Game On

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - JA­SON BEN­NETT

Ti­tle: Rust

Plat­form: Win­dows

Cost: $19.99

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.

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