Review: Rust (Console Edition)

So, Rust is brutal.

My experience with Rust for the first hour was as follows. The game boots, you spawn on a beach in a first-person perspective and press a button to wake up. You’re directed to your inventory (you have a rock and a torch, no clothes). That’s as far as the tutorial goes.

What kind of game is this? I run about using the now-ubiquitous first-person controls. I get shot in the face by someone in a hazmat suit who I would tell from observing, was an AI.

Respawn. Same situation. Run about, avoid the hazmat man. I figure I can bash my rocks into trees to get wood. I get shot in the face by an archer, this time a real person.

Repeat. This time I run straight for some woods. I discover you can also mine stone. I craft a weapon. I’ve crafted an arrow, which I have no way of firing. Mistake. I see two people running around. Friends! I run up to them. I get stabbed by spears.

So yeah, Rust is brutal. It’s an online survival experience, where you (in my experience) should assume that everyone is out to kill you. On finding a tutorial, this super helped. Your ‘instance’ on Rust lives on a server, even when you’re not playing. To stop yourself from dying and losing everything, you need to build a base. Each server is reset after a certain amount of time.

So I picked a low populated recent server, figuring people would not have had a chance to create too many bases and get too ‘far ahead’ yet. I mined wood, I mined stone. Annoyingly, you can only mine certain types of stone. This may be clear and obvious for seasoned pros, but from my eye the stone you can mine looks exactly like the stone you can’t mine, except it’s got a Colgate style sparkle overlay over the top of it. 

I create some tools to mine and axe wood faster. I create a blueprint to finally build a base and a sleeping bag so I have a respawn point and…. I got killed again.

It’s really, really tough. The learning curve at the start is absolutely brutal. Once you have gotten your base you need to make sure it’s good enough – a basic one means that you’ll log back in to find it’s been wrecked. It rewards those early ‘winners’ too, as you can spawn and find hunters running about, who also have the option to taunt you with voice proximity chat, with little reason to mow you down than ‘fun’. I imagine it probably is good fun but I’m too rubbish to be able to do that. 

As you evolve through the game, you’ll naturally create better stuff, from crafting a stone axe all the way up to full-on furnaces, forges, machine guns and body armour. The goal? It seems to survive, and survive better than everyone else. Get the best loot, food supplies, build the best base. The endgame? Well, periodically, the servers get wiped. So it’s time to start all over again, meaning you never get too far ahead of the rest of the pack, and you get to experience the loop all over again.

The tension is what makes it all. Which is just as well really, as it’s not a pretty baby. In fact, it’s downright ugly, to be honest. The ‘Console Edition’ seems to have done a reasonable job of mapping everything to the controller or simplifying it at least, that it works well enough although the aiming sensitivity and acceleration isn’t really tuned to that level you’d expect from modern console first-person games.

This is evident in gunfights (somewhat obviously) but also when you mine stuff. Chopping a tree down, and a red X appears on the tree, which you can hit to mine it faster. This is similar to the glowing orb thing that Fortnite uses (or potentially copied, given the age of PC Rust) but here it’s almost impossible to be hit with any level of accuracy. 

It’s a tough one to recommend then really, as it’s very gross to look at, plays a bit clumsily but has a very exciting gameplay loop to it. I think, for my money, games like The Forest have done it all a bit better, but that’s solo and offline. So Rust does offer something unique – which clearly is why it’s got such appeal over on PC and has maintained a userbase for many years, but the barrier of entry (in time and patience) here is so great, I’m not sure I’m quite built for it. 

Reviewed on Xbox One

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