The desire for self-preservation is ingrained deeply within our human nature. Even in the most dire of situations, there’s a primal instinct that kicks in when mortal danger arises. Thankfully, most of us don’t face true peril on a regular basis… but there’s no denying the adrenaline-fueled thrill that comes from pushing to overcome steep odds. In the gaming world, it’s this struggle – the risk and reward – that’s such a big part of what makes survival games so satisfying.
More recently, the Xbox One has seen an explosion of interesting and unusual takes on the survival genre, with offerings ranging from the cutesy to the utterly cataclysmic. Join us as we dig into some of the most popular survival experiences on Xbox One and examine what makes them unique. Some of the titles on our list are RPGs, some are roguelikes filled with permadeath, and some might even surprise you.
No survival game round-up would be complete without Fallout 4. This open-world trek into a nuke-decimated Boston is brimming with deadly mutant factions, sentient killer robots, and more salvageable junk than you can possibly carry. Roaming the irradiated terrain and causing mayhem in frenetic slow-mo gunfights is a blast, but the option to settle down and build home bases to house your growing cadre of post-apocalyptic pals is an interesting new wrinkle that adds plenty to the already deep experience. Welcome to your new hobby; see you in a few years!
Now a well-established household name among gaming enthusiasts, Minecraft – with its colorful, minimalistic, and limitless sandbox worlds – wields the power to absorb your free time. It’s a more kid-friendly, lighthearted survival game to be sure, but the core elements are first-rate in the genre. Exploring randomly generated biomes and gathering resources to craft tools and items to help you carve out your foothold in the monster-filled realm feels fresh with each playthrough, and that’s not even considering the fun that comes from simply building sprawling virtual strongholds to your heart’s content. Minecraft will give you back what you put into it, only tenfold.
Venturing into prehistoric territory for its latest installment, the Far Cry series trades guns for bows and spears in this survivalist jaunt to 10,000 BC. Cannibals, wild beasts, and warring tribes round out the massive change of scenery for the series. Taming critters – like owls, badgers, and tigers – is a nice touch, too, while the need to frequently hunt for food and resources to expand your tribe will keep you busy between stretches of exploration and combat. “Primitive,” as it turns out, can be a good thing.
Rather than having you hunker down in one spot to survive the apocalypse, The Flame in the Flood sends you on a winding, forward-moving trek down a river full of promise, danger, and intrigue. This indie roguelike survival adventure proves that your environment can be a formidable friend or foe indeed. With your dog companion Aesop in tow, prepare to craft and scavenge between precarious runs on your rickety raft.
Will you succumb to the elements or live to fight and forage another day? In The Long Dark, this question comes with a mix of clever and curious nuances, like whether or not you’re burning calories faster than you can put them into your gut. Blowing winds, howling wolves, freeing temperatures, and other perils of the remote northern wilderness compound in this thrilling bid to stay alive… but the numerous nitty-gritty details of this grim adventure are what take things to the next level.
A grim, peculiar storybook realm awaits your exploration in Don’t Starve, a survival adventure that sports arcane magic, eerie monsters, and mystery-filled wilderness in ample volume. From the Edward Gorey-inspired art style to the horrific ways the harsh world can kill you, there’s lots of spooky charm woven into this unusual game. Of course, surviving doesn’t come easy… but uncovering new oddities and crafting useful tools to extend your tenuous hold makes each run an entertaining one.
With New York City ravaged by a pandemic bio-terrorist attack, you’re a part of the special agent team called-in to restore order in The Division. Exploring this authentic virtual cityscape puts a semi-futuristic urban spin on post-apocalyptic survival. Blending MMO and shooter elements with rescue missions and rebuilding efforts, your quest to wrestle the city back under control from vagrant factions is a fun challenge that feels authentic in surprising ways.
Tackling tasks for a zombie-obsessed cult is only one of the many fascinating pursuits found in this all-terrain upgrade to Dying Light. The dead walk the earth in staggering numbers here, but your new wheels give you a fun way to take them down in satisfying splatterpunk fashion. Scavenging junk and gas to keep your buggy intact adds an intense new depth to the parkour- and pew-pew-tinged gameplay, too. Just be sure to watch your back when the sun goes down.
If building settlements, riding deadly dinosaurs, and cobbling together greatness from the rocks and sticks at your feet sound like it’s up your ally, ARK: Survival Evolved is a deliciously oddball game worth checking out. Despite its work-in-progress state, this Xbox Game Preview title is shaping up to be a real mammoth of a good time, thanks to an enthusiastic player base and lots of crazy things that can unfold across each survival encounter. This is definitely one to keep tabs on.