Rust is a game that has been kicking around on PC since 2013, first in Early Access and then finally getting a full release in February 2018. Now, the original developers, Facepunch Studios, have teamed up with Double Eleven to bring the game to the Xbox and PlayStation consoles, with the imaginatively named Rust Console Edition. The original was touted as a mixture of DayZ with the strong crafting elements of Minecraft, so I guess the question I need to answer is whether the game is greater than the sum of its parts, or does it stumble at the first hurdle?
The first thing to mention is that Rust is a multiplayer only experience, so forget the peaceful exploration of Minecraft, because this is nothing like that. In fact, the first thing that hits you upon spawning into the world is usually a much higher level being killing you instantly; fast sending you back to the spawn screen. This is very annoying, but nothing like as annoying as if you manage to escape the beach (where you seem to always spawn if you haven’t managed to put a sleeping bag down somewhere to act as a spawn point), gather some resources and cobble together a crude shelter, only to then have someone decide that you may have something that they want. Without a word of a lie, I had made a wooden hut and managed to lock the door, so the other player decided to break through the wall, shoot me in the face with a shotgun, help himself to anything that wasn’t tied down, and then went on his merry way without a care in the world.
You could say that the player base in Rust Console Edition is without doubt the most brutal and unforgiving I have ever encountered, taking every opportunity to screw others over and kill the weak without hesitation. It is absolutely demoralising, and I soon found myself in the bottom half of the server browser, looking for the less populated servers in order to stand a better chance of living. My pro tip is to stick to the Xbox only servers, as the PC players have had years to get tooled up and will happily ruin your whole day. The Xbox players are just as unforgiving, but when they are armed only with rocks, it’s a bit easier to run away.
So, after managing to escape from the beach, you’ll want to get a good look around, if only to see what the rest of Rust Console Edition has to offer. On the graphics front, it’s really not much at all. The landscape is fairly large, but it looks terrible, despite three distinct biomes. The animation on the trees swaying in the breeze is laughable, and when the other players and animals turn up things get funnier still. The animation on the characters of others looks very much like one of those old Ray Harryhausen films, all stilted, jerky movements, and quite often you are dead almost before you can even see folk – they bounce around like Tigger on a particularly happy day.
The animals are worse, believe it or not, and I’ve been killed by a deer stuck in a cliff, and been attacked by a horse stuck in a rock… and best of all, if you are killed by an animal, they are all called James, which is a classy touch even if it is confusing why. Another issue is that Rust Console Edition stalls very frequently, and whatever you are doing at the time just stops. You can be running, fighting or harvesting, the game just stops dead (it doesn’t even slow down) and then it carries on like nothing has happened. Of course, in combat, this hiatus is enough to get you killed, so it’s exceedingly annoying.
Luckily, the audio is a lot more in keeping with the game tone, with low key music every now and then. More important though is the ability to hear people creeping up on you – without that, you stand even less of a chance than normal. It’s cool too that the sound of a rock hitting a tree is pretty bang on as well, so the sound department can take a bow.
Gameplay wise, if you manage to get a bit of time to stay alive between shankings, Rust is all a massive grind. Want to build a house? You’ll need some wood, and this comes about initially by hitting a tree with a rock, allowing you to collect some. And if you hit the tree on the red cross that some invisible helper spray paints on the tree as you hit it (complete with spray paint sound effect) you will harvest faster. The same goes for the rocks lying about the place – if you hit the bright sparkle it will break faster. This is good because the less time you spend not scanning the area the better. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had my liver pierced by some opportunist with a wooden spear while I was looking at a tree or rock, so you’ll want to keep ‘em peeled. Once you have gathered some stuff, you can craft all sorts of things, ranging from clothing to a wooden wall, and this then is the rest of the game. Craft, and try not to die!
A quick glance at the PC world of Rust shows that there are clans that have come together to engage in some rivalries with other clans, but I haven’t been approached by anyone yet. I guess a half naked survivor running around with a rock and a torch isn’t going to be top of anyone’s list for a team mate! But it does show that there is possibly hope for the Console Edition of Rust and I hope with time the player base will settle down, as it’s really not very much fun at the moment. You’ll probably want to use that community to help you stay alive for more than a few minutes too, and a couple of top tips I’ve learnt is to build a storage box, put a lock on it, and store your good stuff inside. It’s really not uncommon to log out and leave the game, come back after you’ve made a brew and find that you’ve been mugged in the meantime. Another way to avoid thievery is to make your way to a safe area, as if you log out in one of those, you are safe as hostile actions are forbidden. I may have to do a quick list of top tips in a later article, so keep your eyes peeled.
In conclusion, Rust Console Edition is shonky, feels unfinished and looks like an Xbox 360 title. It is stuffed with the most hostile player base ever, and even surviving for five minutes feels like a win. However, there is fun to be had, particularly if you enjoy grinding for materials and living on your wits. Sadly, with the lack of anything resembling a way to ease players in, it’s likely that Rust Console Edition will turn a lot of players off long before they find their first airdrop. If it looked better it may have been a contender, but it’s Minecraft all the way for me!