Zombie survival classic Unturned reaches new heights for no reason other than the fact that it’s free and fun

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Zombie Survival Shooter 2014 Unturned (opens in a new tab) is hot right now, breaking eight years of concurrent player records for a whopping 93,161 players on October 4. It currently has over 50,000 players, peaking this weekend equaling its launch peak of over 60,000. (Thanks for the stats, SteamDB).

Why would this happen, you ask? A major update? A showcase of a popular Twitch streamer? None of that. It’s just free, fun and constantly updated for eight years. You can have fun playing it competitively, cooperatively or by yourself. That’s it. It’s the details.

But it’s still remarkable. Scrappy little Unturned has climbed back into the top 15 most-played games on Steam, coming up against top titles like the anime-boosted (opens in a new tab) Cyberpunk 2077, Vin Diesel endorsed ARK: Survival Evolved, and ever-popular Grand Theft Auto V.

Unturned was first released in 2014, a neat little Unity engine project from Smartly Dressed Games, aka 16-year-old Nelson Sexton, and exploded to a shocking 24 million downloads (at the time). It combines the blocky aesthetic that was so in vogue at the time with the equally in vogue open-world zombie survival that we all love so much, with chunky shooting and crafting.

Unturned is free to play, but Sexton’s work is supported by purchasing silly in-game cosmetics, like a gold top hat and katana, or a biohazard suit. The community seems to like it a lot, even years later, posting bugs to the Steam forums with endorsements like “Nelson please fix when you can”. There is some rudeness, of course, but significantly less than in the forums of many other games.

Back in 2016-2017, PC Gamer spilled a lot of ink on Unturned, and that stuff still holds today. Discover Unturned: how a survival game created by a 16-year-old racked up 24 million downloads (opens in a new tab) and the follow-up, a year later, What’s it like to create one of Steam’s most popular games at just 20 years old. (opens in a new tab)

You can find Unturned for free on Steam. (opens in a new tab)

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