As a preface, Unturned 4.0 was a product that Nelson had put indefinitely on hiatus, another name used to refer to it was Unturned II, it was planned on being a successor to Unturned 3.0, that being the version of Unturned the majority of users, as of this post, currently play.
What could Unturned 4.0, or, as some also called it, Unturned II, have actually achieved? This is an important question which I feel was never asked with the type of hard hitting introspection that it deserved. Part of what appeared to be an issue with the project was that it was harsh, but also somewhat directionless. Gun remodels, changes which would have made things more complicated for the end user, none of it seemed to have any unique merit beyond the fact that something was being changed. There were obvious upsides and downsides to the change but nothing was really improved, it seemed more of just a case of things being diversified for no strong reason beyond the need to change.
Coming to terms with how these changes were unnecessary was part of why many began to lose excitement for UII, even before the project was put on an indefinite hiatus, effectively being canned as
a work-priority. Another additional cause appeared to be the rising success of U3, as in truth, Unturned never appeared to have died, instead growing, which was something many took note of to promote pride within the community in order to instill confidence in the wider future of Unturned. This also had the effect of reminding everyone that they had an active, perfectly viable product in front of them, further showcasing UII’s unnecessary existence, to many.
However, to counter this perspective, sequels for many games don’t need to come out, the previous iteration can be just as viable as the next one. Yet this back and forth could go on for ages, and although I would love to allow it to go on for ages, the desire to rest comes for everyone at some cursed point.
To proceed onwards with answering this question, we should first look towards what UII got close to achieving during it’s short development cycle. The most notable of which being driving. UII found a way to enhance the driving physics within UII, one of the most fundamentally flawed aspects of it’s predecessor. Driving in U3 is floaty, clunky and prone to glitches or clipping. Through my time exploring the driving tests, dev logs and other sources, I do see an intent by Nelson to fix this through UII, a desire which undoubtedly paid off, even in the test builds we have access to. Gun modification in my eyes was a poor change, it made things feel more complicated without adding much. Some liked it, others didn’t, but it’s mixed reception helps to demonstrate how the change was unnecessary when the previous system worked perfectly fine. I left the least built upon thing for last, which were human NPC’s that could move. In UII, Nelson seemed to have added bandit NPC’s with not much to them. These already exist in a heavily limited, low quality form with examples including the following links;
The addition of moving NPC’s should be noted as they had no dialogue to my knowledge (edit upon correction) or major function.
Now, moving on from that, I postulate a question, one that is open to discussion…
What could have UII been? What could have UII done?
Personally, I’m interested in your response. For me though, I believe that UII could have expanded on a number of ways without needing to unnecessarily move it’s engine, which did nothing but complicate things. The goal of preventing Unturned II from being a mishmash of spaghetti code was completely lost when Nelson tried to learn a new coding language on the fly, thereby leading to… the game, if it were to have been completed, likely suffering by being a complete package of spaghetti code, made worse by how it tried to be graphically superior to Unturned 3 was at the time, which would have added up to be a firestorm of nightmarish failure for Nelson. Which it turned out being, despite not even being fully realized.
Improved performance, a way for Nelson to untangle the web they devised through the Spaghetti code they currently use, all from the ground up. This could also allow for the game’s higher graphical fidelity to be more appealing (however Nelson chooses to enhance the graphics), this would include if the graphics remained similar to what they do now at higher settings. As for features, I believe that dynamic NPC’s would have been amazing. The ability to have NPC’s with dialogue pop ups, even if it’s just Animal Crossing gibberish + chat bubbles, the ability to talk with an NPC through chat, with the NPC responding via an audio message, having this be able to be customized within an NPC’s advanced section at all has huge potential and, even if not utilized in the main game, having it just be an option allows for a ridiculous amount of possibilities and giving the room for the unintended parts of it other than what is directly shown would be insane. This does not at all mean doing away with stationary NPC’s and a standard dialogue option. The addition of more ranged attacks with animations and line of sight dependant projectile attacks, as well as maybe even those without such limitations, with whichever arc, movement therein would be equally tremendous. The fact that I would be able to have a theoretical PreyTurned where Phantom’s would be able to attack with some decent range in an amazing attack, or have the options to add in their orbs of death, would also be… Woah.
The ability for factions, maps, faction alignments, faction territories and conditions etc would also be great. Spawn adjusting events or variables, or even actions would also be a massive addition to be able to add into UII. Imagine if NPC’s could build? What if I could find some schizophrenic coalition NPC constructing a small fort by a hilltop? That alone would be game changing, same for bringing over the barrier destructions zombies are able to partake in into the game through NPC’s with raid weapons. Add some more things, like cultures or NPC’s being able to take equipment and we would already have one of the core conditions needed to create a Kenshi-esque experience, and I see that as gold waiting to prop up. Trader NPC’s, caravans, bandits ambushing them. What if the Syndicate defended caravans in Germany for a fee? Adding some sensible elements to a reimagined version of Germany through the lens of a survivor at the scene of everything for being able to explain why the Syndicate succeeded, or even had the resources it did, would have been amazing. Survivors in Coalition territory, Berlin having infected exterminator squads with the coalition working shifts. Gang warfare at night and the Coalition, as well as the Syndicate, having their first major confrontation in one of the irradiated zones, potentially leading to the first major loss for the coalition which was part of why such a powerful group lost the capabilities to hold most of Berlin, instead having to fall back to it’s large fortified hub. What if the previous Unturned maps states were ported in as legacy maps without all this extra stuff, for those looking for a more quiet survival experience.
Going past this, I believe that one of the other changes that could have been added into UII would be an official plugin system for servers, or even maps a la Roblox’s plugin devkit. This plugin system would be a manager portal where plugins can be added in as well as price tags. This would help reduce the amount of viruses and unofficial, potentially untrustworthy marketplaces that exist for plugins. It could also rectify the current problem of Unturned outpacing the plugins, or plugins falling off entirely, leading to what I like to call “Ghost plugins”, which represent the majority of plugins. These are plugins, usually costing money, which no longer function and are defunct, acting as walking unintentional scams for whoever acquires them. This would help build a thriving, and compensated, community of plugin devs while allowing Nelson to incorporate the ragtag system of servers that currently exists into Unturned, all of this helping ensure the customers (who financially assist Nelson too in this endeavor) attain a strong, healthy system for whatever they may be creating. It may take some moderation effort, but it has the potential, far more than even this rough, unrealized idea can imagine. Examples of how this could work may include a plugin that allows for maps, or portions of them, to be randomized through a GUI or a “new weather” panel. Having more options in the game, with ways of working with the tools given by these more convenient options, could be what is needed for Unturned II to be an amazing experience. Shatter physics, Projectile states (i.e having low speed speed projectiles that are able to interact or be dynamically moved, as well as objects which could influence projectiles, or other dropped non-stationery buildables, would also go hard)
These are but 2 of the many options which could have been neat additions to Unturned II, and although it is now on hiatus, the potential for something great still looms in my eyes, even though the dreams of a revised Unturned are, likely, to never come to pass.
Additional things which would have been fun in my eyes:
- More modifiers or customizability when it comes to movement, inclusive of zero gravity
- Custom animal or zombie flinch animations
- Dynamic animal behaviors (hunting, food chain, allowing room for adjustable pack tactics)
- Deeper ability to adjust prop movements or responses to triggers.
- Allow for more than one animation for animals and the like.
- Custom idle animations of actions.
- Allow for special death animations or lock animations, inclusive of the possibility of executions (would open up creativity a lot, especially for the one time encounterable bosses).
- Reworked water physics and zombie responses in water.
- Allow animals to have states that correspond with their status i.e amphibian, land animal, etc. Causes animals to potentially drown. Would work well with dynamic animal systems.
- Could make for some fun underwater maps.
- Allow for character body proportions to be adjusted via movement or animation, would work well with having creatures bend themselves across angles or stretch slightly? (Not sure if this exists)
- Allow for underwater bases to be sealed to remove the effects of water, or have special buildables for it (could make for a fun oceanbase experience, animal classifications paired with everything else could also breed some fun maps, or lovely situations with a version of the Subnautica Leviathan)
- Customizable inventory themes and settings for UI, as well as the ability to accept serverside skins for these with some warning prompts. This total UI freedom would greatly benefit the game, allow for mods and dynamic experiences to flourish in a similar vein to how they flourish for games such as osu!