Rust (Early Access) Review – A Game I Love to Hate

rr

Rust
Facepunch Studios

My gaming buddy and I began our recent game of Rust as we normally did—or rather, as everyone does on a typical Rust server. Waking up naked on a random shoreline, somewhere on an island, with no belongings save for a large rock (for resources gathering) and a torch.

Since we were utilizing a voice chat application, we somewhat gained our bearings enough to find one another over the course of around thirty minutes. For the next several hours, we ran…and ran…and ran…foraging for what we could—mainly wood, stone, as well as occasional game, in order to stave off hunger. Our travels were punctuated by periodic reports of gunfire off in the distance, reminding us that we needed to stay light and highly mobile in order to make for less conspicuous targets.

We both knew that the vast majority (around 95% in our experiences) of encounters with other players in the typical Rust server ended in bloodshed. Bloodshed of the kill-on-sight variety. We knew this because we had come across many folks in previous Rust games. When we had, we always tried to say something indicating that we were either not a threat, or that were straight up friendly. With the exception of a few times that I can literally count on one hand, these friendly salutations were met with either some arrow shafts to the chest or a few AK 47 rounds to the face.

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Yes, we had to keep moving in order to find a favorable spot where we could set up our first starter base. We’d accrued enough resources in our travels to do so, and so kept a beady eye out for a good location. Eventually, we spotted some movement off in the distance, ahead of us. We leapt into some brush and observed an individual for some time. He seemed to be attempting to start up a rock quarry machine. We quickly decided to enact our usual “cover and contact” routine, whereas one of us would remain hidden with weapon at the ready, while the other would approach and speak to the new contact using Rust’s local voice capabilities.

My heart thudded in my chest as my buddy cautiously crept up to the contact. They exchanged a few words. Miraculously, the stranger didn’t attack my friend, who then turned around and called me out of the bushes. Now we were three.

Over the course of around eight more hours of game time, my friend and I build a startup base right next to our newfound companion’s, which was already pretty well established. We then built a couple of multi-leveled towers close by for defensive purposes, should we be attacked, and traded resources and equipment with our new friend.

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The next day (in real life not game time), we all logged on and began our usual resource gathering. I recall just coming back into our little compound when an arrow whizzed right by my head, missing me by inches. I yelled out “enemy!” and ran into the protective environs of our stone walled main base. My two teammates scrambled about quickly, arming themselves with our best shared weapons—which consisted of powerful hunting rifles.

We spied several antagonists hiding behind a collection of large boulders near our base. We figured there were around four or five in all. Over the course of the next twenty minutes, we moved in-between different levels of our perspective bases. Just as with having the two additional towers had, darting from window-to-window within our buildings and taking potshots at our assailants, gave the illusion that there were more defenders than their actually was.

Eventually, our firefight came to a stalemate and our foes began to retreat after sustaining several wounds. Our newfound friend, who is a rather trigger-happy fellow by the way, used this window of opportunity pursue the withdrawing aggressors. He grabbed a shotgun, and in the course of a few moments, blew two of our retreating enemies away. The rest turned tail even faster, and we all called out to them with taunting (and rather nasty and sarcastic) words and phrases, in order to amp up the sting-level.

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Our humiliated foes returned two times after that first defeat. Each time they were rebuffed and further insulted as to their lack of martial prowess. Over the course of our time spent on that server, we developed a friendly (if not sometimes heated) rivalry with that group of erstwhile enemies. One that lasted until the server was wiped in order to implement a new game patch.

And that is a sample of a good game of Rust. However, good games are few and far between. Most of my experiences with Rust include gathering resources over the course of a number of hours, only to be bushwhacked by some unscrupulous Rust players, and have all that I’ve accrued, stolen from me. Needless to say, I have rage-quit Rust games several…no…many times.

Rust is a game that is all about survival of the fittest, or simply, whoever is the fastest to draw their weapons. You traverse a procedurally generated island, or collection of islands, and gather resources. Then, you build a base. Depending on your base’s fortitude, as well as its location, it could get raided by other players rather quickly. The less obvious bases usually get raided less, and the more cleverly and stoutly build ones last the longest. If you happens to get raided while you are offline (you know, since you have a life and many Rust players apparently don’t), then too bad. You’ll spawn in only to find a shell of your meticulously crafted base, with your formerly full supply boxes, long-ago plundered and empty.

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But at its best, Rust is a phenomenal, adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. Whether you are hurriedly crafting resources in order to make a weapon that you just unlocked (through leveling up) in order to repel that next wave of raiders, cautiously navigating an airfield in order to scavenge some of the more valuable equipment in the game, or running as fast as you can towards one of the all-important (and periodic) airdrops in an effort to get to it before other players do, Rust can turn into an addiction.

One thing is for sure—every game of Rust is like an experiment. Not only in how long you can survive (and sometimes even thrive), but also how much brutality you can endure before breaking. How much toxic behavior you can withstand before you throw in the towel and quit. What is interesting, however, is how many times you will usually return to play yet another game. It almost seems at times as though Rust is an exercise in masochism.

Rust is a game that I initially didn’t care much for. Then its addictive qualities went to work on me. From there it turned into a love-hate relationship, and before I knew it, I’d accumulated over one-hundred and fifty hours of Rust playtime.

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It doesn’t hurt that Rust’s developers, Facepunch Studios, are extremely active, releasing fixes here and there, as well as adding new contents such as new types of regions, buildings, weapons, and equipment. Rust is clearly a labor of love. Unfortunately, it has also drawn perhaps the most toxic community that I’ve ever witnessed in all of my gaming days. If it weren’t so brilliant, in both concept and design, I would have deleted Rust from my Steam library long ago. I guess I justify playing it because I want to see if the community, as a whole, will ever change. Or, maybe it’s because I’m a glutton for punishment. We’ll just have to see when I render my review of the completed product, sometime in the near future. Until then, I’ll still be putting up with it just as one tolerates an abusive lover.

SCORE: 88%

Rust’s visuals have come a long way since its inception back in 2013. However, you have to have an equally fast gaming PC in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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