Rust soars to all-time high player count after hot air balloon update

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Rust players really like hot air balloons, apparently: since they were added this week, along with surface-to-air missiles that can shoot them down, the player count for the survival game has inflated to an all-time high. 

Today, more than 71,000 people were playing at a time, according to Steam's official stats page (opens in new tab), and as I write this it's Steam's fifth-highest game by concurrent player count, beaten only by Dota 2 (opens in new tab), CS:GO (opens in new tab), PUBG (opens in new tab) and Rainbow Six Siege (opens in new tab).

Looking at data from Steam Charts (opens in new tab), you can see a definite spike around the time of the release of the latest update. You can also see that this is the first time it's pulled in more than 70,000 players at a time: its previous peak was around 68,000 in February, when it left Early Access (here's Luke's review (opens in new tab)).

I've never played Rust, but jumping in a hot air balloon with some friends to glide calmly over an enemy's base at the start of a raid sounds like fun. The SAM missiles sound like they'd be a pain, though—they just automatically fire on any balloon that comes near. Surely everyone can just stick one on their base, completely negating the balloons? I know they cost resources, but I assume anyone with a base worth robbing will be able to afford them.

Is that the case? If you've had a go with them, let me know in the comments below.

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play. He's now a full-time reporter covering health at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. When he does have time for games you may find him on the floor, struggling under the weight of his Steam backlog.