Top 10 Survival Games Like ARK

Image credit: Studio Wildcard

The world of ARK offers an almost-unmatched survival experience to explore. From the unique setting to in-depth gameplay systems, it outshines most other games in the genre. 

ARK draws inspiration from popular dinosaur works of fiction, like Jurassic Park to The Land Before Time. Their impact on the game’s environment and primeval animal designs are instantly recognizable.  

If you’re searching for more games like ARK, then you already know how addicting the gameplay loop is. The combination of rich crafting, base-building, and sandbox features is compelling. 

Nothing beats the rush of excitement seeing your first dinosaur in-game – then the sense of joy learning they’re tamable. Our list has been carefully put together. All the titles offer something different and will satisfy your survival-game cravings.  

Conan Exiles

Available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, and Xbox One.

The universe of Conan the Barbarian is legendary. It even led to the creation of a new fantasy subgenre known as sword-and-sorcery. That’s all the reason you should need to give Conan Exiles a chance. 

Not only does Conan Exiles faithfully recreate the franchise’s fantasy setting, but it also elevates it. Maybe they should consider renaming the subgenre to sword-and-sorcery-and-survival… 

When it comes to finding games like ARK, Conan Exiles is the most comparable experience. You’ll notice striking similarities in their gameplay mechanics and core loop.  

It even extends to features like the clans/tribes and the building system. In my opinion, though, Conan Exiles is smoother in execution. It’s the better game, with its polish and cohesive design.

ARK has a problem jumping the shark with its new updates. It’s been moving away from its initial dino-filled vision by throwing in high-fantasy monsters and even laser cannons! 

The game struggles to stick to a theme, ruining the immersive atmosphere it used to offer. In comparison, this is where Conan Exile excels.

Even after years of content updates, Conan Exiles stays true to its franchise’s world. There isn’t a single monster or weapon that looks out of place.  

The game is also an incredible multiplayer experience – covering all fronts. Whether you want to just survive with friends, or play on massive full-fledged PvP servers. 

Conan Exile’s fluid animations and responsive controls also run laps around ARK’s clunky-at-best attempts. The action combat in Conan is way more engaging, and is similar to Soulslike titles.

If you love Conan Exile’s fantasy-medieval setting and base-building, you should read our games like Valheim list!

7 Days to Die

Available on PC.

The undead-infested towns of 7 Days to Die are a thrilling change to dinosaur-inhabited islands. Its one-of-a-kind survival gameplay makes it deserving of a spot on this games like ARK list.

7 Days to Die’s visuals aren’t as pretty as ARK’s, but it makes up for it in other areas. The game shares a great deal in common with Minecraft and Left 4 Dead, blending the best of both worlds.

The game masterfully combines survival-horror with tower-defense gameplay, and rich RPG systems. It’s what makes 7 Days unique and a must-play.

The map, building, and even gathering style is more akin to Minecraft than anything else. Whilst enemy designs take from Left 4 Dead with a range of different zombie types.

If you sunk hours into ARK designing bases, you’ll find 7 Days building systems appealing. Its Minecraft-like blocky world allows for so much creativity and freedom with building.

The highlight of 7 Days is the focus on objectives. It provides clear goals for you to achieve, especially with the zombie-horde tower-defense gameplay.

The game’s title actually refers to the horde mechanics. Every seventh day in-game, it sends waves of zombies and other hostile mobs to your base.

The tower-defense segment is good chaotic fun, but it also gives everything else in the game more purpose. It adds reason to actively loot, upgrade your base, and level up your character.

7 Days does what many other survival games fail to do. Instead of being an aimless open-world sandbox, it sets goals, which add meaning and something to work towards.

DayZ

Available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, and Xbox One.

DayZ is one of the pioneers of the modern survival genre, and still offers a hardcore experience like no other. The world is extremely immersive, and masterfully crafts its atmosphere.

The fear that follows every cracking gunshot, or the haunting zombie moans, is indescribable. The game instills dread, and will have you on the edge of your seat.

Whilst DayZ has base-building and crafting like ARK, its focal point is more on resource management, looting, and player interaction.

The game will have you exploring Chernarus, a massive map spanning over 220km². It is inspired by Eastern European countries, like Ukraine and Russia.

If you love survival games that deliver on being an atmospheric experience, check out our games like The Long Dark list! At times, DayZ is so immersive it feels more like a simulation than a game.

The simulation aspect might sound unappealing, especially if you’re coming from ARK. You won’t find wacky, over-the-top laser weapons and gameplay systems here, instead, DayZ focuses on realism.

The realistic design is applied to everything in DayZ. From untended cuts leading to infection, managing your player’s temperature, and even catching kuru from eating human meat.

The depth is satisfying, and it even extends to battles. The gunplay is phenomenal and a welcome change if you wanted more out of ARK’s arcade-style combat.

DayZ’s truly hardcore gameplay is rare now in the genre. Even if it doesn’t end up being your cup of tea, it’s still worth experiencing for its historic value and impact on survival games.

The Isle

Available on PC.

What if… Instead of hunting down dinosaurs, you played as them? Unleash your inner (Jurassic) beast in The Isle as you live out a prehistoric survival experience.

With every new content update, ARK has been moving away from its original Jurassic Park-inspired roots. The game is adding in high-fantasy monsters and over-the-top sci-fi weapons.

These changes make The Isle the perfect candidate if you adored ARK’s initial dinosaur theme. It can be your new virtual survival home!

The Isle features dozens of different dinosaur species to play as. From the iconic tyrannosaurus to lovable triceratops – the game covers both carnivores and herbivores.

The game features a unique progression system, where you play through (or try to) the dinosaur’s life stages. The one goal is: to survive. Start out as a juvenile and progress to an adult.

The world and art direction in the game are gorgeous. It blows ARK out of the water, and the dinosaur designs are heavily detailed.

It also focuses on delivering a horror experience that is sprinkled into the survival gameplay. The immersive ambience and fear of being hunted down by bigger predators add a level of suspense.

The Isle is an online game, played on shared worlds through servers – similarly to ARK. Its drop-in and drop-out gameplay make it easy to jump into, and the playerbase is welcoming.

Escape From Tarkov

Available on PC.

If the player-versus-player segments of ARK is what captivated you, Escape From Tarkov is worth looking into. The game successfully delivers high-stakes action and a thrilling survival experience.

Tarkov compresses the heart-racing situations that occur in ARK’s raids and battles over resources. It condenses it into short sessions, known as rounds, which last 20-40 minutes.

These rounds will have you spawning into a map with other players and AI, fighting over loot. Every time you play, the gear you take with you is put on the line.

Death in Tarkov means losing everything you brought with you. The only way to keep your loot and the gear you find during a round is to survive and “extract”. Leave the map.

This creates an adrenaline-rushing experience that I honestly haven’t found in any other game. Every encounter with another player gets your heart rate through the roof.

In-between rounds, Tarkov will have you managing your resources. It’s oddly addicting planning out your gear, rearranging your loot, and interacting with the game’s market/economy.

The PvP session-based style of survival gameplay is almost unseen in the genre. Also, anytime a game does draw inspiration from it, the execution doesn’t come close to Tarkov’s polish.

The icing on the cake is the game’s realistic gunplay and weapon diversity. It’s comparable to the combat in DayZ and ARMA, but smoother with the handling and animations.

Unturned

Available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, and Xbox One.

After huge success on Roblox with their zombie-survival mode, Dead Zone, Nelson Sexton turned it into a standalone title – Unturned. It quickly became a staple play for any survival-genre fans.

The game’s Roblox roots are instantly recognizable, especially with its simple visuals. The world and characters in Unturned feature the same blocky design.

Unturned focuses on substance over style. It might not have ARK’s breathtaking world, but its gameplay systems are deep and engaging. The game focuses on being fun!

Best of all, the game is also free-to-play. You can download it and jump into a server straight away, or even start a single-player world of your own.

The game caters to every sort of survival game player. You have the option for both, PvE and PvP modes, and the choice to play with just friends or own massive servers.

It is also filled with rich modding support, ranging from new gear, custom maps, or even gameplay overhauls. There is no lack of content to keep you entertained!

Unturned’s vanilla game is also jam-packed. The gameplay mixes the best elements from DayZ, 7 Days to Die, and ARK.

It has a deep crafting system plus base-building, whilst also accommodating those who prefer scavenging for loot. The game also has strong RPG elements with levels and quests.

Players can train their skills, which can boost their overall gameplay. Some examples include bonuses to melee damage, or even health regeneration speed.

ICARUS

Available on PC.

Try your best to survive the wilderness on a foreign, alien planet. ICARUS is developed by RocketWerkz and the latest game from Dean Hall’s genius.

Without Dean Hall, most of the titles on this games like ARK list wouldn’t exist. He was the brain behind the original DayZ mod, which was most people’s first foray into the survival genre.

Love it or hate it, Dean Hall contributed amazing ideas to the genre. His influence can be seen in almost every survival title. Hall’s fresh ideas make ICARUS deserving of your time.

ICARUS features session-based gameplay comparable to Escape From Tarkov. However, the game doesn’t feature PvP at all – instead focusing on solely PvE.

You can choose the duration of the game’s sessions. They can last anywhere from an hour to even weeks, however, remember time is limited.

This adds a sense of urgency and importance to the gameplay. The core loop of ICARUS consists of missions to the alien planet, collecting materials, and improving your character’s skills.

If you fail to return from a mission, you lose progress. Any materials gathered, as well as tech and skills learned, are lost.

The danger comes at all angles in ICARUS. From the alien environment to savage animals and life-threatening weather events.

The game is also multiplayer, allowing up to 8 players in co-op. If the most enjoyable part of ARK was building and foraging with friends – ICARUS refines and fleshes this out, even adding in a related progression system.

Rust

Available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, and Xbox One.

This wouldn’t be an accurate “games like ARK” list if we didn’t recommend Rust. The two games go hand-in-hand and are the iconic duo of the survival genre.

Rust originally started out as a clone of DayZ, jumping in on the survival hype train. However, it quickly built its own identity and set itself apart from other experiences in the genre.

The fastest way to describe Rust is: it is the child of Minecraft and DayZ. It takes mechanics from both games to create a fun open-world sandbox to muck around in.

Rich building systems and fun clan wars aside, one of the biggest pros of the game is the modding. It was built with player-made content in mind and has server-side mod support.

This allows for a wide range of different playstyles on the servers, keeping the game fresh. There are plenty of quality-of-life mods too.

Rust is constantly getting new content updates, adding in events, and new weapons to play with. If ARK’s group play and tribes were the biggest draws for you, you’ll feel at home here.

Clan wars are common in the game. From fighting over land to claim, raiding enemy settlements, or even just resources – have your gun at the ready at all times.

The building and crafting systems are akin to ARK. You’ll find Rust familiar and jump right into the fun.

Project Zomboid

Available on PC.

Picture this: The Sims meets The Walking Dead. However, instead of building the perfect home and family, you’re reinforcing whatever house you can find and fending off the undead.

Project Zomboid is the perfect playground for living out any dark, apocalyptic fantasies. That being said… It’s not as scary or horrifying as The Sims and the millennial dream of owning a home.

Jokes aside, Project Zomboid is an absolutely essential game to any fans of the survival genre and/or zombies. The sheer amount of depth and features Zomboid offers is jaw-dropping.

The game runs full-sprint into simulation territory – and it’s for the best. Foods even have nutritional stats, down to protein and fats, which all affect your character’s fitness and weight.

Every piece of clothing has insulation values, and you need to monitor your character’s temperature. This level of detail extends into every part of the game, from vehicles, and even learning skills.

In Project Zomboid, you don’t magically learn skills, or put in points. You learn over time by practising, or reading theory books on the subject.

More than likely, whatever you want to do – you probably can. DayZ is regarded as a near-simulation survival game, and Project Zomboid manages to put it to shame.

Jumping from ARK to Project Zomboid can be jarring. They are very different. Zomboid features a top-down isometric view, and a 2D world consisting of layers.

You don’t have to face the apocalypse alone in Project Zomboid either. You can play co-op with friends, or join one of the many community servers!

Raft

Available on PC.

Sometimes, you need a break from the tear-your-hair-out stressful apocalypses, and scary monsters with sharp teeth. This is where Raft comes in!

The game’s bright world is a refreshing splash of water (literally). Whilst still providing a challenging survival experience, the atmosphere is more laid-back and relaxing.

Raft is simple. You’re floating around the ocean on what begins as a 2×2 raft. The aim of the game is to slowly build up the raft, and figure out what’s happening.

You collect resources mostly through a hook, which can grab items floating in the ocean. Later on, you might come across islands or boats you can rummage through.

The main danger in Raft lies in the water. The ocean is packed with sharks and evokes a very Jaw-like fear.

The game also features co-op, allowing you to set sails and survive with friends! Building and crafting are pretty straightforward, and you can make weapons to fight off the sharks.

The story in the game is unveiled slowly as you progress through the game. The mystery elements are enough to keep you hooked, and features good world-building.

From story to gameplay, it’s very different to the intensity ARK offers. However, Raft’s take on the survival genre is innovative, and deserving of a playthrough.

0 comments

Leave a Comment