A crude comparison to make, sure, but also a fair one. Because playing Rust feels exactly like playing the game someone made when they thought "wow, wouldn't it be awesome if I could play DayZ and Minecraft at the same time?"
It's a survival game (one currently up on Early Access on Steam) that, like the aforementioned titles, drops you randomly onto a map with only a handful of items and a few dozen other people. From there, you're on your own, forced to gather and craft the gear necessary for survival.
And survival is tough. It's a brutal experience. Really brutal. I went into the game almost blind, not really knowing what I was going to run into, and from my humble beginnings with naught but a rock, torch and medkit figured this to be some kind of Bear Grylls simulation, about staying alive in the wild. I was casually wandering around a pleasant country hillside, chopping for wood, admiring the sunset, looking at the list of stuff I could craft.
"A wood shelter, yup, probably necessary. The game's telling me it's cold, too, so I'll probably need a fire. Then I'll make...a 9mm pistol? Huh?"
I was way off base. Rust isn't a game about surviving in the wilderness. It's a game about surviving other people.
I found this out soon enough when I first ran into another human. Seeing a fire in the distance, I wandered up, hoping I could, I don't know, trade some of the wood I'd just spent ten minutes chopping down.
There was a hut. I tried to open the door, it was locked. Well, until the door opened, and out steps a dude in camo pants and a balaclava. And a shotgun. And he shot me in the face. I know it was the face because the game's GAME OVER screen tells you so.
From beginning the game almost naked, and armed with only three items, you can work your way - through sticks and bows and arrows - to the point where you look like something from the Fallout series, all body armour and automatic weapons.
It's an interesting design choice, and one I ran into several problems with. For one, it creates a horribly unbalanced experience for the new player. I died four times in my first session, three of them to the bullets of a vindictive player armed to the teeth. While I, let me remind you, was a near-naked man armed with a stone and a torch.
This is a concern because once you die in Rust, you're done. There's no continue screen. You can temporarily stash some stuff in a shelter if you've got the foresight, but again, that gear exists in the real world, and will either disappear (most shelters have a 12-hour time limit) or be looted.
As a result of this, there was no scale represented in the player base I ran into, no gradual improvement. Those few who were armed to the teeth stayed that way, preying on everyone else, and everyone else was stuck in a loop of being shot to death before getting much stuff together.
I mentioned four deaths, but only explained three of them. The fourth was to a zombie. Because, yeah, there are also zombies around. Not as many as you'll find in DayZ, but they're around, and if you're unarmed they're a serious threat. Which, you know, I always was, because the assholes with guns kept killing me before I could make so much as a pistol.
There are more ways to die than at the hands of your fellow man, though. Fall damage is realistic, for example. There are animals that will eat you. You can also die from hunger (you need to eat), as well as radiation exposure, with points on the map (like settlements) poisonous if you linger too long.
So, yeah, just like your first experiences with both DayZ and Minecraft, I'd imagine your first experiences with Rust will be getting familiar with the GAME OVER screen a lot.
On the bright side, there are servers around that don't allow PvP play, though I wonder whether outright banning it removes the very human element of discovering kindness and teamwork instead of enforcing it.
And while I mostly ran into the very worst kind of players, I did once run into a cluster of cool people, who wanted to hide in mountains and talk about animals and make pants and trade for gunpowder.
These are the kind of people who will hopefully shape the game as it gets bigger. There's scope in the crafting to let people build their own settlements, and even protection for said settlements.
Being a game that's still in development, it'll be interesting to see what changes are made to Rust as it evolves, as the developers work with the fedback and metrics gained from people's playtime.
Perhaps more interesting will be seeing what changes the players make when running their own servers, as I can see everything from Caveman simulators to interactive horror movies being possible, depending on what items and behaviour is allowed on a map.
I'll be playing a lot more of Rust to see where it goes. Expect some more coverage from us, too; hopefully a good video look at the game in the next day or two.