Punch a tree, grab a rock, collect whatever the heck plant fiber is, and quickly cobble together an axe. 2023 is shaping up to be a pretty strong year for new survival games, and you're gonna need something sharp to hack your way through them.
The year ahead is looking like a promising one for the survival genre, and that's great news for fans because 2022 was a bit disappointing when it came to new survival games. There were a few gems scattered throughout the year, particularly in Early Access, like vampire survival game V Rising (opens in new tab), colony-builder Stranded: Alien Dawn (opens in new tab), and survival city builder Farthest Frontier (opens in new tab). And Dwarf Fortress (opens in new tab)'s Steam release, at long last, closed out the year.
For the most part, however, 2022 felt lighter than recent years for new survival games, mostly due to delays, as several big games missed their release dates and slid into 2023.
But put the past behind you and look ahead to the future. It's the new year and we're sharpening our axes for the months ahead. Here are 12 survival games to look forward to in 2023.
11 bit studios hasn't exactly confirmed that Frostpunk 2 will be out in 2023, though it did say that a leaked date of 2024 was "false." In other words, we're keeping our fingers crossed that "coming soon" doesn't mean we'll have to wait all the way until 2025 for the follow-up to such an influential game. The post-apocalyptic survival city builder and society simulator sequel continues the struggle to stay warm on a frozen planet, this time advancing from the era of coal burning and into the age of oil. Naturally, the biggest threat to survival is still just what you'd expect: humanity itself.
Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl
It's been a long, long road for Stalker 2, which will actually be the fourth Stalker game. Originally planned for 2012, the open world survival FPS was later canceled, but re-announced in 2018 when developer GSC Game World reformed. The most recent delay was completely understandable: the devs were located in Kyiv and had to relocate to Prague due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We're still hopeful Stalker 2 meets its late-2023 release date.
Who's ready for some dinos and Diesel? The sequel to Early Access survival game hit Ark: Survival Evolved is due this year, alongside an animated series, both of which will feature Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel. We don't know a whole heck of a lot about Ark 2 yet, but the trailer shows what you'd expect from Studio Wildcard: lots of dinosaurs and humans riding around on them.
Sons of the Forest
Fans of gruesome horror survival game The Forest hopefully won't have too much longer to wait for its sequel. Sons of the Forest was originally due in May of 2022, then was bumped to October, and is now planned for February 2023. This time you're searching a remote island for a missing billionaire, but we expect things to quickly go wrong, forcing you to carve out a life there, building and crafting and fending off bloodthirsty cannibals.
The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria
The first survival game set in Tolkien's world (opens in new tab) will take you deep into the ruins of Khazad-dûm, the former dwarven kingdom, in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. Play either solo or co-op as you mine for minerals like mithril, build a base, battle orcs and goblins (and probably much worse) and craft weapons and machinery deep beneath the mountains.
It's always nice when a survival game skids into another genre entirely. Pacific Drive (opens in new tab) is a first-person 'driving survival game' where your car is your only companion as you speed through a dangerous and deadly "exclusion zone" in the Pacific Northwest. You'll be able to find new sci-fi parts to soup up your ride as you drive through terrible storms and toxic clouds, monsters and mutants, and a landscape that is constantly changing due to violent rocky upheavals. Along the way you'll try to unravel the mystery of the bizarre zone. Developer Ironwood Studios calls it a "road-like" and that sounds pretty cool to me.
We've been calling it "Pokémon with guns" because, honestly, that's exactly what it looks like. A bright fantasy world with cute and cuddly creatures to collect, but also heavy machine guns and forced labor camps. Palworld is bizarre, but we can't say we're not interested in playing it. Farm food, survive harsh weather, and collect an army of critters to battle alongside you. (If any of them die, you can always eat them.)
Like many of 2022's games, Nightingale's Early Access release slid into 2023. The survival and crafting game set in the Victorian Era sees you stranded in a bizarre realm filled with monsters and magic where you can build an estate and craft weapons and gear. Portals to other realms containing precious resources can be opened, and interestingly combat isn't the only way to deal with enemies: you might be able to negotiate truces with certain factions, like giants, to avoid solving every problem with a shotgun blast.
The Day Before*
I had to put an asterisk on this one since it's a huge wildcard. On the strength of a couple of long trailers with some heavy DayZ and The Division vibes, The Day Before rocketed to the top of Steam's most-wishlisted games. But after hearing nothing new about it for a couple of years, things suddenly got weird. It was removed from Steam (opens in new tab) due to what the developer says is a trademark dispute (opens in new tab), it was delayed for eight months until November, and a new gameplay video that was promised is now in limbo. We're not really sure what's going on with The Day Before, and we're sure there's more to the story, but at this point it's hard to believe it'll really come out in 2023.
Also notable in 2023:
Wanderlost: A cute and cartoony survival game where you hunt, craft, and battle zombies.
State of Decay 3 (opens in new tab): Announced in 2020, recent news of State of Decay 3 has been pretty sparse, but we're still hoping for a 2023 release.
Ascent of Ashes: RimWorld modders are making their own standalone survival game with a focus on real time tactics combat.
Wizard with a Gun: Craft enchanted ammo and unload on your enemies in this base-building survival sandbox.