In Survival, players have an inventory in which they may gather items. These items may be combined using certain recipes to create tools and other items. This process is known as crafting. Most crafting recipes need a crafting table. Players are also able to create potions by brewing.
 Survival single player (SSP)
Survival single player is the original game mode of Minecraft. Until mid-Alpha, SSP was the only available mode besides Classic creative mode. SSP may be played online or offline, as long as the user has initially played it while connected to the Internet (which allows game files to download to their computer).
 Aim of the game
Despite being marketed as a game with no pre-determined goals, Minecraft does offer a proper ending when played in Survival mode by defeating the Ender Dragon. However when you reach The Nether the player has the option of: 1. Finding a Nether Fortress and using Wither Skeleton heads to create a Wither, or 2. Making Eyes of Ender and using these to go to The End to defeat the Ender Dragon. Choosing to attempt the Wither boss first proves more rewarding as the player can then make beacons and use them to help defeat the Ender Dragon.
- The player starts in The Overworld where they must learn to survive using the player's intuition.
- The player must search caves or ravines for specific items to survive their first night.
- The player crafts their tools which, under most (although not all) circumstances, will be a wooden pickaxe.
- The player builds a home featuring a bed, chests full of spare materials, a crafting table, and a furnace.
- The player successfully finds a cave, canyon, or large underground opening which contains large deposits of usable minerals.
- The player finds and smelts iron ore into iron ingots and uses it for tools, or, if they acquire enough, possibly (but not necessarily) armor.
- The player strikes diamonds! While looking for diamonds it is important the player keep a level head as to their surroundings, for in large caves there are usually many enemy mobs that can hunt down the player, so a few swords, a full set of armor and many torches are usually necessary.
- The player mines some obsidian. If not found, obsidian can be created by crafting a bucket, filling it with water, and pouring it into stationary lava.
- The player builds a portal to The Nether with the newly acquired obsidian.
- The player appears in The dimension The Nether; a new world bereft of minerals which poses new, scary threats to the player: Zombie Pigmen, Magma Cubes, Ghasts, Blazes, and Wither Skeletons.
- The player finds a Nether Fortress and finds the blaze spawner and attacks the Blazes, killing them and collecting their Blaze Rods from their defeat for use in potion brewing and to access the last challenge.
- The player navigates safely and successfully through The Nether and returns to The Overworld where their job is to find Endermen and kill them to obtain their Ender Pearls.
- The player constructs a peculiar item with unusual ghostly properties called an Eye of Ender, which when thrown will direct the player to the Stronghold they must go and find.
- 12 Eyes of Ender must be kept with you when you find the Stronghold. This is important.
- Once the player finds the portal and the player has put the 12 Eyes of Ender in place, the portal into The End will open and you will now meet your destiny.
- Once their most worthy adversary, the legendary Ender Dragon, has been beaten, a story will scroll and credits will roll and then, and only then, the player will be teleported to their spawn location. (You can press ESC if you want to skip the story and credits, but read the story.)
- After you beat the game, you can explore the world, make a mineshaft underground, enlarge your house, defeat enemy mobs, and eat porkchops to your ever-growing imagination in the world of Minecraft.
- An optional thing to do is to kill the Wither to make a beacon so you can have some perks in a distance.
 Survival multiplayer (SMP)
- See also: Multiplayer
Survival multiplayer is played by users who connect to a central Minecraft server. This enables them to interact with other users.
The command to toggle a player's game mode (survival, adventure or creative) in multiplayer (must be operator in order to use this command) is:
/gamemode [0/1/2] [player's name]
(0 for survival, 1 for creative, 2 for adventure)
This game mode was introduced on 4th of August, 2009 in Survival Test under Classic. During this time, players experienced permadeath, meaning they could not respawn and the level needed to be restarted unless a save file had been created.
The inventory and crafting was only introduced in the Indev version while the Infdev version features infinite map generation. This version also drops the permadeath feature allowing the player to respawn. The Alpha version improved the map generation by introducing biomes.
The Multiplayer variant of this game mode also took place in the Alpha version. Originally, Notch had only allowed a limited number of people from the Minecraft IRC channel to participate in the first tests of SMP. These invitees could invite other people to test out this mode; however the password was leaked and the server was quickly filled up. Notch released the first version of the SMP server software on the 4th of August, 2010. The client was updated so that players could enter the IP of a server to join it.
As of version 1.3, SSP was abolished in a technical sense. Instead, the player hosts a server that they can either close or open to others at any time. This change was intended to reduce the labor required to fix bugs for two different parts of Minecraft, at a slight performance cost.
- Main article: Known bugs