Early Access is one of the more interesting tropes of game modern development. So many games are being field assembled right in front of us that future generations will never know the joy of buying game with a beginning, a middle, and an end. They can expect to own games where major features are as changeable as the colour of their jetpack flames. Everything will be in flux. Rust, Facepunch's really rather popular game of community base-building and flapping willies, has just had the NPC zombies removed from every server. Update your glossaries.
The role of the zombies were mostly as a loot delivery system: they were easily killed with a bow and arrow, and barely presented any risk to a careful player, but they were still a major part of the world, and removing the resources they delivered and the small amount of challenge they presented is going to result in some careful balancing. It has always been the plan to yoink them, and Facepunch decided it needed to be done ASAP.
Yep. We did it. We decided we couldn’t hold off any longer. The longer we keep zombies in – the more complaints we’d get about removing them. We are forcing ourselves to deal with it. We are no longer a zombie survival game! They’ve been replaced with red bears and wolves. You hate them. We know. They’re just plugging a gap for now. All will be revvvealed.
It didn't feel like they mattered in the world. Not in the way the wildlife provided food, nor in the way the people on the server exist to create a compelling reason for uninstalling the game. They just sort of hung around, and now they're gone. I won't miss them.