As I stated in another recent review, I’ve experienced my share of lackluster games as of late. I’ve had time to reflect on this for a while now, and I still can’t seem to wrap my head around what’s at the heart of the issue. On one hand, we seem to be entering a new golden age of gaming, where for the first time ever, a game’s visuals can be on par with its outstanding backstory (if it has one). Likewise, we are now treated to a whole new slew of indie games that are no longer relegated to the sidelines and are competing with the big triple A gaming companies.
On the other, there is a wide array of unscrupulous game developers and publishers who are releasing unfinished, unpolished crap-tastic games, and are obviously just trying to fleece us gamers of our hard-earned cash. Many of them do this with under the guise of we’re indie and just trying to make it so we need your support, when in reality they should have spent more time working on their games before releasing them to the gaming public.
Meanwhile, genre-wise, just when I think that we’ve seen the last, dying gasp (pun intended) of the uber-played-out survival horror zombie craze, another new batch of these games pop right on up, just like corpses rising from the grave. The analogies abound here but I’ll restrain myself. Anyway, when Facepunch Studios’ Rust first appeared on the scene in all of its unfinished glory a couple of years ago, it seemed to be going in the whole survival horror zombie direction, because it featured zombie placeholders. However, the developers eventually admitted that their burgeoning game’s code was ultimately unworkable. So, they scraped the first iteration of Rust and rebuilt it from scratch. A new graphics engine; new environments; new game mechanics—new everything.
The public’s reaction was pretty negative. Many seemed to think that while the graphics overhaul was generally a good thing, Facepunch changed or removed many of the elements that made the game relatively fun in the first place. Fast forward a couple of years to the present day, and Facepunch seems to still be stuck in a quandary, but for other reasons. As an example, here is what my first few play throughs with Rust was like…
After booting up the game I joined a moderately populated server (35 out of 100). After my character woke up naked on a beach (how original!) I immediately scanned around for any potential threats, human or otherwise. My gaming buddy spawned in at the same time and we decided that our first order of business would be to find each other, as we’d heard that being by yourself in Rust usually limits your lifespan severely.
As each Rust game begins with you holding a rock, for use in gathering your first resources (wood and stone), we each quickly crafted a spear for basic defense as well as hunting, since your hunger meter is constantly ticking down. Within a couple of minutes, I encounter a fully clothed bloke who was brandishing a shotgun. I related to him (through the game’s in-game VOIP) that I’m not looking for any trouble, etc.,etc. In return he shot me as soon as he got close up. I related this to my friend and chalked it up as just being the nature of a survival game, although inwardly I took this as a bad omen.
Similar deaths happen six more times in a row.
I began to realize just how frustrated people must feel when spawning in and getting bushwhacked by people for no reason at all—apparently just for the thrill of killing others. Instead of rage-quitting, I remained relatively patient because I wanted to see what Rust actually had to offer. Eventually, my friend and I linked up and decided that we wanted to build a home as far away other people as possible, since the server’s community seemed pretty toxic.
This is what my buddy said when he first came across me:
“Uh…dude. We got to get you a shirt!”
Confused, I replied: “What do you mean?”
“You’re a chick,” he laughed. “Looks like the femifascists and their mangina accomplices have done it again.”
Sure enough, when I checked my character out, I was indeed a female.
“I’ll just change it through the options,” I casually remarked.
However, I couldn’t find any in-game option for changing my gender. After doing some looking around online, I learned that the fine folks at Faceplant don’t want gamers to have a choice in the matter. That’s right, your choice as to what gender you want to play as has been taken away from you, and is even hard-linked to your Steam profile id. In these hyper-politically correct times, the whole forced female gender thing has been on the rise in games in which you should be able to customize your character as you see fit. I can understand if you’re playing a character with a well-developed backstory such as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider series, but not games like this where you are more or less an anonymous character. I don’t want to belabor how wrong that is, here, and so will cover political agendas in the gaming world in a separate article.
Back to my first game—soon, my battle buddy and I came across another duo who were surprisingly friendly. At that point we were waiting on them to betray us but that betrayal never came. We even built a dwelling right next to theirs. We were just beginning to build up our happy little home when we were beset upon by a couple of the toxic types that we’d been trying to avoid. As we didn’t have any firearms yet and they did, they quickly dispatched us and stole all of our supplies that we’d been saving up to that point. So, we respawned and returned to the area in order to rebuild.
The same thing happened…and again and again.
Eventually, we threw our hands up and relocated to a barren coastal area, and besides one break-in, remained relatively unmolested. Just when we began to wonder why things were going so smoothly, we found out that the server was about to undergo a full wipe. No wonder people were leaving and things were so calm.
Gameplay-wise, Rust is a multiplayer sandbox survival game with foraging and crafting elements thrown in. Sallying forth in order to acquire resources, and returning to improve your burgeoning little hovel is quite fun, and can even become addictive. There were many times when my friend and I were thinking about logging off but we just needed that last piece for our home, such as a metal door instead of a wooden one, or a second story for added protection and storage space. In that regard, like many similar crafting/survival games of this ilk, Rust keeps you busy wondering and worrying about many matters.
In a superficial sense, Rust is indeed fun to play if you have the time and patience to spare building up your resources, and most likely losing them to raiders, and then rinsing and repeating. Those prone to rage-quitting need not apply. Rust’s gaming community mainly seems to consist of anger-filled tweens with high-pitched valley girl accents and disturbed, sociopathic creatures who play out their bloodbath fantasies through a digital lens. There are a few cool people here and there (we encountered two out of around 20 or so) but the odds are heavily stacked against those of a more mature and peaceful bent.
It will be interesting to see how Rust develops and if Faceplant comes up with a solution to its rather toxic player base issue, as well as the rampant cheating that supposedly goes on. For now, however, Rust is little more than an exercise in jaw-clenching futility, with spurts of fun.
Rust’s updated graphics are pretty to look at, but in order to get the most out of them you may want to invest in a decent gaming PC:
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