WARNING: LONGISH READ
The new update has added a lot of really cool features, and the staggering amount of content on a single update is impressive, however, the update has caused a serious shift in balance that I believe results in a much less enjoyable game. There are a few major problems that are created with the new focus on High Quality Metal (HQM).
The problem ultimately stems from guns being much harder to access. With the new requirement of 50 HQM for an AK, plus additional HQM for repairs, the AK has gone from an item that costs a good chunk of resources, to something that requires a colossal amount of effort to make and maintain. In theory, this could create a bigger focus on early game mechanics like bows, spears, and other melee weapons, but all it really does is removes firefights between everybody but the largest groups. While I don’t think gunplay is the exclusive calling card of Rust, it IS an important part of defending your base, gathering resources, attacking other bases, or generally causing disruption in areas you wish to control. AKs have been used in my clan to harass the enemy, farm nakeds for resources, fight enemy clans, pin enemies in their base while we destroy it, instigate a proxy war between two clans by attacking one and running towards their enemy clan’s base, etc. etc. etc. Firearms created a risk vs. reward system where losing one is going to cost you some work, but in return you could potentially get everything you’re risking back simply by picking the right targets. A lot of this still exists in theory, but the risk has been amplified and the reward remains the same, making most savy players delegate their firearms for base defense purposes.
That’s not a problem for one particular group though. The first people to get airdrops will usually control a huge part of the map uncontested. This is because HQM takes a lot longer to gather than metal frags, and thus, player made firearms are basically impossible to produce before the first airdrop hits. This means that whoever gets the first airdrop will leverage their newly acquired firearms to secure the second one, and will continue to grab the airdrops uncontested for as long as they decide to play. By the time players are able to create their own firearms, they will be going into combat against a fully armed group, who at that point, have Quarries, C4, and anything else that airdrops give in spades, meaning even if they all died in combat against your team, they can bounce right back without any worry, and in fact, will likely be sitting on enough C4 to raid your group for all their stuff back assuming you win - and why wouldn’t they? Nothing else is going to challenge them, they might as well put down the small stone base you’ve built up. By the end of the first two days IRL, the clan that gets the first airdrops will produce more with their quarries and airdrop raids than the rest of the server combined unless the entire server unites against them, and even then, chances are still in favor of the airdrop clan.
I’ll use the server I play on as an example.
We play on Hapis Island, and usually, we either live on the lake island, Portugal, or the Lighthouse north of riverlands. All three areas make the most sense to our clan, and so far, we’ve successfully held all three areas for an entire wipe. Our clan has between 6 and 12 members depending on a few swing members and where they wind up. Ultimately, counting allies, we have about 20 people we can really rely on, plus various clans that we are officially friends with. There are certainly clans we don’t get along with, but the lines are clear cut most of the time. You’ll see on ally fight the other sometimes, but neither one usually kills the other outright. One clan in particular (We’ll call them KO) has traditionally sat right on the line between ally and enemy. They share common enemies with us enough to warrant helping them, but they don’t care to backstab from time to time. There is about 10 of them, but most of them aren’t particularly good shots and they’re not too smart about picking fights. Because of that, they’re never the top in the server. They usually build up pretty big and then piss off too many people and get knocked down. I’ve actually seen them get raided by a town full of noobs that united around three decent players who could make C4.
Well, in this wipe, KO went out and got the first airdrop through sheer numbers, and then used their guns to get the next airdrop, and then the next, and then the next, and after about four hours, they were this clan of 10 people running around in armor with AKs. They weren’t hitting headshots, but sheer volume of fire made them practically impossible to survive, let alone fight. In the old balance, I would have talked to leaders of other clans and formed an alliance to wipe them out, but in this new update, nobody can even arm their guys up long enough to get supplies, let alone attack their massive fortress housing God-only-knows how many quarries. While these people run out and kill anything that tries to get started, their machines are gathering more than we ever could, meaning not only are they getting what we’re losing, they’re coming home to massive amounts of raw material, and all of this is because there is no way to fight somebody who gets the first airdrop without being able to consistently make your own guns.
Solution: Make metal frags be able to be converted into HQM. 15 frags = 1 HQM. Guns are still more expensive, the new smelting system needs to still be implemented, but they’re still available for clans that want to focus on getting them. Plus it has the added bonus of making armored homes more viable, bringing back use for metal frags which are now incredibly underpowered. It would allow people to make guns and contest airdrops, and by making guns a little easier to get, it would slightly nerf airdrops. In my humble opinion, this would create a much more dynamic flow for Rust while still maintaining the core gameplay, which ultimately, is all about player interaction.