[Top 25] Best Survival Games for PC (Ranked Fun to Most Fun)

Red power armor against an explosion
Survive this!

Survival of the fittest (or, what you didn’t learn in Scouts)

Video games often focus on empowering the player, placing them at or near the top of the food chain. The world is your playground and almost nothing can stand in your way, like Just Cause 3. This is a list of games that take the opposite approach and ask the player to worry about not dying before the sun goes down before any trivial ideas like wealth and power. 

25. Fallout: 76 (2018)

Person in power armor facing left with text across the lower half of the screen that reads, "Fallout 76"

Fallout: 76 is a multiplayer survival game set within the post-apocalypse of the Fallout universe. Marking a shift from a story focused RPG, like all previous main entries in the series, to an open-ended experience where players organically create settlements, factions and missions.

If I am being honest, Fallout: 76 was disappointing when it launched, not being able to capture the unique wonder of the wasteland. After some patches and a dedicated player base I am pleased to say that if you love Fallout, but feel like messing around rather than dealing with pesky NPCs and their quests, then this is the Fallout for you! 


24. Dead By Daylight (2016)

4 Characters stand facing the screen with a fire behind them

Dead By Daylight is a one vs four multiplayer survival horror game. You are either the killer or one of the four unfortunate victims, placed in a level with its own story and objectives. Based on your role you’ll either try escape and fight back, or you will stalk and murder your prey.

This game is best enjoyed with four other friends. Coordinating can be difficult but is worth it, and you can work out any in-group tensions by brutally murdering each other!


23. Ark: Survival Evolved (2017)

Humans riding dinosaurs into battle

Ark: Survival Evolved is a first-person survival action-adventure game. You wake up in a mysterious and fantastical world populated by dinosaurs among other viscous creatures that you can fight or even eventually tame. Until then; go gather some sticks, make a club, and find a place to make a fire.

The second you start this game, fun is in every direction! Adventure is out there, and with the sequel recently being announced there’s all the more reason the get back into this game now.


22. Green Hell (2018)

Bearded man leaning against a rock in the jungle

Green Hell is a first-person open world survival and crafting game. You are Jake Higgins, an anthropologist who wakes up in the Amazon basin. You, as Jake, must now survive. You must collect materials, build a fire, hunt or gather food and find shelter. Once you get yourself a base of operations you must try and leave this place.

Green Hell is very tense, with every element of the survival part of this game being really cool and makes you feel like living off of the land is more than possible. As long as you are Jake Higgins.


21. 7 Days To Die (2013)

Zombies approach the guarded cabin

7 Days To Die is survival zombie horror base building FPS. You are alone and human, in a world now dominated by zombies, and must hide yourself away in a cabin of your own construction! Scavenge the materials you need, build your house and protect it from the zombie horde.

The core loop of this game is fantastic and tightly executed. A new patch was released recently giving more content, so definitely give this one a try. Live out the free-market-libertarian fantasy of building your own house and shooting intruders.


20. Papers, Please (2013)

Badge depicting an Eagle in flight with a shield on its chest

Paper, Please is a pixel art document simulation puzzle game developed by Lucas Pope. You are the new boarder post officer in the fictional communist country of Arstotzka, and your job is to check people’s passports and other documents for issues, and if you find none, let them pass. The more people you let pass without issue the more money you get, and there is only so much time in a day, so work quickly. Your money goes towards managing food, rent, heat and medicine for you and your family, making up the survival element.

This is one of my favourite games of all time! The subtle storytelling is stellar, the simple mechanics are strangely engaging and the art style is amazing. It’s honestly pretty cheap, so go and get it. Plus, the soundtrack slaps something different.


19. Day Z (2013)

Woman with a gun looking right

DayZ is an open world survival horror game. Starting its life as a mod for Arma III, DayZ is now a fully-fledged zombie game with an in-depth crafting and building system. You start with nothing. Not even clothes. This is survival at its most visceral.

DayZ has the ability to create a more engaging world than other, scripted, open world zombie games. The large player base often means the zombies will be the least of your worries, but sometimes, when you are near death, a kind stranger will heal you and create the best short-term friendship you will ever experience.


18. This War of Mine (2014)

Text against a war-torn wall

This War of Mine is a 2D survival and resource management game. You are a group of survivors in a city currently in the epicentre of a large-scale conflict. Your job is to hide away from the war, venturing out from your safe house to scavenge what supplies you can.

This game is about surviving, in more ways than one. The psychological wellbeing of your small group will determine their ability to keep surviving, with any loss dealing hefty penalties to your party. If you like getting your nutrients from sucking on an oil rag and making beds from bits of debris then I think you’ll love This War of Mine. 


17. Metro Exodus (2019)

Armed person walks out into a frozen city

Metro Exodus is an open world survival and settlement management FPS. The third in the Metro series, Exodus does away with the strictly linear structure of the previous games in favour of an open world with a branching narrative. This openness fits with the themes of this game, as you now leave the safety of the underground to try and find a better and more permanent home.

Improving upon the combat of the previous two, Metro Exodus is a high-octane action FPS with genuinely tense fights. You must keep everyone safe and every engagement could mark death, so don’t get too cocky. 


16. Darkwood (2017)

Monstrous figure in pain in the left of the screen leading to a dark background with the text that reads, "Darkwood"

Darkwood is a top-down survival horror game that is absolutely terrifying! Set in a strange Polish forest, you start as a doctor who must try and survive a plague that has beset the people, creating this large forest, infecting and turning the inhabitants into monsters.

This game started its life on Steam’s Early access, but in 2017 Acid Wizard Studios released the full version, receiving critical praise. This is a tightly designed experience that I highly recommend. Just have a spare pair of undies handy.


15. 60 Seconds! ReAtomized (2019)

Irradiated wasteland with four family members looking worse for wear

60 Seconds! ReAtomized is a comedy survival sim with a focus on retrying the game multiple times to improve your outcomes. You are the typical American family beset by nuclear war. You have sixty seconds to grab what you need from around your house, including your family, and rush to your bunker. With what you were able to bring you must survive the fallout.

The animation style is both cartoonish and darkly hilarious. A very quirky take on surviving the end of days, each replay allowing you to try various combinations of items and find your preferred collection of rations. 


14. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)

A dark room with a single beam of light with rose petals falling

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a first-person adventure-puzzle survival horror game. You are Daniel, a young man with no memory, who wakes up in an old castle and must attempt to escape. The mystery of why you are here and what else is within these walls will only lead to more questions. You must solve puzzles and avoid the evils that hunt you.

Frictional Games have created a real nail-biter here, where managing your survival mechanics are the very least of your concerns. The gloomy atmosphere and aesthetic of the time period add to an already impressive game.


Survivors on a roof fend off the zombie horde

State of Decay is a third person stealth action zombie survival game. You start the game as Marcus Campbell, and are with your buddy when the zombie apocalypse happens. You must make your way to a church full of survivors, to help them and your now injured friend to survive. 

The stealth in this game is solid with a reliable system based around sound and line of sight. This game is fun, the characters are engaging and is an all-round good zombie survival experience.


12. Going Medieval (2020)

Top of a castle against a clear blue sky with the title across

Going Medieval is a city building and survival sim where you must build up your feudal land to outlast the turmoil of medieval life. An Early access offering by The Irregular Corporation with more work, fixes and mechanical depth being added constantly. 

You are the lord of the land. Field need tending, the people need defending, and all of that is now your responsibility. This is a truly unique city builder, and one worth following to completion.


11. Total War: Attila (2015)

Horse mounted Huns charge into battle

Total War: Attila is a grand strategy and RTT game, set in the final years of the Roman Empire. Take your pick between one of several nations and carve out your own destiny from there! The gameplay is split between the campaign and battles. Campaigns take the form of turn based strategy and city management, where the battles are a real time tactical simulation using the units recruited in the campaign half of the game. 

Every Total War’s world is a hotbed of conflict, political tension and military expansion. Attila’s campaign takes a different approach to the traditional Total War experience. Normally you are small, and must expand, but if you choose one of the Roman factions your job is to survive. You are big, bloated and poorly organized. Your cities are rife with corruption, civil war is looming and your boarders look very enticing to your enemies. Good luck.


10. Rust (2013)

Clear skies and building tops

Rust is a multiplayer survival FPS with crafting and base building. You spawn in with literally nothing, and must try and not die from there. The need to eat and find shelter will be your first priority, and protecting yourself from the hostile wildlife will be your next. But the other players are their own problem altogether. You will find new friends, but more likely than not you’ll get killed or mugged. Try and survive!

Rust is one of those games that has endless re-playability, and can be enjoyed with or without friends. Lay low, grab a rock, hit a tree, and eventually you’ll be unstoppable!


9. Terraria (2011)

Pixel art title with a white rabbit in the lower right corner

Terraria is an 2D pixel art open-world, crafting and survival game. You are on Terraria, a world not unlike our own, but full of mystery, danger and beauty. Build yourself a home, explore and gather resources, all while trying to stay alive. In 2019 the entire lore for this game was rewritten/rereleased, and can be found on scrolls through exploration.

This game is often labelled “2D Minecraft” which is accurate, but Terraria is so much more than that. It is an engaging world unlike any other, and it is waiting for you to find a place, set up and house and explore it top to bottom.


8. Pathologic 2 (2019)

Red background with white text and two mysterious figure with white masks at the bottom

Pathologic 2 is a first person open-world survival RPG. It is less a sequel and more a remake of Ice-Pick Lodge’s rough-around-the-edges 2004 game Pathologic, with the budget and time they were not given before. You are Artemy Burakh, a surgeon who has returned to his home town, deep in the Russian steppe. Upon arriving you mistaken for a murderer and attacked. The story opens up to you from there. 

This game is polarising. You either think it’s the pinnacle of what video games could be, or you think it’s a bit boring. The combat is hard, the survival is a web of scavenging, converging economies and potentially crime, the dialogue requires all of your attention and most of the game is made up of walking. However. It is one of the most engaging games I have ever played, and I cannot wait for the other two campaigns to be released.


7. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)

Text over creepy house

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a first-person survival horror game. It is seventh Resident Evil game, but marks a turn in the franchise’s direction, from third person zombie action of the previous two entries to a full-blown survival nightmare! You are Ethan Winters, a man in search of his missing wife, who finds himself trapped in a basement by a slightly odd family. You must try escape.

I do not want to spoil too much of this game, because if you searched for a list of the best survival games and haven’t played this, just go and do that already!


6. Subnautica (2014)

Man underwater surrounded by sea life

Subnautica is an underwater survival, base building and exploration game. You are on the crew of a space ship (stay with me) that unfortunately crash lands on a planet entirely made of water. Alone but alive, you must leave your escape pod, try find life, your ship, and a way off of this planet.

Exploring the depths of the sea makes up most of the gameplay, managing your air supply and avoiding hostile creatures. The exploration is truly engaging, as the whole ocean is teaming with all sorts of life. You’ll grow attached to this weird place as you prepare to leave. 


5. V Rising (2022)

Vampire in the woods approaches sleepy town

V Rising is a massively multiplayer vampire settlement game. You awake at night, an ancient vampire, naked and alone. Venture out and gather resources so you might reclaim a home. Build up your new castle and seek more power! Avoid the sunlight, and don’t forget to drink blood.

This game is brand new, and still in early access, so expect both bugs and constant attention. This game looks very promising, with an isometric view, a killer aesthetic and a deep vampire lore, V Rising is a game worth investing in.


4. Don’t Starve Together (2016)

Title reading, "Don't Starve Together" with various stylized characters around

Don’t Starve Together is an isometric multiplayer survival game. You, and a buddy, are stranded in the woods. And as the title suggests, your objective is: don’t starve. Together. This game is the standalone multiplayer mode of Klei Entertainment Inc.’s Don’t Starve. 

Don’t let Don’t Starve Together’s charming and Tim Burton-like art style deceive you. This is one of the least forgiving and more punishing survival games on this list! Every misstep means death. You are not in charge, you are not strong, and if you’re not careful, you’ll starve! 


3. Valheim (2021)

Spear wielding warrior looks out at the landscape

Valheim is an early access sandbox survival game with a great Norse Mythology inspiration. You are a fallen soldier, but you are not in Valhalla just yet. You are in Valheim, a fictional tenth realm from Norse Mythology’s nine realms. Not heaven, not hell, not even purgatory. You must fight to survive and prove yourself worthy of eternal glory in the halls of Valhalla.

Despite being an early access game, Valheim has loads of promise and is already a very fun and tough survival game. The story is subtle, but presents you with a greater purpose to keep surviving for.


2. RimWorld (2018)

Three settlers look at you with hope in their faces

RimWorld is a top-down colony building sim, set on a new and hostile planet that you must set up a base of operation on. Developed by small indie team Ludeon Studios and releasing in early access in 2013, RimWorld is less about surviving the elements or amount of food, you’ve got that covered rather easily. The real challenge is managing your people. 

The story potential within this game is limitless. With simple mechanics, each colonist becomes a full character, with a personality to manage and fears to consider. Can your base survive without imploding from infighting? That is up to you.


1. Frostpunk (2018)

Scouting balloon flies high above the city

Frostpunk is a post-apocalyptic colony sim and resource management sim. Set in an alternative history turn of the 20th Century, where rapid industrialisation led to a new ice age. You are the leader of a group of survivors, who gather around a giant steam generator for warmth. Construct roofs for everyone’s heads, gather what coal you can to keep the generator going, find what food you can and try to rebuild civilisation in the frost.

You have the choice to have a construction focus, which has nicer weather conditions so you can build as you like. But survival mode is a desperate fight, with tooth and nail, to keep the last humans alive. Every morning feels like a blessing, even if you only made it there by a hair’s breadth. 

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A jack of all geeks, yet a master of some. I love getting lost in the world of an RPG, the characters in films and the ideas within pages.
Gamer Since: 2002
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Total War: Shogun 2
Top 3 Favorite Games:Papers, Please, Fallout: New Vegas, Tropico 5

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