Sometimes, you get sick of zombies. Sure, they’re timeless monstrosities that act as a wonderful backdrop for stories of everything from wanton comedic carnage to heartfelt human stories. But, after a while, we get a bit… well… deadened to them.
That’s when it’s time to go back to the original stories of survival. Not of zombies and monsters, but of wolves and bears, starvation and dehydration, the cold and the heat—the forces of the very planet around us throwing themselves up against our will to keep living.
That’s when you turn to wilderness survival games—and we’ve gathered up 10 of the best ones you can play right now.
You find yourself on an island that you don’t remember, your ship and its crew nowhere to be found. Your memory is almost completely blank, but the only thing on your mind other than pure survival is something about treasure. Can you survive on this mysterious island? Will this become your new home?
- Explore a procedurally generated, open-world map
- Take your time to strategise with turn-based survival
- Overcome hurdles with a detailed crafting system
- Make your own way with sandbox game mechanics
Recommended for: island survivalists and pirate fans
Available on PC, Mac, Linux
After crashing in the frozen north of Alaska, your little group of survivors must fight against not only the rabid denizens of the forest around you, but also against the cold, starvation and Mother Nature itself. Rather than a single character trying to survive, you must control up to eight survivors—though you can, of course, bring a friend along through multiplayer too…
- Top-down perspective
- Multiple survivors to control
- A larger emphasis on plotline than the average wilderness survival game
- Semi-linear maps
WARNING: This game is currently going through Early Access development troubles, and the original developer has left. It is still being worked through, but it is on thin ice at the moment.
Recommended for: survivalists who like a bit of story, and people who enjoyed The Long Dark.
Available on PC, Linux, PS4 and Xbox One
Disappear into the wilderness and struggle to survive in a hostile environment. Build a base, upgrade your technology, but remember—no matter how strong you think you are, no matter how thick you build your walls, the Hunters are coming…
WARNING: Early Access
- A mixture of classic survival and strategic resource-gathering
- Developed AI that build their own bases and hunt you down
- Farm, hunt and build to survive against the wilderness
- Open-world gather-and-grind
Recommended for: people who liked Settlers, but wanted more guns and first person.
Available on PC
Imagine if Terraria and old-school Legend of Zelda had a weird pixelated baby and left it to fend for itself in the woods, only to return years later and discover it had been raised by wolves and is looking for blood. That’s Forager. Gather resources, build a base, survive the random events it throws at you, and expand, expand, expand.
- Procedurally generated maps
- Simple but effective pixelated graphics
- Puzzle-solving and crafting for progression
- Simple skill system to improve resource gather rate
Recommended for: those with lower-end PCs or retro gaming fans
Available on PC
The wilderness is no place for humans anymore, so why are we always forced to play as them in our survival games? Shelter turns this trope on its head, putting you in the paws of a mother badger protecting her cubs from harm. One part exploration game, one part survival title, 100 per cent fun.
- Story-book charm
- Unique art style
- One-of-a-kind perspective on survival
- Badger badger badger badger mushroom, mushroom…
Recommended for: people looking for something a little different in wilderness survival. And badgers.
Available on PC
Unleash your creativity in this voxel-based sandbox where the only limit is your imagination. Build a base to protect yourself from the creatures of the night, grow crops to feed your hunger and slowly make your way to Enderworld. One of the most popular crafting games ever made.
- Discover an open world, randomly generated
- Build your home with an exceptionally large crafting system
- Tear down and rebuild the world as you see fit
- Play with others through a tobust multiplayer
Recommended for: newbies to the survival genre, anyone with an imagination
Available on PC, Mac, iOS, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
“In war, not everyone is a soldier”. Try to survive in the bombed-out ruins of an unnamed city, desperately gathering basic resources to try and wait out the war that rages around you. Will you retain your humanity, or will you do whatever it takes to maintain the safety of your small band of civilians?
- Experience the true horrors of war through gritty realism
- Make meaningful, painful choices
- Try and try again with a high difficulty curve
- Play through a series of unique, human stories
Recommended for: anyone with an interest in the experience of civilians during war.
Available on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android
Gather resources. Build contraptions. Light the way. Discover mysteries, kill beasts and try to find your way home. Don’t Starve pits you against a Tim Burton-esque world where strange things in the darkness will kill you without thought—assuming that you don’t die of hunger first.
- Survive in a non-linear, open-ish world
- Hunt, gather and craft to progress
- Unique, dark art style
- Explore strange, violent and alien worlds
Recommended for: masochists, goths and people who liked The Nightmare Before Christmas a bit too much.
Available on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, iOS, Android
Come with us now on a journey to Iron Age Finland, where the snow never quite disappears entirely and living is hard and rough. Mother Nature is your biggest opponent, with bears, wolves and myriad other woodland creatures acting as both your primary source of food—and injury.
- Explore a randomly generated map with diverse biomes
- Play a game with a true commitment to realism
- Engage with historically-accurate hunting, building, trapping and farming
- Hit bears on the head with a club
Recommended for: roleplayers, escapists, anyone who enjoys surviving by the skin of their teeth.
Available on PC, Mac and Linux
No zombies, no aliens, no human threat—just you, the cold and a seriously pissed-off Mother Nature. The Long Dark is an exploration-survival game that pits you against the Alaskan wilderness after a massive geomagnetic disaster. That means no phones, no cars, no electricity at all as you make your way across a freezing and deadly countryside.
- Story-driven campaign and open-world survival.
- No handholding: survive, or die, on your own.
- Hunt animals for meat and hide—or hide yourself from deadly claws…
- Explore a darker, quieter world and find the remnants of the inhabitants that lived there.
Recommended for: hardcore survival enthusiasts who want a realistic (but modern) experience—as well as a damned good story.
Available on PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox
What wilderness survival game are you playing in 2017? Let me know in the comments below!