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Survival games can be challenging. You have animals or monsters after you, your stomach keeps growling, and usually, you have to stay warm or cool. Add other players to the mix intent on killing you, and you have both an exciting and challenging experience.
PVP modes are hit-and-miss for me, especially regarding survival games. Devs don’t always have the best safety parameters to prevent griefing and general toxicity. But there are some survival games where the PVP has become such a core part that it’s impossible to imagine the game without it.
Check out the best PVP-focused survival games, and remember to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
There are many survival games out there, with many falling into sub-genres of the wider category. To help narrow in on the best PVP-focused survival games, all games must meet the following criteria.
- Must contain survival mechanics or base-building to qualify.
- Must have a heavy focus on PVP instead of just “arenas.”
- Must have an active player base engaged in PVP content.
Let’s see which survival games make the cut.
- Developer: Gamepires
- Platforms: Xbox One, PC
If you watched any of the Hunger Games movies or read the books, then you already know the plot of SCUM. You play as a prisoner who ends up jettisoned onto an island. With a bunch of other brutal criminals looking to survive, you’ll find yourself killing each other over weapons, resources, and food.
PVP is at the very heart of SCUM. No one expects a bunch of criminals to work together, after all. You can, of course, since you can join up with friends. But no one will be giving up high-tier weapons easily in this game. If you want something, you will need to kill for it.
Other players aren’t the only danger to worry about in SCUM, either. The game has one of the best metabolic mechanics I’ve seen in survival games. It’s highly detailed to the point where even going to the bathroom becomes essential.
Just make sure you lock the door to the bathroom before using it if you plan to play SCUM.
- Developer: Bohemia Interactive
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
DayZ has you trading your prison uniform for some military gear. You’ll be up against other players in a zombie-filled world low on resources, ammo, and weapons. That creates quite a desperate environment for survival, with everyone vying for only a handful of drops.
And you’re going to have a lot of competition, too. The servers can hold up to 60 players at any time. The developers even consider it an MMO survival game. But it’s not just players you’ll have to kill to stay alive.
You’ll also have hordes of zombies and dangerous animals to contend with. I think wandering wolves have killed me just as much as other players. So, you’ll need to watch what neighborhoods you enter to avoid falling prey to one of the game’s many dangers.
If you like a bit more challenge in your PVP games, you’ll love stepping into the Corruption zones that Bohemia Interactive has recently introduced. Challenging zombies and other eager players must convene to score high-tier loot in a small area. The challenge makes the PVP in DayZ just a bit more exciting and random since you never know what will be in the Corruption zone.
DayZ isn’t the only survival game to mix zombies and PVP, so keep reading to see if others tickle your fancy.
8. 7 Days to Die
- Developer: The Fun Pimps
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux
While DayZ may be attracting much attention from zombie enthusiasts, 7 Days to Die is the mountain on which it built its platform. It’s an older game, which you can quickly tell by its outdated graphics, but if you want an ongoing fright fest that never ends, then 7 Days to Die still scratches that itch.
Its primary claim to fame is the massive horde of zombies that attack your base every seven days. Now, imagine that chaos and add some players to the mix. You have a challenging time on your hands. Players can attack, steal, and kill you at any point, making them just as much of a danger as the zombies.
However, 7 Days to Die differs from some of the other zombie games on the list because it increases the chances of PVP players creating temporary alliances. The zombies don’t discriminate when it comes to hoard night. Temporarily allying with your enemies to help fend them off makes sense.
Of course, ensure you’re ready for their sudden and inevitable betrayal when horde night ends. Keep your friends close when you give 7 Days to Die a try.
7. Project Zomboid
- Developer: The Indie Stone
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Project Zomboid is brutal. And not in the same way that 7 Days to Die or even DayZ is brutal. It uses a wound system that can wreck your life with even the slightest cut. The game is hyper-focused on realistic injuries and wounds to the point where if you’re not stocked and prepared, even a single hit to the arm can kill you slowly over time.
Usually, I don’t mind harsh, realistic, damage mechanics like that. But in a PVP game, it can become a living hell. All another player needs to do is glance you with a bat littered with nails, then follow you around until you bleed to death to steal your items. It makes leaving your home extremely dangerous. Because of the game’s use of boredom and mood mechanics, however, you won’t be able to stay in the house for long. You’ll need new material to consume to keep your character entertained.
If you’re playing solo on a PVP server, you likely want to become an introvert. You won’t want to leave your house because of how dangerous it is outside. So, try convincing your friends to join you to make the game easier. Because when you’re not dealing with other players trying to take your stuff, you’re dealing with zombies who can quickly swarm you.
It’s much nicer when everyone gangs together to take out a horde, but let’s be honest here. You can’t trust anyone when you play Project Zomboid.
- Developer: Bad Pixel
- Platform: PC
Now, let’s say you’re not quite ready to go all-in on a PVP experience like what DayZ or SCUM has to offer. Maybe you want to dip your toes in first. If that’s the case, then Deadside is a better option. It features safe zones that act as “extraction” zones where you can log off without worrying about your character dying and having your loot stolen.
While you can ultimately build a base and protect it in the game, Deadside gives an additional option for those who, like me, don’t trust other players. Bad Pixel even goes a step further by making bases un-raidable–for the most part. Any time your character dies to another player, they can receive a raid token. They can then use that raid token to try to raid your base.
However, the token expires after a certain amount of time, so you don’t have to stand guard forever. And that’s what I like about Deadside as opposed to how raiding works in Conan Exiles, for example. You don’t have to log in during certain hours just to make sure your base is safe.
As someone who primarily plays on PVE servers, I find Deadside to be a great game for PVP beginners.
5. Conan Exiles
- Developer: Funcom
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC
Speaking of raiding bases in Conan Exiles, that’s one of the critical parts of its PVP. Conan Exiles places you in the world of Conan the Barbarian. Aside from facing aggressive and violent NPCs in the game, you can join a PVP server and conquer your fellow players.
And Conan really gives you some unique ways to conquer them. One of the most awe-inspiring is with its Avatars. These are weaker versions of a God that you can control. Most players use an Avatar to destroy an opposing player’s base. The Avatar can cause vast amounts of damage, leaving even Alpha players’ bases in tatters.
Players have several thralls and pets they can rely on to guard their bases, too, which is helpful because Conan uses a timed raid system. There’s a set amount of time on the server, usually in the evening, when bases are raidable. If you’re not online to defend your base during that time, then there’s a chance someone will destroy your base.
It’s the part of PVP I don’t enjoy, but for players who live and die PVP, you’ll probably get a kick out of it. Thanks to its Avatar system, Conan Exiles offers a unique PVP experience you can’t really experience anywhere else.
- Developer: Mojang Studios
- Platforms: All
The world of Minecraft isn’t nearly as gritty as some of the others on this list. You may not even immediately think of PVP when it comes to Minecraft. But there are some severe PVP game modes out there. You only need to do a quick look on YouTube to see video after video of tournaments and challenges.
And that’s because Minecraft is the home of the sandbox survival game. You need to eat and keep yourself safe at night, but beyond that, the game is really whatever you make out of it. So, if you want to start raiding other players’ bases? You’re entirely free to do that. You’re also just as free to defend your base against someone else’s attacks.
There are also PVP-specific Minecraft servers you can join. Some go deep with lore and require you to find loot, then show your mettle in an arena-like fight with other players. Others focus on a more battle royale style. The point is that Minecraft has tons of different PVP modes out there.
Find the one that interests you the most and give it a try. With the sheer amount of servers and modes players have made in the past, you’ll likely find something that scratches your PVP itch.
3. V Rising
- Developer: Stunlock Studios
- Platform: PC
We’re taking out zombies and replacing them with vampires for this particular PVP-focused survival game. V Rising has you playing as a vampire with very specific needs. You can’t stay in sunlight long and must drink blood to stay alive. You can even build a castle and make thralls to do your bidding.
On a PVP server, you’re also up against other player-controlled vampires intent on dominating the region. And let’s be honest here: vampires rarely play nice together. You can attack, feed on, and steal from each other, all while trying to stay ahead of the wandering NPC vampire slayers.
V Rising is tough, and its combat is intricate. Specific powers and weapons work better against some enemies than others. Fighting other players makes these fights even more challenging since they can change their powers and weapons anytime.
You’re also able to raid and destroy another vampire’s castle. It’s not uncommon for players to band together to take down whatever the giant castle in the area is for loot. But just like in 7 Days to Die, you better be ready to defend yourself once the castle falls and everyone scatters for the loot.
If you’re tired of zombies and want to be the ruler of darkness, look at V Rising.
2. Ark: Survival Ascended
- Developer: Studio Wildcard
- Platforms: Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, PC
You can’t have a best PVP-focused survival game list without mentioning Ark. Few survival games on this list have been as transformative in the survival game space as it. You won’t find zombies or vampires here. Only dinosaurs and fellow players can ruin your day.
And both do an excellent job of doing just that. Ark sees you awaken on a mysterious island filled with dinosaurs. Your aim is to tame aggressive dinosaurs and take the fight to the Overseer. But you’ll also have several other players looking to kill you and your tames in the process.
It’s cutthroat on a PVP Ark server. From destroying bases to killing tames, it’s not a game for the soft-hearted. You need to be okay with losing your dinosaurs because it will happen. It’s even common to start from scratch after an Alpha tribe completely wipes your base off the face of the map.
But where Ark shines with its PVP is strategy. There are tons of dinosaurs with different abilities in the game. It’s like a battle royale game in that there are checks and balances on each dino’s ability. Even a solo player with the right strategy and team of dinos can take down some powerful tribes.
Ark has a unique ability to pull you in repeatedly, even after the fifth time you rage quit. Be ready to commit when you start playing.
- Developer: Facepunch Studios
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac
One of the best survival games with the highest PVP player base is Rust. Its combination of PVP, wildlife enemies, vehicles, in-depth weapon and skill trees, and base-building mechanics make the game an enjoyable, and competitive, experience. And it’s very competitive.
With high-grade weapons sometimes dropping in loot bins, the game sometimes becomes a server-wide kill-all shootout. You need to have a quick trigger finger to survive some of the battles in Rust. Either that, or you must be ready to flee the scene to get your loot back to your base.
Speaking of bases, Rust allows you to get creative with your builds. You can make your dream vacation home or a bunker ready to survive anything. Either way, you better be prepared for raids because you can bet some players will want what you have in there.
While it is possible to trade with other players, I recommend you load in with a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality. It’s a rough world where only the fastest and most lethal survive. Rust is everything a PVP survival game should be, so if you’re ready to test your mettle with the best, you might want to try it.
Question: Do you have to fight other players in PVP games?
Answer: No, you don’t have to fight other players in PVP games. However, if you want to survive and keep your stuff, then you’ll probably have to defend yourself. While you don’t need to initiate the fight, that doesn’t mean other players won’t try to fight you.
Question: Can you turn off PVP in Rust?
Answer: No, you cannot turn off PVP for Rust’s official servers. You may need to find an unofficial server that someone is hosting to try and find a PVE server. Rust is, however, intended to be a PVP game.
Question: Should you play PVP or PVE in survival games?
Answer: If you don’t want to deal with player toxicity in survival games, then you should play on PVE servers. However, if you want the added challenge of defending yourself against other players, then you should play on PVP servers.
Feed the Troll and Become the Alpha
PVP in survival games can bring a level of challenge and fun to the game that PVE can’t quite replicate. It has its problems, but there’s no question that PVP can provide you with your biggest highs and most heartbreaking losses. Next time you boot up one of these survival games, try out a PVP server and try not to become addicted to the rush.