Zombie survival classic Unturned hits new highs for no reason other than that it's free and fun

Unturned
(Image credit: Unturned)
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2014 zombie survival shooter Unturned (opens in new tab) is trending right now, shattering eight years of concurrent player records for a whopping 93,161 players on October 4th. It's currently got over 50,000 players on, with a peak this weekend equal to its launch peak of over 60,000. (Thanks for the stats, SteamDB).

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

But it's notable nonetheless. Scrappy little Unturned has risen back into the top 15 most played games on Steam, butting heads with marquee titles like the anime-boosted (opens in new tab) Cyberpunk 2077, Vin Diesel endorsed ARK: Survival Evolved, and perennially popular Grand Theft Auto V.

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

Unturned is free, but Sexton's work is supported by the purchase of silly in-game cosmetics, like a gold tophat and katana, or a biohazard suit. The community seems quite fond of him, even years later, posting bugs to the Steam forums with signoffs like "Nelson pls fix when u can." There's rudeness, of course, but markedly less than in the forums of many other games.

Back in 2016-17 PC Gamer spilled a lot of ink over Unturned, and that stuff still holds up today. Check out Unturned: how a survival game made by a 16-year-old racked up 24 million downloads (opens in new tab) and the follow-up, a year later, What it's like creating one of Steam's most popular games at just 20 years old. (opens in new tab) 

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

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.