Once Human is an open-world multiplayer survival game that sounds like a supernatural take on Rust - and after climbing up the wishlist charts it's taking Steam Next Fest by storm

Once Human
(Image credit: Starry Studio)

A little over 24 hours in, the biggest Steam Next Fest demo so far is an open-world survival game that's quietly turning into one of the most anticipated games on the platform as a whole.

Once Human, which dropped a July 9 release date announcement during Summer Game Fest, had already made something of a name for itself. At time of writing, it's just inside the top ten in Steam's overall wishlist charts, just behind Monster Hunter Wilds and ahead of the likes of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.

In Once Human's open-world apocalypse, the entire planet has been contaminated by an alien creature known as Stardust. Fortunately for you, you survived the contamination. Less fortunately, you still need to eat and drink to thrive in this survival game, and Stardust has contaminated everything, from the plants to the soil to the water. Eating poisoned food or drinking dirty water reduces your Sanity, and if that drops low enough, your max HP goes with it.

It's a system not a million miles removed from Fallout's irradiated food and the reduction in health that comes with it. The similarities don't go much further (beyond that apocalyptic setting), but it's interesting to see that iconic Fallout feature brought to life here.

Once Human is currently dominating the latest Steam Next Fest, which began earlier this week. At time of writing, it's at the top of all three metrics Valve uses to show off how popular its demos are - Once Human is top of the pile when it comes to wishlists, active players, and Valve's trending charts. Those stats are subject to change as the week goes on, but it's worth noting that there's potential for the best of the fest to do extremely well when it comes to full release. In October, another survival game, Enshrouded, achieved a triple-threat similar to Once Human's current effort. When it launched into early access a few months later, it accrued two million sales in little more than a month. With a substantial backing already locked in, that could make Once Human a game worth keeping a close eye on.

Can't wait? Check our our list of the best survival games.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.