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There are so many games on the market today with thousands and thousands of avid fans and dedicated players that sometimes it is hard to find a suitable game for you.
That is why it’s so hard to move on from a game you truly enjoy and have sunk many hours into, even if it has begun to feel outdated or overplayed.
These were my thoughts when I started approaching my 100th hour in DayZ. I still enjoyed the game but felt a little tired of the little bugs and eccentricities the title forces you to accept.
For this reason, I began searching through various lists and recommendations for games like DayZ’. Of course, I had already heard of some of the titles recommended and played avidly; others were new to me and thus piqued my interest. After many hours of copious ‘hard work,’ I can confidently say that I have a list of games similar enough to DayZ that they can scratch whatever itch DayZ has helped you with in the past.
With this being said, why don’t we jump into this list and get you guys playing some new and exciting games? Let’s go!
To cut this list down into something manageable and help me rule out some ill-fitting games, I needed to develop a series of rules that the games selected must fulfill. So, with that being said, here are the rules which determined the games chosen for this list:
- All games on this list must have at least one core aspect shared with DayZ.
- Each title must have a combat system embedded into its core.
- There must be some survival element in the games selected. It does not matter whether this is survival against the elements or other players; it does not matter.
- Games must be already in the hands of gamers worldwide, not just in some form of closed beta release.
- Developer: Facepunch Studios
- Metacritic User Score: 6.4
- Release Date: December 2013
Rust is probably the most similar game on this list compared to DayZ. Not only does the general gameplay revolve around scavenging and building up supplies, but there is also an undercurrent of PvP that keeps everyone on their toes and ensures a competitive element on almost every server.
This title will see the player placed in a random location with nothing but their wits and possibly a few friends to help them survive their first couple of hours.
During this time, the player must scavenge and hope to find enough high-tier loot to defend themselves from the myriad animals and players running around the map.
Eventually, the more experienced player will expect to build a base capable of shrugging off raid attempts from similarly experienced players as an ongoing battle for server dominance.
- Rust can bring pure joy and overwhelming anger during a normal playthrough, and this is due to the amount of care each player adopts for their character and loot.
- The survival system in Rust is somewhat complex and similar in this regard to DayZ.
- This title has a more balanced PvP than DayZ, with less likelihood of getting one-shotted out of nowhere.
- Base building and raiding were built into the core of Rust and therefore worked a lot better than the modded edition bolted onto current DayZ iterations.
- Rust’s art style is much more cartoonish than that of DayZ. Not only does this style subtract a lot of tension from any situation, but it is also less realistic.
- Rust can become very dull if one sticks to the same server as the same clans tend to dominate over and over again regardless of server wipes.
Escape From Tarkov
- Developer: Battlestate Games
- Metacritic User Score: TBD
- Release Date: July 2017
Dubbed by many as the spiritual successor of the entire Battle Royale genre, Escape From Tarkov has taken the gaming community by storm since its closed beta in 2017.
The title sees the player load into a particular server with gear collected from previous runs in order to find some high-tier/valuable loot and hopefully reach the extraction zone with said loot.
During these runs, the player will not only come up against other players, desperate to kill them and steal their hard-earned loot, but they will also face many AI soldiers who have a penchant for shooting on site.
The loot system deployed in Tarkov revolves around a black market wherein everything looted on a particular run or gathered over time can be sold or traded to gather better and better equipment for the next run.
Also, should the player be killed with this fantastic equipment on their person, it is lost forever, resulting in tense exchanges every time as players fight for survival and their hard-earned valuables.
- For players who love micromanagement and inventory control, this is the game for you.
- Tarkov is incredibly competitive and, therefore, enjoyable for the right player.
- Due to the difficulty of the game, getting loot out of the play zone is tense and incredibly rewarding.
- Tarkov has been in the Beta phase for over five years and is subject to multiple glitches.
- There is no way to communicate in-game with other players like in DayZ, and this means that meetings often end in combat rather than peace.
- Developer: Funcom
- Metacritic User Score: 6.6
- Release Date: January 2017
Much like some of the other games on this list, Conan exiles is another take on the survival genre with a little twist added on top to make everything all the more interesting. In this case, the little twist is playing as a barbarian warrior in the Hyborian era instead of the usual trope of inserting zombies.
Apart from this difference, Conan Exiles has pretty much the same gameplay experience as Rust and/or Dayz, filled with the same survival game tropes as the rest and manifesting most of its enjoyment from player-created exchanges via the multiplayer mode.
- This title supports and encouraged multiplayer experiences. Therefore, the game is truly at its best when a group of friends jump on together and take on the world.
- The open world found in Conan Exiles is not only vast and luxurious at times, but it is also deeply interesting and fun to explore.
- The core gameplay mechanics have clearly been well thought out and stress tested with most of the common player actions feeling smooth and satisfying.
- As with most games on this list, Conan Exiles suffers from numerous bugs and glitches which really do ruin a lot of the possible fun this game has to offer.
- The pacing of the game is also a little off as even the hardest PVE bosses can be killed by the experienced player rather early in any given playthrough.
- The PvP system still needs a great deal of work before it can truly compete with titles such as DayZ and Rust in this aspect.
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
- Developer: Brendan Greene
- Metacritic User Score: 4.7
- Release Date: December 2017
The final entry in this list is probably the most famous, well-known, and profitable. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG sees the player parachute into one of several maps before engaging in a Battle Royale versus up to 100 other like-minded individuals in order to see who is the ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner!’ This can be done solo or as part of a team.
The general rhythm of each match is the same. Firstly, you land at your chosen location and loot around that area for some weapons and armor.
Then, so as to not be killed by an encroaching circle of blue gas, players are forced into a smaller and smaller combat circle wherein only one person or party may remain.
This results in the overall gameplay experience of PUBG being quite similar from game to game. However, this does not mean that it lacks some standout moments.
- As every Battle Royale match is over in roughly 20 minutes, the player well and truly gets their competitive PvP itch scratched.
- PUBG is incredibly stable, with glitches being infrequent and less likely to interrupt combat than other similar games found on this list.
- PUBG is too well balanced in some regards, with each weapon being able to beat another, resulting in the initial looting phase of the title becoming mostly pointless.
- The game becomes rather repetitive after a couple of games in a row, resulting in boring but similar matches happening over and over again.
- The UI is clunky and poorly designed. This means that simple things such as looting become a real chore, robbing enjoyment from the overall experience.
- Developer: Bend Studio
- Metacritic User Score: 8.4
- Release Date: April 2019
After the game’s initial press tour, kicking off at E3 2017, Days Gone got stuck in a development cycle like no other, only releasing almost a whole year late in April of 2019.
The final game left a little to be desired for some fans but mostly lived up to all promises made at the biggest games conference in the world two years prior. The finished product places the player in the shoes of a lonely drifter named Deacon St. John, a man hellbent on helping out the last remaining human settlements situated in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Throughout this campaign, Deacon will not only fight off countless hordes of the undead and human combatants but also learn that his wife is still alive but missing, leading both Deacon and his friends down a path culminating in all-out war.
- The graphics and level design of this title truly stand out as they perfectly represent the late-stage PS4 game development ability.
- The combat system is quite hard to get used to, but once you do, it becomes addictive and satisfying, allowing the player to annihilate hundreds of zombies in a matter of minutes after some careful planning.
- Some of the side characters and quests are very memorable and heartwarming, with some brilliant dialogue writing.
- The voice acting is often weirdly pitched; Deacon will usually be found shouting at someone with incredible anger for no real reason, leaving the player feeling awkward and pulled out of their immersion.
- The game struggles greatly with its AI. Not only is it easily fooled and manipulated, but it also results in NPCs acting strangely when outside of cutscenes.
- This game has no online mode, meaning you cannot play with your friends.
The Long Dark
- Developer: Hinterland Studio
- Metacritic User Score: 6.7
- Release Date: September 2014
After a celestial event causes all of humanities electrical ingenuity to shut down, Will Mackenzie, a bush pilot flying over the frozen lands of Northern Canada, crashes out of the air, landing in a world completely bereft of creature comforts and protection against the elements.
With this new reality in mind, you must play as Will Mackenzie and survive against anything and everything the new world has to throw at you. First and foremost, however, you have to get out of the cold.
As with many games on this list, the core similarity between this title and DayZ is the focus on survival and the mechanics embedded in the two that keep gamers on their toes at all times.
What I like the most about The Long Dark and DayZ is that they both remember the ultimate reason we all come home after a long day and throw on a game – to relax and enjoy ourselves. In this way, The Long Dark ensures a perfect balance of realism and playability.
- The atmosphere of The Long Dark is second to none, ensuring that the player is always aware of the difficult situation they face and the fact that everything is working against them.
- Whilst the art style does take away from the realism of this survival experience, it does lend to the tone and the overall feel of the game, achieving something I would argue is more important than realism.
- At times, this title runs the risk of turning into something of a walking simulator wherein the player must trudge from A to B for no real perceptible reason.
- The mystery of the central campaign only works when the player is unaware of the map around them, once this first mystery is uncovered, the soul of the game is lost entirely.
- Developer: Pipliz
- Metacritic User Score: N/A
- Release Date: June 2017
Colony Survival is a voxel game; therefore, it can commonly be mistaken for Minecraft due to its design focusing solely on constantly repurposing 3D pixels or cubes.
The core of this game is relatively simple. Together with your colony members (controlled by the game’s AI), you must build a colony capable of feeding and maintaining itself and defending itself from waves upon waves of the undead when night falls.
The real beauty of this game comes via its multiplayer mode, allowing friends to set up bases and fight the undead together.
- Another similarity this game has with Minecraft is the sandbox building system which allows players to build practically anything their imagination and mastery of game mechanics will allow.
- Playing online with friends can mean that every new game can feel new and exciting.
- The core gameplay is so simple that anyone can jump in; however, it can become complex enough at the higher end of play time that colonies can become worlds in their own right.
- As the game was designed and developed by a two-person team, issues and glitches are standard and incredibly slow to be fixed.
- The game’s simple nature results in some gamers becoming bored with the title rather quickly after they have worked out some cheesy way of defending against the zombies.
- This game is essentially tower defense melded with Minecraft; therefore, it really does not offer anything new.
If you really love base building and surviving against hordes of the undead, then this may be an excellent alternative for you when DayZ has boiled your blood. However, if you really enjoy the realism of DayZ, I cannot think of a worse game to recommend.
- Developer: Crytek
- Metacritic User Score: 6.9
- Release Date: February 2020
Unlike most of the other games on this list and DayZ in particular, the player does not run away or look to defend themselves against the monsters that roam around outside their compound in Hunt: Showdown.
Instead, the player and a couple of optional friends are tasked with leaving the safety of their home to hunt and collect bounties on several terrifying monsters the game’s developers could come up with.
In order to get these bounties and make it out alive, the player(s) often need to come up with detailed plans and strategies in order to ensure their victory. In this sense, the game begins to feel a lot like DayZ in terms of strategic planning and map awareness.
- This game truly lives up to the genre title of horror. Not only is the entire atmosphere of the game incredibly tense, but the monsters one has to fight are beautifully horrid in the best possible way.
- The playstyle a normal gamer has to adopt during a normal run-through must change along with the enemies; therefore, this keeps everything fresh and new as you progress through the levels.
- For those who love the long, drawn-out process of DayZ, this game is perfect as any hits of dopamine garnered by achieving your goal only come after long stretches of careful work.
- The title is not incredibly well optimized on current/last generation consoles such as the PS4, and this means that a large section of your time playing this game will be spent on loading screens. The title is also subject to random drops in framerate and lag spikes.
- The multiplayer mode of the game somewhat takes away from the core of the game. This quicker nature of multiplayer games takes away some of the tension and possible joy of long-term, single-player runs of this title.
- Developer: Bankroll Studios
- Metacritic User Score: N/A
- Release Date: December 2015
For those of you who don’t know, Hurtworld was released in closed beta back in 2015 and is mostly compared to titles such as Rust. This is due to its overall art style and core game mechanics.
Much like in Rust and DayZ, the majority of the action in Hurtworld comes via PvP exchanges across its varied and vast open world, complete with craftable bases and all the other Rust-like goof stuff.
The game is also known for its intense and varied collection of creatures and deep crafting system. All of this, combined with a detailed and layered survival system, creates a game that many see as much more complex than Rust and other similar titles.
- Due to the art style adopted by the designers, Hurtworld is less stressful on your graphics card than games such as DayZ.
- The combat exchanges are varied and usually come down to whoever has the best kit or hand-eye coordination, not some random one-shot in a field like some games (DayZ).
- As the name suggests, Hurtworld is not for the faint of heart. It was intentionally set up to be difficult and punishing; therefore, it can feel unfair sometimes.
- The combat is difficult but enjoyable; however, this is sometimes interrupted by massive lag spikes as the servers seemingly cannot cope past a certain point.
- One of the best quotes I read about this game describes their gameplay experience as “8 hours of chores and hypothermia” this is the best description of the core gameplay of Hurtworld that I can find on the internet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can you Play DayZ on PS5?
Answer: Whilst there is no official release of DayZ for the PS5, players can still enjoy the game on the console due to the backward compatibility function of the system.
Question: Is DayZ the Best Survival Game?
Answer: Whilst many adoring fans will say that it is the best survival game, DayZ is now more focused on the PvP element of the game rather than survival. Games such as Project Zomboid focus more intently on the survival element of the player experience than DayZ. However, many will say that DayZ was the first game of its kind and deserves some credit.
Question: Is There a Game like DayZ but Without Zombies?
Answer: The most similar game to DayZ without zombies has to be Rust, as it includes the PvP and survival elements of DayZ along with the newly modded base building and raiding mechanics of current DayZ.
So there you have it, a complete and comprehensive list of some of the best games similar to DayZ on the market today. Whilst none of these games do the same job as DayZ, some come very close, and others help to fill the hole that some players will feel during any sabbatical from the zombie-infested survival game.
I think DayZ is one of those games that other titles cannot hope to replicate. The genesis of the title out of Arma 3 and the passionate modding community that it still holds will always keep the title standing apart from others within the same genre.
However, this does not mean that you cannot get the same satisfaction from other unique and beautifully designed titles, such as those in this list. So, with all that being said, I really do hope you enjoyed this list and it has encouraged you to go out maybe and try something different for a change. Either way, good luck!