Memoirs of a Sandbox Survivor
One of the biggest growing trends in PC gaming right now is the concept of early access to unfinished games for a reduced price. While MMO players are often familiar with things like alpha and beta testing, it's new territory for lots of gamers, particularly those on Steam. Rust, a game from the creators of Garry's Mod, is one of the latest entries in the ever-expanding realm of early access games and we took the time to dive in and see if this brutal quest for survival is worth your time and money yet.
Rust has relatively humble beginnings, much like everything Garry Newman touches. The creator of Garry's Mod set out on a mission to create a clone of DayZ - and largely succeeded - but quickly saw the potential to turn Rust into something separate and unique. By mixing elements of games like Wurm, Nether, Minecraft, and the aforementioned DayZ, Rust has already taken on a fresh identity of its own in the sandbox survival genre. In just a few weeks, Rust has already earned close to half of what Garry's Mod earned in its entire lifetime. Part of that success is of course the name recognition of the team behind it, but it’s also due in large part to the vision and ideas fueling this playground of imagination and (often) murder.
For those unaware, Rust is a survival-themed sandbox game that plops players down into a world with no direction or objectives other than what's on the game's Steam page: "The only aim in Rust is to survive." With the ability to craft everything from weapons, shelter, and more using nothing but the resources available in the environment, players are left to fend for themselves. While the game is a tough and punishing place, complete with wildlife and elements to battle, much of the danger often lies in interacting with other players.
My first encounter with a player in Rust went much better than most. Upon spawning into this strange new world, I thought something was wrong and I had already found a terrible bug - my screen was pitch-black. I soon noticed the HUD on the edges of my screen and the faint outline of nature around me, meaning it was only night time. Unlike a lot of games, night time in Rust isn't just a bluish filter laid over the environment, but is true darkness. I could barely see the grass on the ground, let alone the rest of my surroundings.
As I fumbled with the controls for the first several seconds, I quickly gained my composure and figured out how to play through trial and error - a notion that the entire game is ultimately based upon. Once I realized I had a torch in my inventory, I was no longer in pure darkness and could at least navigate myself to a small, abandoned, wooden shack near some mountains. I holed up inside, in an attempt to shelter myself from the cold, but could not shut the door because I did not own the home. This is an odd gameplay mechanic incorporated to limit theft and they do have plans to further expand how doors work.
After realizing the futility of standing in what amounts to a fancy cage for any player that might happen upon me in the dead of night, I ventured back out into the wilderness. As I slowly progressed along the edge of the mountainside, I heard footsteps that were not my own and I panicked. My heart raced as the stranger closed in on me from an unknown direction and mere minutes into playing this game, I truly felt fear.