The Top 11 Best Open World Survival Games

open world survival games
Surviving the wild, the unknown, and creatures around you with nothing but what you can make with what you find is the ultimate gaming challenge.

How Many Of These Open World Survival Games Have You Played?

There’s something about simulating panic and hardship in video games that enthralls players, and nothing in the gaming world does this better than open-world survival.

Survival games have flooded the gaming industry, and a lot of them have failed at having interesting stories and challenging gameplay. So here are the top ten open-world survival games. These games will be emotionally painful, realistically frustrating, and people who play them are probably a little masochistic.

11. State of Decay 2

“State of Decay 2 Early Gameplay Walkthrough Intro”

State of Decay 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the hit State of Decay which was released in 2013. It’s a strategic survival RPG, where your chosen characters have back stories unique to them, and they talk to one another as you play, revealing who they are and where they came from. You must set out to find other survivors, build your base, start a community to help you survive, manage your resources, and, of course, kill zombies. Make choices for your group, find weapons ranging from pipes, to guns and machetes, and hack and slash your way through hordes of the undead.

State of Decay 2 is unique in that it has its perma-death feature; once a character dies, they’re gone for good. And you can’t pause the game, so you’re pretty much never safe.

Undead Unloosed: State of Decay 2 by no means has a small map, but that doesn't hinder the game at all in placing as many enemy zombies as possible around every corner.

As far as the eye can see: Get to the strategic high ground and scan as far as you can for possible materials, resources, and potential bases.

10. ARK: Survival Evolved

“ARK: Survival Evolved – Dolphin Army!”

ARK: Survival Evolved is an MMORPG survival game set in a prehistoric world where humans live alongside dinosaurs. True to traditional RPG form, you create and customize your own character. You start the game without clothes, with limited resources, and you must develop your character into a dinosaur taming, gun wielding force of nature. Play with your friends, form a tribe, and hunt dodos or woolly mammoths. Prehistoric creatures are your pets and your mounts, and the crafting system is intricate and expansive.

What makes this game stand out from the crowd? You can tame and name anything from a megalodon to a brontosaurus, fit them with saddles, or assign them defensive or offensive positions around bases, ships, or other players. And players must gain structure components in order to build a defensive base to protect them from wild prehistoric animals, the elements, and potentially hostile players. But you don’t just build your base; you can build anything, as long as you have the blueprints and materials. You can build multi-story structures or sea-worthy vessels. The only thing limiting you is your creativity.

Massively Monumental: Multi-level Mountain Mansion? Doable.

Rideable and Fightable: Your tamed dinosaurs are both your companion, and your ultimate weapon.

9. The Long Dark

“Winter is coming! | The Long Dark #1”

The Long Dark is a harsh wilderness survival RPG set in the bitter winter of Northern Canada. After you pick your difficulty level and game map, your only goal is to survive for as long as possible. You must hunt for supplies and seek whatever shelter your environment affords you. You start with a few supplies, like a med kit and matches, but nothing that helps you hunt or fuel your fires.

There are a couple things that make this game unique to the survival genre. The first is that the hunger system is extremely intricate: everything you do costs you calories. If you need to break a branch into useable wood for a fire, it’s going to cost you 42 calories. In this way, the game utilizes the most basic factor of survival: avoiding starvation. That brings us to the second thing that makes it unique, which is its realism. From the crafting system that requires you to break down everything you find for parts (old curtains in abandoned buildings for clothing, books for fire kindling, etc.), to the harsh reality of needing sufficient tools to get the resources you need from frozen animal carcasses you’ve found buried in the snow, The Long Dark is great at simulating just how hard surviving the freezing elements can be.

Formidable Foes: You have more than the elements and the limits of the human body to face in the wilderness. Animals can get aggressive.

Dark and Dismal: Foreboding and atmospheric even when you’ve found shelter, The Long Dark features its harsh tone in every possible corner of its maps.

8. 7 Days to Die

“7 Days to Die – The Horde!”

7 Days to Die is every game wrapped up in theultimate survival package. You can explore the open-world solo or with friends, you can build extensively, there are over 500 crafting recipes, and you can grow your character through over 60 multi-tiered skill and perk groups. It’s a FPS horror survival game with a randomly generated open-world. Italso acts as an RPG and tower defense game. The sole purpose of 7 Days to Die is to once again survive for as long as possible, braving extreme heat, extreme cold, and violent hordes of the undead.

7 Days to Die is unique in that it features over 50 unique zombie archetypes, each having its own special behavior and attacks. It also boasts Creative Mode, which allows you unlimited access to all in-game crafting recipes and building blocks. There’s also a painting system. Nothing is out of reach when creating your own lifelike world here.

Catch and Cripple: When fortifying your base, one of your best bets to outlasting the zombie hordes is to set up obstacles that incapacitate them. Wall of spikes? Check. Deep hole in the ground? Check.

Hungry Hordes: Make sure you're safe on horde nights, because the running and screaming undead come in swarms.

7. The Forest

“The Forest Full Release 1.0 Gameplay”

The Forest is a first-person RPG with no quests and a nonlinear story line which you figure out on your own as you play. You play the victim of a plane crash on a heavily wooded peninsula in British Columbia. Your character is in search of his young son, who was kidnapped at the scene of the crash. Your enemies are the elements, your own hunger and fatigue, and the cannibalistic mutants living in the forest in which you are lost.

So what does The Forest have that sets it apart? While much of the survival gameplay and features is typical of the genre, the plot of the game is nothing if not captivating. Dark and creative, your player’s search for his son will keep you on your toes and begging for more. The other aspect that keeps The Forest unique is what you can do with your felled cannibal opponents. Of course, cannibalism being a main theme of the game, you can eat them, but you can also create your own handy set of demented armor, complete with a chest piece made of twisted arms and legs.

A Clan of Cannibals: Your enemies have their own culture, families, and beliefs. You aren't battling individuals, you're up against their society.

Fleshy Fortification: The full macabre suit of the human armor set. If you can survive wearing this, you can probably survive the rest of the The Forest.

6. Raft

“Raft – shark attacks, fishing and REAL sailing”

Raft is a first-person survival game set on the open ocean. You are stranded on a raft, and your raft is your means of survival. You must build up your raft with supplies you pull from the ocean and loot from passing islands, make it strong enough to withstand the persistent shark that follows and attacks you. Build rudimentary means of catching and cooking your food and purifying ocean water. And be sure to poke that shark with a spear so he doesn’t totally decimate your raft.

There are a couple things that helps Raft stand out from its peers. The first is that, unlike many survival games where you’re panicking against zombies or struggling against harsh wilderness, it’s kind of relaxing, when the shark isn’t trying to take a bite out of your raft. The music and the graphics are calming, and most of the surviving involves simply managing your resources while you go where the ocean takes you. The second wonderful thing about Raft is that you are unlimited in your ability to build your raft, as long as you have your resources. Go from rickety raft to sizeable ship!

Raft or Ocean Paradise? Build the floating home of your dreams.

Surviving is easier with help: Play with your friends!

5. Hurtworld

“Hurtworld – Gameplay Introduction Test Drive”

Hurtworld is an online PVP first-person-shooter survival game. You must scrounge for resources, struggle to survive the harsh desert heat or bitter arctic cold, and progressively grow your character until you are a master at combatting other players and the wilderness. Everything can be played solo or with your friends!

One thing about Hurtworld that keeps it unique is that it focuses on player-vs-player conflict. You are competing for resources, and other players will kill and burgle you without a second thought. The game also gives you access to higher tech means of survival, such as vehicles and explosives.

Pick your biome: Hurtworld features different environments in which to test your skills; there are snow, grass, and desert biomes to explore.

Unending Resources: Your world is so expansive, that you have infinite access to resources.

4. Rust

“Biggest Raid in Rust History? (Raid Cam)”

Rust is a first-person shooter MMORPG which emphasizes PVP combat and survival and it is brutal. Players are merciless and will kill you on-sight. Every man must fend for himself and you’re vulnerable even if you’re offline. You can build a base with your chosen clan and its members, but at any time another band of players can attack you. If you’re not able to get online in time to defend yourself adequately, you may find yourself spawning naked into a crumbling base, all of your supplies gone.

Rust can be played solo but is best played with a group of friends. You can form a clan and stick together, and this is what makes it the most fun. It’s similar to any military FPS you’ve played, with the added bonus of having to search for anything you might need. Rust is also unique in that the enemies you have to worry about are mostly other players, which is also what makes it difficult and sometimes frustrating.

Raid and Ransack: Raiding a rival clan’s base can be a small-scale endeavor, but you can also band together with your friends and even other clans to take down the strongest clan on the server, which can take days of planning and gathering supplies.

Strategic Highground: Finding a safe place to rest for the night can mean the difference between life and death while you're offline.

3. Unturned

“Unturned Gameplay – Learning Unturned”

Unturned is a free-to-play survival game based in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. You can play offline, solo, or with a group of friends. Originally created on a Roblox server, the graphics are simple and endearing. Your ability to survive relies on what you can find and how good you are at avoiding and fighting zombies. Overall, the gameplay is simple and typical FPS survival fun.

Unturned is unique in its server options. There are servers available for younger players just looking to shoot at other people and decimate the undead, and there are roleplaying servers available for anyone who wants to work in a group to create a living story. There are also servers specifically for battle royales, so players can group up and go into full attack mode together and against one another. There is also an expansive mod community. The game works on such a basic level, that anything is impossible. Build what you want, play how you want, and add any mod you want.

Dedicated Development: Unturned was created by 16 year old Nelson Sexton. Two years and over 24 million downloads later, he is still the only developer, maintaining content and updates and still managing to put out a free quality product, just for the fun of it!

Simple and Surprising: Even though it has simple blocky graphics, the world is still beautiful and immersive.

2. Subnautica

“Subnautica is finally released | Subnautica – Part 1 (Full Release)”

Subnautica is an ocean survival game based on an alien world after your spaceship, the Aurora, has crash-landed. You are the only survivor of the crash and must find what resources you can in the foreign waters in which you are stranded. You will battle your hunger, your thirst, and the vicious alien creatures lurking in the depths of the sea which you have no choice but to explore.

The goal of Subnautica is to not only survive but to explore and find a way off the planet and back home. Survival games make exploration an option for the sake of finding resources, but not in the way that Subnautica does it. The world is intricately planned out and the ocean is vast, full of alien sea and plant life that will captivate you. You have to explore and make your way to certain places on the map. Subnautica is also unique in that it puts you on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s not strictly survival horror, but the monsters and the dark of the unknown will scare the wits out of you. It’s not strictly a calming simple resource management game, but the graphics and sounds will relax you, at least until you start hearing the chittering of giant teeth around some underwater corner.

Strategic Placement: You have the ability to build bases, but you must place them in optimal locations, because you can't win the game by staying one place for too long.

Delving into the Deep: The ocean in Subnautica is realistically deep and cavernous, full of bio-luminescent plant and sea life.

1. Conan Exiles

“Conan Exiles – Getting Started! – EP01 (Gameplay)”

Set in the lands and times of Conan the Barbarian, Conan Exiles, is a survival game with an emphasis on conquering. Carve out your own section of land and dominate anyone who opposes you! You’ve been exiled to a harsh wasteland, but you can manage to make it your own.

Conan Exiles is unique in its powerful building system. Don’t just build a base. Build a castle or build a kingdom! You can build into the trees or the mountains. You can also explore anything and everything. Discover underwater ruins or scale the trees and cliff sides. The map is seamless and diverse, and anything is possible as you discover and conquer.

Gods of War: Choose the god you wish to be loyal to and gain control of his mighty avatar.

Amazing Heights: Build your fortress into the formidable mountainside.

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in these:

More on this topic:

Gamer Since: 2004
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: The Witcher
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dragon Age: Origins, Prototype

More Top Stories