Gaming Age: Survival

When you look at the general gaming zeitgeist, it’s clear that it goes through distinct ages.

  • RPG-elements
  • MMO
  • Battle Royale
  • F2P
  • Open world
  • Survival

We are currently in an age of survival. Not literally (OK, also literally), but of survival games. Which is good news to me as it is clearly one of my favorite genres, but even I have been surprised at the recent volume and game companies involved. Let’s take a look of what’s coming up according to PC Gamer.

Retreat to Enen (Aug 2022) is about becoming one with nature rather than chopping down all the trees. Forever Skies (Early Access late 2022) is survival and exploration in a blimp base above the ruins of Earth. I Am Future (2022) is another sort of “skyscrapers above the mist” setting but is supposedly more jolly in perhaps a My Time at Portia sort of way. Above Snakes (2023) is isometric survival with Native Americans in which you place down your own tiles to explore. Derelicts (TBA) is a 1-man developed survival game that looks like Satisfactory with actual survival elements. Sons of the Forest (Oct 2022) is a sequel to The Forest, ’nuff said. Nightingale (Early Access late 2022) is described as “Victorian gaslamp fantasy” and certainly looks cool, although it strikes me as less survival and more adventure/story progression.

That article was focusing on new survivals games that weren’t “chop wood, mine ore, repeat” though.

In the pipeline is an open-world Terminator survival game. Ubisoft is making Skull & Bones, which is Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag + survival. Wild West Dynasty is the next game from the publisher of Medieval Dynasty. Jagex is working on an open-world survival game based on RuneScape. ARK 2 is coming, featuring in-game Vin Diesel. My Time at Sandrock is a thing.

What kind of inspired the post though, was Square Enix announcing Harvestella, a “life sim farming game.” I know that farming sims aren’t technically survival games, but it’s kind of a wolf vs dog situation.

[Edit] I cannot believe I forgot the other example: Blizzard’s unnamed survival game.

The thing that I am discovering about myself through all this is that my tastes and predilections have not shifted much. That in of itself is not an epiphany, of course. But 11 years ago I wrote a post about Bean Counting and how I recognized that as the sort of root of fun I dig at in every game I play. For a long time, MMOs satisfied that desire. And regular RPGs like the Witcher, and several F2P games, and Open World games, and so on.

With Survival (and farming) games, I feel I have come to perhaps the purest Form of Bean Counting.

Of course, Novelty is also important… otherwise I would be playing Minecraft and calling it a day. And so I feel it rather fortuitous that I happen to be living through this age, and its embarrassment of survival riches. If you don’t like punching trees or watering plants, well, I’m sorry. I’ll just have to horde crafting supplies enough for the both of us.

Posted on July 14, 2022, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. thanks for spotting that article, I will look into fore ever skies, as i am a bit of a sucker for an airship


  2. Suppose you could argue that in early 2000s there was an RTS/MOBA blip, too.

    Nightingale does look very cool. Harvestella, for its part, looks so Squeenix-core it hurts. I could swear that most gameplay sound effects present in that trailer accompany FFXIV crafting actions.


    • I had actually thought about including RTS at a minimum in there, but it’s hard to say (or remember) how widespread it actually was at the time. Like obviously there was Warcraft, Starcraft, Command & Conquer, and Age of Empires and such… but is that enough? I was not quite old enough to recognize the “scene” as it were. Maybe those heavy-hitters are enough to justify their own age.


  3. My interaction with survival games is….well…. mixed. I probably tried all the wrong ones, but:

    – ARK Survival: no-mechanics total grindfest which makes Archeage gear progression look varied, no difficulty whatsoever except extreme aggravation.
    – Don’t Starve / Oxygen not Included: great graphics, complex, useless, pointless mechanics. ONI in particular starts strong, but then it’s just aggravo-land.
    – Banished: a masterpiece, nothing comes even close to this old classic city builder.
    – This War of Mine: great, incredible graphical design, but very “exploity”, i.e. once you know the tricks it’s trivial. Stopped it after trying combat, which unfortunately is VERY anti-thematic.
    – The Great Dark: I read that it had a great story. It doesn’t. It’s just another mess of annoying mechanics.

    I’d say I’m open to suggestions, but more likely I’m not. I get the feeling that in most cases “survival” ends being a synonym for “punishing grind”. If I have to grind, then it better be relaxing, otherwise I’ll be off driving in ETS2.


    • I actually agree with you regarding ARK. I only play solo and bump the taming speed to maximum and also bump up resource gathering a few times as well. But in the aggregate… yeah, there aren’t really many “mechanics” going on. It’s almost like I want there to be a Souls-esque battle mechanic with the dinosaurs – the current system is basically cheese them from perfect safety or get killed immediately. At the same time, that element of danger is not well replicated across other survival games.

      I will have to get to playing Banished at some point. Frostpunk was pretty fun.


      • I skipped Frostpunk…. for I don’t know which reason, because on paper it looked good. Probably because it was windows-only and expensive. I’ll add it to my wishlist and wait for some sale which will inevitably happen….


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