Review: Unturned: Open World Survival Lite

Screenshot: Unturned (PC)

You may have missed the news with all of the new console releases, but Unturned released on consoles. The usually free to play zombie survival game has been out on PCs for a few years now, but it has finally made its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. I’ve played Unturned a good amount on PC, so I was happy to have the opportunity to review the console release. I was a bit skeptical, but it turns out Unturned is a great fit for consoles that turns out to be even better on next-gen hardware.

Unturned is a first person (or third person) open world survival game. It has a heavy DayZ  meets Minecraft (or Roblox)  vibe while remaining  on the cute side.  You’re dropped into a world, and have to survive by managing stats like hunger, thirst, and energy—among others.  You do this by finding supplies, avoiding or killing zombies, and building fortifications to ensure long term survival. You can do this either in offline mode, or with friends online.

Screenshot: Unturned (PC)

There are multiple, large different worlds to play in with lots of objects to find or interact with. If you see a vehicle, you can more than likely jump in and drive it around as a way to avoid zombies or get around maps. There are multiple types of weapons—everything from kitchen knives to military grade firearms can be found if you look hard enough for it.

The zombies are you main antagonists. These slow, lumbering green-skinned flesh eaters don’t do much more than pursue you, and if they get close enough, throw punches in your direction. There are a few different types of zombies. Some spit acid, or run on all fours. Most just pummel you with their blocky hands. It’s not exactly a horrific way to die, but getting pummeled by blocky hands is definitely not preferable. If you don’t have a weapon to kill them with, it’s best to avoid them. If you can’t get away, zombies are easily outsmarted by jumping over objects. They’re not very formidable foes—but if there are enough of them, you’ll be in trouble.

Screenshot: Unturned (PC)

If you find Unturned to be too difficult, you can play with friends, or adjust the difficulty level. There are three levels of difficulty: easy, normal, and hard. You can even customize the difficulty to your liking. You can even tweak spawn rates in maps to turn item scarcity up or down, which determines how hard it will be to survive.

Part of the fun of Unturned is running around and exploring the eight maps. There is no overarching story, but there are clues left around the world as to how the zombie apocalypse happened. There is pretty good map variety, too, ranging from snow-filled to tropical. Exploring maps for survival materials is essential, but only moderately fun. There are some interesting scenes to discover, but everything looks and feels same-y for the most part.

Screenshot: Unturned (PC)

When you create a new character in Unturned you can choose from multiple different classes. There’s a bunch of them, with stuff like doctor, thief, spec ops, farmer, and more. Each has an inherent bonus that isn’t lost upon character’s death. If you want to further customize your character, there are three skill trees to put in experience points: support, offense and defense. These three skill trees are mostly self-explanatory.

As with the vast majority of open world survival games you can build structures. Surprisingly, there really aren’t too many things to build. And what you can craft is governed by your crafting skill, found under the support tree. There are three tiers, with the third tier allowing you to create the most complicated items. I wish the item crafting and building options were larger, but what’s there is extremely useful. In fact, crafting almost becomes essential once supplies become less easy to find, which can happen on larger populated maps.

Screenshot: Unturned (PC)

A game like Unturned is more fun with friends. You can play Unturned completely solo, but you can also choose a server to play on to interact with strangers—or create your own, free, persistent private server that only you can your friends can join. I think it’s great that the persistent server option exists at all—too bad I don’t have any friends who play Unturned on console.

I received a PlayStation 4 key for this review, and while Unturned is playable on PlayStation 4, I found myself using my PlayStation 5 to play it instead. The load times are obviously better, but the game runs a bit better overall. When I would get into larger towns on my PS4, it would begin to chug and slow down. I had the same issue with the PS5, but to a lesser extent.

Screenshot: Unturned (PC)

Unturned’s blocky, cartoony graphics might turn away potential players, but this is a solid survival game. It’s most fun when you jump in with your friends and kill a few zombies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have the staying power of other, similar games—and never kept me interested nearly as long as other open world survival games.


Unturned is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and free to play on Windows via Steam.


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