In basically all sandbox pvp survival games, usually people have this tendency to shoot on sight and never get in touch with other survivors. Small groups are created solely with people that are well known outside the game. The behaviour goes beyond material greed, like most known in games like Rust where even nakeds try to kill other, even idling or friendly, nakeds with a rock. This is what is called Lucifer Effect. The exertion of power exclusively because there’s nothing to incentivize otherwise.
As a survival game first and foremost, it would be interesting to try getting a more survivor like mindset, like it happens in some private-semiprivate DayZ and old Unturned servers. The whole concept of handling trust and grouping up, then fighting against other groups for resources/territory has been a natural human instinct for centuries and an interesting turn in a game that otherwise would be the latest “abuse of the immediately achieved power against anything”.
So, here are some interesting ideas that I don’t think have detrimental effect on the game, but only upsides:
Teamwork based Actions: actions that require the need of another player. This could be done by making some critical healing items much more efficient when another one is applying it to you and for a selected few even mandatory (after all having someone else is objectively better than self medicating when dealing with wounds or broken bones, and a few medical procedures can’t be done alone), locked loot rooms that require 2 players to open (the classic double keycard doors), lifting upside down vehicles, cooperative building, heavy/big items lifting and carrying, etc;
Ability/Crafting Specialization done well: if there will be a skill or craft learning system here too, surely one can’t get everything. By placing a proper cap on the maximum “allocated points”, having a small group is beneficial as each person is able to specialize in one field, like vehicle repairing, crafting heals, and so on. For this purpose, I don’t think that combat based skills should be a thing, or if they would, they should be handled separately from the “utility” ones. It would be just annoying having to choose between having a steadier hand when shooting or crafting a piece of transmission to repair the group’s truck;
A properly Hostile Environment: survivors group up to survive. If zombies are a joke to survive from like in the current Unturned, there’s not much incentive to group up. Also, good environmental enemies make the mood as real surviving and thrilling, and there would be plenty of satisfying shooting and whacking to do. Zombies, wolves at night, bears in the woods, there’s plenty of possible enemies that can give an interesting and useful variety of loot too. Zombies should be faster to not stay behind and more reactive than before, a real threat, even for a fully geared solo player. Wild animals should outrun the players when attacking;
Less focus on Long Range Engagements: sniping from a kilometer away doesn’t give any satisfaction for anyone. Maybe the shooter in the boredom, roofcamping. The game can be more focused on closer interaction without being detrimental for sniper/scout/marksman players. Instead of putting 8x scopes, make up to 4x. I see the ballistics idea in the wishlist and that’s nice;
Make Sharing Items easier: sharing is caring. Avoiding too many ammunition types makes the same bullets easier to use with more weapons that can be found around. As there’s an incredible amount of bullet standards, the idea of realistic ammunitions types maybe should be avoided, or it would be detrimental to weapon variety too. Just think how russian rifles have different calibers than the world standards. So maybe it could be like Heavy, Medium, Light, Shells, Precision bullet types, color coded and with varying models. Which would be even more pleasing and in line with the generally unrealistic style of the game. Splitting stacks should be quick and easy. Instead of dropping items, there could be a “trade” function, where it opens up a trade window, which would make sharing items easier, quicker and safer. After all, to give the car key to your friend you don’t throw it somewhere near him so he can pick it up, you give it to him directly.
That’s all I could think of for now on the top of my head, maybe this discussion could spark some interesting concepts to improve the quality of life of the game and the survivor style.
For the sake of inspiration and curiosity, maybe you could get some interesting in reading an article made specifically to talk about Lucifer Effect in survival games [Kotaku] as well as some fun social experiment videos [YouTube]
EDIT: I’m going to add a few more things right down below that I forgot:
Make player kills a tad less rewarding: This was a concept that I’ve always loved to see in a survival game, and that DayZ accomplishes in an interesting way. When a player gets shot in DayZ, the item they’re carring in that particular hit spot get ruined or destroyed. Applied in a simpler and not annoying way in Unturned, when a player dies and dies only, most of their items in the whole inventory should get applied damage. This means that hoarding weapons and powerful items is much more difficult and that players need to actual scavenge, repair and so on instead of just spraying someone and grabbing their stuff. Meaning that the whole game would benefit greatly in terms of quality and depth, as repairing skills actually mean something and the weapons/items inflation is much more difficult. A fine tuned combination of this plus proper wearing of items with use would mean that players would actually need to survive and there will never be an inflation of precious items, which on a side note would not make end game players bored too, unlike how it currently happens.
Efficient communication: communicating is key in trust and cooperation. Voice chat isn’t used by many people, either because they have no microphone, or are too shy/don’t want to be judged by their voice, or simply put they don’t want to talk or cannot in some form. So it’s clear that efficiency of other means of communications are required. First and foremost, quick messages via a radial menu and keybinds would prove useful. It doesn’t expose someone to the risks of using the chat to manually type in, and there could be preset messages that are automatically translated for players playing in different languages, which also connects with a possible issue of barrier language. Secondly, having a speech bubble briefly hover above someone’s head when chatting and using quick messages would greatly help with quick reaction (chat messages could be easily go unnoticed or read when it’s quite late) and sense of interaction (it feels more direct than a chatbox and you immediately understand who’s chatting and so also to whom usually). Then, having the chat to be normally set to a local area is the key to also a better cohesion among players, as global chat doesn’t give that interaction you could have with someone close to you and gives more estrangement to players. Frankly, abuse of global chat can be quite annoying too and ruin the immersion, to which maybe it should be set a small timer between posts to reduce traffic.