Rust Alpha review: Be one with your rock

Kill all the evil animals!
Kill all the evil animals!

Rust is primarily a survival game, sounds like a simple concept, but it’s actually quite hard to master. Initially it’s all about death, death is everywhere. You die from hunger, animal attacks, human attacks and occasionally, should you travel far into the map, death due to overexposure to radiation. It’s not easy to survive with just a rock in hand, especially when the enemies around you have weapons and sometimes monstrous architectural masterpieces that they can go and and cower inside of should you try to fight back.

The first few hours of gameplay will have you wandering around the map aimlessly, figuring out what’s what. How do you build? How do you stay alive? How do I get clothes? These are all questions I asked when I first started playing, now I’ve got a five strong team beside me and a large fortress to call my home. The first time you spawn you’re bound to die, fresh spawns tend to unless the player can successfully sneak under the radar of nearby enemies. The rock you spawn with will only get you so far, you can probably collect some resources: wood, rocks, ore, and maybe kill a boar or two to provide food and cloth to make clothes later down the line. At the start of the game it’s all about hoarding as many items as you find and crafting your first home to save them all inside, that’s if enemies don’t raid you.

The game features a health bar, food bar and rad counter. Health can be restored slowly over time if you’ve been hurt or you can use a medkit to speed up the healing process, it really depends on how damaged you are. The food bar will slowly decrease as you go about your daily tasks, and decrease quicker the more you run and hack for resources, you can refill this by eating cooked chicken meat, chocolate bars and pretty much anything you pick up that sound edible. The rad counter – short for radiation – will increase as you near local towns. The closer you get to 500 rads, the closer you are to dying. To decrease radiation you can simply run away from the towns and be done with it, create yourself a radiation suit or scavenge some rads tablets on your travels – the latter being quite rare in some places. Keeping an eye on all of these is a must, letting any one of them deplete will result in death (except the rad counter of course), and you don’t want that happening when you’ve got over 1,000 wood and some special items in your back pocket!

There are a lot of resources which can be found on the map, finding the correct locations for multiple resource spawns however can be a problem. Either they’re infested with animals or infested with other players, at least the animals don’t take your findings if they kill you. Smashing large boulders will grant you with ore and rocks, and smashing wood piles will give you – you guessed it – wood. Rocks can be used to make basic weapons and furnaces and the ore can be smouldered in the furnace to create metal fragments and sulphur to create guns and ammo. Cloth can be taken from animal carcasses along with chicken meat (how strange), blood and other strange bits and pieces and these can be used a multitude of ways including the making of clothes, first aid kits and bandages. There are a large variety of items you can pick up and an even wider variety of items you can build and learn to build thanks to blueprints.

There are also a small variety of craftsmen benches you can make to build and repair items, these later down the line will become very valuable.

Welcome to my home!
Welcome to my home!

Collecting enough resources allows you to settle down and create a home, a small shack will keep you and your items safe for a short amount of time, but it’s the real building that you’ll want to do as soon as possible. Creating something which has foundations, walls, windows, ceilings and possibly other rooms and separate floors will take days, but it’s one of the more creative parts of the game and it will keep you away from the prying eyes of local bandits. To build any of the items mentioned it’s going to take a lot of wood and that means a lot of scavenging, repetitive for sure. Using better tools to harvest these resources will be in your best interest, with the rock only give 7 pieces but the pickaxe giving 20 pieces per hit.

Once you’ve built your home all you need to do is defend it, this is an additional challenge that can sometimes prove to be troublesome. Barring up windows and creating metal doors will only protect you so far, bandits will find all kinds of ways to enter your home – just to steal your things! At the moment players can create foundations on other peoples buildings, generally they add, these usually lead up to open windows or doorways, ways of entry for an opportunist. I don’t particularly like this game mechanic, it feels tacky and makes bandit efforts all too easy. It’s also hard to find a location on the map where the building area is quite small, not allowing extra foundations to be added in some directions.

Oh look Ma', a floatin' bear!
Oh look Ma’, a floatin’ bear!

Rust is still rough around the edges, but you would expect that from an alpha. Multiple times I would enter my home to escape a wolf, only to find that instead of yelping and running back he would enter my home and continue to attack me. Coming across floating animals – mainly bears – are a rare occurrence, but it does happen. The environments are that detailed, sound is lacking and the single use male figure become a drag after so many hours of gameplay. Lets just say that the game has its ups and down, and sometimes it’s due to the people that play it.

Note: The Experimental version of the game (created in a new engine) is slowly starting to piece together, already this looks perfect and has learned from the mistakes of the normal version of Rust.


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