Video games give us a whole lot of objectives to complete, but sometimes the most simple can be the hardest: survive.
There’s an entire genre of games where your only goal is to survive by whatever means possible. Depending on the game, that might mean finding the necessary materials to create a camp for the night. It might mean breaking into an abandoned home to scavenge for supplies. Survival games often allow for unparalleled levels of player freedom, letting you go and do whatever you want. As long as you don’t die, that is.
Read on to see our picks of the best survival games on PS4. We’ve rounded up a selection that covers all manner of settings. From prehistoric worlds ruled by dinosaurs, to snow-covered wastelands and everything in between, these survival games have the lot.
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This list was originally published in April 2020 and has been regularly updated since.
1. Green Hell
First released on PC, Green Hell is now available on PS4, bringing with it deep survival mechanics in a tropical jungle setting. Don’t let its beautiful visuals fool you though; Green Hell, as the name may suggest to you, can be hell. It isn’t meant to be a walk in the park (although ultra-customisable difficulty options allow players to make it as easy or as hard as they like).
In Green Hell, you take on the role of a man, alone and stranded in the Amazonian rainforest. You travelled there with your wife to complete some research, but things take a turn for the worst when she doesn’t return from a trip to visit a local tribe. You’ll have all manner of terrors and dangers to face; finding food and water is the least of your troubles – although that can be difficult enough. If you like to have complete free will, then this is one of the best survival games on PS4, hands down.
2. Stranded Deep
Your plane has crashed and, clambering into a life raft, you find yourself washed up on shore of an isolated desert island. No, this isn’t the opening to Tom Hanks movie Cast Away; it’s Stranded Deep.
The first island you find yourself on in Stranded Deep only has enough for you to survive for a couple of days. After learning the basics, you’ll be forced to take your raft to other nearby islands, searching for more food, water and means of survival. You’re completely responsible for your own wellbeing, so you’ll need to learn to hunt, build a shelter, and more. All that’s missing is a volleyball called Wilson and the need to knock out your own tooth with an ice skate.
A big part of Stranded Deep is travelling between islands, so using your raft, and eventually creating a more robust boat-like contraption, will be a priority. But in the game’s early hours, simply finding enough food and drink to keep you alive will be enough of a tall task. Our advice? Don’t eat too many coconuts – your character’s bowels will never forgive you.
3. The Long Dark
In The Long Dark, your plane has crashed in the mountains. You’ve no way to call for help, so your only option is to head out to try and find it. But it’s dangerous out there; there are cliffs to fall off, wolves circling for your blood, and the cold, harsh weather is a predator in itself.
But The Long Dark‘s world is beautiful, and as you play, a deep and captivating story will unfold. Its survival mechanics are not as deep as some games, which makes it one of the best survival games on PS4 if you’re new to the genre. That’s not to say it’s an easy ride though; you should still expect to meet your end very quickly if you aren’t careful.
Most survival games focus on the mechanics rather than having a rich narrative, and that’s what sets The Long Dark apart. Yes, you’ll be keen to keep your character alive as long as possible, but you’ll also be spurred on by a curiosity to learn more about him, and how he ended up where he is.
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4. This War of Mine
Set in the fictional war-torn city of Graznavia, This War of Mine draws real-life inspiration from living at war in eastern European countries. It’s dark, stark and emotional – but it’s one of the best survival games on PS4. If you’re brave enough to try it, that is.
You play as a group of survivors finding shelter in a run-down house. It’s up to you to ensure your survivors have enough fuel to keep warm, somewhere to sleep, and enough food to keep them fed. At night-time, you can either hunker down and try to sleep, or send someone out scavenging. Getting supplies is necessary, but it’s a very harsh world out there and a lot of threats await. But staying indoors isn’t safe either; unless you have enough resources to secure your property, you’re at risk of thugs and looters coming in to take what little you have.
This War of Mine is a hard game to play, but it’s incredibly captivating, and it makes you think about what living in these sorts of conditions must be like.
Read our review of This War of Mine
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5. Impact Winter
Like The Long Dark, Impact Winter is all about surviving harsh, freezing cold conditions. But there’s one difference: here, your location is a city. An apocalyptic storm has caused civilisation as you know it to end. You play as a survivor, holed up in an abandoned church with a group of others.
That means you’ll have to provide for yourself and others in your camp. You’ll need to head out into the vast, deep snow to search for supplies; be that food, clothing to keep you warm, or fuel to keep a fire burning back at your safe house. Wild animals and bandits are out to get you, but the biggest danger in Impact Winter is the weather itself.
Read our review of Impact Winter
6. Don’t Starve
Don’t Starve is a little different from most of the other games on this list. While many other survival games have grounded, realistic roots, Don’t Starve is pure video game escapism. With a minimalist (but delightful) 2D art style, your goal is to stay alive in an overworld filled with terrifying creatures out to get you. You’ll be safe in the daytime, but once nightfall sets in, you better be prepared.
Your time with Don’t Starve will be over in a matter of minutes if you haven’t made the right preparations for night-time. That means building a safe house, or lighting a fire to keep those pesky monsters away. You’ll also need to ensure you stay fed; you can’t survive on an empty stomach, after all. If you prefer your survival games slightly more light-hearted (but still macabre), Don’t Starve is one of the best on PS4.
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7. The Forest
Your plane has crashed, and your find yourself along in a weird and foreboding forest. No, this isn’t the opening to LOST; it’s The Forest, a horror survival game from Endnight Games.
The Forest has proved insanely popular since its release in 2018, making it one of the best survival games on PS4. Waking up to discover you’re the only survivor of a plane crash is scary enough, but venturing into the forest has far more scary secrets to show you. Deadly enemies out to get you? Sure, there’s plenty of those. Cannibal mutants? Yep, those too.
Surviving in The Forest means keeping your wits about you. You’ll need to craft yourself a safe shelter and find food and water, but you’ll also have to arm yourself and learn how to defend yourself from the threats coming your way. It’s not easy, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
8. Ark: Survival Evolved
Ark: Survival Evolved is one of the best survival games on PS4, but it’s also one of the more complex titles on this list. For that reason, it’s not for everyone. But if you’re willing to put the time in to learn its complicated mechanics and deep systems, then it can be one of the most rewarding games you can play.
In Ark, you take on the role of a survivor thrown into a world inhabited by prehistoric creatures. You have nothing to your name to start out with; you’ll need to gather materials to craft a basic weapon to help you survive. You’ll also need to find food, hunt animals, make shelter and generally protect yourself from the harsh world around you. It’s an online game, meaning you’ll be playing with others, adding a whole new element to the survival game experience.
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Terraria doesn’t try to be a realistic survival game, and it’s all the better for it. You find yourself thrust into a 2D, pixelated world, with nothing but a basic set of tools. You’ll go about gathering materials – wood, stone and clay – in order to make a basic shelter, and it’s up to you to make the most of your land however you see fit.
Despite looking bright and cheery, there are plenty of threats in Terraria, especially at night. Zombies come out of the ground and dangerous beasts appear; if you haven’t got a house to seek shelter in, your days are seriously numbered. Terraria is about exploring and gathering materials in order to build yourself a better shelter, craft better weapons and otherwise become a force to be reckoned with. Better yet, it can be played in co-op. Bring a friend along for the ride, and Terraria is one of the best survival games on PS4.
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Sheltered is a pixelated survival game about a family trying to carry on after the apocalypse. They’re lucky enough to be holed up in an underground shelter – but the supplies they have are only going to last so long. It’s a game about managing everyone’s well-being by ensuring you have enough food, water and fuel to see you through.
In order to make sure you’ve got everything you need, you’ll have to head out scavenging – but that’s no easy task. As you travel through wastelands, you’ll encounter people, wanting to cause trouble or needing your help. You’ll have to make tough calls: do you risk your own family’s safety by helping a stranger, or do you leave someone to potentially die? That’s part of what makes Sheltered so great. It’s easy to get into, but hard to put down.
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11. 7 Days to Die
7 Days to Die is far from perfect. It doesn’t look great, it feels quite janky, but underneath it all, it’s one of the best survival games on PS4. Taking place after the zombie apocalypse, you play a character doing whatever they can to avoid being turned into zombie food. That means protecting yourself with a weapon, finding somewhere safe to sleep, and keeping yourself fed and warm.
Easier said than done in a world as hostile as The Walking Dead‘s. You’ll need to spend a lot of time out and about, hunting for resources, so you’ll want to ensure you’ve got a good weapon to hand at all times. Preferably a silent one, though; you don’t want to alert more zombies. If you can forgive its sub-par graphics, 7 Days to Die has a lot to offer – especially if you bring a friend along in co-op.
Read our review of 7 Days to Die