Allow me to preface this post by saying that I am aware the game is still in development. Also, I suspect that there is little I will say here that has not already been said, but I hope to articulate it in such a way that will promote constructive debate and prompt the game developers to think about issues that perhaps they had not considered up to this point.
I purchased Rust about eight or nine months ago, and for a long time I had a lot of enthusiasm about the game, not only for what it was, but also for what it could potentially evolve into. It was groundbreaking in the way that it blended the genres of Survival, Sandbox, and Multiplayer FPS. The graphics have always been impressive, and the core gameplay concepts on which it was built remain extremely intriguing. Lately, however, I have become very disillusioned, not only by the slow rate at which development has progressed, but also by the direction that it has taken. I suspect I am not the only person who feels this way.
Rust has been available for Early Access purchase for nearly a year. Six months ago, they all but gave up trying to build on the original program and instead elected to start development all over again, more or less from scratch. In doing so, they may have laid the foundation for a much richer game experience, but they have failed to bring the game even close to where they left off with legacy, at least in terms of gameplay. Granted, the time spent developing legacy was likely longer than six months, but they have had a lot more resources at their disposal in the development of the current (experimental) version. One would think that with the funds raised from Early Access sales, enough man-hours could have been put in to at least get the game back to baseline by now.
Experimental, as compared to legacy, has brought some promising changes. The new procedural map generation is the most notable improvement, as it broadens the horizons of the game both literally and figuratively. Improvements in the graphics and lighting effects are promising, even though not all the bugs have been worked out yet. The addition of swimming and new environmental hazards (thirst, wet, cold, etc.) are also very encouraging. Major problems that existed in legacy, such as animals falling through the floor of the map or players being able to loot through walls, have apparently been dealt with successfully.
However, there have been many other changes that have made the game much less fun to play. In my opinion, these rest mainly in the new system for building and destruction of structures. As the game stands now, it takes far fewer resources to compromise or bypass a player-made structure than it does to build it. It’s possible to bust through even the most upgraded wall, door, foundation, or floor… with just a stone hatchet. Given enough time, even a naked with a rock could do it. Building high walls does little, if anything, to improve defenses either, because it’s so easy to build a stairway from the outdoors to reach up and over the highest wall. This was possible in legacy, but not to the same degree it is now, as it no longer requires an adjacent foundation.
Now, players can build outward as they go up, creating structures that defy basic principles of architecture. We see houses built in the shape of an inverted pyramid. We see massive stairways rising diagonally from a single foundation. Not only are these structures completely unrealistic, they make it incredibly easy for anyone to get over and around the most stalwart of defenses. What’s worse is that the development team seems to relish in the “creativity” of these new structures, recognizing and applauding those who develop the most ridiculously off-balance buildings by posting screenshots of their work in the devblog.
Apparently, to them, realism is only important in the game when it involves making it harder for players to maintain a secure base. The new system of locks is evidence of this. Even with the new keycode locks that mimic legacy’s doors, players are still much more open to having their own bases stolen from them. By allowing the codes to be changed on unlocked doors, it means anyone you share the code with can change the locks on you.
Some may see this as an improvement; a “more realistic gameplay experience.” But, as I posted in these forums several months ago, there are many aspects of this game that are not at all realistic, and when it comes to online multiplayer games involving PvP, balance is much more important than realism.
Consider this as an example: In real life, if I built a survival cabin in a post-nuclear wilderness, I would immediately wake up from the deepest sleep were anyone to come trying to break in. Conversely, in a game like Rust, 13 naked dudes with rocks can come and spend hours (days from an in-game standpoint) busting their way in, and I won’t get so much as a text message on my smartphone letting me know that it’s happening. Playing under these conditions is impractical, except maybe for the most hardcore gamer teams who can guard their bases 24/7 by doing shifts online. If they are the limit of your target audience, I hope you don’t expect much in the way of further sales.
There is little I have seen so far that would indicate the game developers consider balanced gameplay to be a priority. If anything, it has been quite the opposite. I plan to refrain from playing Rust for at least the next couple months, as I estimate this is the least amount of time it will take for the game to get back to baseline at the current rate of progress. I also plan to refrain from recommending the game to my friends until I can feel there is actually something to be gained by investing any significant amount of time on an un-modded server, and thereby assuage the regret I now feel for having invested $20 in this game.