The 10 best survival games September 2023

These best survival games will take you to arduous worlds that will both punish and reward your efforts as you try to live in them on PS5, Xbox, and Switch

Best Survival Games: A soldier can be seen against a water background

What are the best survival games? Survival games will test you to your limits. From apocalyptic worlds to intergalactic mysteries, the scope for crafting a survival game and creating new worlds is vast and, unsurprisingly, has sparked many a developer to do just that. With near-endless possibilities comes many a title to try, which can feel a little overwhelming when you head to the storefronts in hopes of picking something new. Luckily, for the survival genre, we’ve picked ten of the best.

Our best survival games guide will entice you with unique options at every turn. Whether it’s the last man standing in an online multiplayer or the puzzling magic of dark, foreboding lands. Survival games will always meet in one place though and that’s in the fight to beat isolation and prove you are capable of living, sometimes even thriving, in these gaming worlds. Once you’ve perused our list, there’s many more survival titles to enjoy in our best PS5 survival games and best Xbox survival games guides, if you’re looking to get more console-specific.

The 10 best survival games are:

  • Rust
  • Subnautica
  • Minecraft
  • The Forest
  • Ark: Survival Evolved
  • Valheim
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Don’t Starve
  • The Long Dark
  • This War of Mine

Best Survival Games: A fight in a street can be seen

1. Rust

When it comes to survival games, Rust from Facepunch Studios will, at times, make you want to curl up into a ball and give up. You’ll arrive at this existential crossroads pretty much immediately as you are awake naked, alone, and afraid in the unforgiving terrain of Rust’s servers.

But, you’re not alone. No, far from it. This multiplayer-only title has an abundance of other players waiting to make sure you don’t succeed, steal all your hard-fought loot in devastating PvP, and ultimately straight up unalive you out of the game. If you want to make this a world you can picture yourself living in, or at least surviving, you’ll need to think fast.

As Rust describes itself, “everything wants you to die” from the wildlife, to the environment, to other survivors. It’s not going to be easy. We can’t stress that enough. But, if you invest your time into it and learn the ropes, you could dominate the island, form alliances, and feel the depth of the community that Rust has generated over almost a decade.

You can grab Rust on the PS5, Xbox, and PC right now.

Best Survival Games: An underwater ocean can be seen with a submarine gliding by

2. Subnautica

If you’re looking to feel truly, truly alone, Subnautica is the title to turn to. A sole survivor on a remote alien underwater world, you must explore the depths in a bid to survive whilst the creatures beneath set out to cause you harm. And, since the majority of the game is underwater, you’ve also got the constant battle of keeping an eye on your depleting oxygen, as well as hunger, thirst, and health.

In Subnautica, it can get really dark real quick with the game’s day-and-night cycle plunging you into an abyss. Fortunately, you can sleep through it or, in true survivor mode, use it as a time to hunt fish and work on your base. Subnautica also supports VR headsets meaning you can truly immerse yourself in the oceanic world… if you’re brave enough.

Travel to the depths on PS5, PS4, Xbox, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Best Survival Games: Multiple people and animals can be seen in Minecraft's world

3. Minecraft

It will come as no surprise that featured in our list of the best survival games comes the best-selling game of all time, Minecraft. The sandbox survival title also has a special place in our 22 best games of all time list for its expansive world, opportunities for creativity, and, at its core, a survival game that will test your patience.

There are so many Minecraft servers to choose from full of mini-games, exploration, recreation of iconic titles, and much more, which means your options inside Minecraft are vast. Or, if you just want to farm and forage, that’s totally your prerogative. Sure, Minecraft may have been around for over a decade, but even if you’re starting from scratch, you can still get stuck right in.

Minecraft is available on the Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC storefronts. Plus, you can grab it on the Xbox Game Pass if you’ve got yourself a subscription.

Best Survival Games: A player can be seen cracking the neck of an NPC

4. Sons of The Forest

Next up, The Forest is survival horror in its absolute element. You’ll find yourself stranded completely alone in a, you guessed it, forest, following a blazing plane crash. Scary enough, right? Wrong. Throw in waves of cannibal mutant hordes running on developer Endnight’s intelligent AI and you’ve got yourself a wonderfully crafted, but truly terrifying setting.

Like the titles that have come before it on our list, the day and night cycle is serious business. The focus is on creating and fortifying a base during the day that will serve you well for surviving the night when the onslaught really steps up a notch.

Sons of the Forest right now is only available on PC.

Best Survival Games: Multiple dinosaurs can be seen

5. Ark: Survival Evolved

How do you fancy your chances at a survival game set on a mysterious island teeming with prehistoric animals and dinosaurs? It’s not just kill or be killed though as you’re given the opportunity to tame certain wildlife. A wildly fun concept, but also incredibly advantageous to surviving in Ark: Survival Evolved.

You’ll need to build a base, hunt, harvest resources, grow crops, harvest resources, and much more in order to thrive all while living in a land full of other players that are friend or foe. The clever in-game system will have you react according to your environment. So, when it gets hot, you’ll need more water. When it gets cold, you’ll need to build a fire to stay warm. There’s a lot to do to stay alive and starting a tribe might make it a hell of a lot easier. There’s strength in numbers, right?

The Ark Survival Ascended release date is set for launch in October, bringing the original title to next-gen with lots of shiny improvements. In the meantime, you can purchase the game on Xbox and PlayStation. Or, grab it with or without the Ultimate Survivor Edition on Xbox Game Pass.

Best Survival Games: Two hunters are sat around a fire

6. Valheim

Inspired by Norse mythology, Valheim is the unforgiving and, at times, downright brutal survival title hinged on the God of War himself, Odin. Taking on the role of a banished Viking in the 10th world, Valheim, you must slay monsters, build settlements, and prove yourself worthy of redemption.

The procedurally generated world is rich with opportunities to explore and the customization mechanic adds layers to this survival game that keeps it very interesting. You’ll need to expand your weapons quickly in order to take on the many ancient adversaries though. Like the other titles on our list, you must spend your time wisely.

Initially, only in early access on PC, the Valheim game preview launched on Xbox in March 2023 and can be grabbed in the storefront or as a part of Game Pass.

Best Survival Games: Multiple people can be seen on a planet

7. No Man’s Sky

The infinitely procedurally generated world of No Man’s Sky is quite the setting for a survival title. If a universe abundant with planets to explore floats your boat or flies your spaceship, then this one’s for you. After a mixed reception at launch, developer Hello Games has followed it up with a barrage of updates to meet expectations.

With such an enormous expanse to explore, the opportunities are near endless on how you choose to run your game. Battle space pirates, build colonies, form friendships, race exocraft, it’s really up to you. There’s also a survival-specific mode inside this survival title which makes for a more challenging experience giving you access to only limited resources as well as upping the ante on hazards and enemies.

Fortunately, No Man’s Sky is available on Xbox, PS5, PS4, with PSVR and PSVR 2 support, and Nintendo Switch.

Best Survival Games: A person can be seen in an arena

8. Don’t Starve

Fancy survival with a whimsical twist? Don’t Starve transports players to a 2D cartoon aesthetic that reeks of magic. You start with nothing and you really have to figure it out for yourself. There’s an eclectic mix of enemies too as strange creatures emerge from the darkness, such as the Slurper, Terrorbeak, or Treeguard.

In Don’t Starve, survival hinges on the crafting element meaning you’ll need to busy yourself with collecting and creating resources in order to survive. If you’re not keen to stick it out alone (literally, there are a lot of sticks) then the multiplayer expansion, Don’t Starve Together was released for co-op survival goodness.

Descend into the darkness with Don’t Starve on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.

Best Survival Games: A figure can be seen

9. The Long Dark

Up next, there are no monsters here except Mother Nature itself. The Long Dark bases itself in a setting prime for isolation. Following a crash in the northern Canadian wilderness after a storm, you take on the role of pilot, Will Mackenzie, to battle the freezing elements and nature’s dangers.

Eat, sleep, drink, and stay warm in order to survive. Scouring the wild for supplies and avoiding the animals that want to hunt you down. Hinterland Studio’s title includes a multitude of game modes including its impressive five-episode story mode, Wintermute. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to play this with friends, there’s no multiplayer support.

Fortunately, though, you can grab it now on Xbox and PlayStation. It’s also included as part of PlayStation Plus.

Best Survival Games: Multiple rooms of a house can be seen

10. This War of Mine

Finally, amidst a city ravaged by the ongoing war, you must lead a group of civilians to survival. This War of Mine flips the usually-told narrative of war games as combat-driven to tell instead the story of what it might feel like to live through the relentless danger from an everyday perspective.

The goal is to stay alive until a ceasefire is declared at a random point during the game. Throughout the course of the war, the player is in charge of instructing and protecting multiple survivors, hiding and crafting during the day inside a desecrated house, and venturing out to explore and gather resources at night. You choose the path you take with a multitude of endings, meaning you can return to this game, play it all over again, and write your own story of war.

This War of Mine is on Xbox, PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.

Great gaming doesn’t start and end with survival titles though. Be sure to check out our guide to the best PS5 games, the best Xbox Series X games, and the best Nintendo Switch games of all time. You went searching for survival and you got a whole lot more.