The Xbox One and Series X|S have no shortage when it comes to survival games, with gameplay centered around gathering food and water and building a shelter to survive the elements. Thanks to the success of Minecraft, the survival genre is booming with new games attempting to make their mark on the industry. Many survival games are multiplayer-focused where players have to join forces to survive or relax in creative play modes. There are also single-player-oriented survival games where you must learn how to survive on your own and explore a dangerous world to uncover its mysteries. Here are our top picks for the best survival games you can get right now for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S.
The Long Dark (Xbox Series X|S) (opens in new tab)
Ultimate survival sim
The Long Dark is the best survival game on Xbox today, set in the deep Canadian wilds. During a freak meteorological catastrophe, you have to brave the freezing cold, scavenge for supplies, and fend off wild animals driven mad by the strange events. The Long Dark also has an episodic story mode that is as engrossing as it is moving. Every budding survivalist should play this.
The depths hath frozen over
Two years have passed since the original Subnautica, and you have returned to Planet 4546B to search for your sister, Alterra, who disappeared during a scientific expedition. In addition to new depths of the ocean to explore, there is a new Arctic region that's home to a variety of cute and dangerous alien lifeforms. You will need to craft all new tools and gadgets if you hope to traverse this tundra and find your sister before it is too late.
The great outdoors
Experience the world from a smaller perspective in Grounded. Grounded is an open-world survival game where you and your friends have been shrunk to the size of insects and are now stranded in a backyard. In order to survive and learn how you got here, you will need to craft weapons and tools made from the land to fend off the giant insects that call the backyard home. You can explore this larger-than-life world alone or team up with your friends in online co-op.
Survive in space!
Astroneer is a space-faring survival game with an emphasis on crafting, research, and open-world exploration. Research the local flora, 3D print parts, and ultimately move on to the next planet for colonization.
Minecraft is known for its creativity, but it's the survival mode where the true challenge lies. Start punching trees for essential wooden tools, and you'll eventually have the weapons and armor to navigate the hellish Nether realm itself. And hey, maybe do some farming along the way.
Survive the flood
The Flame in the Flood is a travel-oriented survival game set in a flooded America. Sea levels have blanketed much of the world in dangerous rapids, starving beasts, and abandoned settlements. The Flame in the Flood takes on you a journey on a rickety raft that you must upgrade along the way, scavenging food and supplies from the remains of civilization.
Build a civilization
Conan Exiles is an ambitious multiplayer survival game with RPG mechanics and deep building systems. Starting naked in the desert (literally), you have to make your way inland and begin to build up your own civilization. Enslave the locals, hunt giant monsters, and build massive castles, Conan Exiles is an impressive and addictive game with continuous updates.
Surviving Mars is an excellent city builder with sci-fi survival elements. Set on the Red Planet, you take on a space-faring corporation intending to colonize Mars. Armed with a spaceship and a handful of robots, you have to mine minerals, grow crops, and eventually import colonists who will live in your growing space city.
A brutal war
This War of Mine is an incredibly brutal game that is not for the faint of heart. In This War of Mine, you manage a small community of refugees stuck in a fictional war-torn state. Without access to any sort of infrastructure, you must scavenge to survive, which may occasionally include some dire consequences.
Frostpunk is an award-winning survival city builder set in a bleak ice age. You and your colonists cling to the edge of life at every moment, as you race to keep your civilization warm in rapidly decreasing temperatures. Complete with steampunk-style tech, you can carve out a successful city in the wastes, but what kind of civilization will you build?
Surviving the Aftermath is a post-apocalyptic city-building simulator set in a Mad Max-style apocalypse. Various disasters wreak havoc across the land, with bandits, radioactive storms, and meteor showers hindering your colony's growth. The game is currently in early access, but it's being updated with new features frequently and holds a ton of promise.
Keep on trucking
Overland is a turn-based survival game where you must guide a group of survivors across a world ravaged by alien monsters. On this post-apocalyptic road trip across America, you will need to scavenge for medical supplies, weapons to fend off the horrific monstrosities, and save any survivors you find along the way. Plan your moves carefully for every decision you make could be your last.
The ultimate zombie survival simulator
State of Decay 2 is an open-world survival game where the last remnants of humanity must band together for a chance to survive the zombie apocalypse. Gather a group of survivors, loot abandoned buildings for resources, and build a base that will provide a safe haven from the zombie hordes and desperate raiders. You can trek the undead-infested wastelands solo, or you can join your friends in co-op for a better chance of living to see tomorrow.
Survive 'em up
Survival games are a personal favorite, offering oddly relaxing gameplay at times, interspliced with tense moments. Many of the games rely on procedural generation and random events, adding a level of dynamism unique to the genre.
The Long Dark remains our pick for top survival game on Xbox, for its deep and evocative episodic campaign, and hauntingly lonely survival gameplay. Seeing a bear emerge from the mist, mauling me to within an inch of my life, remains one of the tensest and memorable experiences I've ever had on Xbox. Managing to survive and ultimately get revenge on said bear also simply felt great.
If you have a strong emotional disposition, please consider This War of Mine too. It is a very uniquely visceral survival game that emphasizes the psychological trauma of being in such dire situations. It is scarce to see a video game war story where we experience the civilians' perspective instead of the soldiers fighting on the front lines. This War of Mine conveys that feeling wonderfully and made me shed a tear for all the poor souls ruined by this war they were in.
Frostpunk is another excellent pick, with gorgeous art and designs, with unique moral choices that add a slant of choice and consequence. Trying to maintain the stability of my city's ability to produce heat while keeping the well-being of its citizens intact is an intense and engaging balancing act I have rarely felt before or since Frostpunk.
Grounded is another fine example of a survival game you can play with your friends. It has a huge and intriguing setting, a delightful cartoony art direction, gripping gameplay, and many cool bugs to hunt. Grounded is currently in early access, but with every update it is receiving, this game's potential to be one of the best Xbox games in the survival genre is growing exponentially, and I cannot wait to see it realized.