A new survival open world sandbox has made its transition from pc to PS4 and Xbox one this month in the form of Unturned. The game is developed by smartly dressed games and published by 505 games, it retails at £20(iirc). so let’s go ahead and dissect it and give you my opinions on it so far
Unturned sees you assume the role of a survivor in the days of a zombie apocalypse as you fight and scavenge your way to survival, all while managing aspects such as food and water levels. The title sees you dropped into the hostile world as one of many classes, each with their own specialties with the task of surviving the flood of zombies.
For my first few hours with the game the story didn’t have any sort of narrative beyond this at all and saw me aimlessly wondering around. As I got to grips with the controls and scavenging, in fact it took me a whole day of doing the equivalent of nothing, before I stumbled onto a ship full of NPCs on the 2nd map I visited that gave me some quests to gather the remaining survivors and spread the word that the living are not alone.
To be honest this was a nice addition, if not somewhat luck based on me even finding it. There is no guidance and my exploration of the first map I played leaves me sure that not every map in fact has any sort of narrative or point besides killing and staying alive. Admittedly I didn’t spend all that much time exploring as my interest eventually drifted, more on that shortly, but I did like the simple fact there is something else to give you a goal besides killing, scavenging and building.
Visually Unturned is not the most enjoyable game to look at sadly, and dispite the blocky world, odd shapes or object height inconsistencies, that’s not what I’m talking about. No my issues lie in the details, or lack thereof, despite it’s less than groundbreaking aesthetic throughout. It’s the lack of detail in the large open areas of the game, with sparsely scattered trees dotting the landscape and a few rocks on bland mountain sides, that bugged me the most – especially when some 80% or more of the maps are made up of such areas. Aside from this the visual design of the towns and named locations is ok, and I mean that in the most literal sense. There is no way it’s going to win best in show or be part of the showcase for cutting edge graphics, but for a cute little zombie apocalypse game they’re fine. Sure it would be nice if they were better but at least I can mostly tell what each building or structure is at a glance
Outside of this there is also lag that I noticed a fair amount of when encountering a zombie and shooting it in the head, only for it to simply stand there for a few seconds before flying across the floor. Oddly enough other players and zombie attacks continued as normal at this time, and it even persisted when playing offline ruling out my internet connection
Audio in Unturned quite simply is effective at what is needed, but nothing worth writing home about. Cars make noises, zombies grunt, guns make loud pops, but outside of doing its job there’s very little to say on this topic
Onto gameplay now, and once more I have issues – Starting with the weight limit. Seriously, unless you’re lucky enough to find a backpack from the start, this will become old very very quickly. In my first time around however I didn’t even realise these were a thing until around hour 5, and spent that whole time debating if a piece of scrap was more important to me than my water or a knife. Keep in mind you need items to craft that fill up your bag, so you can’t have all weapons, but need weapons to find items to craft. It’s a vicious cycle that rapidly becomes more and more of an annoyance in early gameplay, also besides the crafting components and weapons, there are also other hugely important items such as clothing, food, medication, water and everything in between. Honestly inventory management in this title was more of a threat than the flesh eating zombies
Right after this we have my second issue. Why oh why are these maps so darn big, yet outside of a town (or other named location) there is NOTHING! No items (unless you’re cutting down trees) no zombies, no anything. Probably the biggest issue is no zombies, really? Not one single zombie out in the wild? They all just seem to hang around towns as a horde, waiting for you to go scavenging, only for them to then dogpile you. This makes for some unfortunately bland gameplay when traveling, as it’s really just a trek to get to the next named location with nothing out there but trees and rocks.
Now I get that these areas are mostly meant to be for building your base, but there’s no threat at all (on PVE/single player) This changes up a little with PVP and that’s great. You build a base to stay safe and store your items and endure raids. But not everyone plays that way and having no enemies out there kind of makes crafting a decent base somewhat redundant from the few attempts I tried online.
Outside of the issues I mentioned above the game does have some fun elements, namely sneaking through town to gather resources or simply hacking away at zombies. Though the combat is a little under refined, with hitboxes seemingly all over the shop, I found it to be one of the more fun elements of the game – right next to piloting a fighter jet that I proceeded to slam into the side of a mountain very quickly.
The gameplay loop certainly has potential, I cannot deny this more so with my discovery of quests as you gather, build and survive. It feels like any other survival game and in short burst I got some enjoyment out of the title for sure, however extended periods of play seemed to drag and become somewhat of a chore relatively quickly
Overall I love the idea of the game as a fan of survival games, it’s easy to see its where the developer wanted to go with the title. However I personally think a lot of areas need some refinement, too many areas in fact that it hindered the enjoyment I expected from the Unturned. A basic guidance to initiate the quest chains would help, and this may be a personal annoyance, a better inventory system would make gathering a lot less tedious – some general QOL improvements could make a lot of difference on their own too.
Possibly trying the F2P version on Steam first if it is an option would help on deciding if this game is for you. I enjoyed it at first but I quickly found myself more interested in other titles, if anything i guess it made me want to go back to Ark or Conan.
A interesting take on the genre that doesn’t LIVE up to its competitors