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The Best Survival RPGs For PC, Ranked

There are a lot of really great games out there spread across a variety of different genres, but some of the best ones combine two separate genres into one. A great example of this is when developers take the character-building and looting of an RPG and combine them with the resource management and decision-making of a survival game. There are many great survival RPGs out there, and today in this article, we’ll be ranking our top 10 picks for PC.

10 Best Survival RPGs For PC, Ranked Good to Best

So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive head first into this article for the 10 BEST Survival RPGs For PC, Ranked From Worst to Best!

10/10

Starbound

Starbound - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Chucklefish via HGG

The first game on this list is none other than Starbound! This pixelated 2D survival game has many similarities to Terraria. While it’s not as popular as Terraria, it’s a fantastic game with a lot going for it. Essentially, Starbound is a science fiction version of Terraria, so if high-fantasy isn’t your thing, consider giving this game a shot.

The game’s story follows your character, who finds themselves lost in space with a broken ship. They teleport to a nearby planet with the goal of gathering resources and repairing their vessel to return home. While exploring the strange planet, you’ll fend off hostile alien creatures while building your own base and acquiring better gear.

Like Terraria but in space!
Image: Chucklefish via HGG

The exploration in Starbound is well done, and its core gameplay loop is satisfying. Despite being a survival game, it’s quite relaxing most of the time. It’s a great game to unwind with on a late evening, especially if you have friends to play with. Oh, and did I mention that the game has multiplayer? Because it does, and it’s a hell of a fun time!

9/10

ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Studio Wildcard, Instinct Games, Efecto Studios, Virtual Basement LLC via HGG

Next on our ranking, we have the popular and highly-regarded game ARK: Survival Evolved. This MMORPG has gained a large following in recent years, and after playing it, I’m sure you’ll understand why. It boasts a unique setting in a massive open world with plenty of activities for players to enjoy. And to top it off, it’s an excellent survival RPG.

ARK is a prehistoric-fantasy game where you find yourself stranded on a mysterious island surrounded by dinosaurs. You start off by using primitive tools to gather resources and build a basic shelter. You must collect food and water to survive, while learning to fight or avoid the wide variety of different dinosaurs and other reptilian monsters that are looking to devour you. By the end of the game, you’ll have mastered the land and learned how to tame the dinosaurs.

A bit buggy, but incredibly satisfying when you tame the dinosaurs.
Image: Studio Wildcard, Instinct Games, Efecto Studios, Virtual Basement LLC via HGG

If you’re looking for a multiplayer survival game, ARK is definitely the one to go with. You can create your own tribe and work with other players to build massive bases and attack other tribes. The game also has a great sense of progression. You can obtain better technology, build stronger structures, and unlock new tools to help you tame the hostile world.

8/10

Terraria

Terraria - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Re-Logic via HGG

For our next pick, we have the 2D sandbox game Terraria! While Terraria is often referred to as a “2D Minecraft clone,” that label doesn’t do the game justice. While it certainly draws inspiration from Minecraft, Terraria‘s creative liberties make it much more than just a clone. With millions of fans, it’s clear that the game has earned its place as a beloved classic.

To start the game, you create your own custom character and spawn in a randomly generated 2D world with a few basic tools. From there, you’ll need to gather resources to create a base that will allow you to survive in a world filled with monsters and hostile NPCs.

Build a thriving base before going out to slay all the threats in the world.
Image: Re-Logic via HGG

Terraria is a great game for those who love base building. Despite being 2D, you have plenty of creative freedom to design and build your home. The game also draws on RPG elements, with an emphasis on boss battles and loot collection. The progression system is top-notch, and it’s incredibly satisfying to build up your character and master the world they inhabit.

7/10

Valheim

Valheim - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Iron Gate AB, Coffee Stain Publishing via HGG

For our next pick on this list of the 10 Best Survival RPGs For PC Ranked, we have Valheim. I should warn you that this game is not yet complete and is currently still in early access. But despite this, it manages to be a really great game. If the early access version is of this high quality, then I think we have a lot to look forward to with the final product when it’s released.

This game is set in a Viking-inspired world. When you start the game, you will find yourself in a procedurally generated world full of many terrifying and dangerous enemies. You’ll need to cooperate with other players to build up a base and gather resources to keep yourself prepared for whatever dangers you may encounter.

Craft and forge a path forward in this strange afterlife.
Image: Iron Gate AB, Coffee Stain Publishing via HGG

One interesting thing about this game is that you don’t technically need to eat to stay alive. Rather than punishing you for letting your hunger bar go down, the game will instead reward you for feeding yourself by giving you various buffs. It’s definitely a good game to get into if you are not a fan of hunger and thirst management in survival games. The Viking theme for this game is also really great, and it’s a refreshing change of pace from the medieval fantasy genre seen in other RPGs.

6/10

Grounded

Grounded - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Obsidian Entertainment, Xbox Game Studios via HGG

Moving on to our next spot, we have the game Grounded! It is made by Obsidian Entertainment, the same studio that made Fallout: New Vegas. This isn’t a big triple-A game like you may expect from such a studio. Instead, it’s a smaller project, but one that is still very much worth your time. Grounded is one of my favorite games to come out in recent years, mainly due to its incredibly unique premise and setting.

In the game, you play as a little kid who has been shrunken down to the size of an ant in a freak science experiment (think “Honey I Shrunk The Kids“). You find yourself lost in a vast backyard. What was once a peaceful place to play has been flipped on its head. Spiders, ants, and even giant koi fish are now all hostile to you! You’ll need to gather resources, craft tools and weapons, and keep yourself alive in this hostile environment while trying to figure out how to un-shrink yourself.

Insects are a lot more terrifying if you're smaller than them.
Image: Obsidian Entertainment, Xbox Game Studios via HGG

If you love unique settings, then this is definitely a great game to pick. It’s refreshing to play a survival game that isn’t set in a post-apocalypse. The gear that you acquire and the progression system is reminiscent of many great RPGs. So if that is something you enjoy doing, then add that to the already huge list of reasons to play. And of course, any open-world survival game wouldn’t be complete without base-building, which this game has as a core component of the gameplay loop.

5/10

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Obsidian Entertainment, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

And coming up next on our list is Fallout: New Vegas! This is considered one of the best role-playing games ever made and is widely regarded as the best Fallout game. If you are a fan of RPGs, then this game is definitely a must-play. It’s unlikely you haven’t heard of it before, as people who’ve played it just can’t seem to stop talking about it (including me – I’m obsessed with it)!

But in case you haven’t, let me explain what it is. It’s a post-apocalyptic open-world RPG set in the ruins of the Mojave Desert. You start the game by creating your own character, and after a brief tutorial, you’ll head out into the open world where you’ll level up, unlock unique perks and weapons, and make difficult choices that will dramatically alter the course of the story.

Gun down threats and survive in New Vegas
Image: Obsidian Entertainment, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

The hardcore mode is where the survival elements come into play. Food and water aren’t that uncommon in the Mojave, so keeping yourself alive isn’t that challenging or interesting. So, I would only recommend this game for the role-playing elements, not so much for the survival elements. I would say that Fallout 4 is the better survival game, while Fallout: New Vegas is the better RPG. You should definitely play both, but if you can only pick one, make your choice based on your preferred genre.

4/10

Pathologic 2

Pathologic 2 - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Ice-Pick Lodge, tinyBuild via HGG

Moving on to our next pick, we have the fantastic choice-heavy survival RPG Pathologic 2! This is a complete remake/reimagining of the classic game Pathologic. It manages to take everything we knew and hated about the first game and crank it up to 11. Don’t let that sentiment fool you; I love this game, and I think it’s something everyone needs to play at least once in their lifetime.

In the game, you play as a doctor visiting a small town in Eastern Europe. A deadly plague has ravaged the area, leaving its inhabitants sickened and desperate. Your job is to find a cure for the plague while juggling your own well-being and making choices that will positively or negatively affect the lives of the people around you.

A plague the likes you've never seen before.
Image: Ice-Pick Lodge, tinyBuild via HGG

The survival-RPG genre was practically MADE for this game. Pathologic 2 perfectly combines the choose-your-own-adventure style of choice-based RPGs with the resource management and decision-making of a survival game. Completing this game with a good ending is very difficult, and saving every person in town is, as far as I’m aware, impossible. I highly recommend you play it if you love making difficult moral choices.

3/10

This War of Mine

This War of Mine - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: 11 bit studios via HGG

And for our next pick on this ranking of the 10 Best Survival RPGs for PC, it’s This War of Mine. This isn’t exactly a conventional RPG, but I feel that it has enough elements of one to warrant a spot. When this game was first released back in 2014, it blew gamers away with its setting, characters, and the unique choices that players were forced to make. It not only manages to be a fun and compelling game but also provides deep insights into the nature of war and how it affects common, everyday people.

You will have to look after a group of civilians trying to survive in the middle of an active war zone. After your early game provisions run dry, you will need to scavenge for more. You will have to make interesting choices about where to go and how to go about getting supplies. Sometimes this involves breaking into other people’s houses and possibly killing innocents to get what you need.

Having enough fuel and food will be a constant struggle.
Image: 11 bit studios via HGG

These unique choices about what to do in stressful situations and how far you are willing to go to survive are what make this such a compelling game. Your choices will have a great emotional effect on you and how you play the game. And for that, I can’t recommend it enough if you love story-based games and games that make you think about the consequences of your actions.

2/10

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

Up next in the ranking is Bethesda’s Fallout 4! Since its release, this game has received mixed reviews from players due to its lack of some RPG elements and quality writing found in older Fallout games, among other things. However, despite its flaws, Fallout 4 is still a really good game that is worth checking out. And with the addition of its survival mode several months after release, it has become a must-play for all fans of the survival-RPG genre.

Fallout 4‘s survival mode is undoubtedly one of the best iterations of a survival mode I’ve ever played! As expected, you have to manage your food and thirst, which gives a lot more meaning to the settlement building in the game. Additionally, you can only save your progress by sleeping in a bed. This creates an interesting choice to make, especially with the addition of the adrenaline system. The longer you go without sleeping, the more adrenaline you have, and the more damage you do.

Super Mutants are a common sight in the wastelands.
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

This dynamic creates a high-risk, high-reward situation between choosing to save your progress to play it safe or going longer without saving to keep your damage output high. It’s a pretty intense experience. Combine this survival mode with resource scavenging, weapon crafting, and base building, and you have one of the best open-world post-apocalyptic sandboxes there is. While I think that Fallout: New Vegas is a much better game overall, as a survival game, Fallout 4 takes the cake.

1/10

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl - Best Survival RPGs for PC
Image: GSC Game World via HGG

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl takes first place on our list! The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of games is often overlooked in favor of more popular IPs such as Fallout and the Metro series. This is a shame because S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games are some of the best hardcore survival RPGs ever made. If you have played either of the IPs I just mentioned, then you should definitely give this game a shot.

In S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, you find yourself in a place called The Zone, a radiation-filled hellhole located in Eastern Europe. It is populated by hostile creatures and wildlife, as well as a whole host of enemy factions that are all competing against each other to survive. In the game, you will have to play smart to keep yourself alive. This game feels incredibly tactical, and there are a lot of interesting decision-making moments that will keep you on your toes.

One of the mutated creatures you encounter.
Image: GSC Game World via HGG

If you love games with multiple endings, then this is one of the best ones out there. There are plenty of interesting factions to join, each with their own unique morals and outlooks on the world. The game is a good mix of survival and RPG, and while playing it, I kept flashing back to my time spent in Fallout: New Vegas. If you are a fan of those types of open-world RPGs, then I can’t recommend this game enough.

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