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The best survival games for Xbox Series X

Are you looking for a survival game on the Xbox Series X? A number of exciting — and demanding — survival games have been optimized for the Series X, and their complex open worlds greatly benefit from smoother frame rates and enhanced graphics. Let’s take a look at some of the top-tier titles and what you can expect from these games!

Further reading

Frostpunk: Console Edition

Gameplay screen from Frostpunk: Console Edition.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Not only has Frostpunk been optimized for the Series X, but the console version of the game alters the controls and mechanics to be more friendly for those with an Xbox, creating an unforgettable experience. Manage your people and resources in a 19th-century world that has literally frozen over, building out a civilization based on your own goals … and how much of a tyrant you want to be. Fans of strategy and simulation games will love this survival-based take on the genre, but note that it has a steeper learning curve than many of our picks, so it’s a better fit for the truly devoted.

No Man’s Sky

Box art for No Man’s Sky.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

No Man’s Sky has already made a name for itself with its planet-hopping gameplay and a long, long list of activities you can take part in once you have harvested enough resources. Thanks to continual additions, you’ll never run out of things to do. The Series X version of the game allows for upgraded graphics, more players in a game (up to 32), and a 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, so the experience is better than ever. Crossplay with Xbox One is also enabled, and if you’ve got an Xbox One copy, you can update it to the Series X version free of charge.

Subnautica: Below Zero

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This sequel to the beloved Subnautica still nails everything that made the first survival game so memorable: It takes place on an alien ocean world filled with dangers and challenges. Your job is to explore, find resources, and craft everything you need to survive and push deeper into the ocean to uncover its secrets. The deeper you go, the more difficult it is to survive — and the larger the monsters get (there are also lots of monsters). This version of the game has seen upgrades for the Series X to run at 4K and 60 fps, so there’s no better time to try it.

State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2 gameplay with shooting zombie.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’ve never tried State of Decay 2 or it’s been a while since you have played, you should definitely load it up on the Series X and see how long you can last. Navigate the world after the zombie apocalypse with scavenging runs to help you survive as long as you can before your inevitable ambush or zombie attack. The Series X version has a sweeping range of upgrades that include better performance (which is key in a detailed open world like this), a new difficulty mode, and more.


DayZ gameplay facing off zombies.
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DayZ has made a name for itself with harsh survival gameplay where your fellow zombie virus survivors are more dangerous than any of the infected. Each server hosts 60 players who are ready to do anything to survive, including work together, betray one another, or stalk other players down one at a time — but you’ll need friends if you want to beat back hunger, thirst, and the zombie horde. One of the past issues with DayZ on consoles is that there was a little too much going on for the console hardware to keep up with, leading to some experiencing stuttering or lag. The Series X, however, is up for the job and allows for smooth gameplay even amidst the action.

Conan Exiles

Conan Exiles gameplay of walking in a street.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Tired of fighting to survive the same old apocalypse yet again? If you’re in the mood for something else, Conan Exiles plops you down in a barbarian world where anything is possible … as long as you can survive the horde of monsters waiting in the mountains, forests, oceans, deserts, and islands of the world. Survive, bring back the best crafting materials, and construct the masterpiece of your dreams. Just be careful — tangle with the wrong monster, and you could lose everything you created. The game is fully optimized for the Series X with a variety of graphical upgrades to improve visuals.


Grounded gameplay showing kids running.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Grounded has a simple and entertaining premise: How hard would it be to survive in the world if you were a kid only the size of an ant in your backyard? Speaking of ants, could you survive a whole backyard filled with insects? Could you gather enough resources to survive? Currently, Grounded is still a game in progress, but you can download a preview and see how much you like it while also enjoying the Xbox Series X optimization that upgrades the visuals.

ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved gameplay showing a player and his dinosaur attacking.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

ARK: Survival Evolved is an uncompromising survival game for the truly patient and persevering. You start on a desert island with literally nothing, surrounded by dinosaurs. Surviving long enough to start a fire is your first challenge, but there’s a whole world out there to explore. Those with enough patience and luck will be able to work together, tame dinosaurs, and ride them into battle or exploration. This is another game that’s seen optimized for the Series for smoother performances and enhanced resolution for a better experience all around.

Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
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