May 21, 2021
I’d heard a lot about Rust since it arrived in Early Access eight years ago. Tales of unforgiving lands, survival of the fittest, and toxic servers. Jumping into the game for myself proved that all those things are true. When games try to promote fairness and friendly communities, the deprived and violent head to Rust. This isn’t me slandering it. Not at all. In fact, after a good few hours of getting myself killed over and over again, I started to understand the appeal. In Rust, you can be whoever you want to be. If the world ever did end and humanity was forced to survive by any means necessary, this game gives you an idea of how it would go.
You start off with only a big rock and a torch. Nothing is explained to you. Depending on the type of server you jump into, there will be other players in the same boat. It isn’t until you spend time in the menus and see what kinds of items you can craft when everything naturally comes together. Rocks can be destroyed for stone, trees for wood, and hemp and animal skins for cloth. Theses are the basic components needed to get going. From there, you can build huts, hatchets and axes, and clothes to keep you warm.
Rust: Welcome to the Thunderdome
As if trying to feed yourself, drink plenty of water, and keep warm weren’t enough, everything is out to kill you. Wild animals like bears are everywhere. Crazed scientists will attack on site, and rival players almost never want to be friends. It’ll take you a while to craft weapons, but thankfully there are item boxes to be found that may have a rifle or shotgun inside. You feel powerless from the start. Wandering along the coastline and seeing someone with a full suit of armour and a semi-automatic is terrifying. You must avoid them if you have any hope of surviving. There’re abandoned factories, lighthouses, and docks rife with supplies. However, these are also where many encounters take place.
Radiation can also play a role in your downfall. Certain areas have high radiation. Swimming in water removes the effect, but it still affects health. The first few hours are punishing. Sneaking around an outpost, only to feel a flurry of bullets strike you down is demeaning. People kill for fun and hunt for sport. Players can form gangs, go it alone, and generally be the inner monster they’ve always wanted to be. There’re seldom friends in Rust, and for better or worse, it is what makes it so thrilling.
Building a safe haven
When the game does start to make sense, building a sanctuary away from all the murder and brutality can really make a difference. Small wooden cabins, stone outposts, and even metal houses can be built. A lot of supplies will be needed, but if you’re careful, these safe havens are vital to survival. To stop players form building mansions, Facepunch has made sure buildings degrade over time. This isn’t Minecraft. It means players can’t stay in the same place. Moving across the map is just as pivotal to staying alive, but in the moment, it feels good to have a bed to sleep in. Locks can be placed on doors, and traps can be built outside. There’s even an option to plant food stuffs in a makeshift garden to keep the player fed.
As night falls, the anxiety felt cranks itself up to eleven. Any little noise outside promotes fear in your soul. Do you grab a weapon, or wait for it to pass? Is it a real player, a boar, or just the wind? It is these moments that made me fall in love with Rust. It isn’t the best looking, but it’s open world is filled with encounters that make memories. After I built my first house, I remember the terrifying night that followed. If you haven’t crafted a torch or campfire, Rust gets incredibly dark. Holding out until morning is your only option, but actually lasting until dawn is where the challenge lies.
Rust: Shooting and looting
One of the biggest downfalls in Rust is the gunplay. I get you’re not supposed to use guns all the time as ammo is scarce, but firing and aiming is surprisingly loose. It’s not Call of Duty, but it should feel more responsive than it does. Trying to kill a wild animal is also a challenge. I dreaded any time I started to get peckish and a nearby deer was my only source of sustenance. Gathering materials is a bit easier. A red cross appears on a tree trunk to indicate where you should chop for a quicker flow of wood. On rocks, a shining spot appears doing the same for the acquisition of stone. Still, Rust is all about taking your time.
Once these basic mechanics are understood, you can start to get into the grit. Hearing nearby gunfire and intervening feels amazing, especially if you kill them and loot their stuff. Finding useful materials in abandoned places become much more exciting if you’re able to take out a real player or two. Rust feels like a post-apocalyptic game. It feels dangerous, terrifying almost, and it isn’t for the faint at heart.
Rust on console invites players to live in a savage world. Other players are evil and vile monsters, twisted by the freedom they have to do whatever the fuck they want. Don’t go in expecting an easy time. It feels more dangerous than Ark and much more violent. If you’re looking for a place to drop the shackles of decency for an hour or two, Rust will be the game that allows you to be someone else. It may not run the best or even look that great, but it’s certainly worth diving into.
Encounters can be thrilling
Unique moments make Rust exciting
Gameplay can feel lose
Doesn't hold up on modern consoles
Far too punishing at times
Rust is a survival MMO filled with danger around every corner. It's punishing at first, but certain players will end up feeling at home.