RUST Desert Biome Guide

Overheating and being hunted? Learn how to survive the desert biome.

There is much to be said about the desolate landscape in the RUST desert biome. This arid, cactus-laden dystopia houses some of the game’s most deadly predators. Whether it is roaming packs of wolves out for blood, or unusually-large groups of wild boar, wandering in circles for no conceivable reason, everything here seems like it is out to kill you.

But for every negative presented by the climate, a positive emerges. As with all things, every dark side has its lighter component, and RUST biomes are the same if you know how to navigate the terrain. Consider this your desert biome roadmap.

Preemptive considerations

Before choosing to base and work out of the desert region, several factors will impact your ability to flourish if you aren’t adequately prepared. 

Food & water

Plentiful food resources around rivers in the RUST Desert Biome.

The desert biome can be the resource-ridden hellscape described by so many at times but is also home to some of the game’s most plentiful features; rivers.

Rivers depend on the procedural map you are playing and are a virtual grocery store for players that know to run them. Large quantities of Pumpkins and Corn grow naturally on their banks and with reasonably high respawn rates. These rivers promise fresh, salt-free water and something to eat while supplies last.

In addition to river offerings, the desert is also the exclusive home of the cacti. When hacked up by most melee cutting tools, players will receive a bit of Cactus Flesh (consumable) and Cloth.

Forethought recommendation

Be sure to check out the map beforehand. Not all procedurally generated maps have rivers, and the last thing you want to be is stuck in the middle of nowhere, starving, thirsty, and miles from the nearest morsel.  

Resource challenges in the desert

Resource Challenges in the Desert Biome

While typically regarded by the community as ‘less than ideal’ for gathering natural resources, there are actually quite a few rock-type nodes throughout the desert. 

Around the time of the HDRP update, changes to the landscape brought about changes to spawn locations within this biome. While not as plentiful as in the arctic biome, there is no shortage of metal, stone, or sulfur within the desert biome.

The most significant resource bottlenecks players will encounter, especially in the early going, come in gathering cloth and wood. Hemp plants do not naturally grow in the desert zone, so players are forced to hunt, farm, recycle, chop cacti, or raid for most of the clothes they need.  

As in the arctic biome, most of the cloth gathered through the skinning of animals is used in processing that Animal Fat byproduct into Low Grade Fuel. If you are one of the few that decide to go the farming route, you will still need to outsource seed gathering to a different biome.

Regarding wood gathering in the desert, palm trees aren’t sparse but certainly not as abundant as other tree types in the arctic and temperate biomes. Wood gathering is one of the chief deterrents to building in the desert biome, with large gatherings being near impossible due to the small spawn patches and low gathering rate of palm trees in general.

Forethought recommendation

Beginning when you wake up on the beach, be sure to pick up every Hemp plant you can find. While not typically given a second thought, it is vital to use at least some of this cloth to have Cold protection, as the desert biome gets quite chilly at night. 

Have at the very least 2 sleeping bags crafted (one for inside your dwelling and one out) before making it to your desired build area.

Since gathering wood is more complicated and taxing within the desert, prioritize a higher-tier wood-chopping tool to maximize what you cut down. Better yet, stock up early by turning in stone for wood at the Outpost monument until you are settled. 

Wildlife challenges 

Hunting Wildlife in the Desert Biome

Bears, packs of wolves, and wild boars are ever-present companions within the desert biome. Despite Facepunch’s best efforts, even the occasional polar bear still manages to wander into the far-reaching sands. 

While AI is supposed to behave a certain way, sometimes they cluster and go where they aren’t supposed to. The desert, for whatever reason, is often one of these places.

While not necessarily living, another resident of the desert, mentioned prior, is the cactus. Why are we mentioning it? While this plant is stationary, running through the desert at night without a torch or flashlight is absolutely terrifying. Catching the business end of cacti when you’re already unsure of your surroundings is enough to make some jump out of their boots.

Forethought recommendation

Always keep Wood and a Building Plan handy. 

In the current game release, animals cannot physically path onto any player-built structure. At the low cost of 25 wood, putting down a simple triangle thatch foundation and standing on it (or under it) will cause any pursuing animal to disengage from combat and flee. 

This does not work on other players, at least in most cases. When too close to the road to build, try jumping on top of a roadside truck or leaping into the air can also work. 

The Animal AI has a height threshold parament that causes them to disengage players not touching the ground by a certain distance. This does not work for roadside scientists. Their bullets can fly. #aimbotted

As far as dealing with the nighttime cacti is concerned, never leave home without a light source.

Dealing with other players

Dealing with Others in the Desert Biome

Due to the arid nature of the desert and the very open field of view, most of your grub-type players stick to the more temperate green biome unless there is a quick raid to counter.

While not as avoided as the arctic biome, smaller monuments are usually safer than those around starter areas and heavily forested regions. Be forewarned, though, that this is merely an illusion and that grubs may appear anywhere at any time. Be afraid.

Should you be engaged in PVP while in the desert, through our investigations, pretending to be a cactus is rarely effective and often results in imminent death. There is the potential for a great many large rock formations from which to enter combat, acting as wonderful cover and a means to escape when necessary.

Forethought recommendation

Pay attention to the map. If you’re solo or in a small group, avoid high-traffic areas such as large, flat shorelines near either Oil Rig monument or Underwater Labs. Be mindful of the Abandoned Military Base monument until you’re more established and can afford to lose kits. 

The Giant Excavator is also a much-loved monument of the common RUST zerg and is best to be clear of for those not wanting to get shot.

Utilize rock formations when available, and keep a reasonable distance from shorelines, as groups leaving cargo will often beach to engage solo players. Be sure to deposit goods that you gather into your base frequently, and keep extra low-tier clothing around for a more extended time. 

Being killed and spawning naked in a base at night can be dangerously cold, and turning on campfires in the wide-open desert is a fast way of getting your base spotted. 

To blend more seamlessly into your surroundings, check out our Skin Guide for Surviving the Desert Biome.

Nature

Nature Introduces Numerous Challenges

Rain and fog during the day aren’t all that dangerous in the desert. They limit visibility and add a degree of ambient noise that hinders clear hearing and sometimes thinking. If the rain is light enough, it’s almost peaceful.

Wet status at night, however, is quite problematic. While not directly comparable to the arctic zone, getting the condition in the dark can eat away at your health bar very fast. Being overly bundled, conversely, is also a detriment during the day. While not outright deadly, being too hot can result in quicker vitals (hunger and thirst) dropping faster and health ticking away when severe enough.

Forethought recommendation

For players starting out, consider a base layer Wetsuit, overlapping Hide Poncho combination, and other accessories to boost overall radiation protection. While not the best for being shot at, being cold and wet at night will kill you just as fast. You can always take pieces off during the day should you get too hot.

Exclusive desert biome monuments

The desert biome is home to two unique monuments, incapable of spawning elsewhere; 

  1. Abandoned Military Base (AMB)
  2. Giant Excavator (Exc)

Both monuments serve different purposes, and both should be regarded with caution as they are frequented by large groups and typically never for wholesome reasons.

The AMB contains the sole Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) on the map within its procedurally generated walls. Players that frequently run high-tier monuments or destroy the Bradley APC or Patrol Helicopters may bring their MLRS Rockets here, along with a MLRS Aiming Module

After gaining control of the monument from the hostile scientists, they may use the MLRS Vehicle to dispatch their designated target, raining hellfire from afar.

Giant Excavator is its own beast, occupying a large map section. Taking on the role of resource mining device, the Excavator has quickly risen to be one of the zerg-scene’s favorite tools. 

Players acquire Diesel Fuel from assorted monuments through stationary pickups. After traveling to Excavator and dispatching the scientists present, players may choose what raw resource they’d like to mine, be it Stone, Metal, Sulfur, or HQM

Players will use diesel fuel to run the machine. Resources are then collected en masse and transferred back to the base. A free Supply Signal airdrop is also deployed for every five diesel run through in this way.

Because of their utility, both monuments attract much attention throughout the wipe. The Excavator, in particular, is known for being surrounded by ‘Excavator bases,’ used by groups as temporary holding locations for excess resources awaiting transit. 

Be mindful of your proximity to these monuments when building in the desert biome.

All about building

With all this information being prefaced, it’s a good time to carve out your little slice of desolate hell. Further considerations on this topic are as follows:

Terrain

RUST Desert Biome Terrain

The desert biome has some of the most unique-looking rock formations to be found anywhere on a procedural map. The landscape is also typically closer to sea level, so considerably more boat bases are built here than in other biomes.

These features can work both for and against potential architects. Not being mindful of a large boulder might later prohibit the placement of high walls, or building too close to deeper water may hinder appropriate honeycombing in the future.

Sand barges

Sand Barges in the Desert

A favorite of large base builders, sand barges are large portions of shallow water, typically oceanfront, and usually wedged within a peninsula. 

While this can be an ideal spot for a smaller group, it is not uncommon for larger zergs to raid bases to take over the spot territorially. Be forewarned that these sweet spots are prime real estate to some, and they will use all they have to take all that you have.

Caves

RUST Caves Desert Biome

Caves are always a solid choice to build in, but always a reliable raid target to others. The RUST cave systems vary from large to small, but all have a few things in common. Chiefly, they’re all fairly visible to the trained eye on a map. This is especially true for desert caves, as the low elevation of the desert landscape often makes cave entrances stick out like a sore thumb.

While not as evident as the huge superstructure next door, the cave has several strengths and weaknesses that are inherent only to itself. While offering a natural shelter from the Wet-causing elements, these underground havens do not warm you up at night – you will still very much take damage if you venture away from your keyboard while wet, under clothed with night falling.

Caves are also natural attractions for new players looking for resources and tools. Expect a lot of foot traffic should you elect to build in or near one of these.

“Rig” bases

A Small Rig Base in the Desert

As stated, deserts are home to many a boat base. When a boat base reaches a certain sweet spot in size, typically resembling that of a duo/trio build, people start associating it with a certain name: Rig Base. 

This alludes, of course, to oil rigs. These bases are seen as havens for oil rig runners and the loot this might entail. Whether or not you are actively running the large or small oil rig is a different story altogether. 

Just know that those groups doing Cargoship will notice your house, and it might be too enticing for them to pass up raiding.

Raiders are coming

As different as each biome is from one another, so is the process for waging war within them. From the perspective of a potential raider, the desert often provides a ‘safer’ raiding experience, with most desert structures being slightly more remote than their more temperate green area counterparts.

While the elements aren’t nearly as much of an obstacle for raiding teams, the terrain can be potentially perilous. Counter raiders very much like to utilize the assortment of rock formations in the desert to their advantage. Be sure to have a backup plan A and B if you are raiding during prime time hours in the desert.

For the defender, the wide open spaces of the desert make it easy to spot a group heading your way with ill intent. Be sure to have plenty of external spawn points with kits when possible to make defending much easier.

Final thoughts on the RUST desert biome

To be a successful player, you don’t have to live in a lush green paradise. The RUST desert biome can provide a potentially less stressful, quiet experience for some or an absolute horror scene for others. It all comes down to your diligence, preparation, and attention to detail.

Please keep those suggestions and begrudgingly witty comments coming back to us directly in our Discord. We love hearing different perspectives. It keeps us thinking.

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About No Limit Llama

An aspiring woodworker and web designer. Father, husband, and Rust veteran. Llama has written op-eds and official game documents for over two decades. The earliest writings were on Asheron’s Call, followed by World of Warcraft and eventually Rust. The vast majority of his indoor time is spent running Rust servers or helping friends with their Rust-related projects. He enjoys working around the house, continuing his education when time permits, and creating new processes to simplify activities of daily living for his friends and family. He has an incredible wife, a dog, three children, and one granddaughter.

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