ESTNN's Lahftel takes us through his experiences in the world of Rust.
So is playing or getting into Rust worth it in 2022? No, absolutely not. Go away and play something that isn't actively working towards giving you a heart attack and trust issues. But it still turns out to be an experience.
“It was just another day in Rust..”
Oh, you're still here? Well, I guess if you plan to stay, then allow me to tell you all about the horror I have subjected myself to over the past two weeks and my rather uplifting conclusion. Since I happen to be among the Dark Souls of video game enjoyers, (now I can check mentioning Dark Souls off my gaming journalist checklist for gamer points,) my opinion is very important. And actually, I do have some valuable insight on what Rust was and what it is now.
Because most of my hours in Rust happened on the Legacy Alpha version all the way back in 2013. I remember picking the game up on the last wave of the DayZ hype thanks to a preview by IGN (which I can't find anymore). And it is pretty wild to see how much the game has changed from a visual and mechanical standpoint.
Yet somehow in the same vein, Rust hasn't changed at all. Life sucks and then you die. That's how Rust was back when you farmed zombies for goodies and how it is now when you get shot by some guy in a neon-colored jumper.
The core of Rust being the same as it was almost 10 years ago is somewhat admirable. But if you want an extensive list of all the changes they've made since then, there is surely some YouTube video out there. The same goes for the question is Rust is worth it in 2022. Because honestly, I can't tell you. What I can tell you is that Rust should come with a content warning. The things you'll experience on your average Rust server are not for the faint of heart.
The authentic Rust experience
But let's start from the beginning, shall we? Rust is an open-world survival sandbox in which players hurl slurs at each other, your naked bits dangle in the wind and you wonder why you're dead again. In short, Rust is fucked up. That's the experience in a nutshell. From back in 2013, the only thing that has actually been your options in messing up someone's day and more stuff to do. Now is Rust a PvP game? Not quite but when you're naked, cold, hungry and alone. Peace is not an option. But we'll get to that.
YouTubers with obscenely good editing skills will make you believe that Rust isn't spending two hours punching things with a stone only to die. But that is how most journeys on Rust start and end. That's also the charm of it, really. You pick one of the thousands of servers and there is not really a goal here. The moment you spawn in you can do pretty much whatever you want and if you have the skill, you might even do it successfully. If you're starting out, I highly suggest you find yourself some friends to play with though. Because that learning curve is steep and no tutorial will save you.
Now you can build yourself a home, but instead of making it pretty you'll learn how to layer walls and doors in the most confusing way ever conceptualized. Just to make sure your wall isn't getting poked to death because you placed it in the wrong way.
And here we land at what drives the authentic Rust experience. Fear. What you have, people want. What other people have, you want. And on and on it goes. The unending circle of violence. Those massively multiplayer survival games always manage to bring out the worst in players. And if you have any shred of hope for humanity left; play Rust on a server with light moderation and you will realize that in the absence of consequences, we're all just animals. And it is beautiful.
Staring into the Abyss
I will resign myself from trying to link Rust to any great work of literature to sound smart. Because Rust stands as a work of its own. It is probably the only game that still enjoys a lasting popularity that manages to recreate the magic that was the glory days of the DayZ mod.
You are thrown helplessly into a world that wants you dead, together with hundreds of other players. Resources are free for the taking and the only limit is your ambitions, time you have to waste and what you value human life at.
Like seriously, why would you shoot a naked man running along the beach with just a stone in their hands? Because, potentially, they might've already farmed some materials or even collected something useful from someone. You never know. In that moment when they freeze like a deer in the headlights and you have to decide how much that person's life is worth to you. (Which in most cases is absolutely nothing besides the material cost for your ammunition.) It's in those moments, when the beauty of this genre unfolds itself.
Technically there is nothing to gain from killing another player, no experience points and no score. Just their inventory. You could've become friends with the stranger you just shot. Nothing stops a Rust server from uniting to tackle all the monuments and PvE aspects of the game. Yes, Rust has dungeons with NPCs and cars now.
But, Instead of everyone working together, you often see players in Rust keep to their own and form unstable alliances. The few you do see, are usually clans made up of premade groups trying to make sure that they're the only ones having fun today. You'll also meet the odd individual sitting on their roof all day, sniping everything that moves, just for fun.
That's when start asking yourself questions, like why fill this digital world with so much misery? Why destroy each other when you could build something greater together? So next time you scroll through social media and wonder why the world burns. Question yourself why a man would do such a thing to another. Play some Rust, sacrifice several day's worth on the different servers and make some interesting discoveries about your fellow humans.
There's no reason to kill each other…
Games are really interesting because they allow us to explore themes, situations and stories in a secluded environment that is usually free of consequences. Who's gonna judge you for running over people in GTA? And if they are other players, the same rules still apply. And it probably takes a person much smarter than me to puzzle out why people in online sandbox games are usually quite unhinged. Maybe it is because in pursuit of entertainment, you never really step back and think about your actions. And that's kind of scary but also incredibly fascinating.
And from my own experiences, in Rust asking someone “please don't kill me” will end with a bolt to the face. When I was faced with the same decision just a few hours later, I remembered that experience. And maybe that's why we don't punch each other to death with rocks in real life. Because we didn't have the experience yet of being mercilessly murdered on some beach over a pile of scrap metal.
So I could twist this into some grand think piece, about the circle of violence. And how Rust players have been slowly spiraling down, influencing each other by just playing and talking the game. This is again very interesting because thanks to its open-ended structure, there's no reason to kill each other besides wanton greed and a healthy dose of paranoia. And the thought that Rust casually explores the tragedy of the human experience makes it worth playing. I think.
You gotta understand that I don't think games have to be good. It's way more important that they're interesting. Rust is actually a good game though. There is a lot of mechanical depth to its systems and while there is a meta, you still have options and the game allows you to be creative in how you go about your day in it. Just look up some of the greater YouTube creators. Be it Stimpee being a menace to society or Welyn recreating Oceans Eleven with naked people.
So should you pick up Rust in 2022?
Okay after philosophically waxing on and on for a bit, let's try and answer this question and give some suggestions. Rust today is a lot more accessible than it used to be but it also heaps more complicated. Getting into it and learning the ins and outs of it requires a lot of patience and is often very frustrating. Believe me, you'll feel it when you're beset by a group of teenagers making you relive the good old days of Modern Warfare 2 lobbies.
But as stated extensively above, Rust is a very fascinating experience. And it speaks volumes to Rust's quality as a game, that after almost 10 years the game still enjoys a healthy player base and is still being updated on a regular basis. Most players probably enjoy it for the emergent gameplay loop, because you never know what kind of insanity you might run into when waking up on a beach.
What sets Rust apart
I've seen some wild stuff and despite the doom and gloom above, trying to paint this as the ‘humanity is doomed'-simulator (which it is, don't get me wrong). You get so meet some fascinating characters. Be it the terrifying noise of someone running at you while yelling “Friendly! Friendly!” only to blast your brains out. Or the unexpected kindness of strangers when someone drops you a bandage or some food in the hour of need. But those are experiences you can have in other games of its kind as well so what sets Rust apart?
The fact that you can build a home and are sooner or later forced to interact with others in some way to get resources. Some of those are surprisingly spare and the right loot at the right time can give you a huge advantage in the early cycle of a wipe. And thanks to this hard-coded circle of violence, you'll have to fight.
The moment Rust really unfolds its beauty are those infamous raids on a player's base. Which is part war of attrition and part safecracking. Remember how I mentioned earlier that you have to build complicated layouts of doors and walls to protect yourself? Because getting to someone's base and killing all its inhabitants is only part of the fun. Now you actually have to get inside. And over the years, players have gotten really crafty with those structures. Using complicated layouts of honeycombs and fake doors, just to get potential home invaders frustrated.
When you're the one raiding, most of the fun comes from brute forcing your way through to the loot. Or turning a once proud base into a pile of rubble. While you constantly live under the fear of being raided in that very same moment. And there are always opportunists, trying to feed on the leftovers or further their own means. At this point, I wonder if Rust is just an elaborate social experiment and high art. Or just a mechanically complex PvP game that encourages players to stab each other in the back.
Now you'll probably wonder how to enjoy Rust the best way. Playing on European servers is very fun, because adding to the tension of some naked potentially packing heat. There is also this whole language barrier thing going on. Some might find it frustrating, but I find it quite amusing how a misunderstanding in broken English can spiral out of control. But if you want to learn the ropes, I suggest playing on a modded server with low population and boosted resources. You want to learn how to survive first before you learn how to fight for your life.
Because PvP is not a thing that'll just translate from other games. Being good at shooters won't make you good at Rust. It'll help, but getting comfortable in knowing what fights you can win and which ones you should avoid is a learning by doing kinda thing. If you feel comfortable in taking the plunge, go join some of the official servers and embrace the madness. And don't forget to try and talk to people, but don't assume everyone is friendly by default and don't approach them yelling “Friendly! Friendly!”. You're just giving them time to shoot. But greed your neighbors and forge some kind of non-aggression pact. At least until you can pull a fast one on them.
Now go out there and have a transcendent experience about the human condition, or just form a cult of howling naked guys with wolf heads. I don't know, just don't be one of those Rust players. And if you want to keep up to date with all things esports and gaming, visit us here on ESTNN