Survival Gaming at its Finest: 7 Days to Die

Survival games don’t have to have zombies. But my all-time favorite one happens to. I still remember the day that a friend at work sent me the link to the 7 Days to Die Kickstarter. The game went live as an early access alpha in December 13, 2013. It was one of the biggest backings I have ever done of a Kickstarter, and I don’t regret it for a minute. The Fun Pimps are the most dedicated and consistent developers I’ve ever seen. Here’s proof. This video just came out FRIDAY. It’s nearly 2018, and look what they’re preparing for the next update:

For those of you keeping score at home, this is about 4 years post-launch. In an era where so many early access games are abandoned by their developers, these guys deserve some SERIOUS kudos.

The game is currently in Alpha 16 build, and I hadn’t played in a while. I have it for PS4 and on Steam. Since I already had the PS4 set up to stream to my YouTube, I started there. But within 10 minutes my son was asking if we could play on Steam together again, like we used to.

7 Days to Die scrap armor

I hadn’t done local game hosting since owning Windows 7, and it’s not QUITE as easy to get to the command prompt and figure out your ipv4 address as it used to be, but you can just use the search function to find cmd. Then enter ipconfig, note your ipv4 setting, and you’re good to go. The port 7D2D uses in our case is not 2500 anymore, but you’ll see this when you’re setting up the game. It’s the ipv4 that’s kind of tricky to get at. Here’s a great little tutorial on how to play 7 Days to Die on LAN.

So before I knew it we were back in survival mode. The first thing we noticed was the new settlement, with a trader NPC. That was exciting and new for us. I wondered if it might make the game too easy, but we were still grateful for it as night descended, even though we couldn’t put down a bedroll in there.

But then a voice came on a loudspeaker announcing that the trading post would be closing. Very impressive, they didn’t used to have voice-overs! We didn’t know what would happen, but were surprised to find ourselves thrown out of the place. Guess hiding behind the fantastic walls of that stronghold wasn’t going to be an option. We hastily constructed the typical base survival structure, ugly as sin, and managed to get it finished and get quiet before the shuffling feet of zombies could be heard. We survived the night.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Why do I love this game so much? After all, I have started over countless times, and generally never make it to the progress point where I’m, say, smelting bullets or riding around in the motorbike. And yet I relive the early phase scenario of the game over, and over, and over.

sunrise in 7 Days to Die Alpha 16.4
Hello stone axe, my old friend…

There’s just something about punching grass. Making stone axes, and wooden bows. Finding a broken down cabin and fixing it up, working your way up the skills and supplies ladder to the point that you establish a garden. It’s that challenge of starting with nothing, you hit the ground and the clock’s ticking to find a water source, and a shelter to hide in by nightfall.

And here we are, doing it once again. I guess part of it is that the game keeps changing. They’ve been making consistent updates and improvements for years. Now it’s vendor outposts and sleeping zombies that rise up when you don’t expect it. Before, it was a treasure map system, and a player leveling and skills system, and of course a constantly increasing assortment of buildings and locations.

7 Days to Die Skills
Skills and level progression are examples of some of the big changes this game has gone through since launch.

As I said, it’s more about the survival for me and less about the zombies, but I think this game has nailed the zombie aspect better than anyone else. They are truly capable of making me jump.

Survival Games Coming in 2017 and 2018

Well hell, looks like there are a LOT of survival games coming out in the next year or so! I only knew about a few of these.  I was just getting started on a second play-through of Fallout 4, but now I feel like maybe I want to save myself.

Note: I realize I’m horribly mixing survival games and apocalypse games here. That’s really not appropriate, but since I’m a huge fan of both, it’s hard not to. Survival games, for the record, are games where the basic needs are a focus for the game’s success mechanics. So like Don’t Starve, where you need to be worrying about food constantly. A game like Days Gone, I believe, is less focused on those survival elements, and it’s more just about the apocalyptic setting. Which is still just fine with me, but I thought I should acknowledge the distinction.

Here are the ones that I probably won’t be able to resist.

Survive the Nights

This one’s got a very 7 Days to Die vibe to it, and that’s a game I have 500 or so hours of gameplay in on, so the odds are good I’m going to try this one out. The only downside for me is that it’s on the PC. I’m at a point where WASD gaming takes a horrendous toll on my hands, so hopefully it’s controller compatible.

Looks like it should be available any day now as an early access game on Steam. I know a lot of people who flat-out detest early access games, but I am not one of those people.

Raft

This is one I already knew about but it has come a LONG way from the initial alpha version I watched. I love that you’re essentially building a floating city.

Rise of the King

Oh heyell yeah. A wintry theme, which is one of the things I really like about The Long Dark, but with a more medieval flavor.  This appears to have been a Kickstarter that was cancelled. That in itself is not a game over; DreamCade Replay failed the first time around but leveraged what they learned to come roaring back for a very successful second try. However, the last post on Rise of the King’s Twitter account was back in May regarding that cancelled Kickstarter. Never a good sign when a game dev goes silent for that long. Also not a good sign when their website’s blank.

Ylands

Not for me, probably, but I think my kids are going to LOVE this one. They’re big into Minecraft and Roblox, and things like Terraria and Don’t Starve. I tried playing Minecraft with the kids, but for survival gaming, the graphics just don’t work for me.

State of Decay 2

I didn’t actually play a ton of the original State of Decay. It was a little too “on the rails” for me, I prefer more of an open world style (and I know it became that, but not in the time I played it).

The sequel sounds more open-world, so I’ll be tempted, but I don’t have an XBox anymore, so that leaves PC as the only option yet again. I have a decent gaming laptop at this point, but I tend to be more PS4-focused these days.  The multiplayer elements do sound interesting, but they require an XBox Gold subscription. This one’s probably going to get cut from my roster for that reason, but I’m leaving it here because it’s a solid entry in the survival games genre.

Frostpunk

As I watched the video above, I was writing down games that caught my eye. I drew 2 stars next to this one. It was only later I found out it’s from 11 bit studios, the creators of one of my all time favorite survival games, This War of Mine.  Count me in. LOVE these guys, and I have no doubt whatsoever that this game is going to be right up my alley.

It’s obvious they’re carrying forward the tough choices element from This War of Mine.  Which, by the way, if you haven’t played, get it. But be warned, it’s brutally difficult.

Days Gone and Far Cry 5

Caught the reveals of both of these during this year’s E3, and I’m on board for both, no question. They look fantastic! Days Gone reminded me of Dying Light, another one I really enjoyed playing, and one of the few I’ve finished in recent years. And I realize that makes me sort of a hypocrite, not liking State of Decay for being on the rails, but loving Dying Light, which is very much on the rails. Hmm. Maybe it was playing in 3rd person that turned me off on State. If so, that’ll be a point against Days Gone, too.

Days Gone: They see me rollin’… they hatin’…

I’m a late-comer to Far Cry, but I played almost all the way through Far Cry 3. The “burning the drug fields” level is one of the most memorable segments I’ve experienced in any game, ever. It was a perfect song choice, and gave you that feeling of being the star in a movie.

So that turned me on to the Far Cry series, and I’d be interested in Far Cry 5 even if it weren’t for the fact that it takes place in Montana and I grew up in Montana. Done deal. Where do I sign? I’m also really enjoying the character videos they released. It’s feeling like it’ll be a world I can lose myself in, and these days, that’s really what I’m after. Plus, there are indications it may have fishing…

I will acknowledge one problem with the list above. There’s no way I have time to play even just the games mentioned here, and Red Dead Redemption’s coming in 2018. I’m not sure how I’ll handle this problem, something’s gotta give. All I can say is thank the gods Bethesda hasn’t got an Elder Scrolls coming in 2018, because then I’d REALLY be screwed. Gah, but the new Wolfenstein’s due out in October. It’s Bethesda, it’s a Fallout-ish aesthetic, and that’s my kryptonite.

I have to come to grips with the fact that I can only play one or two big games any given year. At the moment, these are the “gotta haves”:

  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Oct. 27, 2017)
  • Frostpunk (TBD, maybe by end of 2017)
  • Far Cry 5 (February 27, 2018)
  • Red Dead Redemption: (Spring 2018)

Raft and Days Gone are tier 2 for me. I’ll play them if by some miracle I get through the list above and don’t then go back to Fallout 4. Survive the Nights is kind of a wildcard for me. If they can actually pull off what their teaser video showed, I would have to get it. But it’s coming at a time when there’s just so much survival games competition. I like wine, but I can’t drink wine 24/7, you know?

And it gets worse. I just found out that Mojo Bones actually did wind up releasing Impact Winter this year. I was one of the Kickstarter backers for this one, but it was another Kickstarter that didn’t work out. And another dev team that didn’t let that stop them, it seems:

Impact Winter appears to be having a rough time of it right now on Steam, though, with mostly negative reviews focusing on bug issues. Bugs can be fixed, so I hope they sort it out, but I’ll hold off for now. At this point I’m kind of glad to have the excuse.