Get dropped into a cruel world with no direction or instruction. Die. Die some more. Eventually, you’ll slowly figure out how to survive by crafting weapons, gear, and makeshift shelters in your bid to avoid harm from other players, not to mention the radiation and weather hazards of the land itself. That part should sound familiar to Minecraft players, but quite unlike Minecraft, Rust is an experiment in the depravities of human nature. On the one hand, that means your recently-spawned avatar may die a lot by the hands of not-so-nice raiders. On the other, less bloody hand, a helpful group of like-minded players can make the adventure of survival a rewarding team effort. It’s not for everyone, but credit where credit is due to Facepunch Studios for making a game that has no time for kitschiness.
9. The Flame in the Flood
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
For anyone who takes satisfaction from the risk-reward dynamic of survival crafting games, but is burnt out on the first-person style gameplay which first originated with Minecraft, there’s a good chance The Flame in the Flood will be right up your alley. Unlike most survival games, you’re constantly on the move in The Flame in the Flood, heading downstream in a washed-out USA to find the source of a radio signal. This figurative and literal flow of pace, in addition to the ambient visuals and folksy soundtrack, allows Flame in the Flood to really stand out, making it well worth its comparatively higher asking price. Plus, who doesn’t like the idea of a loyal dog for a companion in these trying times?
8. Craft the World
Platforms: PC, iOS
An underground labyrinth is in need of exploration and mining, and Craft the World leaves a group of dwarves under your command to find what they need to construct fantastic fortresses. Once done with their days-long construction project, it's time to craft weapons, items, ammunition, and more via the in-game library of simple recipes. But unlike in Minecraft, where you are but a single presence in the world, Craft the World gives you a group of earth-dwelling homunculi to help with a variety of tasks. Need some extra muscle? Order them to fend off approaching baddies. How about some setting up some traps? Give a couple of clicks here and there, and you can send them on their merry way.
7. No Man’s Sky
Platforms: PC, PS4
If Minecraft first popularized the concept of procedural generation, No Man’s Sky took that idea and launched it sky-high into the great expanse. You’re not exploring a single world, but over 18 quintillion planets, though that familiar survival crafting loop is alive and well here; there’s just spaceships and aliens involved now too. The game had a rough start, as it wasn't quite able to live up to the lofty expectations of players. Since then, however, it's been completely revamped and reshaped into a truly worthwhile experience bursting with things to do. Bored with a planet? No need to create a new world, just hop into your spaceship and fly to another one.
6. Fallout 4
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
As an open-world RPG from Bethesda, Fallout 4 probably doesn’t immediately strike you as a spiritual spin-off to Minecraft. But take a look at the Settlement system, in which you can dismantle structures to acquire resources and build wondrous bases. This feature boasts all the hallmarks of classic Minecraft gameplay, and Bethesda hasn’t been shy of expressing its fondness for that franchise in the past. Of course, the reality is that Fallout 4’s Settlement feature is just a small part of a much larger game, and you can completely ignore it if you want to. But experimentation with Fallout 4’s assortment of crafty contraptions brings its own unique rewards that can’t be found anywhere else.
5. Space Engineers
A classic space-based sandbox, Space Engineers lets you engineer spaceships, vehicles, and planetary outposts in both survival and creative modes. With its unusual volumetric physics engine, you can dig, build and destroy absolutely everything you see (and if that isn’t in the spirit of Minecraft, nothing is). Technology in the game is designed to be realistic and accurate to what could be created in real life in the near future, so it’s educational (kind of) too! Multiplayer lets you play with up to 16 players per world, allowing you to work together or fight each other for control. And the game’s healthy modding community gives you access to new ships to fly and planets to explore.
4. Junk Jack
Players can join you in Junk Jack for friendly crafting and exploring (or devious killing and trapping) in this pixelated 2D playground. You just never know what's going to happen if you dig too deep or venture far from home, but it usually ends in death. Many games of this ilk tend to plop players down into a new world and let them run wild. Junk Jack takes a different approach. A lengthy tutorial introduces the premise and helps newcomers really understand the nuances of the game, while a simpler crafting system using item recipes also helps usher in less experienced players. That simplicity doesn’t come at a sacrifice to purpose either, which arrives in the form of several in-game goals to accomplish.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
You may be more familiar with its battle royale mode, but Fortnite has a co-op mode too, you know! In Fortnite: Save The World, you start out wielding naught but a giant pickaxe, which you can use to whack against trees, rocks, and basically anything else to break down for materials in your quest to build the coolest fortress ever. That fortress will need to be set up post-haste too, as zombies are on the march, and they’re looking to destroy everything within their path. Sounds pretty Minecraft-y to us. And, if you do want to check out Fortnite: Battle Royale, you'll find out what happens when survival crafting meets PvP.
Platforms: PC, Mac, Xbox One and Playstation 4
Subnautica’s unique brand of underwater, futuristic survival leaves you stranded on the mysterious and watery Planet 4546B, an ocean world teeming with hostile life. Like Minecraft, your task as a lone survivor is to explore the world, overcoming its dangers, and collecting resources to build bases, submersibles, and new tools. Unlike Minecraft however, as well as staying fed and healthy, you’ll have to keep an eye on your oxygen levels as you plunge the depths of the ocean! Also, unlike its block-based precursor, Subnautica also has a proper plot, which players will unearth (or un-water) as they discover their home. The game also benefits from VR support, giving you a truly immersive experience. A standalone expansion, Subnautica: Below Zero, is also now available for Early Access on Steam.
Eco takes the top spot on our list because it takes the foundations laid by Minecraft and builds upon them to form something that feels like a significant progression of those ideas. Like Minecraft, Eco has been used as a teaching tool as well as a game, and for good reason. In this world, everything is connected, and you need to build a civilization from the ground up. That means not only are you chopping down trees to build a place where you can craft your various recipes, but you're also chopping down trees in places where doing so won't erode the soil, and keeping the waste byproduct of your crafting limited so as not to pollute the water. While there are many modes of play, arguably the most challenging is to build up a society with other players that is capable of stopping a meteor from destroying everything. Yeah. Good luck with that!