Minecraft survival maps
Minecraft’s prime other mode is survival, in which your sole task is to remain in the land of the living for as long as possible. The best maps push your survival instincts to their limits, forcing you to make the most intelligent choices when mining limited resources, putting impossible voids between you and vital items, and testing your endurance with vicious monsters. Others just ask you to survive long enough to hold a hot tub party. These are some of the best designed, most entertaining survival maps around.
World in a Jar
The challenge in World in a Jar comes from surviving on a series of tiny worlds encased in jars. Each floating glass prison contains a unique biome, containing a mix of pure survival and adventure map gameplay. There’s an ethereal-like stillness to these captured environments that makes World in a Jar a must-see map.
Ant Farm Survival
For everyone who’s ever wondered what it would be like to find yourself trapped in an ant farm, the tellingly named Ant Farm Survival provides a flawed template for what you’ll likely encounter - you’ll want to conduct more scientific research elsewhere. Divided into increasingly challenging sections, this unique survival map boasts a heap of challenges and some deviously claustrophobic level design.
Roleplayers looking to take on the mantle of Sandra Bullock or George Clooney need look no further than Deadly Orbit, a space-themed survival map set aboard the International Space Station. It takes its Gravity inspiration entirely literally, in the sense that there is lots of gravity as opposed to none at all, but even though there’s no floating in the abyss the hollowness of space can certainly be felt. There are a number of tasks to complete with the limited resources to be found on the ISS, including fighting off mobs that seem to have learnt how to survive without air.
One of Planet Impossible’s goals is to ‘tame a dinosaur’, which is all you really need to know about it. If you do need any further persuading though, Planet Impossible is a Mad Max-like wasteland and the final destination of your crashed spaceship. Tasked with surviving ten days, you’ll need to explore the world and discover evidence of humans who may have settled here before you.
Washed up in the arctic tundra with nothing but your own body to rely on, Arctic demands that you set up digs in the desolate ice fields and gradually build a thriving settlement for you and your survivor pals Jozsef and Mr. Maillet, cultivating crops and maintaining a farm so you can eventually throw the ultimate hot tub party. The premise is as silly as they come, but the map is truly beautiful and almost calming in its isolation.
Containment Survival 2
A clever Minecraft twist on Portal, Containment Survival 2 has you progress through a selection of containment cells, each containing a unique biome. Ushered through by a mad AI, you’ll have to complete survival challenges on a tight time limit. Using a superb collection of voiceovers, the AI will hassle and demean you as you attempt to escape the facility. A well-designed sequence of environments and challenges cements Containment Survival 2 as one of Minecraft’s very best survival maps.
It may not be Red Dead Redemption, but Wild West truly captures the feel of the frontier. The glowy sunset, the vast canyons, and the street purposefully set up for epic duelling all help make this Minecraft map the perfect arena for fulfilling your stetson-wearing fantasies. Of course the usual Minecraft elements bleed in at the edges, but maintaining a farm and taming horses is just as much a part of life on the ranch as it is life in Mojang’s blocky sandbox. Capturing monsters using cactus-based traps less so, but we’re quite happy to give that a go as well.
Survival Island is the classic original. It’s the Coca-Cola of custom built survival maps, and has a legacy to go with it. That legacy is that it's really hard. Like, super difficult. And yet it's Survival Island’s punishing nature that makes its rewards ever sweeter. A house of twigs is a true achievement, and when you’re the king of your own castle you’ll know you actually worked to earn it. If Dark Souls had a Minecraft counterpart, Survival Island would be it.
SkyBlock, like Survival Island, is one of the ‘original’ custom maps, lacking frills and vistas, but offering a rock-solid challenge. For SkyBlock, just take the scavenging suffering of Survival Island and suspend it thousands of feet in the sky. Unlike Floating Island, your little L-shaped dirt pile is the only resource you have, and thus plenty of ingenuity and a mind tuned for conservation is required. With the right smarts, you’ll be amazed what you can harvest from a tree and several blocks of dirt.
An interesting twist on the classic SkyBlocks formula, Sphere Survival puts players on gigantic spheres and sets them on their merry way attempting to bridge to the map’s other spherical worlds while fending off creepers and other Minecraft nasties. With heaps of goals to drive players across the world’s multiple spheres as well as the constant challenge of fighting off mobs atop these precarious platforms, this map is a survivalist’s dream come true.