Survival games aren’t a new trend; they’ve been popular with PC gamers for years, and come in all shapes and sizes; online, single-player, horror-themed, artistic and, sometimes, just downright weird. But despite the fact that the games are designed to try and kill you, gamers can’t get enough of the action.
But not all survival games are created equally; while there are some phenomenal survival games that’ll provide hundreds of hours of enjoyable gameplay, there are some that are just frustrating to play. We’ve spent some time scavenging, building and surviving, and here’s our choice of the best survival games of 2018.
Ark: Survival Evolved
While many survival games in 2018 are broadly similar, Ark: Survival Evolved brings something a little different to the table. That something? Dinosaurs that you can kill for food, or tame. Yes, that’s right, if you want to tame your very own T-Rex that’ll back you up in tense PvP battles, you can do that.
Beyond the wide variety of land, sea and air-based dinosaurs that you come across in your travels, you’ve got a well-rounded crafting and upgrade system, a number of stunning environments that add additional challenges (desert areas are hotter, making you require water more often) and the ability to build your own dino-villages to keep your scaly friends and valuable items safe.
Ark: Survival Evolved is available to buy on PC and Mac from Steam for £49.99, while PS4 and Xbox One users can pick up a copy for £43.49 from Amazon.
Rust is one of the oldest games in our roundup, but it’s also one of the best. Following over four years in Early Access, Rust officially launched on PC earlier this year. The aim of the game, rather obviously, is to survive. You’ll need to kill wild animals to get food to eat, build and defend your shelter and defeat any other players that get in your way.
The range of assets available in Rust make building bases a pleasant (and rather creative) experience, and with a wealth of Blueprints to discover, you’ll always have something to do. It’s also hugely popular, so servers are always well populated – although being killed by naked men wielding rocks can get tiresome after a while! There’s also a wide range of cosmetic items available on Steam Workshop to give your clothes, weapons and bases a unique look.
You can play Rust on Windows and Mac via Steam for £27.79.
Conan Exiles may have been a bit buggy when it first appeared on Steam in 2017, but after a year of Early Access, bugs have been squashed and more content has been added. It’s a survival game, like all the others in our roundup, but Conan Exiles takes a more… Godly approach.
First of all, there’s a lot of history to discover about past civilisations, and even NPCs that you can interact with for a range of benefits. But it’s much more than that too; you can find feral NPCs that you can bring back to your camp and get them to work for you, defending the exterior walls or crafting for you while you’re out hunting.
But, the highlight has to be the ability to summon huge Gods that roam the map and destroy anything in its path – including enemy bases. It’s an epic event when it happens, and it’s something unique to Conan Exiles. Oh, and there’s actual dong physics too. Don’t ask.
You can pick it up right now for PC on Steam for £26.99.
Subnautica is another survival game that spent around four years in a period of Early Access on Steam, but it too recently ‘launched’. Unlike others in our roundup, Subnautica is almost entirely sea-based (there are a few small islands to explore) and sees players crash land on an alien planet, stranded and waiting for rescue.
But, of course, rescues take time, and you must survive until then. You’re tasked with exploring a stunningly beautiful and varied underwater world, but don’t let the visuals fool you; there are dangers lurking in the deep, You have to find tools to scan and build, resources to scavenge and fish to eat. As you explore and learn more, you’ll be able to build a suite of undersea vehicles and a modifiable underwater base. Cool, right?
You can pick it up on PC and Mac on Steam for £19.49.
With a unique style of artwork and a point-and-click design, Don’t Starve is different to most of the other games in our roundup, but is still deserving as a place. It was initially launched back in 2013, and provides one of the best survival challenges of any game in the genre. It’s challenging, and you’ll have to think fast to survive the winter and stave off insanity.
The crafting is pretty complex, but there’s more to the game than simply crafting; you can also study science and magic, and it’s important to look after your mental health too (alongside your hunger and water levels, of course!). It’s a single-player experience by design, but the standalone expansion Don’t Starve Together allows you to survive with friends.