Rust: Console Edition review — Cut-throat survival marred by a poor Xbox port

Rust has finally found its footing thanks to live streaming, but the console edition has a long way to go to live up to the hype.

(Image: © Facepunch Studios)

I fancy myself something of a survival game aficionado with an agent of joyful chaos flare. When I played Conan: Exiles, I took up the mantel of being the Server Santa. I would labor all day to gather the materials needed to craft unique and useful items, only to drop them into unsuspecting clanmates' storage boxes when offline. In Ark: Survival Evolved, I was a bit more of a trickster who would wait for my friend to go offline then quickly rename his t-rex "Raymondo" before painting it hot pink.

But Rust? None of that happens here. Rust's unapologetically cruel public servers have left me a shell of my happy-go-lucky survivalist self. The unrelenting abrasiveness of this world leaves little room for fleeting moments of joy. Micro freezing and unstable server connections currently plague the launch version of the console edition, which is both years behind on updates and expected to have a completely separate roadmap from its PC counterpart. If Rust: Console Edition is one of your most anticipated games, you might want to make sure you're sitting down for this review.

What is Rust: Console Edition?

Rust Console Edition Hero

Source: Double Eleven (Image credit: Source: Double Eleven)
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Survival SandboxRust: Console Edition
TitleRust: Console Edition
DeveloperFacepunch Studios, Double Eleven
PublisherDouble Eleven
PlatformsXbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, PC
GenreSurvival Sandbox
PlayersOfficial servers up to 100 players
Xbox GamePassNo
Launch Price$50

Rust was originally released into early access on Steam in 2013 as a survival sandbox game. As of May 2021, the game has finally made its way to Xbox in a newly released Console Edition. Though it seems that for the console port, the developers at Facepunch and Double Eleven have opted to use the PC launch version of the game code that left early access in 2018, forgoing nearly three years' worth of quality of life improvements and vital updates.

Like other survival games, Rust allows players to join official servers on which they harvest resources, gradually improving their technology and weaponry until they can freely explore the secrets scattered about the map.

Each player spawns in by waking up on a beach with nothing more than underwear, an unlit torch, and a stone for protection. There's no character customization. Rust generates what your character will look like randomly when you initially launch the game, and developers at Facepunch Studios have intentionally designed it so that you're stuck with whatever the game generates for you.

Using your handy rock, you can cut down trees and harvest stone to craft primitive tools such as hatchets and rudimentary housing to help prolong your life. Additionally, you'll need to manage to find food and clean water to keep yourself alive. Depending on the biome you spawn in, you may need to manage extreme heat, cold, wetness, or even radiation poisoning.

Rust: Console Edition — The sky is pretty, I guess

Rust Console Edition

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Visually, the environment in Rust is quite lovely. On one occasion, I had a few moments of silence to sit in a shelter to watch the sunset over the mountains. As the sun lowered in the skybox, the horizon lit up with campfires and torches. It was a brief moment of peace in a game that had otherwise punished me at every possible turn.

As nice as the environment itself is, it is not without flaws. The procedurally generated environment often would have rocks stacked up into the sky away from the actual land geometry, trees that clip into hillsides, and players falling through the ground mysteriously.

Rust Console Edition on Xbox Series X

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Still, the vastness of Rust's procedurally generated world means each server has a unique mix of biomes to explore and dominate in whatever way you deem fit. When most people bring up Rust, the imagery of a toxic, dilapidated desert wasteland is what comes to mind. Rust is actually incredibly diverse with sprawling grasslands, towering mountains, and a beautiful winter wonderland that can't wait to kill you with hypothermia.

Likewise, Rust doesn't have to just be a radioactive Hunger Games situation. There are actual monuments to explore and puzzles to solve in this world, but you may actually have a hard time getting to actually explore them unless you find yourself part of a larger clan that can help you survive long enough to see them.

Rust: Console Edition — Everything wants to kill you

Rust Screenshot Squad

Source: Double Eleven (Image credit: Source: Double Eleven)

Let's be honest. Everything in Rust wants to kill you. The elements, the animals, and — most importantly — the other players. During one of my earliest attempts at the game, I spawned into a river where another player attempted to hunt a horse, only for the spooked horse to hit and kill me immediately. The next spawn saw me in a slightly safer locale, at least as far as potentially deadly livestock went. But I shortly found myself bashed in the head with a rock by another scantily clad player who had just spawned.

Everything in Rust wants to kill you. The elements, the animals, and — most importantly — the other players.

Rust does not offer personal save files where you can congregate with just your friends or play alone safely while learning the ropes. You're forced to play either on an official server or on a private server that you pay to rent. You're thrown hopelessly into the game with no tutorials or explanations.

Rust's lawlessness encourages the worst in a player base that can often be toxic. They're out for blood, hunting other players for sport, and they say whatever they please, knowing there are no in-game means for reporting them for doing so. The game encourages the use of an open mic, further ensuring that you're fully subjected to the worst of what 100 random people on an open server have to offer verbally. The community has fostered a 'win at all costs' mantra that makes it difficult for new players or those who wish to enjoy the game with a smaller group to actually gain any footing on the large official servers.

Rust Chopping Tree

Source: Facepunch (Image credit: Source: Facepunch)

It would be easy enough to just shrug off the antics of an unchecked player base if it weren't for server stability issues that make your low chances of survival plummet even further. In one encounter, the player who killed me approached me with a firearm. While I wasn't ready to deal with that sort of onslaught, I could have at least managed to engage in some means of self-perseverance if the game did not freeze up for as much as 20-30 seconds every time another player came anywhere close to me.

I would be remiss to complain about micro freezing and texture pop-in without actually acknowledging that this was not just a bad connection to a single server. Official servers are labeled with their region, so you do have the benefit of looking for the ones that you're more likely to have a good connection with.

The console edition of Rust is actually a few years behind the current PC version concerning updates. These updates aren't just quality of life improvements like the "softcore" mode that PC players can currently enjoy, but actual functionality for various weapons and equipment. When it all boils down, playing cross-play with PC players has those on console at an actual disadvantage. While you can narrow your server options down to show servers for the console you're currently playing on, you're still ultimately going to be paying full price for an inferior product.

Rust: Console Edition — Is the premium price for an inferior product worth it?

Rust Console Edition

Source: Facepunch Studios (Image credit: Source: Facepunch Studios)

While Rust has had a reasonable degree of success on PC, the game really struggled to break out into the mainstream. In early 2021, however, that changed as the game saw a pickup in exposure courtesy of some large live streams. It was a well-timed boost, with the console launch looming around the corner. I honestly can't help but wonder if this boost in interest in the game didn't have something to do with the sudden release of a console edition that clearly needed a little more time and work.

It's not unreasonable for a title like Rust to release without parity between console ports and their PC predecessors. The differences between these two particular versions are so striking that it actually affects your ability to take advantage of cross-play. The developers have also said that despite cross-play, they view the console edition as a separate game from the PC version and that the update roadmap will follow its own path. So players on console can't even look to the updates on PC to know what to look forward to as far as fixes for the console edition.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.