15 Best Xbox One Survival Games

On land, in the ocean, and even throughout space.


Because life isn’t hard enough, we often love to boot up the best Xbox One survival games that pushes our stress to the limits.

There’s nothing more nerve wracking than having to hunt for scarce food supplies as our character slowly starves to death. Or waking up on a seemingly empty beach only for someone to ride along on a velociraptor and pummel us with a club. We really enjoy spending hours building a suitable safehouse only for some green guy to meander along and blow it all up.

With all of their nuisances, it may seem odd to fall in love with survival games, but we do. We’ll always return to the, regardless of how badly they keep burning us. It’s especially true with this list of the best Xbox One survival games. They’re no less maddening, but they will always suck us back in. Bear in mind that all of these games will also work on Xbox Series X | S thanks to backward compatibility.


The Best Xbox One Survival Games

15. Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Ancestors Weapons

Developer: Panache Digital Games
Publisher: Private Division

Ever wanted the opportunity to go back to the very beginning of humankind? Eons before video games and smartphones and modern conveniences like private bathrooms? Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey may be the experience you’re looking for.

It’s Neogene Africa, 10 million years ago. The horrors of the deepest, darkest jungles threaten your lineage. Starting as a primate with only instincts keeping you alive, you’ll need to explore, learn your surroundings, and hunt for food to survive the unforgiving world. Should a predator get the best of you, you’ll switch control to another member of your clan until there’s either no one left or you’ve evolved across millions of years.

Ancestors is a unique glimpse into the concept of evolution, where every stage you progress through comes with new skills. Before long, you’ll be walking on two legs and ruling the jungle with more advanced tools and incredible intelligence.


14. No Man’s Sky

No man's Sky next
No Man’s Sky

Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games

Okay, so it didn’t fare too well at launch, but No Man’s Sky has come a long way since then.

It’s all about survival and exploration in this expansive title, which features an array of procedurally generated worlds. While you’re not battling things like hunger, you will need to know how to navigate worlds full of noxious gases, deadly temperatures, and devastating storms. Your exosuit will only protect you for so long, so be sure to have an answer to these problems before disembarking.

No Man’s Sky leaves it to you to carve out your own destiny. While it was once pretty bare-bones, there’s quite a lot to see and evade after several updates. There was even a Survival Mode added, which pumps up the difficulty, makes environmental hazards deadlier, and amps up the aggression of hostile extraterrestrials.

Surely you’ve heard the horror stories behind No Man’s Sky, but it really has made leaps and strides in the right direction, making it one of the best survival games for the Xbox One.


13. Darkwood


Developer: Acid Wizard Studio
Publisher: Acid Wizard Studio

Darkwood is an incredible blend of survival horror, RPG, and roguelike elements while also staying true to the survival genre. Praise is well earned for Acid Wizard Studio, who created such an eerie atmosphere that you won’t want to spend a night in your dreary, desolate cabin. But, curiosity will push you forward, especially as you start to explore the game’s survival elements.

The day/night cycle brings entirely different experiences as the light of the sun gives you the safety to explore, scavenge for supplies, and uncover the secrets of the woods around you. As night falls, however, you’ll want to be in the safety of your hovel. The shadows bring horrors that only traps and barricades can stop – so long as you leave yourself enough time to build them.

Darkwood is a multifaceted game with a lot to offer. Its marriage of survival horror and survival is handled exceptionally well as you scramble for materials in the daylight and cower beneath the full moon.


12. The Flame in the Flood

The Flame in the Flood survival game
The Flame in the Flood survival game

Developer: The Molasses Flood
Publisher: Curve Digital

If you think the world is unkind now, imagine what it would be like if a flood left the nation divided up into islands. Each island inhabited by people, trying to survive just like you. Your only choice is to float down the river in a makeshift raft, stopping at abandoned ports to clear out devastated towns and water-rotted homes.

The Flame in the Flood sends you on such a journey, forcing you to mind the protagonist’s thirst, hunger, energy, and warmth while avoiding a number of deadly obstacles.

The Flame in the Flood may mimic other survival games, but its art style and concept separate it fairly well. Outside of the crafting and scavenging elements, little about this game feels familiar. If you’re hesitant to jump on in, keep in mind that the developer, The Molasses Flood, is a team of people who worked on BioShock and Halo 2.

Well, Rock Band, too. But we’re not sure how that’s a major selling point for a survival game.


11. Sheltered

Sheltered game
Sheltered game

Developer: Unicube
Publisher: Team17

Do survival games have to look good to be good? Sheltered is pretty solid evidence that they do not. In fact, the pixelated game is several generations old when it comes to visuals, but the mechanics and story are perfect for a modern survival title.

It’s just you and your family in this post-apocalyptic world. As the environments turn to waste from the nuclear holocaust, you’ll have to think quick on your feet to keep everyone alive. Build a shelter, craft the necessary comforts and weapons, and explore the decaying world for supplies. Be wary of other survivors, though, as they may be just as desperate as you.

Sheltered allows you to bring in other survivors or partake in turn-based combat to keep your family safe. The more progress you make, the bigger your underground shelter will become. Keep it habitable, and you may just survive this madness.


10. Astroneer


Developer: System Era Softworks
Publisher: System Era Softworks

There is something incredibly lighthearted about Astroneer. It’s not your typical survival game, where something is waiting to kill you around every corner. The game wants you to have fun. To explore the distant planets and tinker with the worlds to dig to the planet’s core or create wondrous structures.

It’s not all fun and games for this 25th-century space explorer, though. There are plenty of hazards in Astroneer, and they all have one goal in mind. While you bounce from planet to planet, building and reshaping to your heart’s content, you may happen upon deadly storms or acid-spitting plants.

Survival is definitely secondary in Astroneer, but reckless astronauts are sure to have their lives cut short.


9. The Solus Project

Solus Project review
Solus Project

Developer: Teotl Studios
Publisher: Teotl Studios

Rarely are extraterrestrial planets welcoming to distant explorers.

The Solus Project explores this concept quite a bit as it sends players on an intergalactic journey of survival. After Earth is destroyed, you’re sent out to explore and scope out a distant planet in hopes of finding a suitable atmosphere for humans to thrive. Unfortunately, the universe has different plans for you and maroons you, mankind’s only hope of survival, on an unknown planet.

It’s pretty quiet on your proverbial galactic island until the storms roll in or the meteors get a little too close for comfort. That’s where the survival elements come into play. The Solus Project is primarily about exploration and returning back to your people, but the volatile climate and the planet’s unknown secrets prove to be your greatest threats.

The Solus Project tortures players with deep gameplay mechanics that include dynamic character response to conditions like humidity and rain. Succumb to the planet’s dangers, and you’ll doom humanity forever.


8. Green Hell

Green Hell game
Green Hell game

Developer: Creepy Jar
Publisher: Creepy Jar

The Amazonian rainforest is no place to be trapped and left without supplies or a means of going home. And yet here you are, forced to survive against impossible odds in an environment that has a million ways to kill you.

Green Hell blends psychological thrills into a realistic survival simulator – which is probably what getting stuck in the Amazon would really be like.

Battle the elements and your own mind, gathering food and supplies to survive another day. Hunger may not grip you, but disease and life-threatening injuries still can. Every step must be a careful one as you threaten to break down both physically and mentally. Using the game’s “body inspection mode,” you can care for both your physical and mental health to ensure you ultimately make it out of this green prison.


7. The Long Dark

The Long Dark
The Long Dark

Developer: Hinterland Studio
Publisher: Hinterland Studio

Mother Nature is a beast. Get caught up in one of her less desirable regions, and you’ll quickly feel her wrath.

In The Long Dark, players are thrown into the frozen wilds of Northern Canada, where the chilling weather is one problem among dozens. As you maneuver the frozen wasteland looking for food and the necessary supplies for shelter, you’ll come face-to-face with beasts that are just as hungry as you.

The Long Dark throws hypothermia and frostbite into the mix to really amp up the challenge. For a more subdued experience, Pilgrim Mode tones things down a bit so you can enjoy exploring the great white north. Up for a challenge? Then jump into Interloper Mode, and you’ll see just how vicious Mother Nature can be.

You have 50-square-kilometers of Canada all to yourself. Unfortunately, it’s the most dangerous 50-square-kilometers of Canada.


6. Frostpunk


Developer: 11 bit Studios
Publisher: 11 bit Studios

Typically, survival games have you focus on the well-being of one person. Frostpunk wanted to up the ante and put you in charge of the last city on Earth. Every action you take isn’t just to keep you fed or warm. It’s to keep an entire civilization running and to prevent society from collapsing into madness.

The world is a winter wonderland, except the concept of heat is now a commodity. You’ll need to allocate resources, establish a code of laws, develop helpful technologies, and make difficult decisions to keep your people alive. Slip up, and you’ll watch helplessly as the icy cold overtakes your city.

Frostpunk will really tell you the kind of ruler you’d be in a time of crisis. Will you rule with an iron fist to keep your people safe? Or allow more freedoms that may make everyone too careless.


5. Don’t Starve

Don't Starve
Don’t Starve

Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment

With a title like Don’t Starve, can you guess what one of the many ways you can die in this Klei Entertainment survival game may be? Yes, I said many ways. And hunger is pretty low on the totem pole of awfulness.

After being pulled into a world of spirits and monsters, players are tasked with exploring the strange land searching for a way home. It starts with building rudimentary tools and progresses into advanced forms of science and technology. That is, if you can survive long enough. While you can succumb to hunger, it’s the creatures of this land that prove to be the real threat.

Don’t Starve doesn’t hold the player’s hand from beginning to end. You’ll need to experiment with combining ingredients to craft the necessary items to survive.

Don’t Starve is a whimsical but stressful game. One wrong move, and you’ll surely become a snack and be left as a pile of bones.


4. This War of Mine

This War of Mine
This War of Mine

Developer: 11 bit Studios
Publisher: 11 bit Studios

Few war games let us experience war from the civilian side. This War of Mine not only does that, but it does as a survival game that highlights the horrors of war. As the conflict rages, you’ll need to explore bombed-out buildings and seemingly empty homes to find helpful supplies. Every decision you make can either help your shelter expand or put a massive target on it.

Each randomized world has something new to offer, from the other survivors that will get in your way to the minimal supplies. This War of Mine gives a unique look at the effects of war as you’re forced to kill and steal for survival.

You’ll have to move under cover of night as snipers make it impossible to leave during the day. As the stars shine above the ruined city, you’ll explore buildings and scavenge supplies needed to get through the next day.


3. Subnautica


Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

How horrified are you of the vast open ocean? Subnautica is sure to test your resolve with a survival game set in an extraterrestrial waterworld.

Instead of exploring islands or forests or any other manner of dry environment, you’ll be maneuvering through the depths of a mysterious planet. If you manage your oxygen supply well enough, you may just be able to escape. That is, of course, unless one of the oversized monstrosities makes a quick snack out of you.

Subnautica gives you plenty of underwater world to explore as you seek out and gather supplies necessary for your survival. Inhabiting this world are some truly unique – and sometimes horrifying – aliens. Those who don’t immediately want to eat you will leave you awestruck and very briefly contemplating staying on this fascinating planet. There aren’t many games like Subnautica out there.


2. ARK: Survival Evolved

Ark Survival Evolved
Ark Survival Evolved

Developer: Studio Wildcard
Publisher: Studio Wildcard

You awaken on a sunny beach, all memory of how you arrived there and where your clothing went wiped from your brain. Everything seems normal enough, save for the weird implant embedded in your arm. The chill of the coastal wind reminds you that you require clothing and your rumbling stomach demands sustenance, so you set off to satiate these basic needs. Unbeknownst to you, as your chopping away at trees and building your shelter, something is following you every step of the way.

Just as you put the finishing touches on your wooden hovel, it happens. There’s a snarl and the immediate signs that something is gnawing on your body. Your life drains from you as your prehistoric assailant bites and claws away until all goes black, and, in an instant, you’re back on that beach, all of your progress lost.

That’s one experience you may have with ARK: Survival Evolved. Pay better attention to the world of dinosaurs around you and you may just survive long enough to uncover the secret of the Ark. Hunger and thirst may constantly threaten to end your journey, but it’s the toothed wonders like the tyrannosaur and velociraptors (and other players) you really need to be mindful of.


1. Minecraft


Developer: Mojang Studios
Publisher: Mojang Studios

Before the survival game genre erupted into dozens upon dozens of indie and AAA releases, there was Minecraft. Yes, it may best be known for the splendid wonders people piece together in the game’s Creative Mode, but Survival Mode is where the challenges lie.

Tossed into a world of blocky wonders, you’re left to build shelter, find food, and avoid becoming the victim of skeletons, spiders, and all manner of creepy crawlies. While you’re still going to be building quite a bit, your structures will be for survival and not for show.

Construct tools and weapons that make progressing easier and find your way to the all-powerful Ender Dragon to put an end to your adventure. Minecraft was one of the first successful survival games, and it’s no wonder that it’s still incredibly popular today. The mechanics may be simple, but there’s a surprising depth for a game that’s mostly made of square blocks.

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