Have you ever seen Survivorman? It’s a documentary series about a guy called Les Stroud who spends a week in the world’s most inhospitable places—deserts, rainforests, tundras—and survives with only the clothes on his back. Fakers like Bear Grylls have doctors on hand, camera crews, and cosy hotels to return to after filming, but Stroud does it all for real—and films everything himself. It’s really good TV, and I promise that after you watch the first episode you’ll be hooked.
Unturned is a DayZ-style survival sim with a Minecraft-inspired art style. I don’t blame you if you’ve already tuned out. PC is awash with DayZ and Minecraft clones. But Unturned is notable in that it’s currently the fourth most-played game on Steam, beating Football Manager, Skyrim, and Garry’s Mod by many thousands of players—and it was developed by a sixteen year-old. It’s an amazing story—the kind only possible on PC—but is the game itself actually any good?
Good news for those of you looking forward to scratching around for food and warmth in the aftermath of a geo-magnetic catastrophe. And hey, who isn't? There's not too much longer to wait. The Long Dark, which is the hugely promising artsy survival game from debutant studio Hinterland Games is heading for Steam Early Access in September.
We already knew that Klei's beautifully illustrated survival game Don't Starve would be getting a multiplayer component this summer, but we hadn't yet seen a glimmer of it in action. If you think I'm leading up to a new trailer showing the new multiplayer mode in action...well, you're dead right. The following prototype footage reveals that it involves ghosts and meat-based effigies, just like my fourteenth birthday.
I’ve been playing The Forest today, and whenever anyone’s come over to my desk to watch I’ve been savaging an animal. Spearing fish with a stick, murderising turtles with an axe, and at one point I’d battered so many seagulls with a rock that the resulting pile of feathery bodies slowed the game down to a crawl. As I type this, it’s the second best-selling game on Steam. It would be the first, but a 75% sale on Injustice is getting in the way. Am I enjoying it? Yeah, but I think it’s important I tell you from the off that it’s incredibly janky and limited, even for an Early Access title. At this point in time it feels more like a proof of concept than a game, but what I’ve seen so far shows a lot of promise indeed.
Rust toys with the idea of pre/post-historic man fighting for survival against the elements and against his fellow man, but what that really boiled down to was a bunch of naked men flapping their dongs around while battering your house down in an effort to nick your stuff. The Stomping Ground, by the looks of things, is the real prehistoric deal, pitting man against his greatest-enemy-that-wasn't-actually-around-at-the-same-time-as-him, the dinosaur. SuperCrit's game feasted on all of your Kickstarter money at around this time last year, and now it's appeared on Steam Early Access, dinoskin-cap in hand. Let's see how it's coming along, eh?
What if Elizabeth tore open a rift, but instead of yanking out a crate of guns or a Gatling-wielding automaton, she withdraws a square-shaped chunk of grass before chucking it at your face with a "Booker, catch!"? I'd sputter in confusion, but that probably also means BioShock Infinite's heroine found her way to the Minecraft-ed version of the floating city of Columbia. Constructed by architect group TheVoxelBox of the Planet Minecraft fansite, the city boasts superb detail and personality worthy of the game's best custom creations.
H1Z1 footage shows that, yep, it looks a lot like DayZ [Update: DayZ similarities addressed in Reddit post]
The Long Dark's creative director reckons the apocalypse doesn't have to feature zombies - but, erm, here's one more open world post-apocalyptic game that does. As announced last week, Sony's entry into the DayZ genre is the wittily (if clinically) named H1Z1, a game that differentiates itself from Dean Hall and Bohemia's game by...well, that part's not totally clear yet, but it's been a fairly democratic process so far. H1Z1 game designer Jimmy Whisenhunt and technical director Tom Schenk took to Twitch a few hours ago to show off the game as it stands now; you'll find 50-odd minutes of walking, zombie-battering, scavenging and driving, in a game that admittedly looks very pretty but so far doesn't seem to boast any distinguishing characteristics.
Survival doesn't have to involve procedural generation, crafty mines or zig-zagging zombies - too few games concern themselves with the spiritual/philosophical/Call of the Wild side of living out in the wilderness, subsisting on berries and avoiding bears. Echo of the Wilds is one game that does. It's an adventure/survival game featuring a beautifully crisp art style, exploration and gathering and crafting out the wazoo, and a metaphysical story involving an incongruous TV screen and a semi-translucent girl. It's not another Minecraft clone is what I'm saying. Echo of the Wilds is out now, has a demo up for grabs, and can be witnessed in video form below.
It's the dead of night and I'm in my cabin, which, at the moment, is essentially just a box. But I have plans for expansion. Big plans! Like adding a second box. Next to the main box. So it'll be two boxes. Anyway, I'm crafting with the spoils of my daytime scavenging and hunting. I've got ore simmering in the furnace, food cooking in the campfire, and I'm banging together some new building materials at my workbench. That's when I hear footsteps outside. They approach slowly, crunching through the grass, until they're right outside my cabin wall. Then they stop. Then... nothing.
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing—except video games. War is the perfect backdrop for video games because it offers a straightforward conflict and goal that you can build a game around: kill the enemy. But as history teaches us, the real victims of war are the civilians caught between the armed forces on either side, an issue that almost none of the countless war games we play ever address. This War of Mine, a new game from Anomaly developer 11 Bit Studios, is dedicated to this issue.
By now, we're completely familiar with the basics of crafting games. You hit a tree until it becomes tree parts, then use the tree parts to build wooden things. You smash a rock until it becomes ore, then smelt the ore to build metal things. You meet a half-naked guy named Batman, and he follows you around for ten minutes eerily moaning, "Take me to your house. Show me your house. Show me your houuuuuse." Actually, that last part might not be common to crafting games. But Batman's weirdness is not that unusual in Rust, the early-access crafting survival game from Facepunch Studios.
A new update has been released for Sir, You Are Being Hunted. For many, that'll be good news, although I suspect the game's own robot hunters wouldn't see it that way. Not because they've been weakened - in fact their ranks have been bolstered by the new Landowner NPC - but because the rest of this update is designed to improve the 'feel' of the game. There's nothing like talk of feelings to alienate AI constructs.
Naked cavemen can't fly, or at least, they shouldn't fly. In multiplayer survival sim Rust, nudity is encouraged, but using software to disrespect gravity, walls, or augment a human's natural aiming ability is punishable by permanent ban. CheatPunch, a new anti-cheat system described in yesterday's update notes, has already detected and banned 4,621 players.
In some ways, Rust is like a big, pastoral representation of life. Your ramshackle hut, built through sweat and tears, stands for the your accomplishments. The weighty rock you use to crush an interloper's head like a grape? That's just being a friendly neighbor. And the zombies...well, I still don't know what the zombies mean, but they're pretty annoying. So much so, in fact, that Facepunch's latest update yanks them out of its sandbox survival-thon entirely—replacing them with less-stupid animals.
DayZ has received a new stable patch, although, in the world of early access survival games, the term stable is somewhat relative. The update brings some minor features and bug fixes, but the most important change is the continued improvement of server performance. Thanks to "a significant change to the server variable processing," the game's servers should have received a major performance boost. According to the patch notes, this should result in a smoother game experience and, more significantly, is another step towards the goal of increased player and zombie numbers, as well as the enabling of loot and zombie respawning.
Here's a new set of screenshots for the promising looking exploration horror game, The Forest. Yes, you may need to squint a bit, because they're pretty dark. That's a consequence of the eerie survival atmosphere that the game hopes to evoke. Luckily, as you can see from the previous trailer, that static darkness becomes a claustrophobic and eerie space when seen in motion.
Hungry hungry survival game Don't Starve is teasing a new piece of DLC, and it seemingly involves giants. They're probably going to do some reigning! Plus stomping, growling and being tall. You know, standard giant stuff. Those are some insights I've gleaned from the following Reign of Giants trailer, which suggests an Autumn (Americans: it's like your 'Fall') release, while revealing literally nothing about the expansion. If you want to study the 23 second video for yourself, you can do so beneath the giant's causeway I like to call 'the break'.
Mike Singleton's chilly post-apocalyptic survival strategy RPG Midwinter is getting an HD remake. Not familiar with the legendary (and now sadly departed) developer/author and his oeuvre of classic 8- and 16-bit PC games? Have a browse of his Wikipedia page. Not familiar with Midwinter, his ahead-of-its-time first-person survival game from 1989? Have a read of this lovely retrospective on Eurogamer. Midwinter's HD remake will head to Kickstarter early this year, and if all goes well developers Chilli Hugger Software are planning for an "early 2015" release.