The world of survival games is a very crowded one thanks to the fact that every single genre has some type of game that can be classified as "survival". Technically speaking, even games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Minecraft can even be classified as survival, since technically you're trying to…well…not die. But let's take a step back from all of that, and focus on the games that purely have survival mechanics as their centerpiece. After all, just about every single game has the whole “scavenging for resources”, “improving your tools to deal against the harsh environment” kind of gameplay in it. Instead, let’s talk about games that have revolutionized what a survival game is, and added new elements into the world of survival games.

Outward

Starting the list off is Outward; a visually rich, immersive survival game that is bound to keep you on your toes. While it isn’t exactly “Man vs. Wild”, it certainly has more survival elements than most games out there. You start your path off as a normal person going on an adventure. What sets this game apart from other survival games is that you have to take care of every single element of your character like you would take care of yourself. This includes making sure that you’re well-fed, your wounds are quickly patched up so that you don’t catch any nasty infections, and generally making sure that you are well-rested and properly clothed to the situation so that you can take on the elements.

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Of course, if this was all, then you might be thinking that you may just as well drop yourself onto a desert so that you can get the experience firsthand, but then you’d be missing out all the other elements of Outward, such as learning magic and fighting creepy bosses.

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Days Gone

Days Gone is a zombie survival game/motorbike owner simulator, and before you start groaning at the prospect of yet another zombie survival horror game, let me tell you that this game brings a lot more to the table than you would expect from your average run-of-the-mill zombie game to have. You play an ex-military biker who's out to find his wife, who may or may not be dead. Along in the journey with him is his trusty motorcycle that you'll have to upgrade and maintain so much to the point where it starts feeling like a motorcycle simulator. If you overlook the obvious bugs and terrible aiming capabilities, this is a pretty solid game where you can either choose to go all out with a shotgun or to play it in a more strategic way.

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Days Gone also comes with a huge variety of zombies and killing them never gets old. It also introduces the concept of a “horde” of zombies that is pretty much an unstoppable wave of zombies (that are stoppable, but only if you wait until you have enough equipment!). Unfortunately, this game is PlayStation exclusive which made sense since Sony funded the whole thing.

Raft

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Try not to get stranded in the middle of the ocean, but if you do, do it with a friend. That's the moral of the story Raft provides us with. This is as survival as it gets when compared to other sea-based survival games. You don’t have any magical bosses to fight, and you don’t have any zombies or the like coming after you. Your only problem is the shark that is always trying to eat you up, and of course, the never-ending possibility of death due to starvation, dehydration, or all of the above. You start off on a small 4x4 raft in the middle of the sea, that, thanks to water pollution, has plastic and other resources you can use to turn your raft into a boat, a ship, then eventually the RMS Titanic. As you progress through the game, you're supposed to think like a survivor and not a gamer, choosing to use your resources in ways that give you access to more resources by building stuff such as collecting nets, as opposed to using them to build stuff such as a giant wooden statue of your favorite basketball player. And, oh yeah, be sure to go at it with a friend, because it'll make your life much easier and the game much more fun!

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The Forest

Endnight Studios brings to you a survival game that took four years to get out of early access. After all these years of development, you could say that the game was finally toned enough for a V1.0 release, and it most certainly does live up to its expected quality.

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Over the four years, it went from being barely a game to being a pretty solid survival game after having its graphics beefed up, it's building capabilities increased, the introduction of multiplayer, and the addition of a storyline. It’s got everything you’d want from it: surviving a plane crash, hunting wild animals, being hunted by cannibalistic natives, building your dream home, and all the other fun you get out of a survival game.

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Best of all, although its price went up a couple of dollars after getting out of early access, it still way cheaper than most games out there! The Forest really contributes to the field of survival games with its extensive line of survival aspects, ranging from navigating, attacking, defending, foraging, gear, and its long list of seriously creepy enemies.

ARK: Survival Evolved

Yet another game that took forever to get out of early access, Ark: Survival Evolved is a game that to this day, is still evolving. You don’t get many games where you have to survive in a prehistoric landscape filled with dinosaurs and other weird yet cool looking creatures. What sets this game apart from other generic survival games is, well, the dinosaurs, and of course, the absolute amount of time you get to dump into the game before you finally get good at it. Progression is really slow and you have to evolve from being a caveman fighting little doglike creatures with a stick to being an overlord with a castle, tamed dinosaurs, machine guns, and all sorts of fancy gadgets.

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While some people criticize the fact that you have to play about 200 hours as you slowly improve each part of your character and his life, others point out that the payoff you get every time you achieve something is far more rewarding than having a short game with immediate payouts, which wouldn’t have the same effect.

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Of course, it’s also important to play with a bunch of friends because exploring the world alone is no fun. However, if you have no friends, you still have a kind of story mode to fill the void in your life! Since this game came out of early access, it’s a $60 game, but I’d say it’s worth it.

Don't Starve Together

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If it isn’t already clear by now, multiplayer is an essential part of survival games, which is why Clay Studios released Don’t Starve Together after releasing Don’t Starve.

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As you may have guessed, Don’t Starve is the single-player version, and Don’t Starve Together pretty much has everything from the single-player version in addition to having multiplayer. This game is very unique in its presentation, opting to go with the cartoonish style, saturated colors, and spooky music that adds value to the gameplay experience. Talking of the gameplay itself, the game is called “Don’t Starve” for a reason, and the reason is that you get hungry very quickly and you need to keep your tummy full all the time. In addition to that, you have to maintain your mental health and not go insane by building campfires when it gets dark and not allowing “imaginary monsters” to haunt you.

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There are several modes in which the game can be played and it’s a fun experience all-round with many different unique elements that put it apart from normal survival games. Of course, you have the “foraging” and “picking up berries” aspect found in just about every game, but you also have the ability to make sciency machines that allows you to make science stuff, like other machines and constructions. There is a lot going on in this game, and you really have to play through to understand all of it. However, if you’re not intending on playing with friends, it’s recommended to get Don’t Starve instead since it has a more comprehensive storyline. Either way, there’s something for everyone!

Ever since the first recorded survival game was released back in 1878 (no, seriously), companies and individuals have continuously strived over the centuries to bring the genre of survival games to where it is right now. While the survival genre might feel crowded with generic zombie games, you just have to dig slightly deeper before you find out the real gems that make you live the experience. Just about all of these survival games have multiplayer and it's for a reason because surviving an incident is always better if you're surviving with a friend! While this is genre is crowded at the moment, there is still a lot of survival games being released every year that continues to try to top each other, so I guess at some point survival games will peak, but the point is, at the very least, a couple of years away, so don’t worry just yet!

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This article was contributed by Ramesh from OffGamers.

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