Rating: Mature, for nudity, violence, cannibalism, griefing, trolling and indentured servitude
“Follow us! We’ll help you!” came the voices of the first two players in the survival game Rust who didn’t kill me on sight.
They had guns, used voice chat and seemed friendly, so I ran after them. Whatever happened, it would be a welcome change from the first 15 minutes of playing this game, in which I’d been killed repeatedly by bears, wild boars and other players.
The two players, Jax and Vacooms, led me to their towering fortress, and then pointed to the open door of a small shack.
“Quick, in here!” one said. It was a small, square room with bars on it. It looked suspiciously like a jail cell, but since they had guns and I had nothing, I went in. The door slammed and locked behind me. Yep, it was a prison cell, all right.
“Don’t worry,” Jax said. He tossed some water and food into the cell. “We’ll take good care of you now.”
Rust has been around for a couple of years, but after a major update and a discount during Steam’s summer sale, I decided to give it a try.
Players start off in a
hostile world, naked and alone, and must collect resources and craft shelter, weapons and tools, all with the goal of surviving as long as possible.
New players, or “Newmans” as they are called, start with little — no clothing, food or water. Only a rock and a torch. Shelter is the first priority — gather wood and make a shack.
Rust is an unforgiving world, an island with multiple biomes — deserts, forests and snowy mountains — crossed with rivers and dotted with lakes, and up to hundreds of players online at one time.
So after my poor start, I decided to see how long I could survive, even if I was now taken prisoner and couldn’t leave the tiny, one-room cell. Periodically, Jax and Vacooms came back to check on me. Each time they did, they would upgrade my cell a little or give me more food and water, along with assurances that I’d be OK.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, my captors let me out, on the condition that I go work for them, chopping down trees and carrying resources back to their camp. On my return, I went back into the cell. More time passed, and I guess I had earned their trust, because when they took me out again, they had built me a small house, right next to their tower, and gave me weapons, tools and clothing.
“We’re neighbors now!” they said. Indeed we were.
But the peaceful days did not last long. When you log out in Rust, your character stays there, in the game, sleeping on the floor. And in the 18 hours or so that I was offline, I was “raided,” which seems to be the primary occupation of most Rust players. Someone broke down the door to my house, killed my sleeping self and then put in a new door, locking me out.
So when I logged in the next night, it was like I was brand new again. Once again I had a rock and torch, but this time, I also had revenge burning in my stomach.
I built a new house, this time out of metal and stone. When strangers came by, I shot at them and chased them away. I spent hours collecting resources, and learned to make explosives and guns.
The blasts reverberated across the map and were sure to attract attention. I’d just blown the door off my former home. There’s always someone better armed, with more allies, so I had to work fast. The door came off, and I went in — and there he was — the guy who had raided my house.
I pulled out a sword and sent the invader into the afterlife, and then my home was mine again. I was victorious, but at what cost?
Rust is still in the “alpha” stage. Alpha software can have major bugs or flaws, and many elements of gameplay are still being tested, developed and changed. Developers often sell access to alpha games like Rust for testing purposes, to see what works and what needs to change, and to raise money for continued development. In other words, buyer beware and don’t expect a polished product.
A certain amount of Zen is required to play Rust. In the anonymity of the internet, there are people who seemingly live to cause the greatest amount of grief to other players, and there are no rules against this in Rust. Survival is everything. Even cannibalism is an option.
But when people are good and decent to you, it might mean even more, because they don’t have to be. There’s no one enforcing rules or making sure people play nicely together, and in the chaos and violence that is Rust, there’s something special about finding people you can trust.
Rust was reviewed on Windows 10.