ARK: Survival Evolved might be one of the most complex survival games in recent years. It requires you to do everything you would expect in a situation where your life depends on your resourcefulness. Cooperation between survivors – check. Collecting materials to build shelter and tools – check. Hunting wild animals – check. Dinosaurs…check?
While ARK does provide a lot in terms of realistic survival gameplay – you can even get dehydrated, suffer heatstroke or die of malnutrition, it is hardly the only game that puts the player in a hostile environment, forcing them to force the elements…and dinosaurs.
|Valheim||2021-02-02||Sanbox, survival||Iron Gate Studio||-23%|
|V Rising||2022-05-17||Survival||Stunlock Studios||-|
|The Isle||2015-12-01||Adventure||Afterthought LLC||-|
|Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition||2015-07-29||Adventure||Mojang||-19%|
|The Forest||2018-04-30||Adventure||Endnight Games Ltd||-|
|Dino D-Day||2011-04-08||Action & Shooter||800 North and Digital Ranch||-82%|
|Turok 2: Seeds of Evil||1998-12-10||Action & Shooter||Iguana Entertainment||-76%|
|Subnautica||2018-01-23||Adventure||Unknown Worlds Entertainment||-55%|
|Primal Carnage||2012-10-29||Indie||Lukewarm Media||-61%|
|Primal Carnage: Extinction||2015-04-03||Action & Shooter||Circle Five Studios||-74%|
|PixARK||2018-03-27||Adventure||Snail Games USA||-|
|ASTRONEER||2016-12-15||Adventure||System Era Softworks||-46%|
|Eco||2018-02-06||Indie||Strange Loop Games||-69%|
|Life is Feudal: Forest Village||2017-05-26||Indie||Mindillusion||-93%|
|Life is Feudal: Your Own||2015-11-17||Indie||Bitbox Ltd.||-89%|
|Subsistence||2016-10-25||Action & Shooter||ColdGames||-|
|Green Hell||2018-08-29||Adventure||Creepy Jar||-49%|
|7 Days to Die||2013-12-13||Adventure||The Fun Pimps||-81%|
|Savage Lands||2015-03-05||Adventure||Signal Studios||-81%|
Sharpen your stone axes and grab your wooden spears – we’re going on a hunt for the best games like ARK Survival Evolved available on the market.
Some will have dinosaurs as the main selling point, even even the gameplay is different. Others will put your instincts to test much harder than ARK. Others still are simply awesome survival games in their own right. You will find games better than ARK in some aspect, like having cooler dinosaurs, looking much prettier, or being more realistic. However, you’d be hard pressed to find something that’s better than ARK in EVERY aspect.
Without further delay, let’s hop into…
|Developer:||Iron Gate Studio|
Valheim came from seemingly out of nowhere in 2021 and for a good while kicked it with the best in the genre. With good reason, too. It’s a Viking-themed survival game taking place in a Norse afterlife and giving you an unenviable task of dealing with some boss-shaped thorns in Odin’s side. It might sound grim and serious, but Valheim can be pretty chill compared to the rest of the genre.
Valheim is also pretty relaxed regarding the meters like hunger. If go you hungry, you don’t die, you simply don’t have the bonuses that come with being fed. Of course, there’s also an extensive support for base building, which is always a great way to spend the resources you find through exploration of the game’s many biomes All that just to prepare for the tough boss battles…
In a way, the most odd-one-out entry on the list, but it might strike your fancy, if what drew you to ARK were the fantastical elements. Here you’re not playing some survivor, or a stranded soul. You’re a full-on fancy Vampire, just woken up and ready to terrorize people, but not before setting foundations for a snazzy Gothic castle and learning the hard way that the Sun is a deadly laser.
Over the course of the game you’ll spend a lot of time exploring a lovely fantasy world, fighting with fools who deem themselves worthy of attacking you and your swooshy cape. Of course, you will also, erm, exsanguinate many a villager, and develop new abilities. Although a vampire’s unlife is usually lonesome, V Rising is multiplayer-friendly, both in co-operatively or competitively.
Dinosaurs. We could end the elevator pitch here, since you’re probably already hooked, but probably some explanations are in order. The Isle is a game which lets you live your best life as a dino, aging from a tiny hatchling to adulthood through distinct phases. The game includes a large range of species, from tiny one to the colossi looming majestically over the landscape.
You need to feed (including hunting), you must maintain thirst, and you’ll have to learn the rules of nature if you hope to survive. Each dinosaur has different traits, including even details such as unique roars, which can be used for all kinds of communications in the game. Hearing a T. Rex player press the “I’m coming to hunt, everyone, good luck” key can be terrifying if you’re a tiny dino.
Not quite dinosaurs, but Grounded has its share of huge enemies which will feel like monsters, rather than tiny creatures you usually step on every time you walk on grass. See, the premise here is that you’re playing as teen who got shrunk down to the size of an ant and got lost in the suddenly huge lawn of their house. Good luck gathering morning dew (not the drink) to have fresh water!
You’ll be harvesting tree-sized grass for construction, find bottle caps to use for shields, and spear spiders in the eye when they try to break into your safehouse. And it the meantime you’ll have to figure out what happened and how to undo it. Grounded is a fantastic, unique survival game which looks great. You can also have a pet weevil, which is just cute.
Kenshi can be a lot to take in, and it’s certainly not a game for players who like to get a bit of direction. Well, tough luck – the only directions you get are the cardinal ones on your map. Kenshi is a sandbox through and through, sacrificing some visual fidelity for gameplay complexity that rewards you with diverse playstyles and endless roleplay possibilities.
If you want to run trading caravans? Sure, the game will let you, if you work for it. You want to be a bandit? You can assemble a crew of never-do-wells, build a hideout, and be the scourge of postapocalyptic world. But you must be careful, since you’re just a person, not the Protagonist, and the game’s injury system will make sure that you pay dearly for carelessness.
Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition
When thinking of Minecraft, probably the first thing that pops to your head is the limitless creative potential.
Erecting enormous structures, building entire cities, recreating the locations from your favorite books, movies, and TV shows – that’s what you imagine when you hear about the game created by the developers at Mojang. But Minecraft is on our list for a reason, and that reason is the Survival Mode.
In many ways, the Survival Mode of Minecraft is very similar to the core gameplay mechanics of ARK. Much like the beach in A: SE, the player’s settlement in SM is surrounded by an area inhabited by monsters. he player must expand the settlement, by traveling into the darkness and collecting materials to strengthen their home.
The creatures of the dark will attack the player on sight so the player should always be well-prepared, having plenty of craftable weapons and armor to defend themselves. Minecraft received many positive reviews and became a global phenomenon.
|Developer:||Endnight Games Ltd|
At first glance the game doesn’t have much in common with ARK. The setting is pretty plain and the plot that got us there is simple – we play as the survivor of a plane crash, looking for his missing child in a mysterious forest. But wait, is that an alien kidnapping a child? And what’s with these weird wooden structures? And that definitely looks like a work of some cannibals, yikes!
The Forest is pretty similar to ARK in terms of gameplay, especially crafting. The player (or players – the game can be played in online multiplayer) has to build shelter, create makeshift weapons for defense, and collect supplies to survive in the wild. To make the gameplay more survivalist, the game only allows saving within created shelter – there is no autosave option. Talk about hardcore!
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
|Developer:||800 North and Digital Ranch|
Well, it has dinosaurs so it counts…right? Dino D-Day is a multiplayer first-person shooter set during World War II. The players select the side of the conflict they want to fight on – the Allies or the Axis. The trick is that, due to Adolf’s dabbling into dark arts, the prehistoric reptiles are back and fight on the fronts of the world for both sides.
After selecting their faction, the player can choose the side and class they want to play as. The Allied forces include classes like assault, medics, and heavies. The Nazi forces replace heavies with snipers. Both factions have their specialized dinosaur units, equipped with different types of weapons – machine guns, explosives, and others.
Rust is something of a poster child for grim and gritty survival games. In this multiplayer title the player is put on a procedurally generated map, armed only with a torch and a rock. With these tools they will have to gather supplies and defend themselves against other players, dangerous fauna, and other elemental dangers.
Facepunch Studio’s survival game started as a clone of DayZ, however, the developers decided against making another zombie game, instead opting for a battle royale survival experience. The mechanics include classics like crafting, nutrition, but Rust also adds frequent item drops. Ranging from survival supplies to weapons and vehicles, they can shift the balance of power.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter & Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
A list about surviving in a world full of dinosaurs would not be complete without this legend. In 1997, Turok was a revelation – it combined the first-person shooter mechanics of Doom and world exploration of Tomb Raider. Turok, a Native American warrior tasked with protecting the barrier between the worlds, quickly became one of the most recognizable protagonists.
The core gameplay Dinosaur Hunter involved traveling between the game’s hub world and seven other stages. Within each stage, the player must complete various objectives and find keys. Turok is armed with a variety of weapons he can use against his scaly enemies, including a knife, a bow, and a variety of futuristic guns, because we fight not just dinosaurs, but also aliens.
|Developer:||Unknown Worlds Entertainment|
If you liked that one documentary, in which James Cameron dives into the oceanic depths in a submersible, this game is just for you. Subnautica is like ARK: Survival Evolved but underwater. As a survivor of a spaceship crashing into an alien ocean, you are tasked with exploring the depths and establishing a research base to figure out the way of getting off the planet.
The former won’t be easy, as the vast waters of this unknown world are inhabited by all sorts of creatures, some friendly, others not so much. The game can be played in several modes, including Survival, in which you have to balance exploration with maintaining their various meters, such as the oxygen supply. If you’d rather just explore and build a base, the creative mode is there too.
Like Dino D-Day we’ve already discussed on our list, Primal Carnage pits humans and dinosaurs against each other. The premise of PC bears strong similarities to the Jurassic Park series. A remote island, an experiment to bring back dinosaurs, but then everything goes to hell – sounds familiar? Luckily, the game is not plot-heavy, relying on multiplayer humans-dinosaur PvP.
There are several game modes, including a wonderfully named “Get to the Chopper”, where the players face a dino horde to, well, get to the chopper. Humans come in several classes, each with a unique loadout. Meanwhile, dinosaurs include a T.Rex, Dilophosaurus, and Pteranodon, among others. They aren’t armed but possess unique skills and stats making them tough adversaries.
|Developer:||Snail Games USA|
What happens, when you combine Minecraft and ARK? Well…this. PixARK utilizes many solutions from both games, and is an official spin-off of the latter. Its visuals are decidedly Minecraft-y (if more detailed and cuter), as are some of its gameplay mechanics. For example, the player can reshape the map by adding and removing terrain blocks. Digging for minerals for crafting is also here.
The rest of the gameplay is pure ARK – survival on a mysterious island inhabited by dinosaurs, gathering supplies, facing other players, etc. Like in the original game, the beasts can be hunted down or tamed to serve the player. Additionally, PixARK features a procedural quest system, constantly providing the player with new challenges.
There are no dinosaurs here, but there are zombies. And survival. DayZ was born as a standalone mod to Arma 3, a famously realistic tactical shooter. In the game you become a survivor of a zombie apocalypse, roaming the area of Chernarus in search of supplies and working with (or against) other survivors. It’s not as out-there as ARK, but it doesn’t need to be, it has other strengths!
The survival aspect of the game is heavily accentuated. Anything that can kill the player in real life – from malnutrition and dehydration to various diseases – can also occur in the game world. This is why staying healthy and well-fed is key to staying alive in the world of DayZ. The game found a robust player base with more than a million of sold copies.
The Hyborian Age needs its new hero…to manage their health and knit a some sturdy clothes. Based on the stories about Conan the Cimmerian, Conan: Exiles features all the mechanics expected from a survival game: health management, crafting clothes and items, and fending off hostiles – both human and beast… Thanks to the fantastical setting there are even dinosaur-like dragons!
Aside from that, C: E features an advanced character creation system, a system of religious beliefs that influence what benefits the player can receive throughout the game, as well as level-based progression. The game caused some controversy for its gore nature and character creation options, which allowed some liberal manipulation of body parts usually “Rated M for ‘Mature’”.
You will survive
ARK: Survival Evolved didn’t invent the survival genre of video games by any metric, but it sure did a lot to make it reach today’s standards, and is probably the first one to let you build a base on the back of a huge dinosaur!
Although a sequel to ARK is in production, it’s not going to arrive for some time yet, so, hopefully, you’ll be able to while away the weeks and months with one (or more!) of the alternatives we found to be worth recommending.