Best Xbox Survival Games to Play in 2018

Mark Delaney - September 27th 2018

Most games are made to empower players, but not survival games. This is a genre that prides itself on pushing you to learn its rules and follow them closely, with grave consequences should you fail. Here are the best survival games available on Xbox One in 2018.

This War of Mine: The Little Ones

This War of Mine: The Little Ones forces you to make tough decisions throughout and the real consequences from these actions are seen in the game. Whether you choose to steal from the hospital, an old couple on medication, or a homeless man's squat, you are made to feel guilty. Consequently, you feel good for helping out a stranger. Keeping track of all your supplies and having enough of everything to keep your people alive is not an easy feat, and it feels like the first story that you are given is a little too hard. The ability to create your own scenario is a great addition and it allows you to tweak the game to your own survival ability. Whilst the days can get a little repetitive and boring if you have to catch up on sleep and not much else, the game challenges you, your morals and your survival instincts against the backdrop of the serious subject of war.

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State of Decay 2

If you walked away from the original game feeling flustered from the constant micromanagement of everything, State of Decay 2 isn't going to change your mind. All of those aspects return and in many cases are made deeper. For a game to do so much at once you'd reasonably expect more bumps in the road than how few are found here. Story, voice work, and animations are all still goofy, but throw in co-op multiplayer, better endgame content, and more reasons to replay it, and State of Decay 2 is the type of game with which certain players will fall in love. There's always something to do and in a classically sim style, it's hard to know when to stop. It's the most detailed zombie apocalypse simulation in the world and that's a beautiful thing.

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The Flame in the Flood

The Flame in the Flood does not afford the player leisure time to stop and take in the sights. The survival system here, complete with all of the afflictions that are actively working against you, is the high point of the game, and is something that continually presents the player with a real challenge throughout their journey. It’s a constant battle of intense survival where planning for the present and future is always a necessity. If we're really talking about the end of society, that's exactly how it should be.

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No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky is tough to recommend because it doesn't nearly have mass appeal. It's a grueling game for far too long and even after that its loop is still too freeform for most players. For the right kind of player, however, it can be an exciting adventure filled with memorable moments and a real sense of discovery. With multiple intriguing storylines that can be chased or ignored, a ton of equipment and upgrades to unlock, and intuitive, easy to use base-building, there's a universe of possibilities to see, provided you can first get off the ground.

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ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved is a game of grandiose scale. The fact remains there is a beautiful, alive world with thousands of dinosaurs to train, ride, breed and more is remarkable, especially if you grew up in a time where games weren't more than a few pixels. Amazing things are possible in the ARK — the gun-wielding soldier set high atop the most badass predator of all time comes to mind — but the experience is clouded by the best ones being locked behind excessive grinding, boring farming and the need for a large group. System commands and customizable settings can ease some of the pain, but the base concept remains a chore. A messy UI and the lack of a tutorial leave you alone in the dark, forced to spend hours researching on your own in order to figure out what's what. But there's no denying that if you're willing to put in the time, you will be rewarded with some incredible gameplay moments, especially if your friends join you on the ARK.

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Death Road To Canada

Here's one that you could say has cult appeal on TA. With not even 300 players trying out the game on site, it's garnered a 4.5 average among them. So while it's not a popular game, it's beloved among those who have played it. For that reason, it makes for an easy recommendation for survival fans, as it's highly likely almost none of you reading this have played it. As the devs themselves describe it, in DRTC you "control a car full of jerks." Getting the jerks to the land of make-believe maple leaves is the mission. Can you do it with all your friendships intact?

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Minecraft: Xbox One Edition

No list of survival game recommendations would be complete without the one that kicked off the run of survival games. Minecraft grew from a passion project to one of the most lucrative and most popular brands in the world. There's really no one left that doesn't know about the game, as it's won over kids and adults alike for years now. Totally ubiquitous at this point, you need not play the game on Xbox if you don't want to. You can even play it on your Nintendo Switch and earn Xbox achievements there too!

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The Long Dark

Among the realistic wilderness sims that have hit Xbox, The Long Dark is perhaps the best. It's a game that pulls few punches and demands constant upkeep, to the extent that it might just be too tough for some. It's earned a strong following around it for that same reason though. You'll need to craft everything yourself, from simple fires that burn out quickly to better weapons to fend off the wolves, resist the elements, keep your belly full, and rest when needed. It's a whole bunch of now common survival mechanics, but few do it as deeply or as satisfyingly as TLD.

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Don't Starve

Don't Starve caught on with players first on PC a half-decade ago before coming to other platforms slowly over the years. If you caught the game then and liked the unique mix of Burtonesque 2D art and the usual genre mechanics, you'll not want to miss the standalone multiplayer expansion, Don't Starve Together. Now you can starve not just all by yourself, but with friends! It's one of several Don't Starve expansions, along with the above pictured Shipwrecked which have collectively built the small indie series into one that's earned a ton of respect from genre fans.

Download from Microsoft Store