This guide is aimed to the lone player, by choice or circumstance. Obviously, the moment a player interacts with another for an extended period of time, neither will be playing solo anymore, rendering the core of this text useless. The aim here is to provide theoretical advice to the solo player, who is devoid of the physical protection, manpower and social shelter grouped individuals have.
It's not in the scope of this guide to confer moral guidelines along its pointers. Loner archetypes fall all along the moral spectrum, from the Good Samaritan, to the Solitary Murderer; it is up to the reader to use these hints as he/she see fit.
The mental framework of the solo player must be set on a triad of components: personal survival, enduring of personal effects, and fun. All actions suggested on this guide will be in the benefit of these.
The islands of Rust offer many tastes of dangers, be it wildlife or weather, but the constant challenge will be to work the aforementioned triad with the most vicious of them: people. The first two can be either tamed or avoided, but the human element is the deadlist of them.
A priori, maintain that all people are dangerous to your person and your craft; this is a safe, if weary, behaviour. This does not mean however that you should attack them on sight. Discretion is the better part of valour should dictate your everyday doctrine, every approach to situations. An arrow may attract a feisty target, and a gunshot may attract several; to avoid this is to preserve the triad.
Playing by oneself does not bring enourmous advantages; one individual is less noticeable than a group and leaves less of a signature on the terrain, but is also less productive, and, to have a longer lifespan and access to higher tier items the gathering, management and production of resources must be effective. The disadvantage of being lonesome here is clearly detrimentous: two people produce more than one, something of which you'll have to live with.
Consider groups (and clans, by extension) as the Yang of Rust: Impulsive and bold behaviors, loud and conspicuous projects, great rewards through superior, spectacular display of firepower and manpower; all this is possible thanks to the capacity of the collective. The group, although composed of many parts, has one central foundation, and from it can reassert itself in the case of a defeat. The loner, in stark contrast, lives in the Yin of Rust: conduct must be discreet and deliberate, your shelter(s) must be built in stealth, as must be the resource-gathering, and achievements are gained by gradual, dedicated accumulation. Obviously less productive in comparison, the loner must depend not on centralization, but on distribution and freewheeling adaptability to recompose from losses suffered.
One important law that dictates the world of Rust: harmful circumstances will happen, and they are out of your reach. Unforeseen events will eventually and repeateadly strike at the triad: around the corner one triggerhappy foe will gun you down and snatch your newly-crafted tools; you'll go to sleep in your shiny new equipped shelter, only to it to be raided hours later, when you (and/or your character) are asleep. To accept the unforgiving, eventual scenarios of chance and to arm yourself with methods to prevent or mitigate them is wise.
So it is in the consciousness of these factors that the lone survivor must live: stealth, of yourself and your items; constant awareness; avoidance instead of confrontation; resilience to circunstamces; tactical patience and refrain from quick rewards.
Consensus on players is that the beach should be evacuated immediately. As the default spawn position of players, it's dangerous because of nothing-to-lose recently born players, and hunters of naked players. On your way inland, be watchful of mushrooms(for increasing health and hunger) and Hemp plants, as the Cloth it provides is necessary to most items at this stage.
You can view your map by pressing and holding down the G key by default. The map provides perspective on where to go and areas of preference and avoidance. Also, after death and without the knowledge of landmarks, the map can help you return to places previously visited. Navigating a huge map is more difficult than one might think, until one has practiced it.
From here, there is no absolute best method. Item suggestion vary from player to player and their priorities. In any case, demand for Cloth is high at this stage. Beginning items include:
- To invest in a sleeping bag (30 cloth) is invaluable for the long-term colonization of an area. Being able to respawn at a known and proximate location of your activities is helpful. Place it at the base of a bush for lesser chance of discovery by others. Feel free to craft and drop sleeping bag at various locations, giving you options to respawn in the event of death;
- The Hunting Bow (200 wood, 50 cloth) puts you one step above the food chain, letting you hunt game - better than the spear- and repel feral boars and wolves. Dead animals offer Leather, for thicker clothing; Bones, for a very useful Bone Club; and meat, for nourishment.
- Clothing: both Burlap Shirts and Trousers cost 20 cloth. The full burlap set (plus headwrap and shoes) cost 65 cloth. Clothing provides better protection especially against animals, extending lifespan, and against the cold - a must if you plan on loitering in snowy biomes, which in itself is a good idea, as naked players will avoid venturing too long on said areas.
- Either Small Stash or Wood Storage Box can hide your loot. The wooden box has to be hidden inside a bush or inside a rock; the stash has the ability to bury itself. Both require the player to keep an accurate memory of their location.
On Being Ubiquitous
Don't put all your eggs in one basket, in essence.
To build an impenetrable house calls for hours of labor and flawless self-defense in the case of attack, until it is finished, a project you may not have the time or the will to. Even in place, impenetrableness will be really defined by the attacker's intention and persistence, meaning that you may very well wake up naked in the woods, having been raided in your sleep.
On the contrary, consider your progression not as a the growth of the oak, heading straight up, but as the banyan tree, which grows its roots outwards. Distribute sleeping bags, buried stashes and locked houses around the island. The benefit is to mitigate the loss caused by a raider successfully knocking down your Wooden Door - which can be brought down with 6 Beancan Grenades (360 gunpower and 120 metal fragments), an accessible investiment by all accounts.
It is interesting as well in terms of diversifying gameplay, exploring and loitering different biomes, with different player traffic et cetera. It's also interesting to have shelters near different Monuments, widening your access to exclusive functions, like Recyclers for example. The time invested in each area will greatly increase the knowledge of each area you live in; being geographically savvy is invaluable to your survivability, especially when stalking someone or something, or when fleeing. Reconaissance of the terrain is important.
Also, having drop off points can mitigate the frustration if a sudden foe or bear surprise you around the corner.
The downside of course is that items found and crafted at one point must be physically carried to another, if it's in your interest, and dangers may be found in the way.
This strategy asks, however, for a bit more management than playing with only one house. Since each location will provide different resources than the other, you'll have to keep track of your stored best equipment. Arguably, you have to keep tab of found Components, e.g. you have the Cloth and Metal Fragments for a new Revolver in Shelter #1, but the Metal Pipe is stashed in Shelter #2.
Be advised: buildings decay. After a time, an unused building will start taking damage on its walls etc. Ergo, to have more than one base means having to cycle between them, in shorter spans of time if they are of simpler materials.
Awareness and Detection
If the Other is hostile towards you and your belongings, he is harmful, thus should be avoided. This premise is the cornerstone of this section.
The stealth doctrine is aimed to increase survivability (and lethality) of its user, and is of utter importance in finding the foe before he finds you. The third of Major Rogers' standing orders is to, when on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer, see the enemy first. You may go without contact for a great stretch of time, but the possibility of it is always there, so is the necessity of vigilance. To see and to hear are the main modes of detecting, and of being detected.
The primary mode of sensory input. Players may be listening to music, or even have their sound muted altogether, but vision is the one sensor that will guide actions, and thus will be the most sensible.
Consider at all times that the human eye is sensible to movement and to visual distortions. To remain stationary in a bush is much more favourable than running on an open field. Consider also the propensity for a person to recognize the human contour, having greater ease to distinguish it from other elements. Check for cover and concealment in your surroundings as dutifully as you check the ammo left in your magazine. Once grasping the terrain, use it in your favor: stay in woods and among rocks, avoiding the contrast between you and the background of open fields and beachs; walk along the walls of buildings when venturing among Monuments. Cover is life.
Be advised: some players may tone down graphic options for performance, such as view distance of shadows, grass and object detail. The lush forest you're hiding may not be as visually obstrusive if viewed from afar by these individuals.
To keep your head on a swivel while moving and while working is important; get confortable using the Alt key as you have the WASD ones.
Make it common practice to observe the area in front and around you before moving across locations, and for pausing in concealed checkpoints along the way. Avoid sprinting in a beeline straight to a distant destination; instead hop from woods and rock formations, pausing to observe all the while. Catching movement standing still is more
The only magnification tools are the binoculars and the 4x scope, which are not easy to come by; aiming with weapon gives an insignificant zoom. Aside from these, you have no other tools of perception. Player nametags appear only at close range, and there's no radar. To one's blessing and curse, sceneries are often huge in proportion, making people appear smallish at a distance. It's comprehensible not to see someone or something moving in your screen if you're not paying attention, or moving yourself. In this is the importance of a watchful stance from time to time: stand next to a tree or other cover and absorve the scenery. Resist the urge to scout on top of the highest hill: your human silhouette will be clearly defined against the skyline, identifying you immediately as a careless sentry.
The dark of night is the best condition in your favor. Avoid running in plain view, instead moving next to objects, especially in snow, as its white background makes you easier to spot. Pacing while moving, as in stopping or slowing from time to time to read the scenery, is important against people, but especially to prevent close encounters with bears.
Deliberation must be taken not to light any fires at night. The most vivid sign of human presence is a torch or campire (people don't usually leave a campfire burning by itself, prefering to take the lumber with them); it's also the most visible, from hundreds of meters away, its glowing radius splashing around corners and rocks. If it's imperative to light a torch to see something, conclude the ordeal ASAP and leave the premises. A campfire should be lit only in dire need; and if so, set it in the most secluded place possible. Don't get cozy just because you can't it's dark all around you.
The (conspicuous) use of fire by others may determine their level of skill in the game, and of age in the island. Newcomers won't hesitate to light a torch as to help them on their way.
Besides gunshots and explosions, registering other people through sound is a much closer (even intimate) activity than seeing them. You may see someone hiking a distant mountain, but you'll only hear from them after greatly closing the physical gap. Thus, to keep your ears open is to be crucially aware of nearby elements. Sound travels through visual obstrusions, using them is of great tactical importance.
Your body must work together with your ears at all times: halt and crouch as soon as you hear the loud, repeting sound of a sprinting person. Remaining undetected and preserving the initiative is paramount as pointed by Sun Tzu: O divine art of subtlety and secrecy. Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.
There are particular sound radius to each action one performs: sprinting and gathering resources are the loudest personal sounds a person can make; the jog is sensibly quieter, and the crouch is totally silent. Gunshots and explosions, of course, can be heard from across biomes.
Open areas are more forgiving of lousy behaviors than enclosed or crowded ones, like forests and rocks; a steady checking of your flanks will warn you of contact; conversevely, you'll be conspicuous to eyes around you. Woods are a very confortable place to loiter: you can easily go unseen by hurried passerbys by crouching right when you hear their hurried footsteps. The common player is too focused on the way he's headed to be scanning obsessively for threats.
Walk the middle way of sound - avoid sprinting everywhere, but on the other hand, there's no need to skulk everywhere.
Learn the sound signature of movement of the creatures: a person's steps have higher tempo than any other animal, albeit with unpredictable intervals - one may jump obstacles, stop to chat, etc; bears produce deep thuds; horses have their hooves; boars and wolves stroll, producing mid tempo signature.
The dark blanket of night is a blessing for the restrained and aware person: ducking upon registering a passerby may effectively put you in a position to exert Major Rogers' 19th Order: Let the enemy come till he's almost close enough to touch, then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet. Aggression is discretionary upon the reader.
When moving at night, slow down from time to time to catch the sound of bears and wolves. If you hear the calm walking of something and it doesn't have antlers, suppose it's a wolf and give it a wide berth. Be especially aware the deep thuds of the bear.
Ultimately, to be in stealth is not to interact directly with others. If you're intended on engaging: weigh the motive of the incursion - don't expose yourself for nothing - and the capacity of you and the target(s) - it's notorious that to know yourself and the enemy is wise.
To the pacifist reader, take heed in Lao Tzu: (...)They do not quarrel - So no one quarrels with them. Therefore the ancients say "yield and overcome"(...).
[DISCLAIMER: This section is due to revision, after the Blueprint comeback in October 2017]
Building in Rust is not required. You may drop your loot in stashes before going to sleep and make use of abandoned or hidden furnaces to develop better gear, but this is an incredibly exhausting way of life. To have a place of your own, for protection and storage is necessary to palpable progression on a server.
The wise man built his house on the rock, and it survived the fury of the elements. In Rust, however, there's no such place as the perfect, indomitable place. Every defense can be breached, determined only by the assailant's determination. As stated above, manpower for huge, steadfast castles is unavailable to the lone player, so the planning of where to build must be taken into consideration. Consider laying your foundation away from the beaten and easy path; imagine the point of view of the eye you're trying to hide from. Beach cliffs are deserted; rock formations hide from outside passerbys.
As you get accostumed to the dynamics of an island on a server, be aware of zones of interest. Ore-rich areas attract enterprisers; open fields appeal to fortified Panopticon-like towers. And these players may go for your shelter in exchange of nothing more than the thrill, if it is readily visible.
Pointers may vary as to the better building plan, but it is a good investment to have a sheet metal door from the ground up. 150 metal fragments may prove bothersome to acquire, but it's resilience to battery may dissuade most raiders, increasing the lifetime of the building's interior. Recycling components is an efficient method for the task, albeit luck dependent.
The most spartan accomodation possible is the wooden 1x1. Costing 1300 wood, plus 305 wood for the Lock, Hammer, the paper for the Building plan and the first chest, it'll serve either as a drop-off point or furnace house, depending on the necessity. Surely, in time the walls can be reinforced in stone, for 1560 stone, and the lock can be exchanged for an expedient Code Lock, for 100 metal fragments.
It's possible to save the cost of one of the sides by building at the side of a rock wall. Be advised that the light of a lit campfire will go through the walls.
If intuition and attachment requires, DON'T save your most precious belongings in your house. Make use of Stashes for this. Place them relative to at least one permanent landmark for remembering; don't trust in trees or nodes, which can be harvested and disappear.