7 Best Survival Games To Play In 2021

Non-Zombie Edition
conan exiles free

With over 4 million copies sold in the last three weeks, there’s a pretty good chance you have been playing some of Steam’s most recent Early Access hit, Valheim. Taking on a Viking theme (does it though?) in lieu of the zombie apocalypse theme employed by so many of the sandbox survival games of the last few years. Although it may feel like there is a ton to do in Valheim, sooner or later you’re going to defeat the five bosses already in the game, bringing a halt in action to all but the most diehard builders. So, just like last week’s list of the best logistical games to play when you’re through with Dyson Sphere Program, we’ve gathered up a list of some of the best non-zombified survival games to play while you wait for developer Iron Gate Studios to finish up their masterpiece in progress.

7 – Ark: Survival Evolved

  • Developer: Studio Wildcard
  • Release Date: June 2, 2015
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS

Take out all the zombies of a typical survival game and replace them with dinosaurs, and you’ll have Ark. Even though there is some building to be done in Ark, the real highlight here is subduing, and then taming, an army of dinosaurs. Ark 2 was announced in December with an expected 2022 release, which means you probably have until 2023 or 2024 to conquer all that Ark has to offer before sinking your teeth into the sequel.

6 – Don’t Starve

  • Developer: Klei Entertainment
  • Release Date: April 23, 2013
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

With its charming cartoony 2-D characters, you almost forget that the 3-D world of Don’t Starve is harsh and unforgiving. You play as Wilson, a scientist who’s been trapped and transported to a mysterious world by a demon. It will take all of your wits to survive Don’t Starve and all of its DLC. And if you want to double your chances, you can play with a friend in the standalone Don’t Starve Together.

5 – Subnautica

  • Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 16, 2014
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

In Subnautica you don’t wake up shipwrecked on a deserted beach, you wake up in the middle of the ocean on an alien planet. And this ocean harbors terrors far worse than anything you’ve seen on Shark Week. The world of Subnautica is one of the harshest in the survival genre since you have to not only manage your hunger and thirst but also your oxygen. If you still find Subnautica to be too easy, you could always go a step further and give its sequel, Subnautica: Sub Zero, a spin.

4 – Rust

  • Developer: Facepunch Studios
  • Release Date: December 11, 2013
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Rust starts off with that old survival game trope of waking up on a beach and having to endure whatever mother nature throws at you as you try to eke out an existence. Then, just as you start to build a comfortable life for yourself, someone else comes along, shoots you in the head, and steals everything you worked so hard for. Such is life in a multiplayer survival free for all. Kill or be killed.

3 – The Long Dark

  • Developer: Hinterland Studio
  • Release Date: September 22, 2014
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

The Zombie apocalypse isn’t the only apocalypse humans should fear. In The Long Dark’s story mode (there are also the more generic survival and challenge modes), you’re bush pilot Will Mackenzie, and you’ve just crash-landed into a geomagnetic apocalypse in one of the harshest environments known to man – Canada. You won’t be creating the Eye of Sauron, or any other base for that matter, in The Long Dark. No, this slow burn is all about you, the cold, and surviving the many dangers of the wilderness for as long as you can.

2 – Terraria

  • Developer: Re-Logic
  • Release Date: May 16, 2011
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS

If you thought a sandbox survival game had to be in 3D to be fun, I gotta tell ya, you’re wrong. Exploring the retro-2D world of Terraria can be just as dangerous as its 3D counterparts, even more so at some points. Filled a wide variety of items, creatures, NPCs, and bosses – many of which lean a little to the stranger side of things – Terraria is the type of game that can keep you playing into the wee hours of the morning.

1 – Conan Exiles

  • Developer: Funcom
  • Release Date: January 31, 2017
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

If you were trying to imagine what Valheim might look like in a few years, quit imagining and go play Conan Exiles. Set in the world of our favorite barbarian, Conan Exiles has grown into one of the best survival games available today. Conan Exiles has it all: gathering, crafting, building, hunger, thirst, player vs player combat, and lots of male genitalia swinging in the wind. Yes, you read that right.

 

Written by
Old enough to have played retro games when they were still cutting edge, Mitch has been a gamer since the 70s. As his game-fu fades (did he ever really have any?), it is replaced with ever-stronger, and stranger, opinions. If that isn't the perfect recipe for a game reviewer, what is?

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