Gamers that enjoy a challenge don’t have to look hard to find a difficult game, but some genres are built around that concept like survival games. The best Xbox survival games come in many forms, and there are a few exclusives that didn’t make it to PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.
You can find a survival game for any generation of the Xbox, but we focused on the top options across the history of the console.
|Grounded||State of Decay 2||Conan Exiles|
|Developer||Obsidian Entertainment||Undead Labs||Funcom|
|Publisher||Xbox Game Studios||Xbox Game Studios||Funcom|
|Released||September 27, 2022||May 22, 2018||May 2018/June 2021|
|Platforms||Xbox One, X/S||Xbox One||Xbox One, X/S|
|Modes||Single, Multiplayer||Single, Multiplayer||Single, Multiplayer|
|Developer||Acid Wizard Studio||Red Barrels||Facepunch Studios, Double Eleven|
|Publisher||Acid Wizard Studio||Red Barrels||Facepunch Studios|
|Released||May 17, 2019||April 25, 2017||May 21, 2021|
|Platforms||Xbox One, X/S||Xbox One||Xbox One|
Survival Games on the Xbox
Gamers have enjoyed survival games on the PC since The Oregon Trail for the Apple IIe, but there hasn’t been a wealth of titles on consoles. That’s especially true on the Xbox, where we found less than a dozen games that qualify for this genre.
Minecraft is a game many consider to be one of the first survival games on the Xbox, but it’s not something we included on our list. It’s more of a sandbox game when compared to titles like Day-Z, How to Survive, or even Don’t Starve. Many survival games are also available on multiple systems, so you can play games like Conan Exiles on the PC, Xbox, or PlayStation 4.
We have no doubt the selection of games will grow with the new Xbox Series X/S. You can expect Valheim to make the list in a few years, but for now, here are the best Xbox Survival games so far.
The 6 Best Xbox Survival Games of All Time
- Explore this immersive and persistent world, where the insect life reacts to your actions.
- Shelter and tools are critical to your survival. Build epic bases to protect you and your stuff from the insects and the elements. Craft weapons, tools, and armor, allowing you to better fight,...
- You can face the backyard alone or together, online, with up to three friends—it is your choice (online console multiplayer requires Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, subscriptions sold...
- Uncover the secrets lurking in the shadows of Grounded as you freely explore the backyard and progress through its mysterious story.
- Optimized for Xbox Series X|S: Games optimized for Xbox Series X|S will showcase unparalleled load times, heightened visuals, and frame rates up to 120 FPS.
Obsidian has released some fantastic games over the years like Neverwinter Nights 2 and Fallout: New Vegas. You can add another one to that list with emGrounded/em, the surprise hit of 2022 that’s kept fans of the survival genre glued to their screens for days on end.
emGrounded/em is a classic survival game. You’ll have to eat to keep from starving and drink water while avoiding hazards in your environment. In this case, the environment is a backyard, and your enemies are spiders, soldier ants, and mites among other creepy crawlies. While that may not sound challenging, it is when you’ve been shrunken to the size of an ant.
Base building, scavenging, and combat are all essential elements in emGrounded/em, and the action can get intense when night rolls around. There are three difficulty levels in the game along with sandbox and custom modes. While the game is fun solo, emGrounded/em is even better when you bring a friend along for the ride.
Whether you’re in search of precious dewdrops or simply trying to make your way to the next area, the danger is everywhere in emGrounded/em. Don’t let the game’s graphics and the backdrop fool you either. The game can be brutal, and it will whittle your free time down to nothing. There’s no physical version at this time, but you can pick up emGrounded/em through a digital download.
Find it on Amazon here.
#5: State of Decay 2
- State of Decay 2 is the ultimate open world zombie survival game Four Player Co-Op Multiplayer Establish a base, develop your characters and manage resources to survive in a post-apocalyptic world
- Xbox One X Enhanced with higher resolutions, steadier framerates and better effects
- Every decision has lasting consequences In the end, how you survive just might surprise you
- Pre-order now to get the Amazon exclusive Survivor’s Pack Includes the Zed Swatter melee weapon, an exclusive vehicle and an assortment of survival supplies and abilities - Codes will be received...
Zombies have always been a popular subject in survival games, so it’s no surprise to find a title from that genre on our list. Our favorite zombie survival game on the Xbox is State of Decay 2, a sequel to the original smash hit.
State of Decay 2 is a third-person survival game set in an apocalyptic wasteland. You’ll band together with other survivors to set up a base, which requires a considerable amount of scavenging. There’s a lot of interaction with NPCs between trading and quests, and recruitment is a large part of the game. Not every survivor will be a welcome addition to your party, so you’ll have to take their traits into account along with their attitude.
Things that happen in State of Decay 2 can have an impact on your group. Missions can go wrong and party members can die, whether it’s by a group of zombies or a Juggernaut. The single-player mode will keep you busy for ages as the world is full of possibilities. Co-op is also outstanding when you have a good group of 2-3 players.
If you like zombies and love survival games, State of Decay 2 should be at the top of your list. There is a lot of depth between the original game and DLC, and it’s a cross-play title with Windows 10.
Find it on Amazon here.
- Explore a vast world: explore a giant world, from the Burning desert in the south to the snow-capped mountains in the north. Discover ancient cultures, ruins, and dungeons
- Survive: stay warm, cool yourself down, drink and eat, weather scouring sandstorms, prevent your mind from being corrupted when exploring dark dungeons, and battle vicious monsters to stay alive
- Build: harvest resources to craft tools and weapons, then build anything from a Small home to entire cities. Build walls, traps, elevators, and more
- Dominate: wage war against your enemies, use siege weapons and explosives and see their walls crumble to dust, then unleash your savage Fury in violent and brutal combat
- Play together or alone: play alone locally or fight for survival and dominance in persistent multiplayer on public servers. You can also host your own server and invite others to join you
emConan Exiles/em is an often overlooked game on consoles, but one of the best survival simulators for fans of open-world games. It’s set in the Hyborian Age, and while you can’t play as Conan, the setting would make him proud.
The world of the Exiled Lands is brutal. Each biome presents its own challenges from the Frozen North to the Ashlands, and the game is absolutely massive. How you play the game is up to you, as you can follow the storyline or set up camp anywhere you’d like. Want to play as a nomad? That’s an option, but so is setting up a large city complete with worshipers.
Crafting in emConan Exiles/em is easy for beginners to get the hang of, but seasoned pros should be pleased with the transition to the Xbox. There’s a lot of depth between crafting, equipment, and some interesting options in the character creator – even if they were censored by the ESRB. The enemies are just as varied as the animals in the game, which you can capture just like various NPCs.
emConan Exiles/em has been around since 2018 on the Xbox One and was popular on Steam before that. While the Xbox One version is solid, the emConan Exiles/em Enhanced is the best way to play the game on a console if you own the Xbox One X. The newer version allows you to play in 4K, but the game is available in physical format and through Game Pass as well.
Play it for yourself on Amazon here.
Survival horror games have been a staple on consoles for decades, but you’ll find more of those on the PlayStation than you will with the Xbox family. One exception is Darkwood, a highly-rated survival game from Acid Wizard Studios.
Darkwood is a game with a storyline, so we aren’t going to get into spoiler territory. It’s a treat for horror fans, however. The story takes place across multiple chapters in the late 80s and changes based on the decisions you make in the game. How you interact with NPCs will affect the ending and new elements unlock as you progress through the game.
As for the gameplay, we split a lot of time between crafting and combat. Both are easier during the daytime, as you’re put into defensive mode when nightfall comes around. You’ll be rewarded every time you make it through the night. That may not be very often on higher difficulty levels, and there’s also permadeath if you truly want a challenge.
While Darkwood is a borderline “survival” game by some standards, we feel it fits right in thanks to the crafting system, trading, and skill trees. Having to defend your base is a nice touch, and it’s not a jump-scare type of game, but a solid horror title from top to bottom. There are some very rare physical copies of Darkwood for the Switch and PS4, but Xbox users will need to rely on a digital download.
#2: emOutlast 2/em
- Outlast is a first-person survival horror series developed by Red Barrels.
- You are Blake Langermann, a cameraman working with your wife, Lynn. The two of you are investigative journalists willing to take risks and dig deep to uncover the stories no one else will dare touch.
- Outlast was released in Sept 2013. It has 4M+ downloads with an 80% MetaCritic. Over 50M YouTube views have been generated by gameplay walkthroughs.
Survival horror games have always been a nice change of pace in the genre, and provide something different for those who don’t like to build or defend bases. One of the spookiest games of this nature on the Xbox is emOutlast 2/em, a game that gave plenty of players nightmares.
Unsettling is the word that best describes emOutlast 2/em. From the eerie soundtrack to the storyline, it’s the type of game that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The immersive atmosphere sucks you into the world, which takes place in the deserts of Arizona. While that may not sound as creepy as the mental hospital setting in the first game, nothing could be further from the truth.
emOutlast 2/em is a game about survival and exploration. You will have to scavenge for some supplies, but it’s a game where the story and setting is the star of the show. That’s due in part to J.T. Petty, a horror director who wrote the script for this game and the original. There is plenty of jump scares throughout the game, but not very many batteries.
If you are easily frightened, emOutlast 2/em may not be the best game for you as it will make you jump and does stick with you long after your monitor goes dark. Just remember to keep your camcorder charged and keep an eye on your stamina as you run, hide, and creep through the game.
While emOutlast 2/em is our favorite, you can pick up Outlast Trinity and enjoy the series from start to finish.
See if you can survive by picking up the game on Amazon here.
- In Rust, there is one goal above everything else: survive - Conquer thirst and hunger, battle the elements, create weapons and stay safe against hostile forces
- Explore a vast and mysterious post-apocalyptic island and figure out how to keep yourself alive
- Intense PVE and PVP battles – Befriend or fight other players, the choice is yours
- Conquer thirst and hunger, battle elements, craft gear and stay safe in a world where everything wants you dead
- Pre-order incentive/Day One Content: Includes Future Weapons & Tools Pack
Rust is one of the older games on our list as it’s been around since 2013 when it was in early access. PC gamers have been enjoying some form of the game since that time, and Xbox owners were able to join the madness in 2021.
Lots of survival games let you kill other players and take their loot. Rust takes things a step further. It’s a hybrid first-person action survival game as you can build bases, craft, and scavenge. Hunger and thirst are constant concerns, although your biggest threat comes from other players in this online multiplayer survival game.
Players can take you down quickly from near or far in a variety of ways in the wild world of Rust. They can also restrain you just for kicks if you surrender instead of fight. While you can try to take the game on alone, Rust is best enjoyed with friends or a clan. It’s certainly not a single-player game unless you like to die often.
Rust would be #1 on our list of the best Xbox survival games of all time if it weren’t for the lack of polish and controls. It feels unfinished at times, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering it’s based on Day Z. The sandbox game provides endless entertainment, however, and is the most hardcore survival game to ever hit Xbox consoles.
Check it out for yourself on Amazon /emhereem.