The Survivalist: What ever happened to the smaller survival sandbox MMOs?

    
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With big name survival games getting ignored developmentally, you have to wonder what’s been going on with the smaller titles. After all, we’ve got multiple guides chock full of survival games, but those are well over a year old now. And we only really hear about a few, so what’s up with all the rest? Are they dead and gone? Which ones are just dead in the water but still online? And what developers are still chugging along with updates, even if under the radar?

Well, we’re going to find out! This Survivalist is checking in on all those multiplayer (and a couple of single-player) survival games that don’t get the limelight often. Think of it as a quick check-up guide. Of course, with so many survival games, there is still too much to cover in just one guide. So here you’ll find the facts from dinosaurs to the after the apocalypse. I’ve even added a couple games that didn’t make it on previous guides. Then next round you can expect a second piece with the rest.

Dinosaurs

Durango: Wild Lands
The game launched this week! While closed beta started back July of 2017, news wasn’t exactly prolific. However, US Players on both Android and iOS can nab the mobile title on Google Play store for Android or the Apple App store. Fight, tame, and ride dinosaurs right on your phone.

Saurian
This single-player play-as-a-dino title is still in early access on Steam. However, game development has been steadily chugging along; at least two dev blogs are posted each month with progress.

Fantasy

Boundless
Although it was one of the titles that missed our first guides, Boundless launched out of early access September 2018. This builder-focused survival game maintains very positive Steam reviews. Its latest update was the end of April, but most months have multiple updates and communications from devs.

Citadel: Forged with Fire
Another title missing from previous guides (sounds like we might be due for guide #4), Citadel has been flying under the radar even though it has been getting regular updates. The most recent was a doozy: dynamic weather and mastery levels. And while reviews are mixed Steam, 80% of those made in the last 30 days are positive, so things are looking good.

Rend
Launched at the end of March, this game has seen its development effectively stopped. A very few official servers remain up, but they are still very empty. You can still participate in faction warfare (mostly the sieges) or play on the either of the other two server types of PvP free-for-all or PvE exploration.

Savage Lands
Still in early access, Savage Lands had mostly monthly updates — until this year. As the developer wrote in the final dev update on April 14, 2019, “If all goes as planned, I’ll have the update in BETA by end of April.” We are guessing all didn’t go well. There was, however, just a dev interview stream on May 2nd. The Steam reviews for this frozen landscape are just over 50% positive. Any returning players are asked to check out special instructions.

TUG
This game has poofed completely. You can’t find it or your Kickstarter money anywhere anymore. Even the playable version that was out is gone. One Reddit story even claims that Nerd Kingdom was bought by a big mobile company to use TUG’s assets. Our final entry on this game at the end of 2018 details the fiasco and chronicles how the developers have refused to answer questions. “Nerd Kingdom took $300,000 from gamers and committed to transparency,” we concluded. “Consequently, the company owes those gamers one of two things: their money back or a clear explanation of where it went.”

Historical

Badiya
Still in Steam early access, this procedurally generated WWI desert game has three modes now: exploration, survival, and hardcore. That was announced in the last update April 1st, 2019. Updates appear only every few months, but Steam reviews are over 60% positive.

The Black Death
Development appears fairly steady; the game continues to have dev updates on Steam multiple times a month, including new content and hotfixes. Armor just got a full overhaul in April.

Medieval

Life is Feudal
While news for the Your Own version of the game is posted on Steam only every few months, the MMO receives regular communication from devs. Reviews in the last 30 days, however, have taken a nosedive into the negative.

New Dawn
This survival is available now on Steam in early access; however, development progress looks iffy right now. The last communication was at the beginning of February 2019, and a patch was said to be coming “next week” starting at the beginning of November and going through all of December. Even then, those items were going to be “added gradually in the weekly patches.”

Wild Terra
Switched to free-to-play in February 2019. Dev updates on Steam have been frequent and include information on fixes, additions, and events.

Modern

Hurtworld
Even though early access was in December 2015, devs still appear quite active on the game as evidenced by the Steam posts. Note: Official server wipes due to updates have happened twice in the last two months.

Novus Inceptio
Although Steam reviews are 64% positive, the devs have only one update posted since the October 2015 early access release. There is a bit more info in the discussion section, but you have to wade through that. And when you do, you learn the devs appear to be off making another game called The Wild Age and have abandoned this one.

Out of Reach
Although launched less than a year ago, this game may already be dying or dead. The last pinned dev note in the discussion section was in January. The only update listed on Steam is a battle royale spin-off called Out of Reach: Treasure Royale, which is coming soon. If you dig, you can find the last changelog was September 2018. If you still want to play, this game is on sale on for $3.74 until May 20, 2019, 75% off.

RUST
Officially launched as of February 2018, RUST has one of the highest positive ratings of survival games on Steam. Additions to the game (including things like hot air balloons and electricity) and bug fixes continue.

SCUM
This prison-centric game is still in early access on Steam, but is also still receiving updates. It even boasts comics! If you like very detailed and long dev updates, dig in.

SOS
What more can we say than what Steam does: “Notice: At the request of the publisher, SOS is unlisted on the Steam store and will not appear in search.” The original (fun) mode was ditched for battle royale, and it flopped. A shame, as this was a unique concept.

Stranded Deep
It’s still available on Steam early access, but this single-player title appears to get only infrequent updates or communication from devs.

The Wild Eight
Now in its second year of early access, The Wild Eight is still getting dev attention with updates and hot fixes. April’s big Shadow Hunt update added food spoilage system, a new quest, and more. Available on Steam.

Old West

Sunset Rangers
Play at your own risk. There is only one official server; players are expected to make their own servers. The last posted update on Steam was a single bug fix over a year ago, and the only recent dev discussion is just asking players what they want in the game.

Post-apocalyptic

Divergence: Year Zero
Nothing has changed since the last guide listing. You can still buy  and play the game, but it will not ever receive any updates. The Steam page very clearly says “Active-Development Discontinued.”

Miscreated
This survival continues to get mostly monthly updates (with some small breaks), the latest one being May 17th, 2019. The game is on sale on Steam through May 20th for $16.24.

Nether: Resurrected
A resurrected game in the first place, there is no active development at all. You can still buy the game on Steam, and there are still servers to play on. Development is happening on the next iteration, called Nether: The Untold Chapter.

Next Day: Survival 
So few survival games do, but Next Day: Survival did launch out of early access in May 2018. However, the last real Steam update was in December 2018, when the devs stated the game is alive and will continue to live, just without updates. Basically, the game is done, but not done for.

The Skies
Recent reviews of this survival are mostly negative, but that may have something to do with the fact that development appears to have halted back in October 2016. That’s too bad, because this one had more MMO elements than most; few other survival games had a quest system built in. Playing now is at your own risk, but it is free-to-play on Steam.

Xsyon
One of the earliest early access games, Xsyon is still in early access, but it dropped subscriptions in December 2017. And while they are not massive or often, it does still receive occasional updates. Despite that, Steam reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Non-Steam players can still jump on board via the official site. Server population is sparse, but there are some dedicated folks still there.

In the survival genre, there are at least 1001 ways to die, and MJ Guthrie is bound to experience them all — in the interests of sharing them with you! The Survivalist chronicles life and death struggles against all forms of apocalypse, outbreak, mutation, weather, and prehistoric wildlife. And let’s not forget the two-legged enemies! Tune in here and on OPTV to see who feeds better: MJ or the Death Counter.
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HolyAvengerOne

Thanks for the article.

Just a note about Novus Inceptio : there seems to have been a confusion somewhere, as it says in your article that :

[…] the devs have only one update posted since the October 2015 early access release.

However we see regular updates looking at either
https://steamcommunity.com/app/386590/announcements/
or https://steamdb.info/app/386590/graphs/

I’m not close to the game or anything, so I can’t confirm except what I see! ;)

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IronSalamander8 .

Boundless is pretty neat but I haven’t touched it much since launch. I’d like to give it more time but there just isn’t enough to give these days.

TUG looked promising at first but it sounds like a disaster now. Never cool to have something like that happen.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

TUG looked promising at first but it sounds like a disaster now.

In TUG’s defense, I think you have to exist to be a disaster. Near as anyone can tell, the entire company took the backers’ money (if there was any left) and just fell off the face of the planet.

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cursedseishi

As a backer who regrets it in hindsight but understands that is par for the course and the risk you run with kickstarter games? They had gone about far enough to have something playable, a basic crafting experience and world ala Minecraft before Minecraft introduced its survival mechanics. It did exist, albeit in a barebones manner…

Been a bit, but there was some theory-mongering and shuffling about by internet-goers. After TUG’s creators were bought out by a Chinese mobile game company called IGG, they cancelled the 2.0 version of TUG right out from under the development team (by also firing most), then repurposed what was left and put them on to focus on creating a mobile title simply known as “Best Buds”, but the rest is mum. Feels less like they ran off with the money, and more like they got too close to the goo and got absorbed as a result.

edit–source:

What happened to TUG?(2019 redux edition) from tug

edit-2:
Digging around as I was, also came across the fact that while Tug 2.0 was never officially released there is a developer-build that was found. As it sounds, only high-end backers actually got a chance to try it out, and there is both a myriad of bugs and issues as it’s more a demo than a proper patch, and little if any actual documentation.

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Stroam Willow

You didn’t mention Vintage Story. Probably because it doesn’t have a Kickstarter nor is on Steam. But it is on humble bundle and has regular updates and daily dev interactions on the discord.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Savage Lands, Steam tells me, I’ve owned since 2015. Wow. I enjoy the gameplay here, which probably now is nothing new, but in 2015 was different from what I was playing. I enjoy survival games for their logic and achievable progression.

One reason Savage Lands is so badly reviewed is that the original developer abandoned it. For several years it sat as abandonware until the current developer took it on in August 2018. Since then it’s seen steady development.

It’s definitely worth a look, particularly if you enjoy solo survival games, although I understand it really shines in co-op.

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laelgon

Life is Feudal should be a case study in why you shouldn’t listen to the people screaming loudest. They had a ton of players return for the launch of the new world, only to make the same mistakes that drove people away before. Every few weeks it feels like they would make drastic changes to the rules of the PvP, which would introduce new ways to break the game. It felt like you were constantly playing catch-up to figure out how you were supposed to play.

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Fisty

What happened is they come out bugged and people review dump them. Then no one plays after that initial surge.

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JohnnySilver

Boundless deserves a much bigger player base. I suspect people see it and think Minecraft, but I never really got into Minecraft and I think Boundless is the best MMO to come out in ages. Everything is built by the players and it’s not so blocky with the ‘chisel’ feature which means all sorts of shapes can be created and you can get really creative. Finding places to build in is great fun too with all the different coloured biomes (planets).

It’s a long term game, in which more time you invest more you get back. This will put some off but be a plus point to others.

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Fisty

It’s pretty much Minecraft. Minecraft even has a mod called “Chisel”, which does what you’re saying. I wish more people played Boundless. Same with most of these games. Until then, I keep playing Minecraft for that ultimate survival sandbox thing.

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IronSalamander8 .

Boundless is pretty solid and I concur. I love the different block colors thanks to different materials and planets.