9 upcoming survival games that aren't just 'chop wood, mine ore, repeat'

Someone cooking marshmallow over a campfire with a dog sitting there and someone else playing a guitar
(Image credit: Romain)

I love survival games. Mostly. I do, at times, experience a bit of burn-out around the resource management loop: chop trees, hit rocks, and hunt animals so I can craft tools, build bases, and cook food. And repeat.

Especially the tree-chopping. I tend to get really sick of that.

So I'm always on the lookout for a new survival game with a twist, or a new take on survival systems, or one that has a little something extra going on under the hood in addition to traditional survival genre loops. With so many survival fans out there, there are always a bunch of new survival games on the horizon, but not all of them look like they're doing anything all that differently. With the genre's tendency to repeat tropes in mind, here are nine upcoming survival games that stand out from the rest.

Retreat to Enen

Release date: August 5, 2022

A survival game where the ultimate goal is to… relax? I'm interested. Don't worry, there's still hunting, fishing, exploration, and base-building (though I'm thrilled to hear there's zero tree-chopping) but the key to surviving is in mindfulness and meditation. In Retreat to Enen, Earth is in recovery after centuries of destruction so the few remaining humans are determined to live in eco-friendly harmony with nature rather than razing forests just so they can build a second story onto their bases. Learning to center yourself and master the art of meditation (the systems were created in collaboration with mental health specialists) is critical to your health and survival abilities. Interesting! And there's a whopping 45 minutes of gameplay in the video above.

Forever Skies

Release date: Late 2022

The Earth is in ruins (a popular concept for survival) but it's not all doom and gloom: Your base is a blimp. I want a blimp-base more than I can express in words, even if the planet has to fall into ruin for me to get it. In Forever Skies you're a lone scientist (at least until co-op is added sometime after launch) soaring above mangled cities in a customizable blimp. Dock with skyscrapers, scrounge for supplies, craft gear, and try to uncover a cure for a deadly virus so the rest of humanity (they're hiding in orbit) can return to Earth. It's planned for early access in late 2022.

I Am Future

Release date: 2022

Survival doesn't always need to be a grim, bitter experience, and I Am Future looks colorful, bright, and downright jolly, as we saw when it appeared on The PC Gaming Show. Awakening after six years in a cryosleep pod, our hero sets about a ruined city that's been reclaimed by nature to start rebuilding. Disassemble busted computers and cars to build new tech, craft AI-controlled bots to help do your chores, and enjoy fishing, farming, cooking, gardening, and base-building in this survivalcraft game. But keep a close eye out—at night there are some dangerous creatures and you'll need to build defenses for your new home.

Above Snakes

Release date: Early 2023

I'm a little wary of games featuring Native Americans unless there are Native Americans on the dev team, but at least the developer says they're working with Native American consultants "from time to time" and are looking for more. The interesting thing about survival game Above Snakes is how the world is generated—and it's generated by the player. As you explore the isometric world made of tiles, the player creates new world tiles and places them depending on their needs, thereby creating the very world they're surviving on. It's a neat twist that puts you in control of the biomes that pop up as you explore, gather, craft, build, and survive (against zombies, apparently?) Above Snakes is in alpha and is expected to launch in early 2023.


Release date: TBA

As you can see above, there's kind of a lot going on in Derelicts, from intricate base-building and resource management to assembly lines to combat with monsters to… wait, were they just on a spaceship? In Derelicts, you crash land on an irradiated Earth and set to work crafting yourself from the stone age to modern weapons and tools. It looks like Rust, only with co-op instead of PvP, plus weird monsters and maybe a touch of Satisfactory. Either way, it's intriguing, beautiful, and looks like it has lots of complexity... even when it comes to all that wood-chopping. Impressive, especially for a game with a one-person developer.

Sons of the Forest

Release date: October 2022

Granted, you are gonna be chopping a hell of a lot of wood in the follow-up to Endnight Games' The Forest, but taking an axe to a tree does look rather exquisite. And just look at the hole-digging at 41 seconds in the trailer above! I've never been so excited to use a shovel. In Sons of the Forest you're once again trapped on a mysterious island, this time filled with demons, trying to scratch out your survival among the horror. When hideous ghouls aren't trying to tear down your base, you can use your axe to cut window holes (rather than simply choosing a wall-with-a-window template from the building menu) which looks almost as cool as the holes you get to dig. If you like your survival with an equal dose of horror, this should be on your wishlist.


Release date: Late 2022 (Early Access)

Nightingale has been on my radar since it was first revealed last year. With a Victorian gaslamp fantasy style and a pretty deep alt-history backstory involving the discovery of magic and its impact on human civilization, it's got crafting, estate-building (they're too fancy to just call bases), and a system for creating new realms to explore that involves crafting special cards. There will also be ways around combat with certain factions by solving conflicts with compromises, so if you don't relish the idea of battling tremendous fae giants, you might be able to come up with a peaceful solution. The co-op survival game, which will support up to 10 players, is aiming for an early access release near the end of 2022.

Frostpunk 2

Release date: TBA

There's no mystery as to why survival fans are excited for the sequel to Frostpunk, a city builder that charges you to protect its frostbitten citizens, or at least as many of them as you can. Frostpunk 2 takes place 30 years after the mega storm that ended the campaign in the original game, where humans are still suffering through an endless winter yet have begun expanding their frosty cities rather than just barely surviving their creation. The age of coal is over and oil is the hot new commodity. Will it result in just as much death and destruction as oil has in the real world? Yes, I think it will. This is Frostpunk, the grimmest survival game around. We don't know when Frostpunk 2 will be released, but we're excited to freeze our butts off when it gets here.

Occupy Mars

Release date: 2022

There have been no shortage of games about establishing a colony on Mars, but Occupy Mars stands out in terms of complexity and realism (though it also looks like it can be some silly fun, as the video above demonstrates how many ways there are to die). You'll use realistic tools and develop machines based on real-world technology as you build a base, search for and extract water, set up solar arrays to power your colony, grow your own food in greenhouses, and even deal with challenges like cable management, soldering, and other complex systems. There's a demo to try in advance of its release later this year, and a rover mechanic simulator you can play by the same developer, where you just focus on keeping a fleet of Mars rovers up and running.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.