Unturned: Tips For An Intermediate Player

When we last left your intrepid penguin, he was defiantly ignoring the hot game of the hour (Cyberpunk 2077) to dig into Unturned, the game where Minecraft meets Day Z. Unturned has a few perks going for it: it’s free to play on Steam, still being actively developed, runs on any old cracker box of a PC, and has a single-player mode if you’re not up for multiplayer yet. It’s sort of like a redneck indie Rust, with zombies.

I’ve been exploring the game from scratch, seeing how everything plays out. Most of my beginner observations have held out. The game does indeed become easier as you play along. Eventually your focus revolves around trying to scavenge those last few crucial items on your checklist. And while there is plenty yet to explore with other maps, quests, and eventually multiplayer, I am still counting the hours until I’m going to run out of anything new to do.

But I’ve also learned a few things along the way about this game’s universe, so for those of you who discover Unturned in the future, allow me to provide my scouting experience. Take the beginner tips and tutorial video I posted last time as “lesson 1,” this will be “lesson 2.”


Dying Isn’t That Bad (when you have a base).

I wish somebody had told me about this sooner, but there’s two important factors for continuing a run even after you’ve died. As in, again, Minecraft, you just respawn. You can recover your items if you head to where you died – it’s all in a pile you dropped on the spot. Not only that, but you keep your skill upgrades too. These both apply only as long as you do not exit the game, and do not hit “reset map.”

Respawning can be controlled by building a base, starting with the bedroll. Dropping the bedroll “claims” this spot as your respawn point just like a bed in Minecraft. Never mind trying to find a bedroll; it’s easy to craft from scrapped cloth. Without this, you respawn at random points on the map willy-nilly.

Building a base need not be an elaborate building just yet, a simple camp will do. You will do well with planting a few campfires around to start. These provide a light source at night (night time is unskippable), a cooking source when you level up cooking skills, and they never burn out! Since campfires are easy to craft (five logs, no lighter or matches required), you can conceivably drop a few in towns and other points of interest for nighttime looting.


Storage Becomes an Issue.

I did say last time “loot everything that isn’t nailed down” and “you have plenty of inventory.” Well, sort-of yes, but I’d like to walk back those two statements here. “Loot everything” doesn’t apply when you’re raiding a village and have only so many items you’d like to focus on. You’ll build up scrap and basic supplies very quickly. The sole exception is food and drink; never pass these up! Just going on a raid consumes enough calories that you’ll free up inventory slots from replenishing your hunger and thirst meters.

You won’t get anywhere in this game without a base, starting with that bedroll, and the next thing you will need to add is crates. Crates come in three varieties depending on the type of wood: Birch, maple, and pine. Ignore the other woods and head straight for the pine trees as soon as you have an ax and saw; pine crates have 32 slots of storage while birch and maple provide a measly 24 and 28, respectively.

You will need storage crates to advance in the game. There’s dozens of single-purpose tools you will need at odd times, lots of materials needed to craft items, and a regular menagerie of different weapons and ammo for same. Which brings us to our next point:


Guns Are Your Friend!

Beginner guides will tell you to steer clear of guns because they make noise and attract zombies. BOSH! Get a gun and about five clips of compatible ammo, level up skills enough to outrun a pack of zombies, and thereafter clearing settlements of zombies will be a breeze. A breeze! The biggest hurdle is finding both the weapon and compatible ammo – you will accumulate half a dozen bits and pieces of different magazines, shells, ammo boxes, clips, and firearms before you have a complete set of one reliable defense system.

There’s two guns worth noting on the beginner-friendly PEI (Prince Edward Island) map and most standard maps:

The 1911 – A puny handgun without much stopping power, but it’s accurate and it takes the most common ammo you’ll find. Go for headshots (a general rule with zombies) and you’ll be fine.

The Bluntforce – A shoulder-cannon shotgun with enough power to drop a charging elephant. Found at any police location, but on PEI it spawns like candy at the prison island in the center of the map, along with considerable ammo. While it’s slow and doesn’t have the best range, it fires a scatter-shot and blasts standard zombies into chunky salsa. It upgrades with a scope (press “T” while holding the weapon to apply a scope), which gives you zoomed-in crosshairs. That isn’t very useful since the Bluntforce lacks the range accuracy for good sniping, but it still helps sometimes.

One more firearm worth noting is the humble paintball gun. It will not do damage on its own, but it is good for drawing one zombie’s attention to get them to chase you. This is useful if your primary weapon is melee (the katana is always nice…), and you’d rather not wade into a mob as opposed to picking them off one at a time. The paintball gun won’t attract the attention of nearby zombies, just the one you hit.

Standard town-clearing procedure: Pick one of the zombies in the middle of the street, sneak up, and shoot him. Back away. Other zombies will all rush out but head for the place where they heard the shot, not you. They’ll stand in a circle trying to imagine what’s going on with their dim zombie brains. Get ready to fire away and switch clips, backing away when necessary. The advantage here is that you don’t have to nose around corners in nearby buildings finding hidden zombies by surprise; this method brings the meatbags out of hiding so you can loot in security later.

Ideally, you want up to five clips for the handgun, with several boxes of spare ammo. Reload clips and consolidate ammo boxes in the ammo crafting interface. Once you get the hang of sustaining a firearm weapon, it becomes a whole different game.

Two more pointers on zombie control: (1) You can’t reload while running. You can backpeddle at normal speed and reload, but not run. (2) The zombie movement radius still applies, so you can always run out of their zone range, then fire away from safety.


Your Best Transportation Is a Bicycle.

I know, the game is full of cool cars, tanks, planes, and helicopters just begging you to hop in and joyride. But they suck because the gas system sucks!

First you have to find (or craft) a gas can, which only spawns at mechanic stations or rarely a civilian garage. This can holds a puny amount of fuel (which has to be replenished from gas station pumps or fuel tanks), taking five cans to fill even a modest sedan.

Mileage on cars sucks. Driving from one end of PEI to the other consumes half the tank of a sedan. This means that you will never want to pass up a fuel source.

Want a bigger gas can? To upgrade to the industrial gas can you need to find five gas cans and combine them with a blowtorch! This will fill a whole tank on a small car, provided you can fill it (it will also drain an entire gas station pump). All that trouble will be 50% gone after one minute of driving.

You can go to all this trouble, or you can go nearly as fast on a bicycle. When your skills get upgraded, you can power the bike faster for longer using stamina just as you do running. Any other vehicle is just a huge disappointment in this game, at least for intermediate single-player.


Watch Your Immunity, it’s Your Infection Level.

That little green meter in your stats is like a secondary health bar. It’s sneaky, because once it gets to less than 50% it starts to drain away on its own. Your immunity only goes down when you get attacked by zombies, consume low-quality food and beverage, encounter a “deadzone node,” or other specific events.

The good news is, you can replenish immunity with a number of items in the game, including vaccines, vitamins, antibiotics, and even cough syrup! These items, mostly little pill bottles, spawn plentifully in medical buildings right down to a military first-aid tent. Immunity is easy to manage later when you have a ranged weapon and can drop zombies before they get into melee range.


Other Skills Are Important Too.

All the beginner guides tell you to put points into Cardio, Exercise, and Parkour. That’s nice to start, but be sure to explore the full set of skills, because they’re chock full of handy power-ups that will solve many issues you’ve encountered. Clearing a town of zombies will net you some 100+ experience every time, so check into your skills with “U” after every skirmish. Some skills worth a few points in my opinion:

  • Sharpshooter – Guns are your friend, this makes them a better friend.
  • Dexterity – Reload your weapon quicker.
  • Vitality – Regenerate health whenever you’re well-fed, which will be often in the intermediate game.
  • Strength – Stop the bleeding and health loss from fractures, recover quicker.
  • Survival – Max this out if you’re tired of having to stop to eat and drink an entire banquet every time you finish a jog.
  • Crafting – Opens up many more items for the intermediate game.

See? Not So Hard Now, Is It?

By the time you’ve gotten a small camp together and advanced to access all the above items and skills, you’re seeing where this game becomes trivial. Explore around, see what you can build up, join a server and download more maps. From here, you’re bound to be done with the game in about another month. Still, free play, easy to run on junk hardware, why not give it a try?