Best Survival Building Games

Best Survival Building Games You Can Play in 2022

It wasn’t long ago, that the survival game genre consisted of nothing more than a few Oregon Trail wannabes trying to find out what gamers would play. Today, there are hundreds of survival games, and with so many reviews and platforms to sift through, it can be difficult to decide which ones are worth downloading.

That’s why I’ve decided to take a sub-genre and break the most popular games in it down. Since building is one of my favorite aspects of survival games, I’m going to allow that to be our primary focus this time.

Games like Don’t Starve offer a lot to survival mechanics, and are trending for a reason, but the building aspect of the franchise isn’t the star in those games. Let’s talk about games in which building can be the star.

Survival Building Game Origins

The concept of survival games has been around longer than you may have realized. While not a video game, the first survival game, Where’s My Pouch, was reportedly created in 1878.

That game was released by Pickering’s Gaming Emporium. The game was a flop, to say the least, nevertheless, just over twenty years later, King Edward VII decided that the genre should live on. He started a company called His Majesty’s Entertaining Pursuits. His first game followed the protagonist on a journey through the Rocky Mountains.

The protagonist, the player, was accompanied by five companions as they searched for gold. This may have worked out, even in the early 1900s, but Kind Edward VII added an antagonist that people in the era couldn’t wrap their heads around.

You see, the same year that the game was invented, a famed cannibal, Alferd Packer, was released from prison. The king saw this as an opportunity. Needless to say, the world wasn’t ready for this sort of dark realism.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that survival games were an accepted form of entertainment. But at the time, technology didn’t exist to turn these parlor games into video games. In the 1970s, the first successful survival video games hit the market.

The Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail was a huge success that still gives people dysentery PTSD. Over the next two decades, games like UnReal World and SOS saw relative success.

However, with Donkey Kong, Mario, and Zelda taking over the gaming market, it was hard for survival games to get the recognition they deserved. The first real survival “building” game didn’t hit until 2003. Stranded set the stage for many survival games, and now introduced the concept of building your own structures.

Now, we all know what happened next. Minecraft was first released on November 18, 2011, making history and soon setting a dozen world records. The rest is also history as survival games became one of the top genres.

That’s where we are today, overwhelmed by the sheer number of survival building games out there. So, it’s time to pick my top five and break down my other top survival games in detail.

My Top Five Picks For Survival Building Games – At A Glance

Hazel Sky

Title Initial Release Date Platform Price ESRB
Ark: Survival Evolved June 2, 2015
  • Linux
  • Microsoft Windows
  • macOS
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Stadia
$29.99 T
Rust December 11, 2013
  • macOS
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Xbox One
  • PlayStation 4
$39.99 M
No Man’s Sky August 7, 2016
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PlayStation 5
  • Xbox Series X and Series S
  • Microsoft Windows
$59.99 T
Valheim February 2, 2021 (early access)
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Linux
$19.99 No Offical Rating (most likely T when rated)
Minecraft November 18, 2011
  • Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Android, iOS, iPadOS, 
  • Xbox 360,
  • Raspberry Pi,
  • Windows Phone,
  • PlayStation 3,
  • Fire OS,
  • PlayStation 4,
  • Xbox One,
  • PlayStation Vita,
  • Wii U,
  • Apple TV,
  • tvOS,
  • Nintendo Switch,
  • New Nintendo 3DS, 
$29.99 E

Survival Building Game Factors

When picking a survival building game to play next, there are a few things to consider. While each person has their own list of factors, here is my list that you should feel free to copy.

Multiplayer

Do you prefer multiplayer or single-player games? Ideally, a survival game will have both. Because you may want to spend a day immersed in a story and other days defeating bosses or trying not to dehydrate with friends.

Always check the number of players that can play on a server. Some games only allow four while others will allow over a hundred. This is super important for me as my Discord gaming party almost always consists of at least ten players.

Here’s a list of some of the best Multiplayer Survival games.

PvP or PvE

Sons of the Forest game

This is similar to multiplayer vs single-player but with a key difference. Do you want to attack and be attacked or do you prefer to fight alongside other players? Again, ideally, there will be servers for each, but it’s always a good idea to make sure before spending money on a game that won’t allow you to play the way you want.

Mod Options

Back in the day, mods were severely frowned upon. But today, mods are part of gaming, especially if you like building your own worlds. With Steam’s Workshop, you can download mods safely and securely, without any coding knowledge. If a game doesn’t have what you are looking for, there may be mods to make up the difference.

Check to see when the last time the mod you are looking at was updated, as some mods are often left to struggle, and are no longer compatible with the current version of the game.

Immersion

Immersion is crucial in a survival game, especially if you are playing with VR. The immersion aspect includes drinking, eating, cold/heat sensitivity, and more. Anything that makes the game feel less like you’re controlling a character and more like you “are” the character.

The level of immersion preferred is different for each person. I prefer the need for these menial survival aspects but I don’t want it to be what I spend the majority of my time doing. After all, we’re talking about building here.

Graphics/Aesthetic

Graphics have always been important. Some people are completely satisfied with Terraria while others aren’t happy unless their gaming world has Epic settings and their gameplay look just as good as the cutscenes. When you want to focus on building in a survival game, then aesthetics may be your priority.

Creatures

A lot of survival building games have creatures roaming around the world. Sometimes those creatures are dinosaurs while other times, they are zombies. Then there are the occasions where creatures play a minimal part in the game. If fighting monsters or taming companions is important to you, then take it into consideration before downloading your prospect.

Sandbox

Sandbox and open-world games often overlap with the survival building game genre. However, it’s good to note that not all survival games are sandbox, and not all building games are open-world games.

If you want creative freedom, ensure you are buying a sandbox game. If you want to run across the planet freely without being forced to walk down a dirt path to the next NPC interaction, then ensure you have an open-world game.

Best Survival Building Games Breakdown

Now it’s time for the moment of truth. I’m going to break down the top survival games, along with a few personal favorites. Hopefully, you end today with a new game in your library and find out, without a doubt in your mind, that you made the right choice.

Ark: Survival Evolved

Ark Survival Evolved

  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer – over 100, with exceptions, the size of the dedicated server you run affects the number of players allowed. Non-dedicated servers allow four people to play at a time.
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – plentiful
  • PvE or PvP – server-based
  • Immersion – highly immersive
  • Map Versatility – official and non-official maps added regularly, often introducing new biomes

Ark: Survival Evolved is a 2017 survival game developed by Studio Wildcard. It is available on most platforms and offers a lot of customization options. The server owner has an extensive amount of power and anyone can host.

So you can set up a custom, password-locked, PvE server for you and your friends with dozens of mods. Or, you can host a public PvP server that can hold over 100 players.

The base game is affordable, with most of the main maps free with the game. The exception is Genesis, which you can purchase with a Season Pass, giving you access to any future Genesis expansions.

One of the main draws of Ark: Survival Evolved is creature selection. There are over 175 creatures in Ark, and most of them are tameable. But of course, that’s a discussion for another day, because today, we need to mention the building in Ark.

In vanilla Ark, you can build houses of Thatch, Wood, Stone, Glass, Metal, and Tek. You can build gardens to produce crops, workshops for all of your crafting needs, and create huge breeding barns.

If you are willing to go modded, the options are nearly limitless. Create medieval villages or go modern. Without mods, Ark has a great building setup that is easy to use. But if you add a few mods, the building in the game will be enough to keep you busy for months.

Continue reading related ARK guides:

Atlas

Atlas game

  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer – yes, over 40,000 per server
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – moderate
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – highly-immersive, similar to Ark
  • Map Versatility – unique grid with partial control

Atlas is technically still in early access and out of all of the games, it’s seen the biggest improvement. Atlas is made by the same developers that worked on Ark: Survival Evolved. As the name suggests, Atlas is a pirate game, in which you are a pirate traveling across the seas in search of treasure and the Fountain of Youth.

A new mechanic in Atlas is a need for vitamins. There are four vitamins that you need to keep balanced, all with a color correlation. You can get too much of one vitamin or not enough of another, and it will slowly deplete your health until you balance it out.

In Atlas, you start out in a grid on the map. Each grid loads in as you travel across the waters and can contain ocean, or one of the 700 preset islands available.

If you travel the entire world, it is possible to expand the grid. However, each grid can only hold a set amount of pirates. On a private server, this will not be exceeded, but public servers may have up to 40,000, so this can get tricky.

As far as crafting and building goes, Atlas has a unique way to build. You can build simple land structures for land bases, but in order to do that, you need to claim the area with a flag.

Once you do, rival gangs will have to fight you to take it from you. However, if you want something of your own that may be easier to hide away in, consider building one of the ships available (for more ships, download mods via the workshop).

You can customize your ship with different sails, add furniture, and hire NPC crews to help you man the sails and do repairs when anchored. Because of its unique theme, Atlas is a fun game to play as a secondary game. Who wouldn’t love a pirate simulator? I know I enjoy it.

Craftopia

Craftopia game

  • Price – $24.99
  • Multiplayer – eight players per server
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability
  • PvE or PvP – PvE
  • Immersion – moderate, requires you to eat and such but doesn’t feel as dire as the short-timers in other games
  • Map Versatility – currently limited, with room for growth

Another early access game that is showing promise is Craftopia. If you want that early 2000s feel-good vibe then Craftopia may scratch that itch. Modern survival games tend to be too intense for many players, and that is okay.

The developers of Craftopia have decided to create an ideal game complete with all of their favorite video game mechanics. Craftopia is an open-world survival game that you can play with small groups of friends. In the game, you can gather materials, build bases, create gardens, raid dungeons, and try not to die.

While this sounds like a typical survival building game, the unique Breath of the Wild aesthetic, fantasy RPG addition, and “factory” mechanic make it unlike any other. There are automated systems in place that allow you to build factories with conveyor belts.

Rust

Rust game

  • Price – $39.99
  • Multiplayer – around 50 per server
  • Character Creation – randomized character only
  • Tameable Companions – there are rumors that the ability to tame animals in the works
  • Mod Availability – few
  • PvE or PvP – primarily PvP with occasional PvE servers
  • Immersion – highly-immersive
  • Map Versatility – plenty of custom maps with a lack in official map versatility

Rust is near-opposite to Craftopia as far as survival building games go. The world is apocalyptic and grim, with strong reliability on PvP. The developers marketed the game, with a slogan, “everything wants you to die,” and that’s an accurate representation of Rust.

Before you begin playing Rust, you may want to accept the fact that you will die. You also should check your settings because you will wake up buck naked as a randomly-generated character. If you want to go full-nude then leave the settings. But if you want a filter, change it before you begin.

While the building is fun in Rust, especially when you gather enough materials without dying to finally build that dream cabin.

However, the downside is that it won’t stay for long as the PvP world of Rust is brutal. If get hyped over the thrill of survival games and enjoy seeking out other players like a Horde-devotee, then you just might fall in love with Rust.

Valheim

Valheim

  • Price – $19.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 10
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – unofficially
  • PvE or PvP – both, with PvE as the primary function
  • Immersion – moderate
  • Map Versatility – very random, moderate biome versatility

Unless you haven’t touched a video game since GTA’s first lawsuit, then you’ve at least heard of Valheim. The game became available for download as an early access game, in February of 2021. The reviews for the game were overwhelmingly positive, causing Valheim’s popularity to soar even higher.

Like any game, it has its first year of problems, however, considering how new it is and the fact that it hasn’t been fully released, it is doing exceptionally well.

One thing that makes Valheim so good is that it is fun to watch, making it a hit with streamers. This makes a full circle back to viewers/gamers.

Developers are working on Valheim to this day and are always on top of current issues that players have with the game. Though it has an incredible Viking theme and includes everything that a standard survival building game has, there is one more thing that makes it unique.

Valheim has a procedurally generated world. This means that you can’t find the exact map that you play online. The world is generated as it is discovered. The game had such a killer launch that it’s hard to imagine it not being worth the $20. If you don’t play it now, you can always save it for a rainy day.

7 Days to Die

7 Days to Die

  • Price – $24.99
  • Multiplayer – up to four
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – not without mods
  • Mod Availability – great unofficially supported mods
  • PvE or PvP – PvE heavy, with both available
  • Immersion – highly-immersive
  • Map Versatility – plenty of custom maps available

Though 7 Days to Die isn’t quite as popular as some of my other picks, it does have its own appeal. The game has been around for almost ten years, but it hasn’t received an update since 2017.

But if you are stuck inside with nothing new to play, it’s a fun game to kill time with. As it is a story-based game, on average, it takes just under 60 hours to beat the main story and over 500 hours for completionists.

The Forest

The Forest game

  • Price – $19.99
  • Multiplayer – eight without mods
  • Character Creation – no
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – fair
  • PvE or PvP – PvE
  • Immersion – extremely
  • Map Versatility – one primary map, low versatility currently

The Forest isn’t a new game, but with new VR systems improving the game’s survival mechanics, it still has a large fanbase. Not to mention, The Forest may be one of the scariest survival games on my list, especially with a good VR system to immerse you.

While building in The Forest is fun and can give you something to do if you tire of dying, the actual survival aspects of the game reign supreme.

As one of the few games that force a first-person camera view, you can expect a few jumpscares as you gather wood for your cabin. You never know when cannibal mutants will ambush you from behind.

Related: Complete The Forest Survival Guide

Conan Exiles

Conan Exiles game

  • Price – $39.99
  • Multiplayer – up to 70 players
  • Character Creation – yes
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – tons of official and non-officially supported mods
  • PvE or PvP – both
  • Immersion – highly
  • Map Versatility – moderate

Conan Exiles is exquisite all around. It looks fantastic and allows players to play the game any way they wish. If you prefer taming and breeding animals that will live on your small ranch, then you can do it.

If you prefer searching for strong PvP opponents to assert dominance over Exiled Lands, then there is a server for you too. The game is highly-versatile overall with one of the best building systems in any survival game.

However, it is also one of the most mature, as the blood and nudity available in the game can be intense. If you prefer to keep things PG-13, then there are settings for yourself, however, this may not control how you see other players.

Nevertheless, any cons the game may have, are balanced out by the amazing gameplay and immersion of Conan Exiles. Just try to stay under 100 hours of gameplay.

Raft

Raft game

  • Price – $19.99
  • Multiplayer – eight officially
  • Character Creation – no
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – fair
  • PvE or PvP – primarily PvE
  • Immersion – moderate
  • Map Versatility – prodecurely-generated loop

Raft is a favorite of those who enjoy relaxing PvE survival games. If the oxymoron, “relaxing survival game,” makes you cringe then Raft may not be for you. I for one, enjoy alternating between high-risk, high-reward games, and those that are there for peaceful simulation purposes.

Raft does include all of the simple survival aspects that other games do, such as the need to eat, drink, and fight off creatures. However, the theme, and the fact that it’s likely an E for Everyone game, makes it nearly as therapeutic as New Horizons.

You can also change the difficulty in Raft, so you can play it alone with ease or amp up the difficulty for a challenge with friends.

Subnautica

Subnautica game

  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer
  • Character Creation
  • Tameable Companions
  • Mod Availability
  • PvE or PvP
  • Immersion
  • Map Versatility

As someone with thalassophobia, I have to admit that Subnautica is not my cup of tea. However, I cannot deny the fact that it is a solid survival game.

In Subnautica, you spend your days exploring a new planet that your Life Pod has crash-landed onto. You can set up camp on the ocean floor with mechanics exclusive to the game. During the day, life is fairly peaceful, but when the sun goes down, the ocean is out to get you.

Although not labeled a horror game, even those without the same phobia as I have, often consider it to be part of the genre. If you like underwater adventures and end up building your base underwater in other games anyway, then Subnautica should suit your fancy.

Related Subnautica Guides:

Grounded

Grounded game

  • Price – $29.99
  • Multiplayer – up to four players
  • Character Creation – no
  • Tameable Companions – yes
  • Mod Availability – unofficial, yes
  • PvE or PvP – PvE
  • Immersion – mild
  • Map Versatility – a single map with future expansions possible

Grounded is not your typical survival building game. In this Arriety-esque world, you are shrunk down to the size of a small insect. You can play along with three other friends and build adorable bases to protect you from the dangers of the pint-sized world you live in.

Out of all of the games, this may be the best game for younger players. There isn’t a matchmaking mode, so you have to play with friends in a private lobby.

All around, Grounded is a fun game to keep you busy for a few hours a time. Personally, it’s isn’t ideal for long daily sessions, but it is worth adding to the library simply for the theme.

No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky game

  • 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

The first thing I have to say about No Man’s Sky is that it has the largest map of any survival game in existence. The map is endless and not in an overwhelmingly-repetitive way.

The game looks magnificent and allows players to choose their own destiny. You can claim entire planets for your own, each with unique biomes. You may spend literal hours flying to the planet you have your sight on, but the monotony and

How many planets are there in No Man’s Sky? Only about 18 quintillion. Yep, that’s eighteen with eighteen zeros. If the theme and the vastness aren’t enough to pull you in, then the base-building will.

You can build entire cities on your planet, tame alien animals, and bring them to it. You can also visit new regions to learn new languages, giving you the ability to barter with alien races. No Man’s Sky has no competition in its specific genre, and it likely won’t any time soon.

Minecraft

Minecraft game

  • Price – $30
  • 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

I tried to round off the list without including Minecraft but the OG had to make an appearance. Although I personally prefer a dash of realism without mods, Minecraft is a legend and it will forever deserve our respect and admiration.

Promising Upcoming Survival Building Games

  • Palworld – Pokémon-like survival game where you utilize the creatures to do your dirty work for you.
  • Sons of the ForestThe Forest sequel
  • ARK 2Ark: Survival Evolved sequel with Vin Diesel, enough said
  • Winter Survival Simulator – possible the most realistic survival game yet
  • Hazel Sky – calming survival game with seemingly amazing story-telling
  • SmallandGrounded, but not Grounded
  • Icarus – session-based PvE survival game
  • Wild West Dynasty – imagine a Red Dead survival game

FAQs

Question: Do All Survival Games Have Building?

Answer: No. Some survival games do not include a building mechanic and instead are all about living another day. Single-player survival games like Dying Light and Resident Evil are often left without a base-building mechanic.

Question: Are there Building Games that aren’t Survival?

Answer: Yes. The Sims is one of the most popular franchises that offer a building game without an official survival tag attached. Although you do need to eat, sleep, and use the restroom, it isn’t considered a survival game.

Question: What is the Hardest Survival Building Game?

Answer: There isn’t “a hardest” survival game all-around. The base goal of each game is staying alive. But there are a lot of things to take into account here. For example, PvE and PvP survival offers two different approaches that affect the difficulty of staying alive.

Last Words

All survival building games have their own pros and cons. But the pros for one person may not be pros for someone else. So look at the features of each game and find out if it contains what you’re looking for.

I hope that my list of winners was useful to you and that you find thousands of hours of joy within it, just as I have.

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