It’s probably hard to tell if you haven’t been playing this game a very long time (8 or 9 numbered Alpha’s at least) but visually it has changed much over the years. It was once more obviously voxel-blocked and pixelation in textures was everywhere. Over time (the landscape) is less blocky, the way weather biomes and water work changed, lighting, reflections, textures have all improved a lot. You can have mild “oooh, ahhh” moments, especially in the pre-fab (fixed design) Navezgane map vs. (R)andom (W)orld (G)eneration. I mean, it’s a voxel game, it’s never going to have AAA graphics, and sometimes the improvements are subtle, but if you’re aware and compare from six (or more) years ago, it’s a huge change over time.
RWG worlds are less pretty overall in terms of buildings and terrain, since it’s not a static-placement map. Roads and hills in RWG sometimes do odd things, for example, but you live with RWG quirks in exchange for random-ness. There are of course also ample gameplay changes over time (skill/perk/crafting systems, vehicles, zombies being more threatening). Average difficulty has also ramped up. In the old versions I used to play on very hard settings and would roam the nights piercing zombies like they were water balloons using a rickety crossbow and not much else.
These days with zombie dogs, vultures, wolves, bears, trapped houses, and zombie AI that can dig through dirt and concrete like nothing, I play as a weenie. Sometimes I even turn zombies completely off (you can do that). Partly because it’s not as much of a cakewalk now (at the start of a fresh map at least) but also because as a gamer I’ve simply slowed down (reflexes and much less desire for adrenaline rush gaming).
7 Days to Die is also still quite moddable, either through direct file changes or using other people’s prefab buildings or more complex gameplay-changing mods. I’ve never used a total gameplay overhaul type mod, but I do always alter quite a few things to suit my tastes via file tweaking. Even if you don’t like messing with stuff like that, the default, in-game settings allow a fair bit of flexibility. Do you want super fast zombies or walking zombies? Do you want to turn off the Blood Moon Horde factor or make zombies damage blocks less quickly? Treat it as a building/design/exploration, zero-zombie game? Go ahead. I hope they keep things like that. Flexibility is one reason I keep reinstalling the game now and again.
I do wish they’d finish the game before I die, however. Whatever. It’s fun to play once every year or two, regardless. Oh – and A18 runs even better on my 9900k/2080ti/32 ram system then in A17. I have a mix of Ultra/High at 4k and it’s running a stable 60+ (outdoors). If zombies are off, more like stable 80+. Indoors it’s over 100 fps most of the time. Overall/average CPU use (not core-to-core analysis) barely reaches 30%-40%. The game does have fairly high requirements for running at higher settings on anything above 1080 tho, imo.