Skill System Overhaul - A Mega-Suggestion



Note: I’m considering making some concept art in the future to accompany and further solidify my points. There are currently no visual components of this overhaul, but then again, I was never known for visuals. Clocking in at over 2,300 words, this is easily the most in-depth Overhaul thread I have ever made in my history of any Unturned community medium. Took me two months but only because I was busy IRL, I have finally delivered! Please don’t overhype this too much

Skills in 3.0 were pretty wacky, as most of us can probably agree. They were mostly one-sided, made little to no sense, and were generally counterintuitive. Many people before me have tried making suggestions for replacement skill systems in 4.0, but I can guarantee that nobody has even remotely engaged this topic at the level of complexity that I am about to engross. Without further ado, let’s get into it: my (probably overhyped) skill system overhaul that takes inspiration from countless other games, and fuses them seamlessly. I’ve intentionally been unspecific with most of these points; as I feel that the potential here is what makes the system so great. Feel free to use your imagination to fill in the gaps.

Due to the depth and intricacy of this suggestion I will concisely group my major points in a way that is easy to follow.


Disclaimer: This is a suggestion and a concept. Everything within the bounds of this post, including comments, are subject to change at any and all times. If Nelson by chance sees and decides to implement this, he can do so with additional modification instead of as is. Nothing is fully set in stone. In the case of conflict of multiple interpretations, the intention of the OP is the correct one. Constructive criticism is encouraged, but I will thoroughly and freely point out any fallacies, biases, or inaccuracies within your statements. This post has been optimized for PC users; I am not responsible for any formatting errors mobile users may experience. Copying any part of this post or reposting it either within or outside of the SDG Forums is strictly forbidden unless with my digitally recorded consent. By surpassing this point you fully acknowledge and accept the above.

Problems with the current system

Problems with the current system:

  • Experience in general made very little sense, both acquisition and application. You don’t become a good car mechanic by bashing lots of zombies with a sledgehammer.

  • Some skills are completely broken to the point of becoming an OP necessity, such as the infamous Sharpshooter skill. Others are nearly useless, such as Warmblooded.

  • The logic behind skillsets is questionable at best, even for RP

  • Grinding XP is a hassle throughout the game, it is neither well rewarding nor difficult. You pretty much feel like you are forced into grinding for XP.

  • Despite the amount of skills there are, variety is lacking, and connections between them are almost non-existent.

The Overhaul

Basis #1 - Skill Improvement

Basis #1: Skills can be improved by doing the action they correspond to.

This is probably the most familiar to anyone who’s read other skill related suggestions for 4.0. For obvious reasons, wouldn’t it make sense that you get better at things you do frequently? While this won’t be the only way to train your skills, it is the main method. This doesn’t mean that if you don’t go through tons of seeds and crops you can’t become a good farmer, though. There will be multiple different ways to level up a skill, and directly doing the actions involved are the best and most straightforward way to do so.


  • Melee killing zombies and other entities, you can learn how to attack more effectively as well as defensive moves. You can also learn the proper technique of melee weapons so you don’t degrade their durability as fast.

  • If you are frequently running you will slowly develop your fitness, letting you run faster and longer, as well as being able to catch your breath a little bit faster. Your heart and breathing rate will not peak as high and your overall stamina can also benefit.

  • Practicing the use of medicine will let you treat injuries and use medicine better, and you will be able to identify the contents of unmarked medicine bottles as well as be aware of primary use and side effects

  • More general or gateway skills like smarter crafting or better metabolism just come naturally over time, or from special sources which I will discuss later

Basis #2 - Skill Clusters

Basis #2: Training a skill gives you benefits in closely related ones as well.

Skills in 3.0 always felt isolated and separated into niches that made little sense. For 4.0 I’d much rather see a more realistic and interesting skill system where some skills are interconnected or closely related to each other. This would allow for both more specialized skills as well as greater coverage and balance.


  • Closely related skills are visually grouped together in “clusters” visually on the skill tree, the new way of displaying skills in the UI

  • If you level one skill, skills in the same cluster may also see bonuses, either being a direct XP contribution or a lowering of the XP requirement needed to level up the skill (e.g. leveling up your knowledge of maintaining vehicles will also contribute to general crafting skill)

  • This also makes skill progression balanced and more sensible, so if you find a certain skill very hard to progress, just train a closely related one and that will help. Having trouble with training your skills in harvesting domestic crops? Try foraging in the wild a lot instead, primarily training your botany skill but also carrying over to your knowledge of plants.

  • This is also superior to both skillsets and skill trees in 3.x, and it’s just more logical and understandable overall

Basis #3 - Books

Basis #3: Books can be used to learn skills or transcribe them for others.

As a few other people have managed to touch on, books should have a psychological impact on learning and skills. There are two kinds of books, freeform books and educational books. Freeform books work exactly like the books existing in the game right now, and are unrelated to the skill system, so I’ll leave those out. For the rest of this post, when I refer to “books” I mean the educational type.


  • Books spawn most frequently in academic facilities such as schools and libraries, but can also spawn in other places like civilian housing.

  • Books have infinite uses, and can be used by any player. They can be placed like the freeform books as interactables, or you can directly read the book by equipping it like a non-weapon.

  • Every book has a set skill type and level that is taught to the player. If the player is already higher than the book, nothing will happen.

  • Rarer books are either more advanced or can span multiple skills. (e.g: The Pocket Wilderness Guide can help improve woodcutting skills, but also skills like foraging and stealth.) Most books that teach multiple skills will teach only closely related ones, but there can be exceptions.

  • Books can have vanity titles that relate to the skill(s) taught just for variation, with higher level books implying a higher level in the title. (e.g: Gardening for Dummies, Irrigation Techniques, Industrial-Scale Agronomy)

  • If a book is too advanced, it is possible that a low-skill or no-skill player may be unable to read it. (e.g: a player who has zero skills in crafting would not be able to understand an advanced manual about gun component disassembly.)

  • Players that are very high in a skill can attempt to make an educational book to pass on their knowledge. There are two ways we could do this; either have the books take the player to a certain level (as if it were a checkpoint), or let the book give the reader an XP-earning multiplier for that specific skill, allowing them to learn it faster (you can’t always learn just by reading, right?) I’m unsure which of the two to choose but either of them is good to me.

Basis #4 - Overall Skill Diversity

Basis #4: Skills will be more diverse, overarching, and reflective of all aspects of gameplay.

As stated previously, skills in 3.0 are incredibly niche to the point that some of them are completely overlooked. I would like to fix this with a wholesome, holistic approach that allows skills to overarch on each other while still allowing for more specific specialization, all within reason.

  • The skill clusters still maintain some semblance of “trees” or paths that a player can take towards mastering an entire field of skills. However, the player is free to train skills as they wish, with varying results.

  • Weaponry related skills comprise of mastery and techniques. Techniques can be things like learned actions (e.g: directional melee blocks, ADS speed, and very niche combat skills like handling firearms around close corners), while weapon mastery is the specific mastery of a single type of weapon.

  • For example, if you use bolt actions a lot, you will eventually learn how to cycle the bolt faster, lessen the frequency of jams, improve ergonomics and CQB handling, improve stability, etc. This applies to the entire weapon category and is, of course, trained by using a weapon over time. If you frequently use a Hawkhound, for example, you should also be somewhat adept with using a similarly engineered Timberwolf. This also applies to melee weapons, for example long or short bladed weapons, and attack styles (possibly even martial arts) of all kinds.

  • In addition to weapon-based mastery, there is also enemy-based mastery. For example, killing a lot of zombies will allow you to learn where weak spots and vital organs are, improving your offensive power to zombies specifically, and via skill clusters can also carry on to other similar enemies (such as humans).

  • Survival-related skills as well as other underdeveloped, passive skills and fields from 3.0 will be vastly expanded. (e.g: fire lighting, trauma/consciousness buffs, resistance to suppression, construction speed)

  • All skills should be renamed to more generally sensible yet specific names reflective of the actual field of knowledge. For example, Agriculture is rather vague and could be divided into Botany (general knowledge of plants), Animal Husbandry (knowledge of domesticated animals), Foraging (harvesting wild plants), and Horticulture (conventional farming techniques). There should also be good descriptions that inform people of all experience levels with the game in what each skill does.

  • Even outside of their primary purpose, most skills should have secondary purposes that support each other. One of the few examples of this in 3.0 is how the Diving skill, primarily meant for swimming, also aids in controlling scope sway.

(Unsure) Basis #5 - Specializations

Basis #5: Specializations will offer unique perks or abilities that can only be obtained by a master of the respective field.

I am unsure about this, so treat it as an optional add-on to every other part of the suggestion. Specializations are extra, special benefits that are obtained by someone who has thoroughly mastered all areas of a specific field. They offer very unique bonuses that will vastly help the player, encourage the focus of efforts into a single field at a time, and also improve the diversity of players since the specializations cannot be obtained any other way. They also force the player to make very careful decisions.

  • If an entire cluster of skills is learned, the player may choose one of a small selection of specializations, special abilities that are granted to a respective master of the field. These abilities go above and beyond what can be learned simply from skimming all fields, meaning a jack of all trades will be inferior to a specialist in a specific field. There is a limit to how many specializations a player can have in total, choose carefully!

  • These specializations cannot be obtained anywhere else and are extremely valuable to a player (e.g: a master food prepper can cook/boil foods far more efficiently than a normal player would, a master outdoorsman being able to roughly estimate the ambient air temperature/wind direction, tracking animals, Turned, and even players)

  • These specializations provide vast incentives for focusing on one field instead of trying to become a jack of all trades. As such, it should be expected that a specialization is hard enough to obtain that getting a large quantity of them is almost impossible.

(Unsure) Basis #6 - Skill Caps

Basis #6 - Skill caps (hard or soft) will prevent the player from being able to fully master all skills and have zero disadvantages.

I am also unsure about this, so treat it as an optional add-on to every other part of the suggestion. All players need weaknesses, and preventing plainly maxed skills would put way more variety and meaning into how players level skills, because you now have to make a deep and thoughtful choice about what skills you need or want the most. There are two ways of doing this: hard caps and soft caps.

  • Hard caps come into immediate and forceful effect and cannot be circumvented by any amount of effort (e.g. coding hard limits on how much you can train skills as a whole).

  • Soft caps discourage maxing everything by making it quite difficult, without being too subtle or restrictive (e.g. passive skill decay when you haven’t trained a skill in a while).

  • Currently I’m leaning towards soft caps, if we ever have skill caps at all. Also, as with all things, this should be a toggle option for server owners, but probably off by default.


Across the board for this new system, there is no such thing as an “RNG bias” or “it’s balanced because it’s rare”. This system is more straightforward, balanced, and also incorporates elements of RPGs and other highly successful games with similar systems involved. It’s rather hard to exploit the system, and generally enhances gameplay with progression and incentives. In addition, it works incredibly well with existing systems such as the direct stat modifiers and multipliers for the player. That said, this is not a be-all end-all solution, but I feel like there is limitless potential with my skill system overhaul, and at the very least, a huge improvement over the skill system of years past that we’ve all come to know.



Lead Editor, Original Concept

  • Great Hero J

Feedback and Secondary Contributions
GHJ’s Suggestion Squad, including:

  • MoltonMontro
  • Harvest
  • Kylie
  • Yarrrr
  • Torrasque

What is your opinion on the main part of the overhaul?

  • I agree with most/all of the content.
  • I think something can be improved.
  • I disagree with most/all of the content.
  • Don’t know

0 voters

What is your opinion on Basis #5 - Specializations?

  • I agree with most/all of the content.
  • I think something can be improved.
  • I disagree with most/all of the content.
  • Don’t know

0 voters

What type of skill cap do you support? (thanks, Molton)

  • Limitless (drop down levels) skill decay; no level caps
  • Limitless (drop down levels) skill decay; hard level caps
  • Limited (lose experience but not levels) skill decay; no level caps
  • Limited (lose experience but not levels) skill decay; hard level caps
  • No skill decay; hard level caps
  • No skill decay; no level caps, but exponentially decreasing benefits
  • None of the above (or you have your own different idea)

0 voters


Nice format.


I guess you could say I went all-in with training my Formatting Skill first. :man_shrugging:


I reread this just for you.

I beg to differ, but that’s not relevant, I guess. :confused:

To re-clarify my stance in public: I personally don’t want any actions (combat, healing, parkour, etc.) locked behind skills. (Crafting is a special exception, and wouldn’t care if it was or wasn’t gated by skills.)

However, I do think it’d be fine to have alternative weapon animations, or melee weapons having an innate “impact stall” (hitlag) that can be quickened by skill bonuses.

If there are alternative weapon animations, and they aren’t just a straight-up upgrade like increasing their speed is, then there needs to be a menu dedicated to choosing the preferred “stance.” This is especially important with melee, if it’s hitpath/hitbox-based rather than hitscan.

I still maintain that clusters are too limiting for this. Instead, when selecting a skill (or hovering over it), it should just list off all the skills that will also benefit from it. Specific (Breathing Oxygen skill, Not Breathing Water skill, and Running Efficiently skill) or generalized (Oxygen-based skills, and Stamina-based skills), don’t really care which. I think generalized tags would be nice for some QoL features, such as a way to highlight only certain skills, or a sub-menu that shows what actions typically affect what type of (generalized) skills.

Not going to repeat all of my suggestions when it comes to books, but I think they should be limited-use, and provide an experience multiplier when doing specific actions (or when leveling specific skills).

Copy-paste of other suggestions for books

There’s a few ways to potentially handle books and book volumes.

  1. Books could have prerequisites before they could be read. Maybe you need to be a certain skill level, have already read a certain book, and/or already performed a certain action (such as cooking a turnip). Later volumes have significantly more prerequisites than others.

  2. Books have a chance to give you experience. The higher level you are in the relevant skill, the more likely you are to gain experience. Later volumes have better experience rewards (mostly to compensate for the likely higher experience cost to level), but a higher risk of failure. Early volumes have a relatively low chance to fail, although the experience gained from them may not be too amazing.

  3. Books don’t give you free experience. Instead, you get a temporary experience multiplier for some skills. Later volumes give a larger experience multiplier than early volumes. At a low skill level, the time your experience multiplier lasts is reduced, and at a higher skill level it lasts longer.

I still disagree with this suggestion, given that “skill clusters” exist.

Too easy to fall back into the idea of “objectively best perks.” I’d switch to a small bonus that applies to many things, and remove the limit on how many a player can have (except, then this is just like a normal skill now, and kinda doesn’t really do anything special anymore). Things like animal tracking could be part of the base game, with a normal skill tied to it.

Or just no specializations at all. Trying to be a jack-of-all-trades innately punishes the player, since even without skill decay they’ll only be “a wee bit above average.”

Skills shouldn’t be a chore to level up and maintain, as that goes starts to go away from the whole “level naturally over time” idea. Plus, some actions are so niche and situational that you wouldn’t be doing them often enough for it to count anyways.

I would personally be fine with:

  • Skill decay kicking in due to not being on the server in too long of a time. (Level decay could exist here.)
  • Skill decay happening naturally after “much time” in-game, but not removing levels you’ve already reached. (Skill decay would only be able to remove the experience/progress you’ve made towards the next level).
  • No hard caps (for most skills), but exponentially decreasing gains and increasing experience cost…
    • …or hard level caps (for all skills).

Worth mentioning as food for thought again (but now publicly):

  • “Luck” is a legitimate suggestion you can make as a skill to be implemented. As players can search containers for loot, it would technically be feasible for better/more loot to generate based on a player’s “luck”-based skill.

Going off of this, it would be nice if there was some sort of visual animation difference between players with varying skill levels, or at least the more obvious ones. A player with no fitness experience whatsoever probably wouldn’t run as efficiently or with the same finesse as a player with a high fitness experience. Same could apply to melee, firearm handling, and swimming among others. Though that’s just quality of life stuff and isn’t too important.

But amazing job with the post Great!


inb4 10 minute animation of someone trying to insert the mag the wrong way around


Amazing post, only thing im iffy on is:

I dont know if a experienced survivor should really do more damage to a person than an inexperienced survivor with the same gun, seeing as it would be the same bullet. This would also be really really strong and hard to balance, because if it lowers shots to kill of most guns its overpowered because you are completely superior in gun fights, and if it doesnt lower shots to kill then you wouldnt really notice it in game.

I think he meant it in melee. If applied to gunplay, it’d be pretty absurd.

Also, I didn’t understand the poll of level decay pretty well… Could you explain further?

Most games, to prevent players from going super-maximum master of all skills sort of build, implement some sort of soft or hard level cap, which may include skill/XP decay over time.


  • Unturned Antique and onwards: hard skill caps (limited by a max level), no skill decay, experience taken from common XP pool, skill loss upon death works by level and drains XP pool

  • RimWorld: soft skill caps (there is a max level but you can continue training skills past the max level), skill decay to make this very hard, skills trained individually with decay down several levels

  • Cataclysm DDA: hard skill caps, skill decay present, decay stops when hitting the following level

Was that the “huge” suggestion you mentioned like 2 weeks ago ?

Closer to 3 months, but yes

Based off of this, deaths will not affect skill levels? But by not doing said activities?

If that was so the case, I’ll be nice to come out of a base raid/defence and not be totally skilless.

Also, what is your stance upon players having some sort of initial specialization or hand picked advantage?

Like currently we have a system in place that lets you get skills cheaper and keep them, but I’ve seen people suggest you are already proficient at some selected skills, or you can unlock special higher skills later on.

Personally I’m a fan of selecting a few skills you’ll already be proficient at (as in proficient, just a hand full of ranks, not mastery).

Honestly I think a system similar to GTA:O’s system (Eg: Do an activity repeatedly to get better at performing it, such as running a lot to get better stamina and run faster or sneaking around makes you quieter when stealthing) would work well in Unturned 4.

However what I really enjoy about this idea is when you pair it with what GHJ said in Basis #1. General skills come naturally over time and after those you can unlock specialized skills from ‘special sources’, which could finally give a use to books or other things.

I’m really against Skill caps unless it’s done in a level system like Borderlands 2 has their skill trees. Doing that in the Unturned 3 triple trees could work out and maybe have other features (The clusters) contained within? Maybe with that we could start getting into the Path Of Exile skill tree system nelson took interest in a while back. Soft Caps could be useful as the more skills you have the faster unused skills decay.

I agree with this part

I’d say that if you’re a level 1, you’d have a multiplier of 3x. If you’re a level 2, multiplier of 2x, then 1.75x, then 1.5x until youd have to get Vol 2 of the book. But it can only be used once per person.


i would like that the player can read the books so example you find this book “How to Not get Killed by a zombie” and it says that the best way to kill them is by shooting in the head, but you can do that or not.
because your character will dont do something that you dont want, no? (example if i press “f” it will not shoot as you should press another button to do that)

so the player learns somethings that the character doest , and also as the world wast ready to fight zombies, some of the things you learn dont help, or even make things worse (example its says you should shoot at the head, but it does less damage in the zombies for some reason)

I think we should keep it simple with solely beneficial books.

Players can already write their own books that act like notes.

well you dint say you wanted to keep it simple in your post : P

but i was thinking before posting that, it would be boring to read the book so why not the book just opens in the interesting parts?

@JoaquinJAR, Please stay on topic, thanks.

This post is not about physically reading books, and it’s not about player-written books, said right here:

If you want to suggest things unrelated to this post, please make a new suggestion thread.