Rust’s had a long, long development and it’s still working out some of its most significant features. How to handle player progression is one. In the past they’ve used blueprints to give you design options, and now they use an experience system to give you levels and provide a path. Sadly, that isn’t working either, and they’ve confirmed they’ll be moving away from it - they’re just not sure what to.
For more great sandbox games, we’ve made a handy list.
In a Reddit post, lead developer Maurino Berry - currently in charge of the project as studio founder Garry Newman isn’t currently working on Rust - confirmed that “in the future” they won’t have XP at all. We reached out to Facepunch and were told by a spokesperson that they don’t have a solution on what to do, but it’s actively being worked on. XP is great for new players just getting into the game, giving them some amount of direction. However, it takes away from chaotic and random elements later on, making grinding the best way to progress.
Berry discussed some of this in a recent blog post, saying that “The XP system had huge praise until it was released, and then lots of people hated it. I’m not deaf nor blind to this, and I’m leaning towards the whole thing needing a rethink. In some ways the XP system is the antithesis of what Rust was all about: it forces players to do things in a certain order and takes away from the sandbox feeling of the game. We added this because people were bitching about how grindy hitting barrels and hoping for blueprints was, but I neglected to realize that the randomness could actually lead to some interesting situations and forced you to work with what you had.”
So, it’s back to the drawing board. However, this isn’t as disastrous as you might think, stripping a core mechanic out of a game that’s been in active release for nearly three years. Also on Reddit, Newman explained that “Hopefully every time we fuck up like this we learn something. It's not always a complete write-off” and went on to say Rust is “about trying stuff.” Therefore, they’re willing to try multiple systems with mass feedback until they’ve got it right, and they’re lucky enough to be in a financial position where that’s viable.