PS4 sorely needs an Early Access system for our survival gaming fix

There’s a certain type of game that’s curiously absent from PlayStation. No, not truck simulators – though that’s a sore point, too – but survival games such as DayZ and The Long Dark. These games can be brilliant. Broken and unbalanced, yes. But brilliant with it. Every other week there’s some amazing new YouTube video of games such as Rust – the PC’s premier naked caveman theft and murder sim – and, frankly, I want in on the action.

Something like the Xbox One Game Preview programme would do just fine, thanks – a tailored selection of in-development titles, the wheat having already been thoroughly separated from the chaff by folks buying these unfinished games on Steam. They can find the gems among the muck – games such as Subnautica, Slime Rancher, and Secrets Of Grindea – and we can enjoy them just that little bit later, though not late enough for them to become dated, irrelevant and tame.

There’s something magical about playing an unfinished game, one that hasn’t yet settled into its final form. You can see the walls taking shape, the world evolving into something greater before your eyes. Not all games benefit from being in Early Access, but there’s a real Wild West feeling about survival titles, crafting games and roguelikes. Playing them is like stepping out into uncharted territory, territory that may be very different – less interesting and more nailed down – once the unwashed masses get their hands on version 1.0.

There’s something to be said, of course, for waiting for games to be labelled as finished before throwing cash at them. They’re more likely to work, for a start – nobody likes shelling out for a game that runs like a bag of rotting offal. But there’s a vast swathe of games for which ‘finished’ has become a meaningless term. Minecraft may never be finished, in the traditional sense, and I fear we’ve already missed out on DayZ’s heyday, which kicked off the whole survival thing years ago.

The PC can keep the dodgy DayZ and Minecraft clones, but if we could just get Ark: Survival Evolved, Rust, GRIP and Scrap Mechanic before too long, I’ll be a happy man.

This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great PlayStation coverage, you can subscribe here.

Tom Sykes
When he's not dying repeatedly in roguelikes, Tom spends most of his working days writing freelance articles, watching ITV game shows, or acting as a butler for his cat. He's been writing about games since 2008, and he's still waiting on that Vagrant Story 2 reveal.