Rust is a game that, despite being one of the most unforgiving experiences of its kind out there, keeps going from strength to strength, hitting a record amount of players in 2019 despite having been out in some form for over half a decade. In 2021, it’s in the best shape it’s ever been with the biggest streamers in the world playing it. There aren’t many games like Rust out there.
The aim of the game is simple: survive, accumulate loot, do it all over again. Rust has a tonne more depth than you might first think when people are running around and hitting each other with rocks — experienced players often say you need thousands of hours with the game before you can actually call yourself decent. Rust really isn’t a game, it’s more of a full-time job that you have little hope of escaping.
If you’re playing a lot of Rust and maybe want a bit of a break from a bad run you’re on, or just think that it might be a little too toxic an experience for you, we have some games like Rust to try out as alternatives instead, especially if you are still waiting for its console versions to land.
Bohemia’s DayZ actually provided a lot of inspiration for Facepunch, the developers of Rust, in the game’s earliest days — not many people remember the zombies in Rust, and even fewer people will say they genuinely miss them. DayZ spawned a lot of clones, but it can be argued that none of them do it quite as well — when the game isn’t being temperamental and janky, of course.
Spun off from a mod for Arma, DayZ plops you onto Balkan land in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. It doesn’t have as much variety as Rust and the overall experience is certainly showing its age, but if you want much slower PVP as well as PVE to contend with, DayZ could be a decent option. If you can’t find water immediately, though, you may not be in for a good time.
DayZ is certainly in an interesting spot in 2021, especially following the launch of its Livonia expansion. It may not be for everyone (I personally find it to be a little too slow for my tastes), but if you can find it on a sale, it might be worth trying out. Console versions aren’t that hot, though.
Developer: Gamepires Publisher: Gamepires
SCUM landed into Early Access in 2018 with a massive bang before quietly fizzling out to the steady but not gigantic playerbase it has now. Technical issues aplenty saw the game bleed a lot of its early players, but Gamepires have been updating and tweaking pretty diligently. 2021 might be a great time to experience SCUM for the first time, or maybe the second. And not just because of the customisable cocks, either.
A game that puts the “cor” into hardcore survival, SCUM tasks players with keeping on top of their nutrients and all sorts of things that we humans need to stay alive, all while staving off zombie-like enemies and other players. With base building, a rather lovely looking open world, and multiplayer moments that rival the naked nonsense of Rust, SCUM is a perhaps slightly more tranquil alternative that still has its fair share of crazy moments.
Oh, it also has giant mechs that look like they’re straight out of Robocop. Can’t believe I forgot to mention that.
Probably the most like-for-like game to Rust on this list, Hurtworld really doesn’t even try to hide its blatant inspiration, though it’s been well received for not being just a plain rip-off and bringing a few interesting twists to the table. Rust still doesn’t have vehicles, for instance, yet Hurtworld has enough of them to provide resources for Cars 4 and Planes 2.
The basic gist of both games is the same: survive and thrive by outsmarting and outplaying other players until you have a loot horde Smaug would lose his mind over. It’s a cheaper option than its main inspiration with many of its players claiming that it’s a decent option if your PC isn’t up to the task of running the CPU-hungry Rust.
Bear in mind, though, that it does have a few bugs and hackers. Huh, so it really is like Rust, after all.
4. Escape From Tarkov
Developer: Battlestate Games Publisher: Battlestate Games
There’s a reason why so many content creators are splitting their time between Rust and Battlestate’s Tarkov, and that’s because both offer similarly pulse-pounding PVP with incredibly high stakes. While Rust also boasts base building and survival elements, Tarkov is more of a straightforward PVP looter.
An admittedly rather complex affair that doesn’t do the best job of explaining itself to beginners, players drop into one of many maps on the hunt for loot with anything you discover before extraction being yours to keep. Die, however, and you lose it forever. Tarkov is a game of anxiety-inducing risk and reward that can often move at a snail’s pace, but stick with it and you may struggle to escape yourself.
Or, you could do what so many have done and die randomly after creeping through a map for 45 minutes, lose all of your loot, and then throw yourself out of the nearest window. That’s Tarkov for you.
5. Ark: Survival Evolved
Developer: Studio Wildcard Publisher: Studio Wildcard
For a game with a UI and font scheme as aggressively ugly as what you will find in Ark: Survival Evolved, it sure has seen a lot of success over the years. As long as you can get past the early woes of dying to some random dinosaur after a chaotically awful fight with a wooden club, Ark becomes an extremely dense game with so much to see, do, and, erm, breed.
Whether you want to climb aboard a flying dinosaur and go exploring, fight other players, or build yourself a little home to have a constantly live showing of Jurassic Park, Ark offers plenty of different ways to play. It has its rough edges that may never be buffed out, but it’s certainly a unique game that clashes the prehistoric with the future.
Each new update, of which there are many, changes the Ark experience up pretty dramatically and there’s even a sequel starring Vin Diesel in the works because cash should just be straight up burned, apparently.
Developer: RTK Entertainment Publisher: RTK Entertainment
Okay, so this isn’t an alternative to Rust as much as it is a tool to send you even further down the hole of addiction. For any of you really serious players out there, Fortify is a community-created mod for Rust that allows you to plan out your bases in advance with meticulous and even somewhat obsessive detail.
In the middle of the wipe rush to get your first base down, it can be difficult to know exactly how to lay it out, or how to maximise the space on offer. Fortify allows you almost full customisation over a blueprint for a future base, including material costs, proper placements, and even the option to plan with your teammates.
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