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Developer(s)Smartly Dressed Games
Publisher(s)Smartly Dressed Games
Designer(s)Nelson Sexton
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S
  • Windows, macOS, Linux
  • July 7, 2017
  • PS4, XBO, Series X/S
  • November 12, 2020
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Unturned is a free-to-play survival game developed by Smartly Dressed Games, a studio consisting solely of Canadian game designer Nelson Sexton.[1] It was released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux in July 2017. Unturned allows players to create custom maps using an in-game editor, cosmetics and mods can also be created using the game's engine Unity, and allows them to publish these creations on the Steam Workshop.[2][3] It was also released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November 2020.


Unturned features several different game modes, all of which consist of the same basic concept of zombie survival. The game also has multiple difficulty settings.

In the survival game mode, the player's character is spawned on a game map with clothes depending on their skill set.[4] Players must find weapons and supplies to survive against the zombies. As the player progresses through the game, they gain experience points which can then be used for upgrades. Survival mode is also available in multiplayer. The greater aim is to survive, but the players may team-up or fight each other. Players must keep up their health, food and water, and radiation levels. Radiation damage can be obtained from getting hit by zombies or entering "deadzones" without proper hazmat protection. The game's multiplayer option has created a platform for multiple kinds of gameplay, such as survival, roleplay, creative, paintball and a battle royale like arena style arena matches where Nelson first started his development career.[citation needed] The game has a chance to give players a cosmetic item, like clothing or effects for their character, or camouflage or skins for weapons. Players can purchase keys, cases, and other items from the Steam Market. The game supports the use of the steam workshop to add custom items, vehicles, armor, and weapons to either enhance or change the basic experience. Many popular user-created maps are curated, and many custom skins for items in the base game are added with updates. However, although the game supports mods, the game's files are closed source and players cannot add new categories of assets, they instead must place their creations in an already existing category.

The game has several maps available. Arena game mode is for multiplayer only. Players are spawned in the middle of a map with supplies and weapons scattered around. The winner is the last person, or the last team, alive. Players may die due to being slain by other players or by crossing the boundaries of the map. The game will also spawn helpful items like armor, attachments for guns, and the 3 types of health items. These items are essential, as the game has an intense bleeding out mechanic that can finish a player without medical supplies. The game will also spawn vehicles, which can enable players to avoid the border or roadkill other players. The arena mode grants a massive advantage to teams in arena mode. Since there is no separated solo/squad modes, solo players will be up against teams who can aid each other. The game does not require teams to fight each other, so multiple players can win. Players who want to make a team must join a shared Steam group. Arena maps also contain hidden easter eggs and secret spots, which can aid the player in battle.

The game's story is spread out across all of its maps. On the Washington map, there is a lab belonging to a company known as Scorpion-7. Outside the lab, there is an overrun military unit and within the building, in the basement, there are canisters containing zombies in stasis, one of which is broken. An apology note can also be found in which it appears the writer was attacked before the note was completed. It is assumed that this lab was ground zero for the start of the outbreak. The exact origin and the cause of the outbreak remain vague, but it is heavily implied that the virus was inadvertently created through bioweapons research the company was conducting, and the outbreak was caused by the escape of a test subject from their containment. It is unknown how long the outbreak has been going on at the start of the game. The player is introduced as one of the few survivors, hence the name of the game, 'Unturned' which alludes to the idea that the player hasn't "turned" into a zombie. The player can help the Coalition, the organization fighting the outbreak and locating survivors. The player can take quests to help the Coalition, but as the game has no true campaign, no move is made to get rid of or cure the outbreak. In single-player, there are no other players or human NPCs except for in "safezones."


Unturned was developed by Nelson Sexton, an indie game developer from Calgary, Canada. He was only sixteen years old at the time of Unturned's first release. Sexton started his career with Roblox, creating two of the most-popular games on the platform at that time, Battlefield and Deadzone.[5] Deadzone was a zombie-survival game similar to Unturned. Neither of Nelson's original Roblox games are still on Roblox, they were both made private due to Roblox being flooded with copies of both very popular games and security issues. Before Unturned was on Steam, it was played on web browsers and officially known as 'Unturned 1.0'. Unturned was originally listed in Steam Greenlight as 'Unturned 2.0' on the May 6, 2014.[6] It was successfully voted in by the Steam community on May 28, 2014. After Unturned was accepted into the Steam store some versions later it underwent significant changes and became known as 'Unturned 3.0', which is the current version available to the general public. Shortly after this the game was officially released out of early access on July 7, 2017.[7] Nelson Sexton is currently developing a newer version of the game, which is known as 'Unturned 2', 'Unturned II' or 'Unturned 4.0'.[8] This version is being completely developed from scratch in the Unreal Engine and Sexton has confirmed it will be free, just like all earlier versions of Unturned. This version is currently available as a separate Steam game demo for those who have above 1,250 hours (decreasing every so often) playtime in Unturned.


According to gaming website Kotaku, Unturned was one of the most-popular games on Steam in mid-2014.[9] Both Kotaku and Rock, Paper, Shotgun characterized the game's popularity as unexpected, since the game is mainly developed by a single person without a major studio's resources.[9][10] PC Gamer said that while Unturned had few real ideas on its own, it was a "simple, accessible survival-simulator" that players may enjoy provided they could "stomach the low production values".[11]


  1. ^ Winkie, Luke. "Unturned: how a survival game made by a 13-year-old racked up 24 million downloads". PC Gamer.
  2. ^ Steam Community announcement
  3. ^ "Steam Community :: Unturned". steamcommunity.com. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  4. ^ Nelson Sexton Leon Schantz (July 12, 2015). "August Plans". Smart Dressed Games. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  5. ^ "Can a Solo-Developer Make a Successful Game?". indiegamedev.met. indiegamedev.net. March 4, 2020. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  6. ^ "Steam Greenlight :: Unturned". steamcommunity.com. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  7. ^ " Update Notes". steamcommunity.com. July 7, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  8. ^ Sexton, Nelson (November 11, 2017). "Unturned 4.0 Devlog 001". blog.smartlydressedgames.com/. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Hernandez, Patricia (July 10, 2014). "The Story Behind Unturned, One Of Steam's Newest Top Games". Kotaku. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Smith, Graham (July 10, 2014). "Unturned: Minecraft Meets DayZ Meets Huge Popularity". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  11. ^ Kelly, Andy (July 17, 2014). "Unturned review (Early Access)". PC Gamer. Retrieved August 2, 2014.

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