The world has been degraded into an uncivilized wasteland, as nuclear fallout brings civilization to its knees. Rising from the ashes of this nuclear destruction you are alone, fighting against savage animals, radioactive zombies of former men and any other players you may find in the world of Rust.

It is mid-day. In the world of Rust, every day at mid-day the silence is broken with the innocuous buzzing of an AC-130 airdrop refilling a distant valley with much needed supplies. Cloth, metals, elements of housing. Canned beans – thank the lord for canned beans, because I’m starving and I haven’t eaten in over a day. CRACK. The sound of a rifle fires off in the distance, and as my heart races, I run off into the hills to escape back to my shack for the warmth of a fire and the security of a flimsy wooden wall. It is not my day to die, and though there may have been more goods brought to the valleys of Rust, death is not worth the prize. Today isn’t like any other day, however. Today the break in the silence is louder than before. Today, someone sent out a smoke signal.

Escaping home would be the wiser move; Live to see another day – but that’s not my style. “No risk, no reward,” as I ignore my instincts to scout out the oncoming airdrop and turn my eyes to the sky. packages are falling, and if just one of these packages contain C4, I’ve hit a gold mine. Well to the north, a mountain I approach, and while cresting the hill find the home of a man rescuing his last package securely behind his metal fortified doors. Being much too late, it’s time to go home. There is no reward today.

“What did he grab? How can I get in there? Is it worth it? How many doors did he have — 2?” I mulled with myself until sunset. I have but one ally in my safe zone, and between the two of us, we have 4 plastic explosives, and a couple of grenades from the last few days’ of gathering in irradiated towns and abandoned shanties. We take off into the night, guided only by our instincts. Torches are too risky, as our stealth operation could backfire on us in a moments notice.

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In the world of Rust, everything is give and take – risk and reward. Many hours of work can come crumbling down upon you with a simple mistake, even when it seems like that mistake was going to benefit you more than you can dream. In this game of survival, having your home raided can have devastating results but will also teach you a thing or two about defenses. Multiple layers on the home we raided could have meant that my friend and I didn’t reap any rewards in that fight. Multiple avenues to respawn from could have meant that I die from behind while looting their home. Luckily for me, this fight only helped drive my progress. I can only expect see these men again in my recent future, knocking on my door with a few C4 – let’s hope that I’m logged in when it happens, because I surely don’t want them to catch me sleeping like I did the man here on video.

Social interaction on Rust is what drives game play. Your adrenaline will rush each time you see a body move in the distance as you wonder if they have found a pistol, or if they are still fighting off boars in the forest with a rock. Both sides of any interaction must approach with the fullest intent of peace or there will assuredly be war. This is a survival game, after all.

Some aspects of Rust are certainly incomplete as the title brands itself as an “Alpha” game, not ready for production but ready for testing. Harvest a boar in the forest for it’s flesh? Raw chicken will be redeemed as a result. Successfully kill a wolf? Raw chicken – you got it! Kill a chicken in the fields? Here’s a bit of cloth for you. While this doesn’t make much sense, the title is missing many of the outstanding issues you could find in Triple-A titles. You can’t glitch it out and fly. You aren’t going to fall through the floor of the world. This is Alpha, but it feels more like a Beta that’s simply missing the final components.

Technologically, your world isn’t going to vary much from that of the modern world. You are every bit as intelligent as modern people, and perfectly capable of being just as war-ready as any other foot soldier with time. After 40 hours of game play, you should be in the middle of any server’s totem pole, and hopefully capable of crafting yourself some Kevlar equipment and a gun or two. Escalation from a rock-toting survivalist to a gun wielding bad ass feels appropriate, as it can be a short process with good understanding of the game, but it may also be a long and rewarding process in a crowded server. The highest tier of raid-ready killers require hours of preparedness, while the highest tier of defense may take days to break through. Rust is a perfect title in terms of PVP balance at this stage, but planning is the most important step in your road to success.

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Developed by Facepunch Studios, Rust is the brainchild of the team behind “Garry’s Mod” for Half-Life 2 – later a standalone title. Having sold over 150,000 titles since launch at about $20 USD, the instantaneous success of Rust may be telling of Facepunch’s wild success with Garry’s Mod, but it is more likely the similar styling of DayZ, with a less consequential death and lesser price tag. While these games will compete directly, a death in DayZ comes with the same heart-pounding action and the much heavier price tag of losing everything you’ve ever learned. Rust’s more forgiving game play, allowing you to remember what you’ve learned on your adventures means that a player can still feel all of the emotions that come along with radical player interaction without the complete destruction of death. For myself, this is more appealing, and I look forward to the changes Rust takes to separate itself from the competition as the title grows through 2014 and beyond.