Three long years after its release from early access, Rust has now arrived on consoles. This punishing game pretty much redefined the open survival genre and even to this day it manages to rake in tens of thousands of players on Steam. To see how it stacked up to its PC counterpart, I put the console version through the ringer, but I was left a little disappointed.
After waking up without clothes next to a river, you must then go out and gather the materials needed to help you survive within Rust's punishing world. Death in Rust is pretty much around every corner, as you need to manage your depleting levels of thirst, hunger, and health and protect yourself from environmental hazards such as radiation and the cold. Other players are also a major threat when exploring the open sandbox and you'll want to make sure you're appropriately armed or you'll risk having your entire inventory looted.
There is no story or objectives present within Rust and instead you must make your own fun when braving it against the elements. Using basic materials like wood, rocks, and cloth you can construct your very oven safe haven from the horrors outside and you can build weapons and armour to better protect yourself. The core loop of harvesting materials and building better gear for yourself is an addictive one and there is an alluring sense of danger too, as your current inventory is always on the line when you are out scavenging.
My biggest issues with Rust really does stem from its punishing nature. There's no tutorial present to help ease you into the game's mechanics and it was frustrating to lose my entire inventory every time I was bludgeoned to death by a naked player with a rock. This is something that I can see being appealing to some players, as there is no hand holding and it really emulates the sense of braving it alone against the elements, but I can't say it really resonated with me. I found myself having to resort to YouTube videos just to learn some of the very basics and having to lose my progress over and over wasn't exactly my idea of fun.
If you've already played Rust on PC, you might be wondering what exactly is different between this new console version of the game and the original. Well, it turns out not a great deal, which can be seen as either a positive or a negative. On the positive side, the game is a faithful port of the PC original and little has been tampered with when introducing it to a new audience of players. On the negative side though, there isn't anything too distinctive about this particular version to warrant existing players to check it out on a brand new platform.
Cross-play here is present between PS4 and Xbox One, but it's not possible to play with PC players. There is, however, the option for console platforms to search for servers that are filled with players that are exclusively on their platform of choice. I personally think it was a smart move not to have cross-play between console and PC players. On PC, players would have had a clear advantage, as they could have used key binds to allow for swift shortcuts and the mouse is a much more fluid control method than the analogue sticks on a controller.
I will hold my hands up now and admit that I have never played Rust on PC, but I can say that I had no problems with how the game handled using an Xbox One controller. You can simply access your inventory by pushing up on the D-pad and just like many other action games, you press the A button to harvest materials and RT to swing or fire your weapon. The UI here is also really clean and simple to navigate even in areas like the crafting menu where there are many different categories of items that you can toggle between.
With Rust originally debuting on Steam's Early Access way back in 2013, its visuals are understandably dated by today's standard. Sure, I knew that the developers weren't going to completely overhaul its look when porting it to different platforms, but I was still surprised by just how rough around the edges things looked when compared to other more modern releases. After seeing footage, you could easily mistake the game for running on the Xbox 360, as its character models, environments, and textures severely lack polish. Had the developers decided to release the game a few years earlier on consoles (perhaps in 2018 when it made its release out of Early Access), its visuals might not have felt this jarring.
Rust Console Edition is a faithful port of the PC original that carries over all of its best and worst qualities. I found the console version's UI to be clean and simple to navigate and I appreciate that cross-play was only enabled between PS4 and Xbox One players. Whilst the port is a sound one, I still found the game's punishing nature to be to its detriment and I can see it being a sticking point for many other players. I also found its visuals to feel awfully dated and its existence feels curious almost three years after its final PC release.