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The top 10 best survival games on PC

Survival games have a unique appeal not found in many other genres. Often open-ended without any predetermined objectives, these titles give you the freedom to explore, craft, and create to your heart’s content. They’re often not the easiest of games either — with death resulting in the loss of items, progress, or your entire save file.

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a survival game, these ten are bound to check something off your list. Whether you’re into crafting fortified shelters, exploring dangerous caverns, or engaging in some competitive PvP, here are the best survival games on PC.

Further reading


Minecraft screenshot of undeveloped land.

While it may have changed quite a bit over the years, Minecraft is still entirely centered around survival. Watching 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 blocky surroundings, and explore an endless world filled with a variety of dangers.

Multiplayer and continued support from the devs keep things interesting, as there’s always new content being pumped into the iconic game. And in between updates, you can dive into hundreds of gorgeous worlds handcrafted by other players. If you’re looking for a survival game that’ll keep you occupied for years, look no further than Minecraft.

ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK player shooting at an enemy.

Take your standard survival game formula, mix in a healthy supply of ferocious dinosaurs, and you’re pretty close to the premise of ARK: Survival Evolved. Most of them are hostile — and want nothing more than to turn you into lunch — but resourceful survivors can actually tame them beasts and turn them into an ally.

Hunting and taming an ever-growing list of dinos is the main draw of ARK, but there’s plenty of crafting and multiplayer hijinks to keep things fun once you’ve grown familiar with the standard gameplay loop. It’s arguably one of the most unique survival games on the market, and it’s a perfect fit for any aspiring paleontologist.

Don’t Starve

Don't Starve player in small home base.

Although it carries a whimsical art style, Don’t Starve boasts some serious survival chops. In fact, it’s not uncommon for new players to barely last a few days in its unforgiving 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 mental health on top of Health and Hunger.

Sanity is impacted by a variety of factors — staying in the dark for too long, getting surrounded by monsters, and even eating gross food all lower your character’s well-being. If it gets too low, deadly Shadow Creatures will appear and the game will take on a shaky, painfully bright appearance. You can make things a bit easier on yourself by picking up Don’t Starve Together — a standalone cooperative version of the game — which retains much of the original’s charm.


Rust player running by buildings.

With over 500,000 reviews on Steam, Rust is currently sitting with a “Very Positive” rating… and for good reason. Consistently among the most-played games on the service, Rust only seems to get better with age. You’ll attempt to survive in an unforgiving wilderness among dozens of other players — which start off as your predators, but quickly turn into prey as you gain experience and new equipment.

Rust is an unapologetic survival game, and developer Facepunch Studios says it best:

“The only aim in Rust is to survive. Everything wants you to die – the island’s wildlife and other inhabitants, the environment, 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 didn’t officially release until five years later. In that time, DayZ blossomed from a glorified ARMA II mod to a full-scale game brimming in places to explore, gear to discover, and hunting, crafting, and building mechanics to master.

Gearing up and fighting against other players is only half the challenge, as DayZ‘s gigantic map is overrun with dangerous zombies. Going solo is an entirely viable option, although brave players should consider teaming up with strangers to thrive in this post-apocalyptic world.


Grounded player running on a wooden log.

Grounded 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.

Although it’s still in Early Access, Grounded has already found a dedicated following of players — and new content is always just a few weeks away. It doesn’t stray too far from established genre norms, but the premise of playing as an ant-sized human makes it stand out in a crowded market.


Terraria player near small house.

There isn’t a bad thing to say about Terraria. Released in 2011, developer ReLogic has continued to update the open-world side-scroller more than a decade after its launch. That means new players jumping in for the first time have literally thousands of hours’ worth of content to explore.

Gorgeous, pixelized graphics make Terraria feel like a game from another era, but its modern crafting and building mechanics make it easy to piece together the homestead (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 Terraria.


Valheim player standing in a field.

When it first became playable in 2021, Valheim was a bonafide hit. It quickly climbed the Steam Charts and — while it isn’t hitting those same sky-high numbers — there’s still a lot to love about the indie gem. Quirky graphics, enjoyable combat, and a robust building system all add up to one of the best survival games we’ve seen in years.

Of course, Valheim also has its fair share of bugs to work through. Most titles on this list have been around for years — giving them time to smoothen out some of their rough edges. But if you can look past a few loose ends, Valheim is one of the best games to dive into in 2022.

No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky player near NPCs.

It didn’t get off to a strong start, but No Man’s Sky has cemented itself as one of the best survival games around. Playing in “Normal Mode” might 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’ll find fewer resources, more dangerous enemies, and death results in the loss of your entire inventory. If that’s not extreme enough for you, consider jumping into “Permadeath Mode,” which wipes all your progress if you die.


Starbound player aiming a weapon.

Starbound is a bit like a sci-fi version of Terraria. You’re thrown into a 2D world that looks eerily similar to Terraria, 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 modding your game are all core to the Starbound experience. However, everything is made a bit more enjoyable with the addition of friends — which allows for easy “drop-in/drop-out” co-op.  And if “Survival Mode” is a bit too challenging, you can always get some practice in “Casual Mode.”

Editors' Recommendations

The best on-demand streaming services
Amazon Fire TV Streaming Stick 4K

Of the nearly countless on-demand streaming services out there, three stand out: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix. Unfortunately, choosing which one is worthy of your credit card information and time isn't an easy task -- and with a combined subscription fee that's north of $40, subscribing to all three isn't a viable option for most.

Even if you're cutting the cord, the trio -- merged with a channel-specific service such as CBS All Access or HBO and a live TV platform such as Sling TV -- could add up to the same monthly cost as your traditional cable or satellite. So much for those cord-cutting savings, huh? That's why it's important to understand what you need from an on-demand streaming service. So, to help you find the best on-demand streamer for you, we've put together this comprehensive comparison guide.
Amazon offers two main versions of its Prime subscription, either $119 annually or $13 per month (or $59 annually when you sign up with a valid student email address). Both versions net you the same perks, including two-day shipping -- or free one-day shipping in some cases -- discounted prices on select items, cloud storage, and, most importantly for our purposes, on-demand video (and music) streaming. The best part is that 4K Ultra HD content with HDR comes standard at no extra cost. Plus, you can share accounts with friends and family, so everyone can get in on the deals.
Netflix's various subscription tiers currently range from $9 to $18 depending on your desired video quality -- SD resolution is just $9 per month, but you can only stream on one device at a time. Moving up to HD will cost you $14 per month for two streams while moving up to 4K Ultra HD will now cost you $18 per month for four streams at a time. The prices will also go up should you add the DVD/Blu-ray rental service.
Hulu currently starts at just $7 for the ad-based service or $13 for the ad-free option (which we still highly recommend, even at nearly double the cost). Hulu's options don't stop there as it also offers a streaming live-TV package called Hulu+Live TV for $65 (increasing to $70 per month as of December 21, 2021), which is similar to Sling TV and YouTube TV. The subscription includes more than 75-plus channels on top of the service's regular on-demand library, and there are also add-on features at an additional fee, including a $6 fee to get rid of most ads altogether. You'll also get better savings with Hulu if you're a Disney+ and ESPN+ subscriber, as the illustrious Disney Bundle saves you $6 on the streaming trio.
Especially for those who want to stream 4K at the lowest possible price, Amazon is the cheapest bet and has stated that the company won't raise prices for 4K streaming. The sheer number of extra features and benefits included in Amazon Prime gives it an advantage over its competitors, as well. Throw in Amazon's student discount, and this is an easy win.
Winner: Amazon

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