Best Open World Survival Games

Best Open World Survival Games

Open world survival games are one of my favorite genres. You have everything that survival games have to offer, but you also get the freedom that open world games add. Genshin Impact, Elden Ring, and The Witcher 3 have made history recently. But none of them are survival games.

As much as I have enjoyed playing through Elden Ring lately, I have missed the survival game aspect. So let’s take a look at some of the best open world survival games that add survival to the mix.

My Top Five Open World Survival Games – At a Glance

Title Initial Release Date Platform Price ESRB
Ark: Survival Evolved June 2, 2015 (Early Access)
  • Linux
  • Microsoft Windows
  • macOS
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Stadia
$29.99 T
Valheim February 2, 2021 (Early Access)
  • Linux
  • Microsoft Windows
$19.99 Unrated (likely T)
Minecraft November 18, 2011 Every Standard Platform Varies E
Terraria May 16, 2011
  • Microsoft Windows
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • PlayStation Vita
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • Wii U
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Google Stadia
Varies E
No Man’s Sky August 7, 2016
  • PlayStation 4
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Xbox One
  • PlayStation 5
  • Xbox Series X and S
  • Microsoft Windows
$59.99 T

Although there are dozens of great open world survival games, these are my top five. Ark: Survival Evolved and Valheim are my two favorites. 

Terraria and Minecraft deserved a lot of credit for making survival games that anyone can play. Finally, No Man’s Sky broke boundaries that we didn’t know were possible to break.

Choosing an Open World Survival Game

Before you choose an open world survival game, I encourage you to do your own research. If it’s a free game, go ahead and give it a go. But no one wants to pay $30 or more for a game they only place once.

When researching the game you are interested in, take a look at these aspects to help you decide if the game would be a good fit for you.

Vastness of the World

Just because the game is “open world,” doesn’t mean the world is enormous. Games like The Forest are still considered open world, but the map isn’t all that large, and there are restrictions.

If a large world is essential to you, then make sure you find out just how big the map is for the game. Also, there is a relatively new technocracy called “procedurally-generated worlds.”

The world is created as you play with an algorithm-based system, with presets being stitched together by the AI system. This gives you a unique world that no one else has in their game.

Exterior “Survival” Features

There are two primary features in open world survival games: survivability and the open world. But these are not the only “survival” or “open world” aspects to consider. Other survival aspects include eating/drinking, stamina needs, taming, etc.

Not every survival game will be like the last survival game that you played. You need to find your favorite features in the previous game and ensure that the new game has those features too.

Graphics

Image from Fandom

Let’s face it; all gamers are shallow when it comes to graphics. When I was a teenager, I went through a phase of only playing games like Sly Cooper, Crash Bandicoot, and Banjo Kazooie. Then, I would only play games like Fable and Elder Scrolls. 

I have a friend who primarily plays games that look like they belong on Gameboy Color. We all have a type, and it’s okay if you prefer a particular look. You can give other games a try, but you don’t have to give it up if your preference is important to you.

Difficulty (Stressfulness)

This is all subjective. While Elden Ring stressed out a lot of people, I found it unstressful. Then there are games like Ark: Survival Evolved that I find stressful, even when playing PvE.

If a difficult or stressful game brings you down, find a different game. I love to have a relaxing video game to play on the side, even when playing stress-inducing games. I suggest something like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing. 

Multiplayer Option

It’s imperative to me to have a multiplayer option. I enjoy playing with friends much more than alone. While doing things like gardening or farming, enemies are great for alone time; I like to get the gang together when it comes to bosses, exploring, and sailing.

Related read: The Best Multiplayer Survival Games.

Best Open World Survival Games Breakdown

Now it’s time to get down to business. I have picked the fifteen best survival games that you can play today. The ratings, player base, and game characteristics were all taken into account when compiling the list.

Ark: Survival Evolved

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer – over 100 if your server is dedicated. If it is non-dedicated, then you can only play with four.
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – great
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – highly immersive
  • Map Versatility – great map versatility 

Ark: Survival Evolved is may not be the least stressful open world survival game, but if you want a game that has everything (including the stress), then this is it. What I love about Ark is that although the base game is amazing on its own, there are hundreds of mods available for the game. You can subscribe to them via Steam rather than a third-party mod software.

Valheim

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $19.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 10
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – on NexusMods or similar
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – fair to moderate
  • Map Versatility – moderate biome versatility

Valheim has everything, except for the stress. One thing that bothered me about Ark: Survival Evolved is that your “tombstone” that appears when you die, disappears if you take too long to get it.

That means all of your possessions could be lost. In Valheim, that tombstone (and any other you make on the way) will stay there for all eternity, or until you pick it up.

So the game is fairly low risk, aside from the fact that you lose stats that you previously earned slowly each time you die.

DayZ

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $44.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 60
  • Character Creation – available, but not amazing
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – great mods available
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – highly
  • Map Versatility – decent, but given the theme, it isn’t as grand as other survival games

DayZ is a great game, but most people agree that it is better with mods. It has also been argued that it isn’t fun unless you play with a group. Like GTA, DayZ has popular roleplaying servers.

If you want a realistic survival game set in a world more similar to our own then DayZ will likely float your boat. Playing DayZ is like starring in your favorite zombie thriller.

Grounded

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 4
  • Character Creation – no
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – yes on NexusMods or similar
  • PvE or PvP – PvE
  • Immersion – mild
  • Map Versatility – low, but the future is promising

Grounded is an adorable game to play alone or with a couple of friends. In this game, you are the size of Arriety or the Borrowers and you have to survive with insects larger than you. If you do love Grounded, then you may be interested in an upcoming game called Smalland.

Subnautica

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer – unofficially
  • Character Creation – none
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – moderate
  • PvE or PvP – PvE
  • Immersion – slightly
  • Map Versatility – moderate for an underwater game, still about a dozen biomes

I say this every time I mention Subnautica, and I’ll say it again – I have thalassophobia. So, in short, Subnautica is not for me. However, I still believe it is a great game for those who like underwater adventures. The reviews are outstanding and the game looks great.

Here’s our complete Subnautica guide.

Outward

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $39.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 2
  • Character Creation – fair
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – fair
  • PvE or PvP – no
  • Immersion – moderate
  • Map Versatility – realistic biomes

Outward is one game that tends to slip under the radar far too often. It looks amazing and it feels even better. If this game allowed more than a few people to play together, I’d be addicted.

Although it is considered an RPG rather than a “survival” game, I still consider the gameplay survival-based.

Don’t Starve

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $9.99
  • Multiplayer – in the sequel
  • Character Creation – character choice
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – fair
  • PvE or PvP – PvE
  • Immersion – not really immersive
  • Map Versatility – procedurally generated with a medium selection of seeds

Don’t Starve is not your typical survival game, and that’s what makes it so special. The first game did well, but the sequel, Don’t Starve Together, did even better.

What I really love about Don’t Starve is the unique art style that is both creepy and nostalgic.

Minecraft

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $30 (but varies)
  • Multiplayer – up to 30 naturally
  • Character Creation – with mods
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – nearly endless
  • PvE or PvP – either
  • Immersion – mild
  • Map Versatility – extreme

Minecraft had to make the cut. While it’s never been my favorite game, it deserves all of the credit that it has received. There aren’t many games that can reach across every platform known to man and still be popular in each one after a decade.

No Man’s Sky

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $59.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 32
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – moderate, unofficial
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – highly-immersive
  • Map Versatility – extreme

No Man’s Sky is a perfect game for many players. There isn’t another open world survival game that has a world to compete with No Man’s Sky. The map is so large that there are entire planets that no one has ever stepped foot on.

Conan Exiles

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $39.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 70 players
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – so many mods
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – very
  • Map Versatility – moderate

Conan Exiles is a gorgeous game. It follows a niche theme of Conan the Barbarian. It is yet another game that does survival open world well.

It has a good character creation, tames, a beautiful world, and the option to play PvE or PvP. The game is naturally more mature than others but there are options to turn off the mature settings.

Rust

  • Price – $39.99
  • Multiplayer – around 50
  • Character Creation – none, but the random characters are fun
  • Tameable Companions – not yet, but likely soon
  • Mod Availability – not a ton of mod support
  • PvE or PvP – primarily PvP, some PvE 
  • Immersion – highly
  • Map Versatility – not great official map versatility, but there are custom maps available 

To be honest, Rust was not my cup of tea. While I absolutely love Fallout, which I was told felt similar to Rust, this game felt dry. However, the game is still grand.

I know multiple people who have loaded a thousand hours into this game. If you like to live life on the edge and lean towards PvP play, then Rust will suit your fancy.

Terraria

  • Price – $9.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 8
  • Character Creation – hardly
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – plenty
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – light
  • Map Versatility – unique map with multiple biomes

Terraria is a game that doesn’t get enough credit from the older crown. By older, I mean gamers over the game of 15. This is not a kids-only game.

This is a standard survival game that simply looks different than other survival games. No, it isn’t a 2D Minecraft. It’s a solid survival game that anyone can enjoy if they give it a chance.

Atlas

Image from Fandom
  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer – over 40,000
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – great
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – similar to Ark
  • Map Versatility – the grids are unique in Atlas, but the biome diversity is lacking

If you like pirate games, then Atlas is the open world survival pick for you. It was originally picked up by Ark: Survival Evolved creators before switching hands.

This delayed its release – the game is still in early access – and left it with a bumpy patch. However, I have played it very recently and have found that most of the bugs have been ironed out and the game is extremely enjoyable.

If you like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Sea of Thieves, this will likely interest you.

Craftopia

  • Price – $24.99
  • Multiplayer – 8
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – low
  • PvE or PvP – PvE
  • Immersion – moderate
  • Map Versatility – limited, but with hope

Craftopia is a feel-good survival game. It reminds me of all of my favorite games from the early 2000s. Everything about this game delights me. It isn’t one of those intense, stressful survival games.

It’s a game to play whenever you want all of the positivity that a farming simulator offers with much more depth. Let me leave you with one note on Craftopia – it is often compared to Breath of the Wild. 

FAQ

Question: What is the Best Single Player Open World Survival Game?

Answer: You can play any of these games single player. You can either start up the game in offline mode or get into a private server. While there are some games that aren’t great single-player, most of them work as single-player games. I prefer the games that let you build your own villages for my alone time.

Question: Are Servers In Open World Survival Games Free?

Answer: Some are free, but most of the time, if you want your own server, you have to pay for it. There is usually a third party software that lets you add a server with a password.

Question: What is the Most Realistic Zombie Survival Game?

Answer: DayZ is often called the most realistic zombie game. Although it has a long way to go before getting the “overwhelmingly positive” review tag, as far as immersive goes, it’s doing well.

Wrapping Up Open World Survival Games

Open world survival games are all about freedom. You shouldn’t feel constricted while playing them. Open world survival games should feel like a simulation. Some are intense while others are relaxing. As long as the goal is to stay alive, build a life for yourself, and be given the liberty to go wherever you want – right from the start – then the developers are doing it right.

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