What are the Top Open World Survival Games to play in 2021?

Some of the best survival games I have ever played show how there really isn’t much of a difference whether a big company or a small indie development team make a game. Sure, a bigger team could give the game a lot more polish, but it is the gameplay itself that makes or breaks a game.

Think about it like this, what matters more when you are sitting down to play a friendly game of poker with your friends? Whether you have realistic casino red chips, blue chips, and all the other pieces a real casino might have, or whether or not you are having fun with your friends?

So too is it true for video games. There have been many games that have been graphically beautiful, such as Cyberpunk 2077, but failed to meet players' expectations. Yet, a game like Minecraft is one of the best selling games on the market!

The real thing that is going to make your players want to continue playing your game is the gameplay itself! Sadly, this is something that many companies don’t seem to get when it comes to their games.

They make a gorgeous masterpiece looking game, but then rush it out too fast so the gameplay itself is horrendous. Or, they are just plain greedy and know there will still be at least some people who will play their game. Why spend the effort, am I right?

Why so many?

Moving back to survival games, and which ones I would recommend you to play, This is sadly a harder question than you might think. Unfortunately, not because there are so many good games to choose from.

The survival game market is incredibly oversaturated. There are thousands and thousands of “open world survival games!” on the market, but the problem is that most of them aren’t very good.

A survival game is a relatively easy type of game to make. For the most part they are single player games, so it means you don’t need to program in multiplayer, etc.

In addition, the gameplay centers around numbers, which are easy to code. If you just slap a “hunger,” “thirst,” “warmth,” and whatever other things you want players to need into the game then presto! You have yourself a rudimentary survival game.

All you need to do is make certain things lower the number on those bars, and other things make them go up! You could even just literally make them retextured timers and still call it a survival game.

I’m not even really exaggerating. That is essentially what the core of a survival game is. Do stuff to make numbers stay up. If you don’t keep the numbers up then you just lose.

All that’s left to do is make a map, some enemies if you like, and the other little things you need to make a world. In terms of the complexity of gameplay, there really isn’t a whole lot going on there from a basic standpoint.

Now, you can always make your game more complex, but that takes time and effort. Most of the survival games you will see while browsing around your favorite game library provider are not going to have that time or effort.

Yet, there are some amazing games I have played that do feel like they have been given the time and effort they deserve. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite survival games I think you should play in 2021.


It needs no introduction, yet I could not bring myself to make this list without it. Minecraft is simply one of the best survival games I have ever played so long as you want the “survival” aspects to be rather easy.

This is why I had a little uncertainty about including Minecraft on this list. Sure, it is a survival game in the fact that it has survival aspects, but it is more of a sandbox game than a survival game.

You will spend less of the game on the survival aspects than you will on the creative aspects. All you really need in order to survive forever is some torches, a walled off area, and a small farm with a bed.

You can essentially never die at that point. So, the survival aspect is rather limited and not very deep. However, Minecraft was such a large part of my (and probably millions of other peoples’) childhood that I think it deserves a spot on this list.

After all, it will sure feel like a survival game when you are running with half a heart left from a zombie whilst only on 3 bars of hunger to keep you going. Incredible adrenaline rush especially for a kid.

The Long Dark

Now jumping to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I would recommend the Long Dark for anyone looking for a brutal survival challenge where the “survival” aspects are going to be put front and center.

In the Long Dark, you play as the passenger of a plane flight who crashes somewhere over Canada. There has been some form of a global electromagnetic disaster leaving all the towns abandoned.

It seemingly is just you, the wildlife, and the bitter cold to keep you company. You must gather supplies and fight to survive for as long as you can.

Every aspect of your survival has a part in this game. You not only have to keep track of the standard stuff like food and water, but you also must keep your temperature and sleep in check.

If you get too cold you will die of hypothermia. If you get too tired you will die of exhaustion. So, you must keep your food and water up while not freezing to death and staying away from dangerous wildlife.

The more you travel the more tired you will get. The more time you spend sleeping, the less you will have to travel and find supplies such as food and water.

Resources are few and far between, yet the things that would like to see you meet your bitter end are plentiful. You must keep on your toes if you want to survive for any extended period of time.

With the general synopsis of the game, now I will talk a bit about the more technical side of the game as well.

Graphically, the game looks quite good. Its somewhat cartoonish art style makes it still look good whilst not getting into the problem of uncanny valley, or just looking bad from a bad attempt at realism.

This also means you don’t need too powerful of a computer to run it. I found I could run it alright with even integrated graphics so long as I changed the settings around a bit.

One thing I will note however is that the world can feel a little plain sometimes. The environment can lack detail on occasion which makes it feel artificial. It wasn’t enough to make me not want to play, but worth noting.

Something I will say is great about this game is the atmosphere. It is a truly incredible experience to explore abandoned buildings in this game. The wind howling outside, and the darkness looming all around you.

Despite being Minecraft's essentially polar opposite, they are both incredible games in their own rights! I think you should definitely give both of them a try, or even just replay them if you already have in the past!

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