The survival games‘ genre is chock-full of titles that aim at the most realistic representation of the trials that would await the player in the real-world survival scenario. Rust if one of the most acclaimed and respected video games in the genre. But are there any alternatives for gamers seeking a realistic and thrilling action-adventure survival game?

Video Games Like Rust

Before we dig into the list of games similar to Rust, let’s take a look at the game itself. Rust emphasizes all aspects of survival, including keeping the character healthy and well-fed to face a dangerous environment. There are several meters the player will have to pay attention to, which include hydration, warmth, and food intake. If said stats drop below certain levels, the player will feel the dire consequences, including death. The player will have to make sure to eat and drink plenty to retain strength. Crafting items such as clothing, shelter, and fire will keep them safe from elements and attacks from the animals inhabiting the game world.

Rust’s combat mechanics implement real-world physics, which affect the trajectory of bullets and other projectiles. The game’s weaponry ranges from primitive spears to high-power rifles. The player can also travel using various vehicles, which are dropped periodically into the map. Rust was met with positive reviews, with players and critics praising the survival aspects of the game.

DayZ

PC
Xbox One
PlayStation 4
Release year:December 13, 2018 (PC), March 27, 2019 (XONE), May 29, 2019 (PS4)
Genre:survival
DeveloperBohemia Interactive
Game modesmultiplayer

We begin our list with a classic survival game that started as a mod for a classic multiplayer third-person shooter, Arma 3. DayZ, developed and published by Bohemia Interactive, is set in a world ravaged by a zombie apocalypse. The player traverses the desolate environment of the fictional Eastern European country of Chernarus, encountering various hostiles – from zombies to other survivors.

The gameplay mechanics rely heavily on those implemented in Arma 3 and emphasize a realistic combat and survival approach. The player will have to mind various meters, such as hunger, thirst, and others. It is entirely possible to evade dangerous zombies and ambushes set by other players, only to die of starvation due to insufficient resources. Similarly to Rust, the game offers various weapons and vehicles the player can use and invites them to cooperate with other players by forming clans to tackle the harsh environment together.

DayZ was met with solid reviews. Survival and combat mechanics and the open-world environment were among the key features praised by the critics and players alike.

Key features
  • An open-world environment filled with dangerous zombies
  • A realistic approach to survival and combat
  • Management of the character’s meters to keep them healthy and strong
  • Cooperation with other players

Subnautica

PC
Xbox One
PlayStation 4
Nintendo Switch
Release year:January 28, 2018 (PC), December 4, 2018 (XONE, PS4), 2021 (Nintendo Switch)
Genre:action-adventure, survival
DeveloperUnknown Worlds Entertainment
Game modessingle-player

If you were following any of the YouToube’s gamer channels around 2018, you must’ve come across YouTubers freaking out at the sight of an underwater monster. Most likely than not, they were playing Subnautica. The game introduces the player to a fantastical world of underwater exploration, where the fight for survival meshes with researching an unknown planet. The players control a sole survivor of a spaceship crash and find themselves marooned on the oceanic planet. With little supplies and dangers lurking beneath the surface, the player will have to put all their focus into building a habitable base of operations, where they can plan their escape.

Subnautica - underwater

One of the mechanics that Subnautica and Rust have in common is stat management. Values such as thirst, hunger, and energy play an important part in underwater exploration. The player will have to mind them all to survive long enough to create means of escaping the planet. To do that, harvesting materials to upgrade the base and equip it with facilities necessary for survival will be essential. Subnautica offers several gameplay modes, which allow the player to experience the game at their own pace.

Aside from the main story mode, there is the free-roam, where the player can freely explore the underwater world and meet its inhabitants. If the player desires a true survival experience, they should try the hardcore mode, which adds permadeath to the roster of dangers awaiting the player in the world of Subnautica.

Subnautica received positive reviews from the critics and was met with a warm reception from the player base, who praised the beautiful underwater environments and demanding survival gameplay.

Key features
  • Expansive underwater environment
  • Variety of oceanic fauna – both friendly and hostile
  • Complex survival gameplay mechanics
  • Different gameplay modes

ARK: Survival Evolved

PC
Xbox One
PlayStation 4
Nintendo Switch
Release year:August 29, 2017 (PC, XONE, PS4), November 30, 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Genre:action-adventure, survival
DeveloperStudio Wildcard
Game modessingle player, multiplayer

We’re leaving the dangerous waters of Subnautica and wash ashore even more dangerous island of ARK: Survival Evolved. In this action-adventure and survival game, the player is once again marooned in a hostile environment, with nothing but their wits and will to fend for themselves. The game pits the player against all sorts of threats, from dehydration and starvation to becoming dinner for hungry predators, including prehistoric dinosaurs.

ARK: Survival Evolved - fight

The player starts the game similarly to Rust, with only bare supplies and a rudimentary tool (a rock). Using what they can find in the game world, the player will have to create more advanced tools, build shelter, and create weapons to defend themselves. The game features a multiplayer mode in which the player can cooperate to increase their chances of survival.

The biggest feature of ARK: SE are the dinosaurs. They come in different shapes and sizes and provide a source of different materials the player can use for crafting. The player can even tame some of them (including the mighty T-Rex) to use as their personal bodyguard or mount. Nothing beats the feeling of riding into battle astride a velociraptor. ARK: Survival Evolved’s reception was mostly positive, and the game quickly became a cult classic amongst the players.

The popularity of the game led to various expansions and spin-offs to be made as well as some theme-inspired video games.

Key features
  • Survival action on a mysterious island
  • Mechanics that emphasize tending to the characters needs such as hunger and thirst
  • Dangerous fauna, including prehistoric reptiles, which the player can tame
  • Multiplayer mode enables cooperation between the players

Terraria

PC
Xbox One
PlayStation 4
Nintendo Switch
Release year:May 16, 2011 (PC), November 11, 2014 (XONE, PS4), June 27, 2019 (Nintendo Switch)
Genre:2-D action-adventure, sandbox
Developer:Re-Logic
Game modessingle-player, multiplayer

Terraria is a  2-D action-adventure game, developed by an independent studio Re-Logic. The game takes the player to a world where their task will be to make it habitable. This involves building settlements and defending them from different types of enemies. The game starts with the player equipped with only the basic tools, forcing them to search for resources in the procedurally generated environment.

Another unique feature of Terraria are enemies. Their appearances are determined by various factors, including locations and time of day. Some can be encountered only at night and some show up when the player trespasses on their territory. The game also features bosses’ battles – defeating them allows more people to inhabit the players’ expanding settlement. The critics praised the game for its construction mechanics and 2-D presentation. 

Key features
  • Procedurally generated 2-D environment
  • construction mechanics similar to Minecraft’s
  • Variety of enemies appearing at different times and in different locations

The Forest

PC
PlayStation 4
Release year:30 April, 2018 (PC), 6 November, 2018 (PS4)
Genre:Survival
DeveloperEndnight Games
Game modessingle player, multiplayer

The Forest is the first game on our list that takes a more realistic approach to the whole survival thing. Instead of taming dinosaurs and diving with underwater creatures on far-away planets, the story of The Forest puts the player in a familiar survival scenario of a plane crash. Well, not all that familiar, since there are aliens and cannibals around, and you have to find your son before he’s spirited away into another dimension, but still.

The Forest - gameplay

The game follows in the footsteps of the previous titles on our list. The player has to tend to their bodily functions by finding food, keeping warm and hydrated, and staying off the sun to avoid heatstroke. The game gives the player a survival guidebook that allows the building of various items to help fend off the elements and enemies who don’t take kindly to strangers on their land. TF features a multiplayer mode, allowing players to combine their survival efforts.

The Forest was met with a positive reception, with the critics praising the game’s plot and gameplay, and was successful enough to warrant a sequel, told Sons of the Forest.

Key features
  • An open-world environment
  • an intriguing setting of a mysterious plateau
  • A mystery plot involving a plane crash, a kidnapped child, and aliens
  • multiplayer mode

Dying Light

PC
Xbox One
PlayStation 4
Release year:28 January, 2015 (PC, XONE, PS4)
Genre:survival-horror, action-adventure
DeveloperTechland
Game modessingle player, multiplayer

The first game on our list that could pretend to the FPS title, Dying Light is an interesting creature. A mix of survival-horror and action-adventure genre set in a world overcome by a zombie outbreak might not sound the most interesting. Still, DL manages to work with this premise and create a really unique experience for the player.

An important aspect of Dying Light is its night-day cycle. During the day, the zombie enemies are slow and can be easily outmaneuvered. It’s the perfect time to scour the environment in search of resources, rescuing survivors, and setting traps. During the night, the infected become more hostile and will do their best to chase the player down, 28 Days Later-style. The player can fend them off with various weapons, including melee and firearms. The weapons can be customized, and some of them have limited durability, adding a layer of strategic thinking and tool management.

The reception of Dying Light was mostly positive, and the sequel is currently in production.

Key features
  • A zombie virus setting
  • A day and night cycle with different enemy behaviors
  • Over a 100 of customizable melee weapons and firearms

7 Days to Die

PC
Xbox One
PlayStation 4
Release year:December 13, 2013 (PC), June 28, 2016 (XONE, PS4)
Genre:survival-horror
DeveloperThe Fun Pimps
Game modessingle-player, multiplayer

7 Days to Die could be considered an Early Access younger brother of Day Z. The gameplay and setting are familiar, and so is the goal – survive against the hordes of infected, aggressive animals and elements in a post-apocalyptic environment. The player has to collect resources to keep themselves in ship-shape or to build simple constructions to stay safe during the night. Once every 7 in-game days, the zombies and the world’s wildlife infected by the virus will assault the player’s position en-masse, forcing them to defend their post or run for the hills.

7 Days to Die

Similarly to Day Z, the player can join an online server to enjoy the game with or against other players. Nothing beats surviving an all-out assault from the infected with your BFFs at your side or single-handedly defending your post against bost human and NPC enemies.

The Early Access version of the game was met with a positive reception, with the players praising an interesting setting and mechanics, which breathe new life into the genre. 

Key features
  • Survival mechanics forcing the player to scavenge for useful resources
  • Hostile fauna and relentless zombies will often ruin the players day
  • Once-every-7-days all-out attacks will test the player’s skills and bravery…or send them running
  • Local and online multiplayer allows enjoying the game with or against other players

Raft

PC
Release year:23 May, 2018 (PC)
Genre:open-world survival
DeveloperAxolot Games
Game modessingle-player, multiplayer

While Subnautica threw the player into the oceanic depths, Raft will keep them on the surface, aboard the titular vessel. It doesn’t mean that the world above the surface is safer. The player will have to face various threats, from the dangerous animals trying to take a bite out of the player’s raft to imminent starvation.

Raft game

Expanding the raft and tending to the character’s needs are key gameplay mechanics of Raft. The players start the game equipped only with a plastic hook, which they can use for various purposes – crafting materials, hunting for food, etc. In time the player will expand their vessel, turning it from a tiny dinghy into a floating fortress. All that can be accomplished alone in single-player or with other survivors through online co-op.

Raft received positive reviews from Steam players, who praised the raft expansion and exploration of the expansive game world.

Key features
  • A real sea-survivor experience
  • Expand your vessel to survive against the odds
  • Explore the vast ocean, finding new locations and mysteries
  • Play solo or with friends online

Miscreated

PC
Release year:December 18, 2018
Genre:FPP, survival-horror
DeveloperEntrada Interactive
Game modesmultiplayer

A cataclysmic event called the Final War, in which the world’s nations unleashed its nuclear weapons against each other, has led humanity to the brink of destruction. With the Earth’s population decimated, survival became the key imperative. Those who came out from the nuclear holocaust have adapted to the new way of life, where life and death walk hand in hand in the remnants of the old world.

In many ways, Miscreated is a clone of Dying Light, with a dash of Day Z added for good measure. The player traverses the after-the-end environment, surviving against the elements, other players, and mutated creatures that stalk the night. Building shelter, hunting for food, and fending off enemies solo or with others is what the player will be doing for most of the time spent with Miscreated. The rest will probably be spent choosing their loadout from over 100 melee weapons and firearms available in the game.

Miscreated was met with solid reviews from the players.

Key features
  • An after-the-end setting
  • Over a 100 of weapons to use against the opponents
  • Survival-based mechanics, including expansive shelter-crafting
  • PVP multiplayer

Conan: Exiles

PC
Xbox One
PlayStation 4
Release year:May 8, 2018 (all platforms)
Genre:action-adventure, survival
DeveloperFuncom
Game modessingle player, multiplayer

Everybody has heard of the legendary Cimmerian warrior, if not from the stories written by Robert E. Howard then from a cult-classic cinematic portrayal by Arnold Schwarzenegger (and no less culty Jason Momoa). Conan: Exiles draws from the robust lore of these stories bringing the player an exciting adventure in the Exiled Lands.

The gameplay mechanics of C: E follow a similar pattern as those in Rust. The player must survive in an unwelcoming region of Exiled Lands, finding resources for crafting and other materials to survive. Like in Rust, the player must manage their character’s hunger, thirst, and overall health. The combat mechanics involve fighting with melee weapons against both humans and wildlife. Winning fights is one of the main ways to level up the character, turning them into the legend of the Exiled Lands.

The game received solid reviews from critics who praised the character customization options and survival gameplay mechanics.

Key features
  • Travel the open-world environment of the Exiled Lands
  • Design your own warrior using the expansive character customization options
  • Fight for survival against men and beasts alike
  • Craft tools and gather resources to stay alive in a hostile environment

The characteristics of a realistic survival game

Anybody who has ever seen an episode of Bear Gryll’s Ultimate Survival has probably thought something along the lines of Yeah, I could do that, too. While life-threatening situations that would require us to put our skills and ingenuity to the test are few and far between – no one in their right mind would purposefully get lost in the deep jungle or treacherous mountain pass – electronic entertainment provides us with a chance to prove ourselves as the masters of the wilderness.

Plenty of survival games leave the player with nothing but bare hands and scarce materials and force them to fend for themselves in an unwelcoming and sometimes outright hostile environment. One such game is Rust, a multiplayer title that throws the player into the middle of nowhere with little to no resources and dangers waiting around every corner. But Rust is hardly the only game that pits the player against unforgiving forces of nature.

Rust might be one of the best survival games, on PC and otherwise, but its hardly the only one. Titles with a similar premise, setting, and mechanics are out there, only waiting for the player to try them out. Surviving in the wild using nothing but what we can find might be beyond the capabilities of mere mortals (unless you really are Bear Grylls). However, playing a video game that tests the players’ resourcefulness and quick thinking in the face of imminent death from getting stung by a wasp might be just as exciting.