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It’s a jungle out there. But not a fun one where responsibilities don’t matter and you can build forts and laugh with friends. All of that’s reserved for gaming’s survival genre. These titles, spanning across all consoles and digital game stores, task players with one goal – to survive some sort of hazard, ranging from hordes of zombies to the wrath of Mother Nature. The PS4 has no shortage of survival games to play alone, with friends, or with a kind stranger.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say there are too many to choose from. And since they’re so involved and can take a while to really get into, it can sting when you realize you’re not playing the best of the best.
Having been in that position, my goal here is to save everyone some time and frustration with a list of the best PS4 survival games. There are many good survival games on the market, but you want to invest your time in the ones that deliver the most engaging, often thrilling, and consistently entertaining gaming experience.
These seven titles will take you to the edge of time and to hellish landscapes. They’ll test your ingenuity and situational awareness by thrusting you into scenarios that would make even a strong-willed survivalist weep.
Bottom Line Up Front
I died in many survival games to make this list, but few challenged me the most while still remaining fun more than Don’t Starve Together. Klei Entertainment did a wonderful job combining a Burton-esque aesthetic with an unwavering and unforgiving survival experience that thrives on the strange world it built.
My Top Picks
- Don’t Starve Together – A quirky adventure in a hellscape full of atrocities and challenges that test player ingenuity.
- Minecraft – Fun for the whole family survival, complete with surprisingly elaborate building mechanics.
- The Forest – Provides players with a classic survival experience set against an effective horror backdrop.
- This War of Mine – Poignant tale of survival effectively told through the lens of a wartorn country.
- Subnautica – Take survival to the deep blue with a game that focuses on the many ways extraterrestrial ocean life can kill you.
- Ark: Survival Evolved – Dinosaurs and PvE/PvP multiplayer come together for a well-supported survival game.
- Terraria – Beautifully pixelated 2D survival gaming offering surprisingly deep gameplay.
- Green Hell – All-too-real survival experience set in the dangerous but beautiful Amazonian jungles.
- Frostpunk – Pull back the camera for a broader experience, where an entire civilization’s survival is in your hands.
- Darkwood – Survival horror blends with the mechanics of the survival genre for a game that’s as scary as it is punishing.
Why I Chose These PS4 Survival Games?
When I boot up a survival game, there’s one thing I want to feel – hopelessness. I should immediately be in danger, scrambling to scour resources and understand the world while evading whatever horrors call it home. For a survival game, I don’t necessarily look for that visually stunning experience, but rather the telltale physics and stiff movements that indicate the map is vast and there is much to explore.
Ultimately, I was looking at:
It’s not easy to create a survival game that’s worth restarting from square one if you’ve finished the core story or feel you’ve done all you can with your character. The games on this list were experiences I could see replaying from the beginning as they offered a good variety of things to do and ways to do them.
There are usually many mechanics that go into making a survival game work. This criterion observes whether they all work relatively well or are glitchy more often than not. It also considers the enemy AI, if there are enough perils, and if I feel that the end game would feel identical to the title’s opening minutes.
When the survival genre boomed, indie and AAA developers churned out game after game. This led to some feeling like rehashed experiences. The games on this list feel unique when compared to others, and they bring something that other survival games don’t.
I don’t want to be bored by the games I play. So, everything on this list was entertaining for hours on end. I actively wanted to play them and either see what new things I could uncover.
7 Best PS4 Survival Games
Don’t Starve Together
- Developer: Klei Entertainmnet
- Release Date: September 13, 2016
- Metacritic User Score: 7.1
In most survival games, you know what you’re looking at. A bushel of berries carry a common name, and you know they’re generally safe to have on hand. That luxury is stripped from players in Don’t Starve, which drops them in the Constant, a Burton-esque hellscape, with the sole task of surviving. The 2013 survival title twists the genre a little, changing the art style and condensing the overall experience into a smaller map.
But the challenges are still big as players navigate an alternate reality, searching for resources to replenish their hunger, sanity, and health. Because the game isn’t too forthcoming with information, it’s often a guessing game as to what can be crafted and what purpose it serves. There is no handholding like a true survival experience should be.
Fast forward a year, and Klei decided something was missing from the original game – companionship. Don’t Starve Together turns Don’t Starve into a multiplayer survival game that enhances its predecessor. Turns out, another set of hands was definitely missing from Don’t Starve, and Together really fills in the gaps and lulls in the action by allowing up to six players to join. Though the game is still rather difficult and offers more puzzles than solutions, having that many people along for the ride makes the game feel less lonely.
Don’t Starve Together still suffers from Don’t Starve’s occasionally unfair difficulty level, which may hinder the experience for some. However, because of how tight-lipped it is, Don’t Starve Together really pulls out the survivalist in players, and with six people joining the fray, the combined brainpower can make some headway.
Check out this guide with everything you need to know to get you started in Don’t Starve.
- Developer: Mojang
- Release Date: September 3, 2014
- Metacritic User Score: 6.9
Minecraft will be the game that outlives us all. It will eventually go beyond a game and become an ideology future civilizations shape their beliefs and legends from. Launched in 2011, Minecraft is still the same exact game, just with more mods available to improve visuals or bump up the difficulty.
While it’s known best for the wondrous sculpts and structures players have made in Creative Mode, Minecraft’s Survival Mode is a force to be reckoned with. For a game that’s all pixelated pigs and creatively inspirational, it has no issue throwing players to the wolves in a tense and rich survival experience. You’re thrust into a blocky world with nothing but your own intuition. Like your typical survival game, it’s about gathering resources and building shelter to protect you from Creepers and skeletons.
Minecraft’s Survival Mode features a hunger meter and health bar that must be managed amongst mining the propper resources for armor and weapons. It’s a pretty straightforward survival game, save for the NPC villagers you can exchange resources and crafted items with.
Its biggest problem is that the game’s Creative Mode is a ton of fun, and it’s almost silly not to sink your time into building works of art. Survival Mode just doesn’t give you the room to breathe, forcing you to stick with simple shelters with four walls, a ceiling, and a door.
- Developer: Endnight Studios
- Release Date: November 6, 2018
- Metacritic User Score: 7.4
If you boot up The Forest without doing much research, you’d probably expect a game of cat and mouse with some of Mother Nature’s deadliest woodland inhabitants. But there’s something far worse than bears on this forested peninsula, and they’re hellbent on making your survival near impossible.
The Forest drops you amid dense foliage with nothing but scattered luggage from the plane crash you survived. Unfortunately, your son was lost in the chaos, sending you on a search and rescue mission that starts with having to find some way to survive long enough to uncover the mystery.
In standard survival fashion, players chop down wood, collect water, and find a food source to keep the protagonist alive. This experience differs less in the mechanics and more in what you have to prioritize. You see, it’s not the elements that’ll kill you. It’s the mutated cannibals. They may start with small scouting parties you can dispatch, but before long, there’s an entire swarm at your doorstep.
As much as The Forest is about making progress in finding your son, it’s also about standing your ground. Along with basic survival tools, you’ll also craft traps, tall walls, scouting towers, and more to keep the cannibal horde at bay. With friends or alone, when the sun sets over the peninsula and only flames light the dense woodlands, The Forest gets terrifying.
If you’re playing alone, it can be very easy to lose everything you’ve worked at, and, depending on how much the cannibals destroy, rebuilding can be a frustrating chore. But that need to push forward makes it possible to overlook the mild repetition.
Check out this guide with everything you need to know to get you started in The Forest.
This War of Mine: The Little Ones
- Developer: 11 Bit Studios
- Release Date: January 29, 2016
- Metacritic User Score: 7.5
Very often in video games, we’re on the battlefield, pushing forward with zeal until our enemies retreat. It’s rare that, in a wartime setting, we’re on the sidelines, simply trying to survive amongst the constant barrage of incoming fire and enemy patrols. 11 Bit Studios saw an opportunity to turn war gaming on its head and produced This War of Mine, a survival game set during a fictional war in the city of Pogoren, Graznavia. The Little Ones is the expansion that brought the game to PS4.
Surviving in This War of Mine will require you to set out into the world, ally with other survivors or rob them blind, and return home with your score. During the day, when the snipers can see all, is when you’ll get into crafting and cooking to keep your people safe, healthy, and well-fed. It’s a different take on the core structure of the survival genre, and it works well to keep players always thinking about the next move. With limited supplies, you must carefully choose what to provide your people.
At night, you’ll send a lone wolf into the chaos, hoping every step of the way that you didn’t sacrifice the wrong survivor. Each civilian in your budding community features different attributes and will serve a distinct purpose on scavenging missions. It’s a nice change of pace from the solitary protagonist, especially since it gives another way for things to go horribly wrong.
This War of Mine is a little on the slower side, and it’s not at its best when not played with a mouse. However, The Little Ones is just as deep and engaging as the original release.
- Developer: Unknown Worlds
- Release Date: December 4, 2018
- Metacritic User Score: 7.6
For many players, the chance to explore an extraterrestrial ocean is one to jump on. After playing through Subnautica, I vehemently beg to differ. Surviving the crash on oceanic planet 4546B was just the start of Ryley Robinson’s misadventure. Little did they know, the Great Whites of the deep blue are puppies compared to what’s swimming about the rest of the universe.
Subnautica is a nice change of pace from other survival games, as most of it takes place underwater. You’ll explore and gather resources as expected, but you’re also racing against a depleting oxygen meter and the monstrosities that call 4546B home. And there are plenty to make Robinson’s survival quite difficult.
Though 4546B is alien in every way, Subnautica does a good job of ensuring players know what each resource is for. You won’t be finding strawberries to pick and piles of sticks to gather, but rather hosts of extraterrestrial plant life and metals used to improve Robinson’s equipment and prolong their life. Because the bulk of your time is spent in the water, Unknown Worlds Entertainment struggled a bit to build an immersive world that rewards progression.
In fact, unlike other survival games, there isn’t much of a reward for going through the motions. It’s a beautiful game, and the denizens of the water planet are equal parts fascinating and terrifying, but there’s no big payoff like in The Forest.
Check out this guide with everything you need to know to get you started in Subnautica.
6. Ark: Survival Evolved
- Developer: Studio Wildcard
- Release Date: August 29, 2017
- Metacritic User Score: 5.2
Ark: Survival Evolved has every element of a fun prehistoric experience. There’s the running and the screaming, the glimmer of hope when you craft tawdry tools, and then finally, the rise to the top of the food chain. As an unnamed survivor, you awaken on a mysterious island with little more than your underwear and a strange device in your arm. It doesn’t take long to realize you’re in grave danger as some bipedal beast speeds by and takes a chunk of your life, leaving you scared for what other trials may await.
Ark is a pretty ruthless survival experience. It takes very little exploration before the dangers of the titular location present themselves – and their rows of teeth – to you. You’ll have to work quickly to gather resources, build weapons, and construct shelter. Unfortunately, a lot is working against you as your customizable character can succumb to hunger, thirst, and whatever hazards await.
On the Ark, the biggest threat isn’t actually the dinosaurs. If you’re on a PvP server, it’s the people. The time I spent attempting PvP alone was brief and not a ton of fun until I brought in a helping hand. Players are just as relentless as carnivores, regardless of whether you’ve just woken up on the beach.
I found the best way to enjoy Ark is on the PvE server, where you only have to worry about the prehistoric beasts. This way, you can see your progression and amass an army of tamed dinosaurs. Granted, showing off your collection is a bit more fun in PvP, but there’s still a sense of accomplishment on friendlier servers.
Check out this guide with everything you need to know to get you started in Ark: Survival Evolved.
- Developer: Engine Software
- Release Date: November 11, 2014
- Metacritic User Score: 7.8
Terraria isn’t your typical survival game. You won’t be journeying through a massive 3D world, battling back highly detailed fiends with makeshift weapons. Instead, all of what fits into the visually gripping worlds of Ark and Subnautica is condensed into a 2D pixelated plane. In some ways, this works better for the genre as more fits in the world. And Re-Logic really pulled no punches when it came to giving players ample space to explore.
In Terraria, you’ll traverse the perilous surface world and dig deep into its bowels filled with things waiting to kill you. Your only chance for survival lies in your ability to gather resources and build equipment suitable for such a grand adventure. Some may argue that Terraria is less a survival game and more a marriage of Metroidvania and 2D adventure.
However, the more you dig into each randomly generated map, the more you realize just how important advanced gear and a bigger base are to your prolonged survival.
Terraria is visually fun, but the screen can get cluttered with way too much, making it difficult to make heads or tails of what’s happening. Even some menus and inventory screens are so large that they’re imposing. But, that’s also one of the genre’s perils and a good indication of just how much content there is to explore.
- Developer: Creepy Jar
- Release Date: June 9, 2021
- Metacritic User Score: 7.7
Have you ever fantasized about exploring uncharted Amazonian jungles, using nothing but your survival skills and wit to get you through? Probably not, right? Because if there’s one thing we know about the Amazon, it is there are hundreds of ways you can die. That’s pretty much the framework for Creepy Jar’s Green Hell.
Green Hell goes above and beyond the typical tropes of survival games. It takes the elementary mechanics of health, hunger, and thirst and compounds them by making you really work to keep them at suitable levels. Healing wounds takes more than a full stomach and some berries. You’ll need to wrap it with makeshift bandages before it gets infected or use maggots to eat away at your rotting flesh if infection sets in. It’s gruesome, but it’s fitting considering the dangers awaiting you in the Amazon.
Your survival in Green Hell depends on resource gathering, crafting shelter, and developing new weapons and tools. However, you also need to watch your mental health, as the jungle’s extreme conditions can tear you down and impede your progress.
Some design choices hinder the experience and make the game harder than it needs to be. For instance, saves are only possible at basecamp, and sometimes supplies needed to properly heal are far too scarce. Otherwise, Creepy Jar did a fantastic job creating what I believe to be an accurate depiction of surviving in the Amazon.
- Developer: 11 Bit Studios
- Release Date: October 11, 2019
- Metacritic User Score: 8.1
If you want a bigger challenge than just keeping yourself alive, how about an entire civilization of people? In Frostpunk, you control the last bastion in the wake of a cataclysmic volcanic winter. With what’s left of civilization counting on you, can you guide them to safety and help rebuild society?
It’s no easy feat, thanks to the multitude of things to watch out for. While you may be used to building solo shelters for yourself on remote islands, this survival game wants you to keep an eye on every building your civilization needs to thrive. Perfect your resource management, and you may keep things running at those most pivotal times. But Frostpunk isn’t just about the survival of your people, but also the happiness.
While you’re busy improving your structures for better resource gathering, your people may be calling for changes to the laws you’ve set. It’s difficult to divide your attention, but nobody said ruling a post-apocalyptic civilization would be easy.
Frostpunk does a lot of neat things to keep itself grounded in the survival genre, including exploring for survivors and making difficult decisions that could be the difference between life and death. For players looking for a traditional survival experience, Frostpunk may be too much of a city-building game. However, 11 Bit Studios blended the two genres together well for a game that’s well-rounded and quite unique.
- Developer: Acid Wizard Studio
- Release Date: May 14, 2019
- Metacritic User Score: 7.8
Many survival games attempt to scare players, with few effectively capturing the tone and aesthetics of a true survival horror game. Darkwood puts all of them to shame with an experience that’s relentlessly nerve-racking and full of frights.
As the nameless “Stranger,” players enter a 1980s Soviet Bloc as a thick forest expands and engulfs much of the region. As the forest grows, so, too, does the effect of a plague that mutates survivors into monsters. With no exit, the Stranger must make unlikely alliances and scavenge supplies to survive nightfall.
Darkwood is definitely more of a survival horror title, but it sneaks in elements of a survival game as part of the core mechanics. There are no hunger or thirst meters to tend to, a plus for those tired of having to break stride to hunt for water, but the Stranger can use their resources and supplies to create helpful concoctions and weapons or barricade doors and windows to help stave off any nighttime visitors.
The day/night cycle forces players to make the difficult choice of rushing back to a familiar shelter or shacking up in a ransacked abode. Either way, the devils of the night will come.
Darkwood could have punched up the survival aspects more and included more ways to reinforce shelter. Still, there is a decent balance that will keep you returning. Even if your return just leads to the Stranger’s death or a series of stressful scares.
Question: How Much is PS Plus?
Answer: Three PS Plus membership levels are available, each with its own perks. The Essential plan is $9.99 / month, $24.99 / three months, or $59.99 / year and includes free monthly games, access to online multiplayer, and exclusive discounts.
The mid-level Extra plan is $14.99 / month, $39.99 / three months, or $99.99 / year. This level includes all Essential benefits plus a full catalog of games available to play.
The highest tier is $17.99 / month, $49.99 / three months, or $119.99 / year and includes everything from the Essential and Extra plans. Premium members also enjoy a catalog of classic PlayStation games, timed trials of specific games, and cloud streaming.
Only the Essential plan is needed to play Ark online.
Question: What Survival Games Are Coming to PS4?
Answer: It seems that most survival games release exclusively on the PC, leaving the PS4 with no survival games releasing in the near future. I’d speculate that Sons of Forest, the long-awaited sequel to The Forest, will eventually come to consoles as that was the progression of the original.
However, that could also just be for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.
There are plenty of survival horror games launching in 2022 and 2023, including The Calisto Protocol (12/02/2022), Resident Evil 4 Remake (03/24/3023), and the Dead Space Remake (01/27/2023).
Question: What’s the Most Realistic Survival Game PS4?
Answer: Green Hell is often touted as the most realistic survival game, largely based on the true-to-life survival techniques featured in the game. Players can start fires, build animal traps, build a camp, source food through hunting and farming, and treat ailments. Wounds are far more realistic than other survival games, with infections, leaches, rashes, and bites posing significant threats. Creepy Jar put a lot of thought into how best to torture players and emerged with a relatively realistic survival experience.
Go Forth, and Survive
I’m confident that, in this list of the best PS4 survival games, there’s something that will grip you and keep you entertained for hours on end. Whether you enjoy realms of science fiction or a more grounded experience, the survival genre has no shortage of options.
Remember to take it slow, learn the game’s mechanics, and have patience. Because these games aren’t designed to make living easy for you.