Rust is a game that people have some really strong feelings about. On one hand, you have the people that love it and play it every chance they get, while others hate the toxic community or don’t have huge amounts of time to dedicate to the game.
Whatever your reason may be, you have to admit that Rust has some really fun mechanics in it.
For this list, I’ve chosen 5 free games that have some similarities to Rust but don’t expect anything that’s too similar to Rust’s mechanics.
Keep in mind that Rust is a unique paid game, so finding free games like it was extremely difficult.
Stay Out is an MMO RPG where you explore a post-apocalyptic world and complete quests for NPCs. This game doesn’t have any of the base-building aspects like Rust does, but what it does have going for it is combat in a Rust-like world.
There aren’t enemies like Rust’s scientists or vehicle NPCs around, but you will face off against wildlife like giant rats and rabid dogs. Besides these enemies, you aren’t safe from players when out in the world.
The main areas are safe zones where there’s no PvP allowed, but as soon as you leave, you’re at risk of getting attacked. Besides the random PvP encounters you can have, there is also the option to have clan wars and face off against a lot of enemies at once.
Although the player base is small, it’s very active and there are always people online. Every time I play it, I always end up running out of ammo and sprinting around aimlessly. From everything else I’ve seen about the game, there’s a lot of fun to be had when you start to get more gear.
Steam Link: Stay Out
Infestation: The New Z
Infestation: The New Z sounds and feels like a mobile game in certain ways, but it has a lot going for it. It has both the main survival game mode and a battle royale option.
This game feels a lot more like Rust’s core mechanics with the looting and combat, though honestly, it’s more like DayZ than Rust. Around the world, there are tons of NPCs to fight and lots of buildings to explore.
The world is pretty large so you can expect to do a lot of walking, but the loot is very rewarding when you find buildings.
This game also features a base building system for you to craft a home to store your loot. I’m not sure if there is raiding in the game, but at least you can build a place to come back to and feel safe.
There’s a decent crafting selection and lots of gear to find, but the game does feel somewhat buggy sometimes. For a little while, my crosshair wasn’t working at all, but it randomly appeared after playing for a bit.
Once you get passed the wonkiness of the game, it has a lot of really fun content in it that’ll keep you coming back for more. You can get a small amount of the risk versus reward looting that Rust has, as well as a fun PvP experience.
It’ll never fully replace Rust, but for a free game, it gets pretty close.
Steam Link: Infestation: The New Z
Muck seems like a step backward in terms of Rust similarities, but it’s a game I’ve been enjoying a lot recently that has some overlapping mechanics. The game is a roguelike so there are a lot of risks involved in the combat., even though the game is mostly PvE. There is a PvP option, but that’s mainly for people who set up a server to play with friends.
Muck has mechanics such as gathering resources with a rock, smelting and crafting that seem like they were definitely inspired by either Rust or games like it. In the early game of Muck, you can definitely see how it’s similar to Rust as you scramble to craft a decent base and gear. As the game goes on, it becomes less and less like Rust and more like a traditional roguelike.
That’s definitely not a bad thing though, as I think Muck is one of the best free games available, especially if you have some friends to play it with.
Steam Link: Muck
Unturned is one of the most well-known free games available, and it basically is a low poly version of Rust, but with more zombies. This one has probably been on more of our lists than any other game, and it consistently has a large player count.
If you somehow haven’t heard about this game, the gameplay is about surviving in a zombie apocalypse against other players. Apparently, the game was actually started on Roblox but eventually transitioned to its own game due to its popularity.
The weapon selection, looting, base building, and exploration are all top-notch and could have easily passed for a paid game.
The replayability of this game is insane, and it provides one of the best free experiences you can have. If the core gameplay isn’t close enough to Rust for you, then you can play a Rust server that tries to be as close as possible.
If all of this looks interesting to you, I definitely recommend giving Unturned a try.
Steam Link: Unturned
Beached isn’t number one on the list because it’s the best, but rather because it’s the closest thing to Rust that I could find. To be honest, I think Unturned is a much better game, but Beached is a straight-up clone of Rust in a different art style.
When you start the game, you’ll notice that the menu is even designed to look like Rust.
Most things are exactly the same, such as waking up on a beach, gathering resources with a rock, and finding structures and monuments around the world. I do enjoy the art style, but the game definitely looks and feels like an early access game.
I’ve put Beached on lists before, and it’s improved quite a bit since then, so the developers are actively improving the game and listening to player feedback.
Overall, Beached is a diamond in the rough that is quite literally a free-to-play version of Rust. It doesn’t get any closer to that, so if you don’t mind some early access bugginess then it’s definitely a game you should check out.
Steam Link: BEACHED
Rust is the type of game that would take an awful lot of work to replicate, so most of these games are loosely similar to it. Overall I think most of these could be a decent replacement, though nothing could ever be as polished and immersive as Rust.