The 22 Best Survival Games for Xbox Series X / S

Image credit: Bohemia Interactive / Steam

‘Survival’ has been a favorite genre with gamers for a long time now, and every year they continue to get bigger, better and more brutal. 

Great survival games usually share the same characteristics:

They tend to offer the opportunity to build or craft, and the need to feed or shelter your character. Many allow you to hunt animals or monsters. And they usually boast beautiful (but sometimes scary) surroundings for you to explore.

Survival games come in many different flavors, and if you’re looking for a survival game on Xbox, there are a ton to choose from. 

Are you looking for something hardcore and unforgiving, or do you prefer something a little more unusual? Do you want a survival game set in the jungle, or on an alien planet?

Here’s a breakdown of some of the best survival games on Xbox Series X and S, with a wide variety of locations and game types.

Minecraft

Originally launched in 2011, Minecraft remains a tried-and-true classic survival game. 

Starting off with nothing from a random point in a process-generated map, it’s up to you to construct tools and weapons, build a shelter and fend off dangerous enemies like giant spiders and the iconic creepers. Minecraft’s blocky art style is unique and quickly grows on you.

For those looking for less of a challenge, or who just want to play with the extensive building capabilities, Minecraft has multiple settings, making it a great choice for young kids

But it isn’t just for kids. Worlds can also be shared with others, making for an awesome multiplayer Xbox experience.

Subnautica

Subnautica and its sequel, Subnautica: Sub Zero are, in a word, gorgeous. After suffering a devastating crash on an aquatic alien planet, it’s up to you to fight for survival until you can be rescued. This open-world, sandbox-like survival game will stun you with the beauty of its world, and then promptly murder you with its monsters and crushing depths.

Between trying to find a way to just keep from starving or dying from thirst and unraveling the secrets of your new alien home, you are in for hours and hours of entertainment.  

Subnautica has a steep learning curve and unforgiving sea life, but offers beautiful visuals and top notch atmosphere.

The Long Dark

The Long Dark is an adventure survival game set in the wintry, snow-bound depths of Canada. When a strange electromagnetic phenomenon saps the electricity and drives the local animals mad, you must find a way to keep from freezing to death, or even being eaten by packs of roving wolves. Will you hunker down in an abandoned ice fishing shack, climb to the top of a fire-spotting tower, or simply wander in search of fuel and frozen deer carcasses?

With a sandbox-like survival mode and a well-written, episodic story mode, The Long Dark has something to offer just about everyone.

Surviving Mars

Surviving Mars is not your traditional survival game, but combines the fight for survival with the mechanics of a city-builder.

Using drones, you’ll construct the first colony on Mars and start producing water, air, electricity and even food. Take a giant leap for mankind by populating your colony with specialists, scientists and laborers. Do what you can to protect your dome-shielded populace from massive disasters like dust storms and meteor showers.

With a growing number of expansion packs available for Surviving Mars, you can grow and alter your gaming experience. Your colonists can even bring their pets!

Surviving the Aftermath

Surviving the Aftermath is similar to Surviving Mars in that it is also a survival city-builder, except it takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth.  

Plagued by electromagnetic storms, fallout, and actual plagues, you must lead your plucky band of survivors to build a better tomorrow. Send out specialists to explore ruins across the wasteland and bring back precious resources. Fight bandits outside your city walls and then take the fight where they live, completing quests for powerful rewards.  

Surviving the Aftermath leans closer to the traditional idea of a survival game, but will also appeal to city builder fans.

ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved is an open-world survival game with a twist: dinosaurs. 

After you wash up on a mysterious island, naked, cold and starving, you must craft, fight and build your way to a better life.

The best part, undoubtedly, is hunting and taming dinosaurs to add to your tribe. Once tamed, you can command your dinosaurs to fight, or even ride them around. Once tame, your dinosaurs will continue to eat and level up, even when you’re not with them. 

Offering options for both PvE and PvP servers, ARK also allows you to take your dinosaurs into battle against other survivors.

Grounded

Grounded is a survival game thinking outside of the box, in a very big way. Or maybe, a very tiny way.

In Grounded, you play as a child who becomes tiny – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids style – and must survive getting lost in a back yard. Jungles of blades of grass, giant spiders, mammoth bugs and other dangers await in this sandbox survival game fit for all ages. 

Offering crafting, base building and online co-op play, Grounded is fun for the whole family.

Conan Exiles

Set in the lands of Conan the Barbarian, Conan Exiles offers an MMO survival game experience with an ancient flavor. This open-world, sandbox game is heavy on combat befitting a barbarian warlord.

Craft weapons and tools, deal with the game’s unpredictable weather, hunt and grow food. Conan Exiles offers mounts to tame and ride into battle on and expansive base building options. Create a clan and rule Exile lands, make offerings to the gods and claim their power for your own.

With single player, co-op and online PvP options, Conan Exiles has game mode for everyone.

State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2 is an open-world sandbox survival game set in a classic post-apocalyptic world swarming with zombies. Build your character and rebuild your world. Using a plethora of weapons, defend yourself from zombie onslaughts while building up a community of characters with unique skills. Collect resources and allies, gather food and deal with shifting seasons and weather.  

Continuing what the previous game started, State of Decay 2 allows players to build a base and defend it from several different breeds of zombie, including the massive and brutal Juggernaut class. Manage, craft, fortify and fight your way through this zombie survival game.

Fallout 4

Despite being well-known for being an awesome open-world RPG, Fallout 4 also offers a challenging survival mode.  

Unlike other difficulty settings, in this mode fast travel is totally disabled, saves are limited, and players have to keep an eye on things like hunger, thirst and exhaustion. Adding to your problems, illness and crippled limbs require a doctor or specific treatment to heal.  

Even if you’ve already beaten Fallout 4, you haven’t played the game quite like this. Transform your favorite post-apocalyptic RPG into a survival game today.

Stranded Deep

Stranded Deep is another aqueous survival game. After surviving a plane crash, you must find a way to make it in the Pacific ocean until help comes. Discover deserted islands, build a shelter and find food.  

Offering a robust skill tree and crafting options, Stranded Deep allows you to build rafts and crude sails, explore underwater and island environments and even hunt sharks. With dangers like starvation and exposure, you’ll have your hands full trying to keep yourself alive in gorgeous tropical surroundings.

Terraria

Terraria is a 2D side-scrolling survival game with thousands of craftable items. With procedurally generated worlds, online co-op and PvP, the game is never quite the same each time you play. 

Similar to Minecraft, you begin Terraria with nothing but the clothes on your back and must craft even the most basic tools. A couple hours later, you’ll find yourself harvesting valuable resources and building vast strongholds.

Terraria offers a unique visual experience and game play you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Green Hell

In Green Hell, you find yourself in the Amazonian rainforest, surrounded by the splendor and danger of thick jungle. Learn and use realistic survival techniques to craft tools and build shelters. 

Completely cut off from the outside world, you’re left to fend for yourself against jungle animals, the threat of illness, and even your own mind. With no memory of how you arrived, you must unravel your past and discover how you became stranded. 

Full of unforgiving challenges, Green Hell is an engaging survival game in a fresh setting.

Haven

Haven is not your average survival game. Here, you play as either Yu or Kai, two lovers who crash land on an uninhabited planet in search of a place to be free. You can switch between either character, or play both with local co-op.  

While you explore your new home, you also need to collect crafting ingredients to make equipment, food and medicine. You also spend time getting to know the two characters while they get to know each other and discover the secrets hidden in the distant ruins.

The art in Haven is lovely and the play is smooth and enjoyable. The battle system is somewhat unusual, but well-developed. While Haven doesn’t offer a classic survival game experience, it has a lot to offer fans of the genre.

DayZ

Of all the zombie survival games listed here, DayZ is probably the most unforgiving.

Designed without checkpoints, if you die in this game, you lose everything. Boasting a large map and games that can host up to 60 players, DayZ also advertises a world of unscripted alliances and betrayals. It also has well-developed hunting, gathering, and crafting systems. 

It’s unclear which are more dangerous; the zombie hordes or the other players on your server. The human element means that each play through is unique and exciting.

The Flame in the Flood

In The Flame in the Flood, you play as a little girl and her dog trying to make their way over a procedurally generated river full of danger and obstacles. What makes the survival game unique is its rogue–like style. 

Unlike many other survival games, The Flame in the Flood encourages you to evade enemies rather than fight them. 

Collect resources and craft tools, but most importantly, keep ahead of the oncoming, rising waters and avoid threats as you navigate a map the changes every time you play.

7 Days to Die

7 Days to Die advertises itself as the first and best modern zombie survival game. With a vast, explorable world, multitude of crafting and base building options and a well-tuned fighting system, its’ producers may well be right.  

Boasting 800 items and 1300 blocks to build with, 7 Days to Die allows players to create forts or fortify ruins. With options for LAN or online PvP play, you can raid other player’s forts or go the co-op route and build a new world together.  

Providing a lush, complex world and difficult enemies to fight, 7 Days to Die offers far more than a week’s worth of entertainment.

Don’t Starve

The very premise of Don’t Starve is the bedrock of the survival genre: don’t starve. Choose any one of a number of odd characters, each with a unique skill or trait, and you are let loose in a creepy wilderness, where the most important goals are keeping your sanity, building a fire to fight off the darkness and getting a meal in your stomach. 

With a large library of objects for you to craft and collect and a plethora of monstrous creatures to deal with, Don’t Starve has a lot to offer.

Add the absolute smorgasbord of expansions available for Don’t Starve, including a multiplayer version, and you’ll be up to your eyeballs in 2D entertainment with a Wednesday Adams aesthetic.

Astroneer

Astroneer is a sandbox, exploration based survival game set in the 25th century. Focusing on interplanetary exploration, Astroneer boasts a base building system that allows players to construct below ground as well as above.

Another feature is sculptable planetary terrain. Creating your own tunnels and caves has never been so easy. With multiple planets to traverse and explore and several different biomes, Astroneer offers an exciting experience lasting as long as your imagination holds out.

Sheltered

In Sheltered, you and your family fight for survival in the midst of an apocalyptic wasteland. Hiding in an underground bunker, you must build defenses against roving bands of bandits and also the radiation that poisons the surface.  

Sheltered offers up a lot of classic survival game tropes, packaged in a pixelated style that is absolute old school.  

Arm and outfit members of your group to explore the wastes scavenging what they can find from abandoned and battling everything from warlords to wild bears. Fix your broken down RV and you can expand your territory. Build a water collector and no longer have to depend on rainwater to fill your toilet tanks and sate your thirst.

With a survival mode and some exciting challenge modes, Sheltered gives you a little extra play for your money.

No Man’s Sky

Bouncing back from a legendarily rocky launch, No Man’s Sky offers a new take on the off-world survival game. 

Rather than giving you a limited space to explore and build in, No Man’s Sky has generated an entire universe complete with whole galaxies for players to traverse. The original intent of No Man’s Sky was to produce a universe that every player could explore and build in, and it seems like over the course of many updates, the game has finally begun to deliver. 

Fix and upgrade your spaceship, discover new planets and species, or duke it out with other players for glory and riches. No Man’s Sky leaves the direction of your journey totally up to you.

Kingdom: Two Crowns

Kingdom: Two Crowns is another non-traditional survival game. Playing as an exiled King or Queen, you must establish your new kingdom, recruit workers, grow food, build battlements and fight off evil shadowy monsters bent on stealing your crown. 

Can you gather enough resources before winter comes and makes farming impossible? The more time that passes, the more dangerous your enemies become.

Kingdom offers a beautiful, pixelated 2D side-scrolling world. With multiple islands to tame and multiple modes, such as Shogun, Deadlands and Norselands, offering varied mechanics and visual styles there are many ways to enjoy this unique survival game.

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  1. 7 days to die is great on PC but this is an xbox review…the game has not been updated by the developer for years on consoles and should be noted…don’t waste the money on it until they bring the console version up to the current pc alpha version….the game still isn’t in its final build….

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    • 100 percent agree (although I hear there not updating the console version at all) it’s a great idea and years ago was good but now the pc version is soooooo far ahead the console version is weak.

      Reply
    • The console version is unplayable – returned it and bought ark survival evolved which is fantastic (sure theres some annoying things that happen like getting kicked to home screen) but they come out with loads of free content maps – plenty of variety

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