It was the middle of the night. I was surrounded by four shirtless men bearing torches and deadpan expressions. One of them threw raw chicken breasts at me and told me to eat them, or they’d kill me. Maybe they’re being nice I thought. Maybe they can see I’m hungry and they’re trying to save me. So I ate a chicken breast and immediately began vomiting–I had been poisoned!

“Keep eating. You should be vomiting.”

Uh-oh I thought. They knew it was bad? This can’t be good. But maybe this is some strange trust ritual? I tried to reason. Maybe if I eat the food, I won’t starve and then I’ll stop feeling so sick.

Nope, I kept vomiting, feeling worse and worse. Finally, one of the guys bashed me over the head with a rock and I died. As I saw the Game Over screen saying “You’re Dead”, I heard one of the guys demand in an angry voice “Why’d you eat all the food?”

So that was my first experience with Rust, an early-access game on Steam. Two of my friends wanted to try and they convinced me to join them even though I don’t usually play games like this. It was described to me as a mixture of Day Z and Minecraft. I do enjoy Minecraft and I thought it’d be fun to play with my friends. After I died that first time due to the strange cult of bullies, I told my friends via Mumble voicechat and we all had to laugh at how bizarre the situation was. Nothing like being blown up by a Creeper or mauled by a zombie; this was some Lord of the Flies shit right here.

We each died numerous and sundry ways going forward. A bright red mutant wolf ate one of us. I tried to jump across a man-made structure of poles and fell to my death. My friend encountered another group of bullies on a different server that chased him into a row of spikes, but only after my friend had helped their group defeat a mutant bear.

We were all just trying to find each other, because every time you die and respawn, you spawn in a random location. That was actually the single most frustrating point for me. At least in Minecraft, you all spawn initially at the same place, and then henceforth you respawn there or the last place you slept. There are apparently sleeping bags in Rust, but I was never able to craft or procure one because I died too quickly, either intentionally as I suicided to try and randomly spawn with my friends, or unintentionally by one of the hazards of the world.

I don’t know if the sleeping bag would have cemented my spawn point or not, however. The game tells you when your friends are playing on a particular server, so you’re able to get in the same game with them. If the developers would just go one step further, and let you choose to spawn with your friends instead of in a random location, that would be great. My group wanted to stick together for survival.

I found my boyfriend once but then we both died to a pack of mutant wolves. I found my other friend once but then I died to a single mutant bear that I was trying to kill with a group of strangers, then they herded my friend into the spikes like I mentioned earlier. Eventually, my boyfriend and friend found each other and stayed alive near their spawn point, but despite offing myself several times and trying to find their location, I never found them. If we play on the same server next time, I’ll resume trying to find them. That’s totally not the game I want to play, either. I want to play the build-up-supplies-and-craft-a-village-and-defend-ourselves game, not the kill-yourself-repeatedly-till-you-randomly-find-your-buddies game.

I wouldn’t say Rust is worth the $20 it costs right now on Steam, but I’m sure those early-access dollars are helping the developers find motivation and time to finish the game. I’ve never played Day Z but both my friends who played with Rust with me have. My boyfriend commented that Rust was much less glitchy than Day Z, and I definitely didn’t notice many glitches while playing Rust. There were some obviously unfinished parts, like a TODO message on the Game Over screen when a mutant bear kills you about how the dev needs to fill in the details of mutant bear death. The worst glitch I noticed was running through things you’re trying to kill, like a pig so you could harvest its raw chicken breasts (??). My boyfriend fell through the world at one point and died.

I had an okay time playing Rust. I will try it again because talking and laughing with my friends, usually about the ridiculous things other players were doing or how we just died, was entertaining. If the devs just add a way to spawn with your friends from the beginning, the game would be much improved. The crafting system seems rudimentary but cool. You can construct little wooden huts and combine them into big fortresses with ramps and barricades. You can make tools, primitive weapons, and even guns with the right materials. I look forward to surviving long enough to try more crafting, and to construct a defensible base with my friends.