How to survive your first day in Rust

(Image credit: Facepunch Studios)

If you're looking for a beginner's guide to Rust, we're not surprised. Just making it through your first day in Rust is no picnic. The punishing survival game has everything from weapons and armor to vehicles and mounts to complex electrical systems, plus the chance to form your very own trash band. There's so much going on in Rust you could wander through the options until more than just your character was starving. 

And keep in mind, Rust has a cutthroat PvP attitude that makes each reset on a server an arms race. With such an unforgiving landscape, finding your way through your first session can be a real challenge. Before you start, take a look at this Rust beginner's guide to help you survive.

The rush to a safe place

When you first spawn in, you’ll be homeless and naked, with just a rock and a torch. If it’s already night out, you may want to just come back in 15 minutes and try again—Rust doesn’t mess around with how dark nights are—but if not, your first goal is to use your handy rock to smack some trees and stones. Any tree will do for wood, but you’ll have to watch out for the correct type of stones to harvest from. The goal is to work your way up to building a starter base.

Stone you can harvest is always the same shape and size, plus it’s got a shiny spot to aim for. (Image credit: Facepunch Studios)

As soon as you have a bit of each resource, you’ll want to open your inventory (Tab by default) and craft yourself a stone pickaxe and stone hatchet, so you can start using them. These will make gathering go a lot faster, so you can reduce the amount of time you’re outside and vulnerable. Keep an eye out for hemp plants, which will provide the cloth you need for a hunting bow and the critical sleeping bag, which is Rust’s respawn point.

If you’re lucky enough to see any animals, especially boars (which are fairly cowardly) or chickens (which are, predictably, even more cowardly) you can kill them for meat. You’ll also want to watch for berries and mushrooms for the same reason, since keeping yourself fed early on is a challenge. If you happen to be near one, you can find food care packages inside some of the points of interest that spawn in Rust, especially the abandoned supermarket and gas station. Most points of interest are PVP hotspots though, so focus on gathering a stockpile of wood and stone first.

If you’re near an arid zone, cacti can be a good source of cloth and a little bit of food.  (Image credit: Facepunch Studios)

Once you have a few full stacks of wood and stone, you’ll want to find a likely spot away from any other players, and get a simple base set up. Use the crafting menu to create both a building plan (for building walls, foundations, etc) and a hammer (for upgrading structures and repairing them), followed by a tool cupboard, a wooden door, and two key locks. Then, you can use the building plan to place down two square foundations connected to each other. Use your right-click to change what you’re building, and put down square walls on all but one side, where you can instead put a doorway.

Use square floor pieces to create a ceiling, and then swap to your hammer. Currently the walls of our new house is the lowest possible level (twig), and are easily destroyed with just a few swings of a weapon. Right click with your hammer on the foundations, walls, and ceiling and upgrade them all to stone if you can, or wood if you’ve run out. Don’t worry, you can come back and upgrade them to stone later as you gather more. 

Rust beginner guide

Getting the orientation of walls correct is important, the cross bracing should be on the inside, but your hammer can flip them around with right-click. (Image credit: Facepunch Studios)

Once everything is upgraded, get the wooden door we crafted earlier into the frame, and put a lock on it. Then, right click the lock and make sure to lock the door. You don’t need to create a key, the door will know it’s you since you placed it—Rust’s doors operate on some kind of magic—and now you have at least closed off the interior.

The last thing you need to do is place your tool cupboard inside, as far from the door as you can get it. The tool cupboard will need to be stocked with building material, which it will use up over time to keep your base standing. If you neglect it, your structure will start to lose health, and eventually fall down. You can put your second lock on the tool cupboard and lock it. This isn’t a huge necessity, but it’s one more line of defense from someone authorizing themselves to build in your base. With all of that taken care of, you can find a spot inside to drop your sleeping bag, so you can pop back to base after dying.

Onward from safety to glory

Establishing yourself with a safe place to respawn gives you a platform to launch to bigger things. There are a lot of options for your next step, so here are a few important ones to pick from:

Red barrels always have low grade fuel, and yellow barrels have all the rest of the goodies.  (Image credit: Facepunch Studios)

Start collecting barrels & crates

As you stalk the wasteland, you’ll find spawn points for barrels and crates scattered about. These are all over points of interest, and also litter the sides of Rust’s roads. They’re tempting targets for everyone, as they’re essentially loot pinatas, so be careful when farming them. That said, they drop everything from scrap you can use to research new items or trade as currency, to components you can break down or use to make more advanced items, plus food or water, and even tools and weapons. They’re always worth the detour, just watch for other players.

Step up your production

Metal fragments and sulfur are two of the most important things to crafting, being used for structure upgrades, tools, weapons, and gunpowder. You can get metal fragments from some components or items you find by using the recyclers located at some points of interest, but the best method is to craft furnaces to put in your base and mine metal ore to smelt in them. Sulfur is good to start stockpiling, for later when you can make bullets and explosives, and is similarly cooked in the furnace after mining it. 

A simple airlock upgrade can help keep your base from being taken over if you’re ambushed at the door.  (Image credit: Facepunch Studios)

Make upgrades to your base

Players are the deadliest obstacle in Rust, and the worst place to deal with them is right outside your own base. To help secure your hidey-hole, adding an airlock style second door to the first can protect you from having it rushed when you first open up. You can easily do this by attaching a triangular foundation to the existing one with the door and then building a fresh doorway off of it. It’s also a good idea to drop some spikes or other annoyances on your roof if you can, just to convince anyone that would want to pitch a tent up there to keep out.

It takes a lot of time and practice to excel at all the different weapons, tricks, and tips of Rust. But if you’ve made it this far, you’ve got a good foundation to build on and strike out into new frontiers. Good luck!

Philip Palmer

Phil is a contributor for PC Gamer, formerly of TechRadar Gaming. With four years of experience writing freelance for several publications, he's covered every genre imaginable. For 15 years he's done technical writing and IT documentation, and more recently traditional gaming content. He has a passion for the appeal of diversity, and the way different genres can be sandboxes for creativity and emergent storytelling. With thousands of hours in League of Legends, Overwatch, Minecraft, and countless survival, strategy, and RPG entries, he still finds time for offline hobbies in tabletop RPGs, wargaming, miniatures painting, and hockey.