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Games Like Rust: 12 Epic Survival Games Explored

Survival is the foundation of Rust, one of the most popular games on Steam. You spawn into the world with nothing. We don’t mean that dramatically, either. Your character starts naked, and it’s up to you to not only clothe yourself but also to fight against the violent tendencies of the other players in the world.

In case you find starting in the buff a little too much, but still want to scratch the survival genre itch, then we have a list for you. Join us as we explore the 12 best games like Rust to play today!

Ark: Survival Evolved


If you’ve ever wanted to ride a T-Rex (and who hasn’t?), give Ark: Survival Evolved a try. This entry into the survival genre of action games has all of the welcome tropes players have come to expect over the years including punching trees and starving to death, but we cannot understate the value of your ability to interact with dinosaurs.

With enough patience, skill, and a little bit of luck you will be able to tame and ride a wide range of dinosaurs that wander the map. There is nothing quite like that feeling the first time you successfully mount one of these prehistoric giants and bid it to gallop across the vast world that makes up this survival masterpiece.

Where to Play

Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4


the original voxel masterpiece

The impact of Minecraft on the survival genre, and on video games in general, cannot be understated. Few games will ever reach the heights of popularity and success that Minecraft has achieved in the decade since its launch. What started as a simple java applet has spawned an entire franchise of games, toys, clothing, action figures, and more. Its popularity, far from diminishing, continues to grow year after year because of the incredible new content and love that its developer Mojang pours into it.

At times, it’s easy to forget that at the center of all of the franchise frenzy is an engrossing and engaging survival game. Players love Minecraft, and in our opinion, that love is well earned.

Where to Play

Windows 10, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS4, iOS, Android


one of the original survival games

It’s reasonable to say that DayZ started the modern survival game obsession. What launched as an Early Access game on Steam has become a worldwide phenomenon of survival. DayZ stands out amongst the pack for its very focused mechanics.

There is very little crafting to do and no building to speak of. Instead, basic survival plays a central role in the experience of DayZ. Staying fed and hydrated is vitally important, even by survival game standards. The ways in which you can die are very specific. Make sure to get the right type of blood if you need a transfusion, and always be sure to wear shoes.

Like most survival games of this type, your only allies are the ones you bring into the game with you. Very few of the other players you’ll encounter during a session will be friendly. If you see movement on the horizon, shoot first, and loot the body later.

Where to Play

Steam, Xbox One, PS4


don't forget to breathe

Every game in this genre has some type of resource you need to monitor in order to ensure your survival. In the underwater world of Subnautica, oxygen is invaluable. Though you still need to stay fed and hydrated, you spend most of your time under the beautiful blue waters of the mysterious planet you crash land on. Keeping track of how much air you breathe is a constant stressor and key to survival.

Navigating around in your submarine and exploring everything that the beautiful world of Subnautica has to offer is a real treat, and we can’t recommend exploring it enough. If you need a break from the bleak environs of several of the games on this list, Subnautica is a great choice!

Where to Play

Steam, Epic Games Store, Xbox One, PS4


visit other planets

Like most games in the sci-fi sub-genre, you start Astroneer marooned on a strange planet with little to assist in your survival. However, you gain access to a tool that helps the game stand out. The deform tool that functions as the main way you shape the worlds of Astroneer allows you to construct, destroy, and mold the very world under your feet. It’s one of the most compelling mechanics we’ve seen in survival games to date.

Astroneer’s unique look spans seven complete planets, which you’ll get to explore if you build your structures, and manage your health. The sense of achievement when you step foot onto your first new world is awe-inspiring, and it’s pretty crazy how deep the terrain goes beneath the planet’s surface.

Astroneer might be one of our favorite entries on this list, which is saying something considering how good every one of these games is.

Where to Play

Steam, Xbox One, PS4

Don’t Starve

a focus on tools instead of building

With its creepy art style, heavy black vignette around the edges of the screen, and emphasis on the constant need to gather resources, Don’t Starve might actually be the scariest game on this list. That’s impressive given that it’s a 2D experience.

Rather than spending time building structures, Don’t Starve focuses on the technology you’ll need to succeed in this weird world you find yourself in. The longer you survive, the stranger the world gets, and the crazier the technology becomes.

Don’t Starve is an incredibly unique play experience, and it gets even more interesting when you play with a friend in the Don’t Start Together expansion.

Where to Play

Steam, GoG, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4


2D survival at its best

Don’t write off Terraria as a Minecraft also-ran. Though the game is reminiscent of Minecraft’s style (but in 2D), the experience of playing Terraria is much different. Right from the start, you’ll notice a deeper focus on combat and platforming. The crafting system is more streamlined and intuitive than the arcane recipes of Minecraft.

The developers have been supporting Terraria for nearly a decade, and recently released the final expansion in their already massive game. It’s never too late though to discover all of the mysteries and wonders of this excellent adventure.

If you’re looking for more games like it, don’t forget to peruse our list of 15 Great Games Like Terraria You Should Check Out.

Where to Play

Steam, GoG, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4

Conan Exiles

sacrifice yourself to the gods

Every survival game needs an element that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. Whether it’s monitoring oxygen, riding dinosaurs, or building tools, you need to have something unique. Conan Exiles has all of the elements of a great survival game wrapped in the style of Robert Howard’s iconic character. It also has a mechanic that no other game on this list possesses: Human sacrifice.

That’s right! If you can capture an opponent alive, you can then sacrifice them to the gods. Far from being a trivial system, sacrifices can actually curry favor with the god of your choice. The boosts you get from these offerings can be the difference between life and death in the harsh world of Conan Exiles.

Where to Play

Steam, Xbox One, PS4

7 Days to Die

a grueling challenge

7 Days to Die takes the common theme of a zombie apocalypse and uses it as a backdrop for one of the most grueling entries on this list. If you can overcome the extreme challenge that this particular game throws at you, you’ll find some incredibly rewarding gameplay.

The single-player experience takes place on a pre-built world, but you can also play with friends in a randomly generated environment based on the main game. There are tons of items to craft, including vehicles. Last but not least, you can construct buildings to help you complete the tower defense elements of the game that has you fight off hoards of the undead looking to add you to their dinner menu.

Where to Play

Steam, Xbox One, PS4

The Long Dark

your biggest enemy is the cold...and bears

Most survival games tend to take place in a sci-fi world or in the ravaged landscape of a zombie apocalypse. The Long Dark does something truly unique by putting you in the frigid environments of northern Canada. Instead of zombies, your foes are the nearly unstoppable bears that are the apex predator of these inhospitable lands.

A focus of The Long Dark involves surviving in the harsh cold. You’ll need to keep your body temperature up by staying close to a fire at night. Pay attention to the food you eat, as the extreme cold that you live in burns calories at a seriously fast rate.

The Long Dark is great, and we hope to see more survival games as grounded, but no less terrifying, as this sure-to-be classic.

Where to Play

Steam, Xbox One, PS4

This War of Mine

a war ravaged city

Another survival game grounded in reality, This War of Mine recreates the horror of living in the ruins of a city besieged by war. The side-scrolling presentation gives the game an interesting look as you peer into buildings and the ruins of the world in cross-section.

There are two distinct phases in This War of Mine. During the day, you need to hunker down and avoid being shot by the snipers lurking throughout the city. Instead, focus on maintaining your den and preparing for future attacks. Night is when you venture out into the wasteland of your home, searching for the needed supplies to fight and survive another day.

Though nothing can ever truly convey the horrific circumstances of living in a war-ravaged world, This War of Mine does an excellent job of building a constant sense of impending violence, and the fear that the only way out is death.

Where to Play

Steam, Origin, Epic Games Store, GoG, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4

The Forest

cannibal mutants on the loose

As if having to survive, lost in an inhospitable wilderness weren’t bad enough, in The Forest you must also contend with a race of vicious mutants determined to feed…on you! Like all survival games, The Forest asks you to build, gather, and defend yourself from the constant threat of enemies while trying to find a way to escape this dangerous world.

The combat is intense, and the mutants move fast and strike from anywhere. It’s these high adrenaline encounters that set The Forest apart from the rest of the pack. Be prepared for your blood pressure to spike, because your enemies are relentless.

Where to Play

Steam, PS4

All You Have to Do Is Survive

There you have it. The 12 best games like Rust. The survival genre isn’t for the faint of heart. These games challenge players more than just about any other genre out there, but the sense of accomplishment when you fight back and overcome insurmountable obstacles is one of the best feelings you can get playing video games.

Without a doubt, the survival genre is extremely healthy, with plenty of options to explore. Rust is amongst the best of these, but it is by no means your only option. Whether you want to survive in space, during a zombie apocalypse, against nature, or in a bizarre world made up entirely of voxels, there is something for everyone.

Written By

In a previous life, Eric was a video game developer. He helped create many games over the course of more than a decade. These days you can find him huddled in front of his laptop, consuming far more caffeine than is healthy, writing whatever it is someone needs him to write. And he couldn't be happier!

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