I put Replacement in quotes simply because this concept will go far beyond just replacing zombies, it will change the Rust dynamic in every way. It is just an idea, and I want it to evolve, so if you hate it, love it, or see potential, speak your mind, and I’ll update the post. Any art is simply for inspiration, and is a mere cosmetic suggestion.
Anyways! So the idea is simply put is Mutants. But this is not some simple Zombie re-skin, because whats the point of selling your car to buy a new one, if all that changes is the color of paint. Too boring, there is much more potential.
This will be culture, a society, shunned by the events that led to the clouds of radiation that infect Rust. They think, and although they have lived in isolation, and are twisted by the environment they live in, they are still human. They hid in abandoned buildings, coming out at night to hunt, whether that be animals for food, or the people who once shunned them. They do not rely on technology, and can run faster, jump higher, and hit harder than the average human.
Although these people gather valuable materials, ignorant to their potential, they stock them in the buildings they’ve come to inhabit. They make spears and axes out of these findings misusing their potential. For example, a found circle saw (perhaps even still functioning) is ripped apart for the blade, and is attacked to wood and is used as a weapon. or perhaps a car rim ripped off and used as a shield, or even the camshaft is ripped out of an engine, and is used as the shaft for a spear. This means big loot for players, and although they sleep during the day, they awaken easy, and dozens can emerge from every crevice imaginable.
A raid is not something someone can do alone, and may encourage co-operation among strangers. If you settle too close, an attack may come at night, also encouraging players to settle close together. Establishing an us vs. them. Something missing in the game. Rust has been going through several ideas (such as mutated vegetation and robots) to clearly fill a npc role that zombies left vacant. This is what makes most sense to me. What about you?