Survival games are a divisive genre. While there are certainly some lukewarm fans, most people either love or hate this gaming experience. The mixed reactions come from the features that define these titles. Huge open worlds, a little direction, lack of a proper goal, logical crafting, hard-to-find resources, and most importantly, the risk that you could lose it all isn’t appealing to everyone. Others love the rush it provides, though.
Fortunately for fans of this genre, there’s more and more innovation in this style, so now there are hybrid versions that try to take what’s best about survival games and graft it onto other game styles. With the variety in this genre, players with Xbox Game Pass have access to some great survival games, including a few of the best.
Updated April 12, 2023 By Ben Jessey: Xbox Game Pass includes all types of titles for its subscribers. For instance, if you’re fond of survival games, you’re in luck, as the service includes many of them, from horror-based ones to open-world sandbox ones.
We put the best examples on this list. However, Game Pass is forever in flux, meaning games keep coming and going. So, in this update, we removed one game that left the service and added a few new ones to take its place.
20 Darkest Dungeon
Along with being a survival game, Darkest Dungeon is also an RPG dungeon crawler. In it, you must explore and cleanse dangerous dungeons that are underneath your estate. You do that by sending in groups of brave adventurers.
Yet, even the mightiest of heroes struggle to deal with the mental anguish they go through while down in these dungeons. So, you must manage their stress, which can send them to an early grave if it gets too high. Of course, that is not the only thing that can kill them – they can also die in battle. Their survival is in your hands.
In Valheim, you play as a Viking. But unlike the average Viking game that is typically all about raiding and pillaging, this one is about survival. You’re a Viking who has just been slain in battle and brought to the Tenth World, which resembles a procedurally generated open world.
It isn’t the most pleasant place to venture, as it contains plenty of dangerous foes that are ready to take you out. Not only have you got to defend against them, but you also must craft, forage, hunt, and mine to survive.
Soma is more of a narrative-focused survival game about a man who wakes up in an underwater facility far into the future. As him, you explore the place, speaking to the various mechanical beings housed there.
The experience is very thought-provoking as it makes you question the nature of being alive. The survival aspect of the game comes in the form of the monsters that stalk the place, who will kill you on sight. You must use stealth to stay away from their grip.
17 Vampire Survivors
Vampire Survivors is an original and simple survival game. You’re placed onto a plot of land, and a ridiculous number of enemies are thrown at you. So much so that it’s also considered a bullet hell game. Your only goal is to survive the onslaught as long as you can.
It doesn’t have an array of deep mechanics like many other survival titles, but it doesn’t need them. The various weapons and upgrades, along with the pure fun of surviving, are enough to keep the game interesting for many hours.
16 Stranded Deep
Things start badly for the playable character in Stranded Deep as they get into a plane crash. They manage to survive, but they’re now stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with very few supplies. So, it’s the perfect beginning to a survival game.
To stay alive, you need to manage your hunger, thirst, and general well-being. While doing that, you must gather resources to build rafts, tools, and shelters. Therefore, it’s a very pure survival title. The way it separates itself from others in the genre is by putting a lot of focus on traveling across the ocean. This comes with its own dangers, as several deadly creatures are swimming around.
In Maneater, you play as a shark swimming around the ocean. Your goal is to get bigger and more deadly by hunting down other aquatic creatures. You can also mess with some humans in the process. From that premise, it doesn’t really sound like a survival game since you are controlling a ruthless predator.
However, you aren’t the biggest and meanest creature in the ocean. There are also several apex predators in the water, ready to kill you on sight. On top of that, if you anger the humans too much, some of them will attack. Thus, you’re both predator and prey in this game.
14 Dead By Daylight
Whether or not Dead By Daylight is a survival game depends on what team you’re on. After all, this is an asymmetric multiplayer game where one person plays as the killer while everyone else controls the survivors.
As their name suggests, the role of the killer is to go around murdering everyone. If they all die, the killer wins. As the survivors, you aim to open up the exit or find another way to escape. It is essentially a highly violent game of cat-and-mouse.
13 This War Of Mine: Final Cut
This War of Mine is a unique war-themed game because you don’t play as a soldier on the front lines or a special ops member. Instead, you control a group of civilians who are trying to survive during this difficult time.
They’re all hiding inside a damaged building, hoping to avoid the conflict. You must keep them safe by maintaining their hunger and health while keeping their mood as high as possible. To do that, you need to scavenge for items and supplies, making the stakes of your survival just as high as theirs.
12 7 Days To Die
There are many ways to perish in 7 Days To Die, such as through starvation or dying of thirst. Not to mention, multiple things can make your downfall quicker, like harsh weather, dysentery, and injury.
However, the biggest threat to your health in this title is, of course, the zombies. These monsters continually roam the game’s open world and will attack you on sight. To make matters worse, they get stronger with each passing day. But you can craft bases to hide in and tools to help defend yourself. Plus, you can bring in some friends to help out, as the game supports multiplayer.
11 Conan Exiles
As you may expect from its title, Conan Exiles takes place in the Conan The Barbarian world. You don’t play as the titular character, though. Instead, you control an exile who begins with nothing.
You must use what resources you can gather to avoid dying of hunger or thirst. To make matters worse, the open world is filled with dangerous creatures that will kill you if they get the chance. Plus, if you’re playing on an online server, you must watch out for bloodthirsty players. So, there are dangers all around, which is what you expect with a survival game.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be the size of an ant? Well, Grounded helps feed that curiosity. You play as a shrunken human who must survive in a backyard with plenty of bugs and other creatures. They all share their own purpose, with some being more useful than others.
The spiders, for instance, are definitely not helpful as their goal is to kill you. And if you aren’t fond of spiders, don’t worry, as the game includes an Arachnophobia Safe Mode, where you can change how the creatures look. While dealing with those beasts, you must eat and drink to stay alive.
9 No Man’s Sky
It’s fair to say that No Man’s Sky had a difficult launch. But after several updates, the game has become a more polished and fascinating adventure. In it, you get the freedom to explore a bunch of procedurally generated planets, where you find materials that help you build up your gear.
However, it’s not as peaceful as it sounds, as these planets aren’t all devoid of life. There is usually something around that’s trying to kill you. And it would be best if you used your wits and whatever equipment you have to survive the attacks while making the planet as habitable as possible.
Frostpunk differs from many other games in the genre because you’re not just looking after yourself or a small team. Instead, you must manage an entire city of people whose world has been destroyed due to global cooling.
Along with being a survival game, it’s a city simulator where you have to manage resources and your people. In the process, you must make some difficult judgment calls that aren’t always going to make you well-liked among the population. But sometimes, the unpopular choice will help keep people alive in the long run.
While Minecraft is certainly not the first entry into the genre, it led the charge for the current generation of survival games. Here you have all the elements you expect of this sort of title in their starkest, blockiest form. With no real goal and virtually unlimited space and resources, you can build whatever you want, assuming you can survive the hazards of wandering Mobs, including the iconic creepers.
Many Minecraft players get trauma flashbacks at the sound of sizzling bacon, thanks to those stealthy, exploding beasts. The game has limitations, but it’s still amusing and perfect for family time with your little crafters.
Terraria grew directly out of the excitement for Minecraft, making some similar concessions in terms of a block universe. However, Terraria limits the world significantly by making it a two-dimensional, pixelated setup.
It makes up for this limitation by giving you an even more comprehensive array of monsters to fight. There are several epic bosses and powerful waves of outrageous enemies you can summon by crafting magic items. There are also plenty of well-developed NPCs that you can trade with. They also sometimes give you scraps of information and quests—another very fun one for family play.
5 Medieval Dynasty
Medieval Dynasty is a fantastic blend of multiple genres, bringing aspects of survival, simulation, and strategy under one roof, making for unique and interesting gameplay. While not perfect, Medieval Dynasty delivers an unforgettable experience, placing you directly in the middle ages, forcing you to hunt, farm, and maintain a village for survival.
If you’re looking for something that shakes up the survival formula, this may be what you’re looking for, as it has enough of the survival identity present but stretches its legs far beyond what you would expect. Living your day-to-day life out will be tense, rewarding, and exhilarating, but it can also be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.
Astroneer is a very pure survival game. With neither time limits nor set goals, you wander the worlds of your solar system, collecting resources that enable you to research and build ever more complex technologies.
While there are no animals in this game, only plants, that doesn’t mean you’re free from threats. Not only can the flora kill you with poison, explosions, and impaling spines, but it’s easy to get lost, especially if you wander into caves. And a missing Astroneer usually runs out of air and dies.
3 State of Decay 2
State of Decay 2 is a post-apocalyptic zombie horror survival game. What makes it different from many others is that you are not a lone survivor. Instead, you have to work together with other people who have managed to avoid being eaten by the undead (not other players, but NPCs in the game). You must utilize their skills and build your own base to hold against the onslaught of the wandering zombie hordes.
This game can be bloody, but it’s bloody fun, too. And the team-based ethos gives this game an uplifting core that contrasts sharply with the gruesome setting and grueling challenges.
2 Ark: Survival Evolved
Ark’s subtitle is not just a sales conceit. It accurately describes what this game did to the survival genre. Plopped down nearly naked in a world full of dinosaurs, it’s tough to hold your own. Dilophosaurs may be small, but they are vicious, and you’ll die many times before you learn how to craft the weapons and tools necessary to fend them off.
As you gain skills, though, the challenge makes this game very satisfying when you start learning to construct shelters, transportation, and train dinosaurs. You can really rule the land from the back of a Baryonyx.
Unlike most games on this list, DayZ is a survival game that is online only, forcing you to explore the world with the hopes, or fear, of running into other players trying to survive. The rush of running into someone and not knowing their plans can be incredibly daunting to many, which is understandable, but we strongly urge fans of the genre to attempt this unique experience at least once.
Additionally, DayZ has a relatively robust modding community, and a large gathering in general, allowing you to easily meet like-minded players, setting you up for nearly endless hours of enjoyment. There’s nothing like DayZ out there, and there’s no questioning where its success game from, as trying to survive amongst zombies and real players is inherently terrifying and engaging.
NEXT: Best Split-Screen Multiplayer Games On Xbox One, Ranked