren’t enough to justify The Long Dark’s, you’ll also gain access to five unique Challenge Modes. Short, objective-based experiences. The Long Dark’s developers, Hinterland, have promised to add additional Challenges in future updates, as the game is still in Early Access.

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