Zombies and Cannibals and Dinosaurs (Oh my!). As more and more survival games launch each year, they try and bring a new and refreshing twist to the classic survival feel.
This list will help you decide which one is for you. All of the games on this list are in early access which means the game is not ready for release. Keep that in mind as all of them will be changing constantly and will have their share of bugs. This list rates them in their current state and has nothing to do with previous patches or future promises. While it doesn't hurt to see what is promised by the developers, we have to keep in mind that not everything promised will be given.
Kicking off our list is H1Z1 developed, by Daybreak Game Company. H1Z1 started off with a lot of promise and is a classic example of how fast things can change. Daybreak Game Company took over H1Z1 and one of the changes was the price. H1Z1 was first scheduled as an F2P game now will have a price tag of $20 (for one-half of the game).
H1Z1 is a zombie survival game that drops you in the middle of the forest of a zombie infested world. The current state of the game is a kill-on-sight grief fest. One of the issues with H1Z1 is the map is 1/4th the size of DayZ so you constantly run into people who have a kill on sight mentality. They do not offer private servers to the public so most are left having to play on a public server. The graphics are nice and the game runs smoothly compared to most of the other games on our list. Pathing and the overall intelligence of the AI is a little off. Keeping in mind that this is early access though, this is not a bad survival game if you are looking for non-stop PVP.
H1Z1 did split into two games, H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill with the latter being the last one standing slugfest. The issue is while this game, at first, was included with H1Z1: Just Survive, it now costs an extra $20 and has a pay 2 win model around it. It looks like Daybreak Game Company is looking more towards getting money than producing a good product. You can check out H1Z1 here.
DayZ developed by Bohemia Interactive began as a mod for Arma 2 that turned into its own stand-alone game. DayZ has been in early access for almost 3 years. With H1Z1, you have a smaller map that allows you to run into people often, while in DayZ you will run around and not see someone for hours.
A benefit to DayZ is that you can host your own private server and be selective about who you bring into it. For being in development for almost 3 years the game doesn't feel like it is bringing content fast enough. Bohemia spoke about an offline mode coming but that was almost a year ago and we still no idea when or if it is coming. Updates seem to have stalled on DayZ. You can mod the game with the Steam Workshop which is a plus for gamers who like tinkering with mods.
The optimization is pretty bad, especially when compared to games who have not been in early access as long such as H1Z1. If you are interested in DayZ it is more beneficial to just play Arma2 and use the DayZ mod which is smoother. Plus it will cost you a total of $13 compared to the high price tag of $35. You can check out DayZ here.
Rust -- developed by Facepunch Studios -- is a game that has also been in development for almost 3 years. The graphics leave more to be desired but the optimization is a lot better compared to pretty much every other game on this list. You start off naked and looking to get some shelter and clothes right away. Rust falls into the same category of H1Z1 making it more kill-on-sight than some of the others.
What Rust brings to the table is a deeper crafting and building system than some of the previously listed games. The weapons in rust are a bit more realistic in the fact that the guns have decent recoil. You don't worry about starving as fast as you would in other games, so you have more time to explore. With that said playing with friends is your best bet.
The map size is adjustable depending on the server, which helps a bit compared to H1Z1. Rust is also a very big time sink, with the way the developers have implemented the "decay system," which is a way to combat too many player made structures. Basically, the health of man-made structures will decay over time if not used. If you are not able to log in often to stop this then you will fall victim of decay. Below is some of the decay timers.
- Twigs - 6-hour delay , 6-hour duration
- Wood - 12-hour delay , 24-hour duration
- Stone - 18-hour delay , 48-hour duration
- Sheet Metal - 18-hour delay , 72-hour duration
- Armored - 24-hour delay , 120-hour duration
Rust is a bit more grindy than some of the other games but it has a lot to do. The dev's still communicate with the community even after almost 3 years. If you are not a fan of mass nudity in a game then Rust is not for you. I also would not recommend for the solo player. You can look more into Rust here.
Hurtworld, developed by Bankroll studios, comes it at #4. Hurtworld took elements designed for the more hardcore gamer as well as for the casual player and brought them together. There is no armor or healing items of any type in Hurtworld and the survival is tougher than the other games. You raid for territory more than for items due to the fact when you die whatever was on your hot bar you keep. With this, you see less kill-on-sight activity because people do not get as much off of you.
Your body doesn't stay in the world when you log off so you don't have to worry about logging in dead. Guns are expensive and tough to come by as well so not everyone is running around with shotguns. The best part of Hurtworld comes with the cars. Driving them is just fun compared to Rust or H1Z1. You will be flipping off ramps and doing 360's over buildings.
Some of the downfalls to Hurtworld are also some of its appealing aspects. You start off knowing every crafting recipe. That's not exactly realistic and the whole "not losing loot" can cause an issues as well. You will kill your enemy and the people will spawn and jump back into the fight with all of their stuff.
The dev team is constantly putting out updates and talking to the community. That's the benefit of a game being so new that the dev team is still excited about what they are doing . Whether that continue 6 months from now is yet to be seen.
For more information you can visit Hurtworld's website.
3. 7 Days to Die
7 Days to Die, developed by The Fun Pimps, cracks our top 3 and is the only zombie survival game among them. Just like the title says, this is a survival horde crafting game. If you are a fan of Minecraft and survival games then this most likely is the game for you. With less focus on PVP and more on crafting, 7 Days to Die adds a different element to the normal zombie survival games.
That's not to say it does't come with its share of downfalls. The updates are few and far between. The current patch -- "Alpha 13" -- seems to have brought more bugs than fixes. The developer team seems to have slowed down immensely with the updates to this game, which appears to be the theme of games closing in on 3 years of development.
The game does not need a top end computer to run though, and offers private servers for up to 8 people. There are some private servers that have up to 20-30 people but those are exceptions. There are few vehicles in the game and the pathing from the zombies can be pretty clunky at times.
There is not much to say about 7 Days to Die besides the fact that if you are a big fan of crafting and building then this is the game for you. Spend 6 days exploring and crafting and then wait for day 7 to fight off the horde of zombies. Check out 7 Days to Die's website for more information
2. The Forest
The Forest, developed by Endnight Games, is a gem of a survival game. This is Resident Evil meets survival. You are not fighting zombies, but instead cannibalistic mutants that have beliefs, families, and even morals.
The Forest is different compared to the other survival games on the list in the fact there is a slight story here. You are looking for your son after your plane crashed and the mutants dragged him away. Unlike the zombies in previous survival games the mutants don't always attack you. Is the cannibalistic tribe a threat to the player or are you a threat to the tribe? You have to discover what is going on for yourself.
The graphics and lighting in The Forest do an amazing job of setting the mood of a horror survival game. The AI has some bugs to work out but overall is better than that of H1Z1 or 7 Days to Die.
The developers do a great job of releasing new content and patches around every 3 weeks. Another benefit of The Forest is the save option. If you are playing and a griefer comes along or you just die due to unfortunate events you can load into a different server at your last save point. While some will not be a fan of this it allows you to continue the story line that you prefer. The Forest is easily playable solo due to this mechanic. However, like most of these survival games playing with friends seems to make it more enjoyable.
If zombies are not your thing and instead you prefer mutant cannibals then I would recommend The Forest. Make sure to play it late at night with the lights off. Feel free to get more information at The Forest's website.
Where did all the zombies go? ARK, published by Studio Wildcard, comes roaring in at #1. ARK has beautiful graphics and a community that is surprisingly friendly. The biggest downfall would be the optimization needs work and a low-end computer could struggle to run ARK.
ARK takes a step in a different direction by dropping the player in an era where dinosaurs are the king of the world. While the community is friendly it is tough to solo play in ARK with it being a big time sink to build and survive. Custom servers can help with that adjusting what is accessible and the taming timers. They also provide low-tech servers which help those that are not fans of guns in a dino-filled world. For the more on hands type, ARK offers mod support for those who like changing things themselves.
Like H1Z1, ARK split into two games and now has ARK: Survival of the Fittest which is a last man standing battle as well. It has already been announced as an eSport. The difference between this split and H1Z1's is that ARK has made their last man standing game completely free.
What separates ARK from the rest of the pack is the content updates are constant. The developers are in touch with the community and the game never seems to get stale with the updates coming fast and often. I want to stress again though that the optimization is the biggest downfall to ARK.
If you are sick of all the zombie survival games and you prefer to ride a T-Rex with a friendlier community then ARK is for you.
On the rise: Subnautica
While Subnautica did not make the list it is something to look out for. Developed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, Subnautica provides a different twist to survival games.
Taking place in what looks like the water covered alien planet in Interstellar, you are forced to survive with no land around you. The map is vast and the dev team provides updates and content often. The focus right now is on exploration and the game was recently optimized for better performance.
The downfall is right now there is not much of a story line even though one is slowly developing. While that is not an issue for many survival games, this one is single player only currently. The plan is for it to be a multi player game but the developers have said that it takes converting from single player to multiplayer.
Subnautica has a bright future if it brings a multiplayer aspect to the game or a storyline for a single player game. Currently, the exploration aspect is very good and it is developing at a steady pace. Follow the progress of Subnautica here.
Leave me comments below on what you agree with and disagree with. Which survival game is your favorite and why?