Best survival games for PC Windows Central 2022
Survival games push players to their limits by placing them in hostile environments where they'll have to deal with all forms of threats with limited tools at their disposal. They can be thrilling to play as you eke out progress by constructing gear and shelter to protect yourself from the elements and enemies. If you're up for the challenge, check out our guide to the best survival games for PC below. You may also want to check out our guide to the best gaming desktop PCs to make sure you're in the best shape to survive.
- Featured favorite: Terraria - PC
- Valhalla!: Valheim
- Zombie apocalypse: DayZ - PC
- Under the sea: Subnautica - PC
- Cold snap: Frostpunk - PC
- Building blocks: Minecraft - PC
- Survival shrunk: Grounded
- Cold comfort: The Long Dark - PC
- Planet hopping: Starbound - PC
- Into the woods: The Forest - PC
- Naked and alone: Rust - PC
- Stranger in a strange land: Don't Starve - PC
Featured favorite: Terraria - PC
Terraria was released in 2011, but it remains a genre staple due to its stunning pixelated art style, intense and fluid combat, unique bosses and enemies, and expansive crafting system. Delve deep into the ground searching for treasure and the materials you need to craft gear and build cities that will host allies.
Valhalla!: ValheimStaff Pick
Valheim tasks you and several other friends to survive in a Norse-themed purgatory world. By building longhouses, cooking feasts, battling dangerous creatures, and exploring the game's numerous biomes, you'll be well on your way to conquering the world and proving to Odin that you're worthy of a spot in Valhalla.
Zombie apocalypse: DayZ - PC
Navigate a world overrun by zombies through hunting, crafting, and building. Up to 60 players share a map and you can make alliances, kill them, or choose a moment to betray them. You'll also have to prepare for the environment to change with unpredictable weather and hostile wildlife. Whenever you die, you lose all your progress and have to start over.
Under the sea: Subnautica - PC
Figure out why your ship crashed on a strange planet, what happened to the world, and how you can escape it while navigating a hostile ocean filled with beasts that won't take kindly to your presence. Oxygen is a resource you'll use to explore caves, kelp forests, and coral reefs gathering resources needed to construct underwater bases.
Cold snap: Frostpunk - PC
As the leader of a city in a frozen world, you must manage your resources while also making sure your people still have the will to live. You'll make tough choices when it comes to establishing your society's laws and customs, often facing moral dilemmas as you try to make sure your steam-powered infrastructure can keep the cold at bay. You'll also need to explore the frozen wastes to learn more about the world.
Building blocks: Minecraft - PC
Minecraft can be played with endless resources, but you can also choose survival mode, where you'll need to master the game's mechanics quickly and gather resources to start crafting the tools and shelter you'll need to protect yourself from roaming monsters. Starting the popular game can be quite daunting, so check out our guide to how to survive your first night in Minecraft.
Survival shrunk: Grounded
The backyard becomes a terrifying place in Grounded, where players are shrunk to the size of ants and must scavenge for supplies while avoiding being attacked by bugs. The game is still in early access, but the developers are releasing regular content updates adding new creatures and equipment while cleaning up bugs of the coding variety.
Cold comfort: The Long Dark - PC
Set in the Canadian wilderness in the aftermath of a global geomagnetic disaster, The Long Dark tasks players with surviving aggressive animals and unpredictable weather. You'll need to monitor your hunger, thirst, temperature, and exhaustion levels as you search for supplies, map the terrain, and hunt for food.
Planet hopping: Starbound - PC
After fleeing your home in a damaged ship, you'll need to visit other planets to gather resources you can use to make repairs that will let you explore the stars. You can play the story campaign, which features bosses, quests, and dungeons, or focus on other aspects of the game like colonizing planets, crafting thousands of items, or catching monsters that will fight for you. You can also choose whether or not your character needs to eat and if they'll be permanently killed on death.
Into the woods: The Forest - PC
As the survivor of a plane crash on a remote island, you'll need to survey the land, build shelter, hunt for food, and craft items. The problem is, you're not alone. You'll need to defend yourself from a society of cannibalistic mutants by laying traps and forming a perimeter around your base, though you can also try to avoid them with stealth or build weapons to fight back.
Naked and alone: Rust - PC
Other players are likely to try to kill you on sight and then eat your body in this often brutal game where you'll need to manage your hunger, thirst, and temperature. Figure out how to gather resources and craft a shelter and a fire and if you survive long enough you might be able to make alliances and join a town.
Stranger in a strange land: Don't Starve - PC
A demon has transported the gentleman scientist Wilson to a strange new world and he'll need to learn its secrets to survive. There are no instructions, you'll just start the game with nothing and learn how to craft, hunt, research, farm, and fight. The maps are randomly generated but always deadly, filled with all manner of creatures and other perils.
Survival of the fittest
Survival games offer unique challenges, pushing players to try to figure out the rules and strategies for themselves while often risking losing all their progress if they make a mistake. To get to know the genre, we recommend starting with Terraria. It's the oldest title on this list but it's still well worth checking out to get a sense for how to explore a vast sandbox world.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Grounded, an early access title that has phenomenal graphics that bring to life the tiny world in a normal backyard. If you really want to see how intense survival games can be, opt for Rust, where you'll need to survive both the elements and the predation of other players. Whichever you buy, these games are sure to keep you on your toes and stretch your creativity as you fight to live another day.
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