The Karmic Brilliance of Facepunch’s Rust

How a strange Asian guy and an offline raid turned into an odyssey.

Rust game
Rust game

The wipe started off pretty forgettably. I was naked, rock in hand, with dead bodies stretching all across the coast I had just spawned on. I took in a deep breath, and started the arduous task of battering down a tree at vanilla speed — the easiest way to make you sit back and question why you are playing Rust.

After the inevitable continuous deaths that follow a fresh spawn (including at the hands of a man claiming to be a knight on horseback the second I respawned), I finally found temporary respite at a decayed 1×1. Resources were hard to come across; a local clan had more or less eviscerated all the flora. A member of said clan approached me, speaking in terribly broken English and beckoning me to “come, come”. I went with him, and then he just stood still for two minutes.

Reader, I am not a bad person. I stroke my cat when he demands it, and I recycle. But if a geared player in Rust goes AFK, even Christ himself couldn’t resist the temptation to smite him down and yoink the loot.

I returned to my ramshackle cabin to collect all of my stuff and make tracks anywhere else but here — I had a feeling the guy was doing a social experiment, which I had certainly failed. Sure enough, as I was traipsing up the hill to pastures new, incendiary shotgun fire rained all over me. He had come back to raid, and if I had left even ten seconds later, I probably wouldn’t have left alive.

Rust game

Stuffed to the gills with ill-gotten gear, I nervously hurried north, crouch-spamming to my fellow nakeds that I was a Pretty Chill Guy, hoping that an arrow wouldn’t whizz into my head from nowhere. I eventually plumped for a spot near a mine and a “watermill” so I would never be stuck for resources. Within an hour, I had inadvertently made a base that looked like a penis.

Rust is nothing without its people, so I ventured out to say hi to my neighbours. Most of them were out, but there was one, Muiller, who made the wipe a special one. He didn’t need to lend me his horse so I could repeatedly fail to control it on my daily voyage to the mine, but he did. He didn’t need to throw countless resources and gear my way, but he did. He didn’t need to protect my base when I came under attack, but he did. People like Muiller in Rust are angels among devils — and squeakers looking for a more hardcore Fortnite.

It was a simple, idyllic life for a couple of days, an existence of total simplicity of living off the land and making incremental progress. And then the aforementioned squeakers made themselves known, attacking Muiller’s base unsuccessfully and then later mine, sadly much more successfully thanks to a drill — the same tool they used to kill me as I slept. They didn’t manage to breach my Tool Cupboard, but they did manage to doorcamp me and wear me down, my Eokas not doing much to deter them.

I’d had just about enough of the server, but then a lifeline was thrown my way. One of their friends, who had been betrayed by them only recently, was leaving the server and was giving away his base and all the loot inside, a base which had also belonged to my assailants before their separation. I had nothing left to lose, so I made my way over, and following a short Skype call with a young South African, I had gone up in the world.

Rust game

This base was stacked beyond belief, featuring every major weapon bar the AK and resources that I could use to craft pretty much everything. I did question the ethical side of basically just taking over a base instead of developing it myself, but then I remembered the offline raiding and doorcamping and became zen with it almost immediately, even more so when my foes returned and demanded I return their old base. I refused, their squeaks of anger doing little to change my mind. They promised a raid that never came, though I could tell from the tone of their voices that their world had been turned upside down.

When I went offline, their betrayed friend organised a raid against them, leaving them homeless and destitute. I wish I could say I didn’t enjoy them trying to be friendly with me to get back in, but that would be a lie. Just a couple of hours later, I left my base and found one of them asleep just outside with nothing to his name, presumably having come back to plead his case while I was AFK.

I spent the rest of the wipe leading a pretty casual existence, occasionally venturing out on errands and failing raids with Muiller to embarrassing effect — I still wince thinking about most of them. But I also tried to give back where I could, my base a storefront where fresh spawns could come and get free food and water as I was way too stocked up for solo living. I also protected the newcomers that had built near me and were getting preyed upon; it’s like the sweats can smell the inexperience. Near the end of the wipe, Muiller moved in next door and we lived like spinsters with big guns for the rest of our days.

I haven’t been able to replicate any stories close to this in the current wipe — the magic just isn’t there like before. It’s a very average wipe with little to remember so far, but neither was the previous one until a certain point. Rust is many things — a nail-biting PVP experience, a creative exercise, an insight into human nature — but, above all else, it’s about creating stories that are impossible to forget.

Rust is out now on Steam. A PS4 and Xbox One version is due in 2020.

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