Early Access Preview: Rust

*Note- Rust is still in the alpha phase of development and because of its current state, not all features are available. That also means some negatives mentioned throughout the article may be fixed when the game gets closer to beta and eventual release.

The bare essentials

Rust is the next game from Garry Newman and his team at Facepunch Studios, creators of the highly acclaimed PC game Garry’s Mod. It is hoping to stand out amongst the crowd of competitors in the survival genre that has been increasing in popularity the past year.

Rust certainly fits the bill of a survival game. Permadeath, no in game map system, and a constant hunger meter makes the game a  steep challenge compared to most modern games. While gamers unfamiliar with this type of game may be intimidated at the concept and frustrated at the high learning curve, it is worth it in the end.

The game starts simple enough. You spawn on a world, naked, with a rock, two bandages, and a torch. What happens next is entirely up to you as the gamer. No matter what path you decide to go down, be prepared to die… a lot. Death is unfortunate, but also a necessity to learn your limitations and enemies within the game. For the purest experience, I decided to not go near the Rust wiki until hour 4. I also went to the server that called to me, Poopocalypse.

Life 1: The first time you jump into a server and load up the world for the very first time is an experience. You are instantly hit with that feeling of openness and exploration. If you make your way into an older server, you also come across shacks and ghost towns of half built houses from former players. Some people have complained about it breaking the immersion, but I couldn’t get enough of it. I saw a person in the distance and thought maybe the houses weren’t abandoned after all. I reached him to offer a friendly hello and was quickly dealt with. For some reason, I thought zombies were not in Rust. I had clearly gotten bad information because they are strong and not to be faced head on when you only have a rock. Lesson learned.

One of the many ‘ghost towns’ you will find on a server

Life 2: With the initial amazement having worn off, I darted right into the forest to try out the crafting elements in the game. To make a shack, you need 50 wood. Easy right? I put 2 and 2 together and started to put the rock to the trees to gather wood. It took a lot longer, and later I would learn how I was doing it the most inefficient way possible, but I managed to to get enough wood to make a shack. An interesting mechanic put into Rust is when you log out of a server, your character falls asleep and remains in the world instead of disappearing. To combat the rush of people who would go into servers and grief sleepers, you can put a door onto a room, or shack, that can only be opened by you or a password you create for others. After finishing the door to complete my safety shack, I noticed my hunger was in danger and dropping fast. With the sun setting, I frantically searched for animals to hunt but succumbed to starvation and died cold and lonely in the dark. For a video game, it was unsettling. Still lesson learned.

Terrifying

Life 3: I went right into hunter mode. After a few minutes, I was able to find a boar grazing. I don’t know if you need to crouch to approach an animal, but I did it anyways for the full effect. After multiple hits with a rock, the boar finally went down. My first kill was is a very small blip in my journey, but it was memorable for the emotions it created. The adrenaline rush of my first attack and feeling of desperation knowing that if he got away, I would most likely share the same fate of my second life. I hover over the dead animal and text pops up “hatchet to gather’ and assume I needed the hatchet to properly get food from an animal. I left the animal, later to realize how wrong I was, and searched for food again. In my final moments of life 3, I stumbled upon a human player. I don’t know what came over me, maybe it was the frustration of having no food for 4 hours, but I attacked. I’m the worst kind of person, I know. I was quickly finished off, because he had a shotgun and made sure to let me know how dumb it was that I attacked him with a rock.  Lesson Learned.

Life 4: On my fourth life, everything started to come together. The timer ran out on my wiki self ban and I was able to see all of the mistakes I had made on my previous lives. With a crafted stone hatchet in my hand, I was able to put together a shack with a campfire and fill my inventory with cooked meats. The server had died out later in the night, so I decided to go out and collect wood and begin the foundations to a house. As I worked on my home, another player ran up to me and asked if he could build his house next to mine and be a neighbor. We didn’t exchange much afterwards, but it was really cool to see how organically everything came together. A few hours before that, I’m scrounging for boar meat, and now I’m beginning a small community with another player. At this point as well, I was able to make a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are essential to the game and take away some of the sting of a death. If you put a sleeping bag on the map, you can then choose to spawn back at the sleeping bag after you die. With a sleeping bag inside of a locked shack, it feels like you are able to make your own personal base on the map. Since my last sign in, my neighbor and I have swapped a few items and I have fully put together a tiny house with a furnace and chest. Life, well fourth life, is good.

It’s not much, but it’s home

Rust is fun, plain and simple. Through the 5 or so hours I spent dying, resupplying, and crafting, I was completely swept up in the world. With so many games in today’s landscape holding the hands of gamers, Rust is a welcome change of pace and awesome way to create your own adventure instead of going through someone else’s. I haven’t been able to do much of the advanced crafting yet, but there looks to be plenty to do at this stage of the alpha.

The overall graphics were good. It looks like to accommodate the size of the world and everything within it, there were some sacrifices made to the environment textures and character models. Nothing looked terrible by any means, but other players and zombies lacked a level of detail seen in other survival games.  The draw distance was a consistent problem. It never got to the point where something was appear right in front of me, but I consistently would see trees, animals, and mountains randomly appear when I would look into the distance for items or enemies.

There isn’t much variety in the world yet. While running through the island, it became tough to gain my bearings because every forest and every set of mountains look almost identical. This makes finding landmarks to use difficult and since there is no map system, also meeting up with your friends tough. There is one circular road on the map that looks to be somewhat of an answer to the lack of landmarks, but it also contains some of the more dangerous areas and popular spots for bandits to hide for ambushes. Hopefully, there are more biomes or skins introduced to flesh out the world more.

I usually wouldn’t comment on the multiplayer community in a preview. Since there is no single player mode and Rust is online only, I should address it. I didn’t have much of a problem with the community at all. I have heard horror stories about spawn campers and dedicated trolls/griefers, but I didn’t see too much of that. I went into multiple servers to see how the community was in different types of games and they all seemed reasonable. The chat was active and (mostly) helpful. Players were willing to team up and did not have a ‘shoot first’ mentality. I didn’t run into a clan yet though, so my opinion could change quickly and my awesome neighbor might be clouding my judgement. For right now though, I enjoyed my time with everyone else on the servers.

Is the game worth a purchase in the alpha stage? I truly think it is. Facepunch is a very dedicated and open team and has kept the community up to date with many of its decisions and ideas. With the open game design and tools given to the players already, the playability is only limited by the imaginations of the players. Rust will only get better from here on out.

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