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


Last week we learned what was up with a number of the smaller survival sandbox MMOs. Sadly, some have faded away, but others are going pretty strong. However, you already know that no single list can contain such a prolific genre! That guide only made it part-way through the long list of games we’ve covered in our three separate survival sandbox guides over the past couple of years. We haven’t yet launched into what’s happened in space or dug up the fate of the zombies — two of the most popular survival categories. That changes now.

Today The Survivalist is checking in on many of those science fiction, space, and zombie survival games that don’t get to sit in the spotlight often. I’ve also thrown in the more unique titles that focus on oceans, vikings, or horror themes. So take a look at the fate of these smaller survival games.


The game’s development has ceased, and EU’s servers were shut down in January of this year. However, the US East servers are available to play on online. You can also still do single-player or host local servers for friends (which may be the only way you’ll run into other players!). If you’d like an alien-planet survival fix, you can pick the it up on sale for $1.99 on Steam until May 27th, 2019. For that price, it’s worth it.

Outpost Zero
This robot version of survival on an alien world launched into early access on Steam last summer. Development is still going strong, with frequent updates and lots of dev communication on both Steam and the official Discord server, where devs interact with players regularly.

Planet Nomads
Introduced before it was available, Planet Nomads joined the Steam early access crew in May 2017, then launched May 3, 2019. Sadly, the plan for multiplayer was ditched because it was too much trouble. However, this single-player game does still receive small, frequent updates.

While this Mars-based adventure is still available on Steam, active development is not. That ended last July. Last September the devs posted a very transparent update (the last one as it turns out) about the future of the project. You can still buy the game and play online, but no other content or bug fixes will happen.


Can a survival game be relaxing? Believe it or not, yes! This adorable and whimsical Steam title has officially launched (no more early access!) and continues to get meaty monthly updates. However, don’t think it won’t kill you off if you stray too far from your oxygen lines!

Empyrion – Galactic Survival
This game may still be in early access, but it is getting updates galore – as in multiple times a month! And folks are pretty pleased with it: Reviews over the last 30 days are 70% positive, with 80% positive overall. There’s a ton of building shapes, and with a combination of space and alien planet survival, you’ve got possibly the best of both worlds.

On the other end of the spectrum, Grav’s recent reviews are mostly negative, although overall they are 57% positive. Development halted as of July 2017 according to Steam’s update logs. In fact, the final dev log looks to be pretty prophetic: “Seems the updates are really taking their sweet time.” You don’t say!

With Hellion, you aren’t lost in space without a dev: This survival sandbox gets regular bug fixes, quality of life changes, balance improvements, and content still. The devs also value immersion, so players can now see sparks fly when their ship’s modules are need repair. Coming soon is the ability to do an advanced start in a new location with new circumstances.

No Man’s Sky
Although basically a single-player at launch, this space game improved as the years went on and does offer multiplayer, both on and offline, as well as co-op. There hasn’t been much in the way of development updates on Steam since March, but in April players learned that the game will be getting VR this summer as part of the big Beyond expansion.

Osiris: New Dawn
Unlike most of the Steam games, updates for this game will mostly redirect you to the game’s official website for information. Development is still continuing, and the devs even keep giving players regular looks at how far each aspect is coming along in the game’s development roadmap.

Space Engineers
Another space survival that launched out of Steam ‘s early access, Space Engineers has been live since February 2019. It also has possibly the highest review scores of all, with 75% positive over the last 30 days and 87% positive overall. Content (like the big survival overhaul) and fixes are available via regular updates, and devs are active with the community supporting contests, a series of “Did you know?” videos, and streams.


Dead by Daylight
Although this 4v1’s horror survival’s reviews fell some recently, they remain overall mostly positive. Development on Steam continues, and there are a number of DLC that players can buy to add more chapters to the game (and more ways to kill and be killed).

Since our last guide (this past February, in fact), ECO has launched in Steam’s early access program. Devs continue to offer updates on development as well as content updates and fixes. ECO still wonders if you will destroy or save the world while you advance.

Since premiering in our survival guide way back when, the now-wildly-popular Fortnite sidelined its survival orientation in favor of becoming a battle royale game. Yay for battle royale fans, but maybe not for fans who bought into the initial game initially, whose much smaller survival and sandbox corners receive only intermittent updates.

Minecraft (survival mode)
Yes, Minecraft is still there, and it is still popular — and it gets plenty of dev attention and updates. In fact, it has gotten quite a resurgence on players and popularity due to its latest update. And it doesn’t hurt that you can play it on just about everything: Windows, Mac, Linuzx, Android, PlayStations 3, 4 & Vita, iOS,  Xbox One & 330, Wii U, Kindle Fire, Gear VR, Apple TV.

This single-player underwater survival not only still gets development, it has gotten major additions. Subnautica itself is launched — and happens to maintain the highest positive reviews with 94% — and it has a companion game called Subnautica: Below Zero in early access. There is also a mod that lets you play co-op with a friend.

The Island – Ethereal
It’s telling when the this game was greenlit on Steam back in 2016, but it still sits there with the message “Greenlight is being retired” on its Steam page. The one single dev post (yes, only one) links to a non-existent Trello board. Yup, this one is not only dead, but it never lived.

Valnir Rok
The monthly cadence of updates dried up for this Viking-inspired survival game in December 2018 (the combat update), and the last note was in the beginning of March 2019. It is still available on Steam, but there are concerns that it has stalled out. Tha March 5th patch appeared to be pretty minuscule.


7 Days to Die
After more than five years, this zombie survival is still in early access on Steam. Players can still get the game on consoles (PS4, Xbox One, discs). Update regularity fell off this year, with nothing in march or April. However, there has been one update in May.

These zombies finally escaped the early access trap, launching last December. Updates may not be quite monthly, but they are pretty meaty. The latest one was just a week ago added a hatchback car, new fancy gun and gear, and a whole slew of other additions and fixes. Available on: Steam

Dead Frontier 2
You can play Dead Frontier on your browser, or you can jump into the early access of Dead Frontier 2 on Steam that opened in September 2018. Unfortunately, updates for this one dried up almost as fast as they came: The final recorded update was on November 12th, 2018.

Dead Maze
As promised, Dead Maze launched on Steam Early 2018 — in February, to be exact. This 2-D survival MMO does not receive updates anymore and hasn’t for a long time. However, you can still hop in and play, just expect the story to end.

Die 2 Nite
As under the radar that this zombie-filled survival it, it is still going 11 years later on the PC. The game is on its 13th season (Enter the Sandman), and the most recent communication from devs came just last month.

H1Z1: Just Survive
Just gone. There is no more survival game. The battle royale is still around and going strong on PS4, but its PC fate is tenuous as it is shuffled around, experiences layoffs, and shuts down whole regions of servers.

Infestation: The New Z
Still on Steam, this game and its three game modes — battle royale, survival, and open world — has regular updates and events.

Killing Floor 2
With very positive Steam reviews, this six-player co-op experience with a 12-player survival mode continues to get very frequent communication from devs as well as updates and fixes.

Considering that this game is now missing its Steam page, I’d say it is pretty true to its name: Lifeless.

Did it die? If you are in China, you tell us! The page we had with Snail Games giving details is no longer accessible. If you aren’t in China, well, you never had a chance to play anyway.

Project Zombiod
Although you probably haven’t heard much about this game, it has very positive reviews on Steam, (although you can also play on Mac and Linux via the official site). Devs continue to offer a monthly round up of all development highlights as well as links to plenty of videos.

State of Decay 2
Available on Windows 10, this solo or four-person co-op zombie apocalypse game does continue to have development, even if not at regular monthly intervals.  Manage relationships and goals of survivors, even elevate favorite survivors into leadership roles.

Survive the Nights
You can still buy and play this game on Steam, but interestingly you can’t find it by searching the store; it boasts a banner: “Notice: At the request of the publisher, Survive the Nights is unlisted on the Steam store and will not appear in search.” Noting that, perhaps it is more interesting that the devs are still very much updating and working on the game. They clear this up by stating, “This is a pre-alpha unlisted version of Survive the Nights and is a work in progress.” So if you stumble on it, you are welcome to buy it and try it!

On the third anniversary of its early access on Jul 7, 2014, this whimsical blocky F2P zombie survival launched for real on Steam. It enjoys regular development attention, including multiple updates most months. This includes incorporating work from modders in the community.

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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