The next article in line is about a genre that has become so popular in the last few years that it deserves its own list. I scoured through my memory, my wishlist and obviously the internet and this is the survival games I came up with:
Release Date: January 23
Subnautica is a singleplayer survival game that has been in Early Access for a long time without managing to disappoint its fans.
The game’s plot follows what seems to be the sole survivor of Aurora, a ship that has crash landed in the waters of an alien planet. The players have to fight for survival in an underwater environment while following the signals of the ship’s escape pods in the search for more information about potential survivors. Like most survival games, Subnautica is about gathering resources, building bases and exploring while trying to stay alive in a somewhat hostile environment. The game’s strong suit is the setting, which is rather refreshing allowing players to interact with the fauna and flora of an underwater ecosystem that’s so similar and at the same time so different from our own.
After almost 4 years of Early Access development, Subnautica is finally coming out on January 23.
Metal Gear Survive
Release Date: February 22
I doubt that many players were expecting a Metal Gear game so soon after Kojima’s departure from Konami in 2015. To be honest, Survive can hardly be called an Metal Gear game being more of a spinoff that capitalizes on such a grand name in the gaming industry, but let’s get past this.
Metal Gear Survive was built on the Fox Engine and it shows, the graphics look a tad old and there are plenty of reused assets from The Phantom Pain. However, this engine comes with the benefit of being extremely versatile and capable of some impressive features.
Survive is split between singleplayer and 4 player coop with the campaign’s story taking place right after Ground Zeroes in an alternate dimension in which the survivors of the attack have been brought through a wormhole. Weird zombies roam these lands and there are plenty of options to deal with them. Many of the cool gameplay mechanics we’ve experienced in The Phantom Pain we’ll get to see again in this game. However, there are a few additions fitting for the survival theme like a properly customizable base, a character progression system, an expanded melee combat system and more.
On paper, Metal Gear Survive looks pretty good despite the grief it might bring to many gamers. The combination of old and new mechanics seems to provide even more options for an interactive gameplay and the coop addition is welcomed. However, like with The Phantom Pain, some of Survive’s features are frozen in time. I’m not sure if this game will have the power to bring back Konami’s fans, so far it seems to alienate them even more, but Survive has the potential to be an engaging and fun experience. We’ll just have to see how the game turns out and how many microtransactions we’ll have to endure.
Release Date: March 30
I’m glad to see a survival horror game making this list since they are so rare these days. In Agony, the players will take control of a tormented soul that finds itself in the depths of hell without any recollection about its past. Using an ability which allows controlling people and demons, the players have to progress through an environment that’s pretty much set on killing them. The gameplay has these puzzle-like sections which require controlling the right being in order to progress. The players can also use stealth to sneak around, holding their breath when needed to escape unnoticed through a horrific environment built out of viscera and lurked by some of the most disturbing creatures I’ve seen.
Agony is built on Unreal Engine 4 and it was made possible through a Kickstarter campaign that raised over 270% of the initial goal. The game is coming out at the end of March so get prepared for a disturbing experience that’s probably going to be banned in a few countries.
FAR: Lone Sails
Release Date: Q1
The most unique title on this list has to be FAR: Lone Sails. This adventure survival game is set in a post apocalyptic world that has no zombies or other kinds of monsters. Violence is not part of the theme here, the focus being sidescrolling exploration. At the helm of a peculiar vessel the players will have to traverse a vast desert keeping a constant care over their means of transportation. Maintenance and upgrades will keep the vehicle in shape to overcome the obstacles and natural hazards that lie ahead.
FAR: Lone Sails takes advantage of Unity engine to render unique visuals portraying the vast nothingness of a world long gone. The mix of puzzles and survival elements blending into a visual narrative sounds intriguing enough for the game to deserve a spot on this list.
Release Date: Q1, coming to Early Access
Four years ago DayZ stroke gold starting the trend of survival games and pretty much popularizing Early Access. Four years have passed and the game that started it all looks less polished than SCUM.
SCUM’s premise is quite unique. Imagine a world where entertainment has turned to violence as a multimedia juggernaut televises a show in which prisoners stuck on an island fight for survival by killing each other.
This survival game is all about taking realism to the next level featuring an in-depth character customization system and extremely realistic mechanics. Knowledge is key in SCUM and the learning curve seems pretty damn high. Having the character’s movement affected by weight is impressive, but that’s just the tip of the realism iceberg. Metabolic rate is a real thing and proper nourishment is necessary. Getting wet is a complex endeavor and drying your gear varies depending on the available sources of heat and the gear’s material. The shooting takes advantage of advanced mechanics including zeroing and a bullet trajectory affected by air pressure and wind. But these are just a few of the impressive features that will be available in this game.
SCUM is launching into Early Access which could be discouraging for many players and that’s understandable because we have been here before. But the game is built on Unreal Engine 4 which should make us more hopeful that this ambitious project won’t get stuck in development hell.
We Happy Few
Release Date: Summer, currently in Early Access
We Happy Few is an action-adventure survival taking place in a drug-fuelled 1960s alternative England. One of the game’s biggest selling point is the Bioshock vibe it is projecting with its retrofuturistic setting and weird yet colorful visual style.
The game is split in two modes: story and sandbox. The story mode revolves around three flawed characters whose narratives intertwine as they try to survive without using Joy, a “happiness” inducing drug. The sandbox mode is the make your own story kind of experience with a customizable world that gives the players more liberty. The gameplay follows the standard mechanics of the survival genre like scavenging and crafting, but with the addition of stealth alongside the customary combat.
I’ve been watching the progress of We Happy Few since before its Early Access release and this is a promising game. But I won’t lie, the affiliation with Gearbox Publishing and the huge increase in price have been quite a turn off.
Fade to Silence
Release Date: August, currently in Early Access
Black Forest Games has made the jump from sidescrolling action titles like Giana Sisters or Rogue Stormers to survival games with Fade to Silence.
Developed on Unreal Engine 4, Fade to Silence comes with some pretty visuals but also the optimization problems expected from an unfinished product. The game is all about overcoming the challenges of a violent winter climate which includes an eldritch component and narrative elements. In order to stand a chance against the cold and the monstrous creatures taking over the world players will have to gather resources, craft items and of course, build bases. There is also the addition of a group aspect which involves rescuing and commanding NPCs as well as moral choices. The action takes place on an 8km² long map filled with activities, resources and dangers. Wolf sleds can be used as a way of transportation through this vast and harsh terrain. As with most survival games, combat is part of the experience and in Fade to Silence the fight against eldritch horrors takes a slightly Souls-like approach. The combat requires avoidance and stamina management and takes advantage of a roster of melee and ranged weapons split between multiple tiers.
Fade to Silence sounds like a promising singleplayer survival experience. The developers are aiming for an August release and I’m hoping they have enough time to finish and polish the game in such a short period of time.
Release Date: TBA, currently in Early Access
Astroneer has been in Early Access for over a year now, but the developers are preparing for a 2018 launch. This voxel fueled spatial survival game gives the players the opportunity to take the role of an astronaut fighting for survival on various alien planets. Using some pretty cool ground physics, Astroneer’s gameplay gives players the power to shape the worlds they are exploring. Use the terrain to dig caves or create natural passages in the search for resources. Build bases and vehicles, research new technologies upgrade your equipment and take off to new planets and moons in a struggle for survival that can be carried out alone or together with other players.
Astroneer has already delivered more than other similar games did by the time of their launch. With a bunch of big updates planned for the beginning of this year, the future of this survival game looks even brighter.
State of Decay 2
Release Date: TBA
State of Decay 2 needs no introduction being the sequel of one of the most popular zombie survival games out there. However, I would like to be able to provide some information about the game, but there’s hardly any at all.
State of Decay 2 is developed on Unreal Engine 4 and will expand on the mechanics of its predecessor. The list of new features includes a system of choices and consequences, improved vehicles, an updated combat system and the much wanted co-op. The game is coming this year to Microsoft Store and hopefully later on to other digital distribution platforms.
I’m glad that survival games have caught up and the genre can stand on its own feet and this list stands as a testimony for that. There’s plenty thrill to be had in 2018 as a virtual survivor and I can’t wait to get my adrenaline dose from some of the games above.