7 Base Building Survival Games Like Valheim

Image credit: Image Credit: Iron Gate AB

If you told us in 2011, when Minecraft was first released, that a Viking-themed sandbox survival game would blow up in 2021, we’d have asked you “what took so long?”

On paper, Valheim sounds like an obvious combination. You take the crafting and building of Minecraft, combat from The Witcher, and the setting from Skyrim, then watch the dough roll in. The game designs itself!

Of course, the devil’s in the details, which is why many developers turn to Early Access, which gives them time to read user feedback and hammer out any bugs or kinks. But Valheim’s early access debut was different; it had all the polish and playability of a full release. Gamers quickly latched onto the game. We even picked it as one of the best indie games on Steam.

Can’t get enough of Valheim? We’ve got you covered. Whether you love building intricate bases or just want a whole new world to live (and die) in, here’s our list of 7 base building survival games like Valheim.

Conan Exiles

Conan Exiles is a gritty and violent survival game set in the universe of Conan the Barbarian. After Conan saves you from death by crucifixion, you must brave the harsh sands of the Exiled Land alone to secure food, water, and shelter, all while fending off fantastical beasts and other loot-hungry players.

What sets Conan Exiles apart is its unique thrall system, which allows you to enslave NPCs by literally kidnapping them and dragging them back to your home. Your thralls can fight beside you, which makes combat particularly thrilling, as each person can deploy hundreds of thralls in battle. Thralls can also be assigned to work at crafting benches, producing goods for you.

You won’t find many other survival games that are more like Valheim than Conan Exiles. You begin as an underclothed weakling who, through constant learning and with a bit of divine guidance, battles and defeats godlike entities. If all you want is more Valheim in a completely different setting, this is exactly the game you’re looking for.

State of Decay 2

In State of Decay 2, players lead a motley crew of survivors in a world overrun by zombies. To stay alive, they must scavenge for food and other resources while defending their home from brain-hungry undead.

We know. That hardly sounds like a unique premise for a survival game. But a game can get away with being a little derivative when its core gameplay loop is this satisfying. Combat is simple but gratifying, and the myriad of facilities you can build means you’re always working on something. The game’s greatest achievement, though, is its community management.

Survivors are a valuable commodity thanks to a clever skills-and-traits system that encourages specialization—one might be a great looter while another is a natural healer. Every survivor plays a key role in your system, and a single death can have major consequences for the rest of the bunch. In State of Decay 2, you don’t build a base, you build a community.

V Rising

Carpentry isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of nosferatu, but in V Rising, it’s as important as bats and blood. Equal parts dungeon crawler, base builder, and survival sim, you play a vampire trying to make your way in a world that hates your kind. And yes, that includes building a gothic fortress that would make Dracula blush.

Of course, no vampire game would be complete without a bit of bloodsucking. In V Rising, blood does more than appease a grumbling stomach; it heals you, grants combat buffs, revives fallen allies, and even keeps your castle standing. Where you get your blood matters too—the type and quality determine your class and the strength of its buffs, respectively.

Just like in Valheim, where defeating a god grants you a new power and access to a new area of the map, crushing one of V Rising’s tough-as-nails bosses gifts you with new vampire powers and recipes. With so many similarities between the two, it’s little wonder many call V Rising “Valheim with vampires.”

Grounded

Size matters; just ask anyone who’s played Grounded, the co-op action-survival game where you play a teenager as tall as an ant. You and up to three friends must work together to survive in a world where spiders are as big as dump trucks.

Let’s just get this out of the way: Grounded’s premise was definitely nicked from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” It’s a fascinating concept, though, and one that allows for creative twists on familiar mechanics. Toothpicks are swords, mushrooms are trees, a drop of dew is enough water to sustain you for half a day.

Co-op really elevates the experience. Exploring the big, wild backyard is so much more fun when it’s you and some of your favorite people discovering everything together, which is why we included it in our list of the best Steam games to play with a partner.

The classic tenets of the survival genre are all here—crafting, building, resource gathering—but Grounded doesn’t ever take itself too seriously. There’s a whimsy to everything you can find and build, from the clover leaf lean-tos to the web fiber basketball hoop. No, you don’t need a trampoline to fight off armies of ants, but having one is awesome! It’s that dedication to the weird, wild, and frivolous that makes exploring Grounded’s small world turned big so much fun.

Eco

As gamers, we spend much of our time playing in virtual ecosystems, but very little of it considering the consequences of our actions. Usually, that’s because there aren’t any—gold replenishes, water refills, mobs respawn. In Eco, however, your actions have a visible impact on its charming digital world.

Resources are finite in Eco, so trees won’t grow unless you plant them. Once you’re past the point of no return, all you can hope to do is delay the planet’s inevitable doom. That’s why in the game’s online servers, players form governments guided by environmentalist policy. Resources are monitored, stockpiled, and shared with new players to prevent total deforestation. Polluters are fined and shamed.

Eco’s meticulous sandbox ecosystem is designed to emphasize the interconnectedness of everything. Trees are more than simply raw goods for fulfilling your architectural fantasies; they’re homes for rabbits and squirrels. Chop down a forest and you lose an easy food source; pollute the ground and you poison your water. What Eco does better than any doom-saying graph or climate change report ever could is show you how these things affect you, the player, the person.

Green Hell

Protagonist Jake is no swashbuckling archeologist. He’s an anthropologist, lost and alone in the Amazon after a first encounter with a remote tribe goes south, separating him from Mia, his research partner and wife. Now, Jake must find and rescue Mia without succumbing to the creatures and people that call the jungle home.

Most survival games are themed sandboxes where the story takes a backseat to gameplay and environment design. Green Hell’s story-driven approach resembles that of classic third-person action titles like Uncharted or Far Cry 3. Jake’s story is riddled with holes, and things don’t quite make sense. It’s those little mysteries that keep you eager to see the game’s plot out to its end, even as you die over and over again.

In Green Hell, almost everything wants you dead, from the poisonous snails and frogs to the unwelcoming natives, who set their traps where you’re most likely to step on them. You’ll die—a lot—but that’s how you learn in Green Hell. There are no field guides or handbooks to tell you what you can and can’t eat. You’ll just have to take a bite and find out.

Subnautica

Marooned alone on an alien water planet, your only way back home is hidden somewhere in the ocean that surrounds you. Luckily, you’ve got your escape pod and some handy future tech that lets you craft tools and structures from the minerals and wreckage that lie on the ocean floor. 

The game begins in the relative safety of shallow waters. All you have is a swimsuit and a crafting tool, so you can’t swim far from your escape pod before it’s time to head back. Each new technology lets you move further and deeper away, until eventually you’re forced to build a whole new base to support extended excursions into the unknown.

Schools of one-eyed fish wriggle through reefs, away from the barracudas that prey on them. Leviathans lumber through open waters, large enough to support mini-ecosystems on their great backs. On the ocean floor, far away from the sun’s light, vibrant, glowing sea snakes hunt. Subnautica never feels like a game that’s set out to frighten or awe; the ocean is just a haunting, scary, beautiful place.

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