Perhaps because of how cushy modern society has become, a lot of us have actually grown quite obsessed with survival games. I suppose I can see why. There’s something…relaxing about going back to our roots as a civilization, so to speak. About not having to worry much about your job or impressing anyone, but instead simply focusing on the basics of staying alive. Such titles can be incredibly fun in the right context, but they’re even better when played with people.

Enter the survival MMORPG – a game which hurls its players into an open world where they can either compete (or co-operate) in order to survive. Somehow, the presence of other people – even if they more often than not make things more difficult – adds an extra layer of authenticity to the whole experience.  Of course, if it’s done poorly, it can be more frustrating than fun, with higher-level players ruthlessly camping their more helpless peers and pay to win systems abound (see Nether for more details). 

Those aren’t the games we’ll be focusing on today. Instead, we’re going to look at all the titles that manage to do things right. 

Rust

First up on our list is Rust. Best described as a mixture of Minecraft and DayZ, Rust is a game whose only aim is to survive. You’re thrust into a hostile, very likely post-apocalyptic wilderness, with literally nothing to support yourself. So is every other person playing the game with you. See, that’s where things get a little complicated. The game is incredibly well-designed(for an Early Access title), with a decent crafting system and base-building, but…the players of the community are kind of dicks. As in, you’re just as likely to get gunned down by a fellow player as you are to get help. 

Still, it manages to be one of the most promising survival games currently available. Assuming the developer follows through with their plans for it, I’ve no doubt it’ll turn into something magnificent. 

DayZ

Another title still in early access, DayZ got its start as a mod for Arma II. Now, however, it’s a standalone game – and pretty much everything a zombie title should be. You’re thrust, alone, into a wasteland teeming with bandits and undead; a hostile environment in which the only things you can rely on are your wits and your aim. This is the game that the god-awful knockoff Infestation: Survivor Stories aspired to be. Fair warning, though…as with Rust, many of the people who play DayZ are full-blown dickbags. 

7 Days To Die

Next on our list we’ve got…another zombie game. Now, hear me out before you scroll down to the next entry. This one’s actually really promising – maybe even more so than DayZ. Ah, that got your attention, didn’t it? 

The best description I can give of 7 Days to Die is that it’s essentially Minecraft with gravity and better graphics. There’s an incredibly deep crafting system, with a list that’s over 230 recipes long (and counting). Player-built structures can be upgraded and expanded, and every structure you make needs to account for structural integrity, lest it collapse upon your head. Oh, and the zombies probably aren’t the thing you should be concerned about, either – it’s other players. Zombies, you can fool and sneak past. Players, well…

As I’ve already said several times in this article, people are dicks.

H1Z1

Unlike the other entries on this list, H1Z1 isn’t actually in Early Access…because it hasn’t actually gotten to that stage yet. Slated to be released on PS4 and Windows PC by Sony Online Entertainment, H1Z1 is a survival game that emphasizes interaction (which doesn’t involve murder) between players. People will b e encouraged to trade, form communities, and co-operate with one another to construct a base and defend themselves against the undead horde (and against other players). Of course, there’ll still be plenty of PvP for the more blood-thirsty among us, so don’t worry.

Now, so far I’ve basically described the other titles on this list, which doesn’t really do H1Z1 justice. According to the developer, the game will make use of emergent AI to make its zombies frightfully intelligent (as zombies go); firing off a gunshot will be akin to ringing a dinner bell for the undead horde, while the game’s fully-functional ecosystem and dynamic environments make the game feel more like a living, breathing world than any title before it. Eventually, players will even be given the opportunity to play as a zombie.  Fingers crossed that the developer makes good on all these promises, because if they do, this is one game survival enthusiasts won’t be able to live without. 

Beasts of Prey

I have one word for you as to why Beasts of Prey is awesome: dinosaurs. Unlike 99.9% of sandbox titles out there, Beasts of Prey concerns itself not with the living dead or the natural world, but instead hurls its players into a Jurrasic-Park-esque nightmare filled with all manner of murderous, lumbering lizards. Equipped with only a combat knife, it’ll be your task to conquer the surrounding wilderness before it destroys you. Apparently, this is one survival game in which it’s entirely possible to build a thriving, mechanized empire from the ground up – which is awesome. 

The dev team’s also incredibly committed to their title, which is a huge plus in my books. 

Also, DINOSAURS. Have I mentioned that yet? Pretty sure that’s the most important part.