Video games started life as simple form of entertainment that involved shooting space ships, chasing after ghosts and hitting a ball between two virtual paddles. Over the years people demanded more and more from the games they were playing, people wanted to use their brains as well as escape from the reality they live in for a period of time.
In the 90s we saw a new type of games that allowed us to relax a bit and use our brain to strategize and plan. Games like Command & Conquer and Sim City allowed us to take on the role of general and city planner to invest our time into something most people traditionally don’t get the chance to do in their lives.
As time went by and the public’s hunger for more intense and realistic forms of gameplay grew and so the survival genre was born. Games in the survival category typically feature a sandbox world with crafting and large scale exploration. Most people believe that it was Minecraft that was first but it was simply the first popular game to bring the spotlight to survival games. Here is a brief history of the top 20 best survival games for the PC:
Wurm Unlimited is actually the first game to be classed as being in the survival genre. It was a MMORPG that was later released as a stand alone single/multi player game on Steam. In Wurm you could scavenge, craft and explore vast diverse landscapes. The game keeps its players entertained through quests and killable NPC’s as well as less aggressive farming and training of captured animals.
The almighty king of the survival genre is Minecraft. Almost everybody who has even shown a slight interest in gaming has at some point picked this game up to see what its all about. The magic of Minecraft is that it can morph into whatever game you want it to be, with very little in the way of set rules you can build away or battle other players online using your own private Minecraft server.
Late 2013 saw the initial Steam Early Access of Rust, based on DayZ with added crafting elements similar to what Minecraft had. Still to this day Rust has continued to grow and keep its audience thanks to constant updates being pushed by its developers Facepunch Studios.
Dont Starve (Together)
With developers experimenting with the old formats of video game graphics DST came and filled the niche with a simple top down dark Tim Burton’esque survival title. Another 2013 addition to the Steam Early Access program, DST boasts huge maps and intense survival elements like body temperature modulation.
After their successful Early Access crafting game Scrap Mechanic soared in popularity the guys at Redbeet Interactive put efforts into a survival title (it would have been nice for them to finish Scrap Mechanic first though!). Raft sees the players character stranded on a simple raft collecting items that float by in order to improve their chances of staying alive.
Oxygen Not Included
If you are a fan of the side-on platform style of game graphics, hardcore colony survival and putting out fires (metaphorically) then check out Oxygen Not Included. From the guys who made Don’t Starve they doubled down on the hardest elements of survival. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be adding multiplayer any time soon.
Ark: Survival Evolved
Mid 2015 saw the delayed release of Ark: Survival Evolved, a game that almost wasn’t due to legal action from a competitor publisher. Ark really pushed the expectations of gamers, now they can have fast paced fighting action, tough PVE gameplay and in depth crafting and survival all in one game. You can find all sorts of Ark servers now that the price has dropped on renting them.
A game many people know well, DayZ was originally an Arma mod that saw its own stand-alone release onto the Steam Early Access program. Players must scavenge vast open Eastern European terrain to collect usable items to craft survival tools and weapons.
Another side on blocky game, Terraria is probably the the most popular title using the simple graphics style. With multiplayer and single player elements this game can remain fun for a very long time.
A horror-centric survival game set in the aftermath of a plane crash, The Forest is a dark and engaging FPS experience. An awesome multiplayer co-op mode launches this game into the history books for a lot of players, The Forest did what it did well but is aging a bit nowadays.
Created in the bedroom of a 16 year old game developer, Unturned shows that you don’t need a big budget to create a game played by millions around the world. If you are a fan of the battle royale genre of games then try Unturned, it adds a survival element with vehicles and best of all its FREE to play
Not many people would guess that being stuck underwater would add elements to a game that greatly improve it. Subnautica shows that an underwater survival game can be and is a great concept, reviews on Steam seem to improve over time as the game is refine. Build an underwater base and try to avoid the harmful deep sea wildlife.
Eco Global Survival
What happens if you take Minecraft, all the best Minecraft plugins and a real world environment? Well you get half of Eco Global Survival. The other half is made up of real world government, economic and cultural elements that sees the players create towns and ecosystems that can rival reality.
Much like Terraria, Starbound is a side on blocky survival game with a large digging aspect to it. The main difference between Terraria and Starbound has got to be the spaceships. Players can find themselves travelling world to world in detailed spacecraft during missions and quests.
Force of Nature
An odd addition to the list, the game seems like a one man project due to its simplicity but somehow it manages to keep you sucked in. In its 3rd person view you control a man who must scavenge and craft items as well as fend off goblins.
Reign of Kings
If you are a fan of castles and the medieval times then Reign of Kings is going to be right up your street! This game has all the elements of an amazing survival game and had a brief time in the spotlight as the most popular survival game at the time. It was the king until Ark was released on Steam which took a large chunk of its players who never seemed to return.
This was seen as the ultimate successor to Minecraft and the pre-release hype really got the gaming world excited. The game was set to be the ultimate crafting and building experience with quests and multiple worlds to keep you buys. Unfortunately the game was less versatile than MInecraft and the quests were all to similar to give the game enough variety to enjoy playing it for longer than a few hours.
Another colony survival title for the list, Stonehearth has a great range of features including enemy attacks on your base that get greater over time. The downside to this game is due to the sophistication of everything you can find your colonists getting stuck due to weird bugs that can break the game and ruin the fun. The game will keep you entertained for hours though with so much to do and fires to put out.
Just take a look at the gameplay videos of this game and you can tell that its a truly beautiful and immersive experience. The game features a growing tech tree and plenty to explore and do across multiple planets and biomes.