Also On: PS4
Publisher: Double Eleven
Developer: Double Eleven/Facepunch Studios
Rust is an unapologetically brutal first person online survival game that has definitely withstood the test of time. The Facepunch-developed title originally launched 8 or so years ago on the PC, and has since seen many updates and iterations, though the real core of the game has surprisingly not varied all that much.
These day, Rust is neither the best looking nor the most modern survival game out there, though it still checks off all the right boxes for a solid, sometimes rewarding, yet slightly frustrating experience. Rust Console Edition, while being at least a couple of major releases (and years) behind the current PC version, is still very worthy of the moniker and that description.
Upon starting up Rust Console Edition and joining a server your underwear-clad procedurally generated character wakes up on a procedurally generated island environment alongside up to 100 other live players… with nothing more than a rock and a torch in your inventory. No, there?s no story to speak of and no specific endgame other than living as long as possible. On a high level that?s what Rust is about.
Post-apocalyptic survival is the name of the game in Rust Console Edition, and before taking the plunge, just know that you?ll die and be killed… a lot. Rust is an always online game (and cross-platform too) and one that requires you to be on your toes at all times. There are many, many ways to bite the bullet in Rust from starvation, wild animals, radiation, inhospitable biomes or literally by a rusty bullet, rock or some makeshift weapon by another player. Even with voice chat and a nice convenient conversation wheel, newbies and under equipped single players will likely get preyed upon by other players very quickly. Even if you somehow survive for a day or more, the game does a forced wipe on a schedule around once a month (on official servers at least) thus resetting all player and settlement statuses and leveling the playing field, more or less. That?s good and bad news, depending on how you play the game and what you expect to get out of the experience.
Dying isn?t the end of the road in Rust however, you can respawn randomly on the same island or in a sleeping bag that you have crafted and strategically placed somewhere — minus most of your possessions of course. Players do have the opportunity to bring up a map and seek out their dropped items before others have looted the remains, although that journey can be a challenge itself depending on the respawn location. Smart players will try to scrounge up enough resources to immediately craft a sleeping bag and a storage box with a lock so that even upon death they?ll still have access to some resources. Advanced players can of course gear up and seek out more rare materials and crafting options to elevate their existence and chances of survival.
Being hunted down by other players can be exciting, stressful and frustrating, although on the other hand collaborating with friends or friendly randoms can be very rewarding. Again, it depends on what you?re looking to get out of the game. Some players enjoy being the hunter, others may prefer to just live off the land, build a settlement and cooperate with others. I would love the option to play on an official no kill server or be spawned on an island restricted to single players — only to offer a ?man vs nature? experience over what can and often will devolve into a ?player vs player? one.
I?m the type of player that has what I could call inventory management-phobia. I shy away from games with overly complex and time consuming inventory and resource management systems and I have to say that Rust keeps it pretty simple — all things considered. Basic crafting can be done on the fly, necessary resources (stone, wood, food) aren?t uncommon if you know where to look, and it?s straightforward to tab through categories and manage items. Having a ?common? crafting tab is a great quality of life feature which streamlines the process and keeps it fairly simple and unannoying, and went a long way in keeping my interest. There’s no mining other than smashing rocks, breaking up/scrapping items, picking plants and chopping down trees, and building shelter is also intuitive and uncomplicated enough. So all the survival basics are covered in Rust Console Edition and the limited in-game hints do just enough to teach without being overwhelming.
Being based on a PC game running on the Unity Engine from several years ago Rust is not what I?d call attractive even on the higher spec Xbox One X/PS4 Pro or PS5/ Xbox Series X machines. There are moments when the sun peeks out and filters through the trees and the framerate happens to smooth out for a few seconds where it shows promise, but overall it?s fairly drab and serviceable. The day 1 patched up version has significantly better performance than the pre-launch beta builds so if you?re basing your impressions off of that version then it has improved. Either way, even with several options including a FOV slider and sharpening checkbox, Rust Console Edition is visually still pretty wonky. An eventual optimized next-gen version would be great, though as is it?s still more than playable. It?s worth noting that many first person adventure games sometimes give me motion sickness, but I have no problem with Rust at all.
Rust is one the few ?pure? first person survival games out there, especially now on consoles, which is likely why it?s still popular after all these years. ?Pure? meaning grounded and realistic, with no sci-fi or fantasy elements, or narrative/backstory, or anything of the sort. It?s just you and other humans trying to survive a harsh post-apocalyptic environment. Compared to something like ARK: Survival Evolved, No Man?s Sky, DayZ, Fallout 76 or even Minecraft, Rust is a much more straightforward affair.
When referencing the PC version Double Eleven likes to describe the Console Edition as a ?separate experience? meaning it will likely never get parity, although it has the potential to go in different directions to accommodate the Xbox and PlayStation player base. It definitely has depth, and once accustomed to the gameplay loop players will be able to survive maybe even a full cycle, build up a fortified development, craft fairly modern tools and gear, and live out some semblance of a satisfying island life.
To spite the rough and buggy nature of Rust Console Edition at launch, it fills a certain void in the online survival genre on consoles and is certainly worth checking out for those craving a more grounded experience.
Note: Double Eleven provided us with a Rust Console Edition Xbox One code for review purposes.