The RUST Metal Detection System

Discover Hidden Treasures with the Metal Detection System

The Metal Detection System was added to RUST in February of 2024 as a part of the Bags to Riches Update, acting as a new type of minigame within the game as an alternate means of loot acquisition. It is important to note that since this system is still in development and in the early stages of release, portions of this guide are subject to change.

This guide details how to use the Metal Detection System and the related tools for finding buried treasures and loot in RUST.

System Overview

Similar to the real-world concept of metal detecting in an outdoor environment, the system in RUST is roughly identical. Players with the appropriate equipment may venture into the wild to detect a randomly spawning Metal-Rich Zone (MRZ).  

Once players discover an MRZ, they may use the instrumentation more methodically and slowly to find a Dig Site. Each MRZ detected should have 1-4 Dig Sites within an invisible 15-meter square area. Players then hone in on buried metal signals using visual and auditory cues from their Metal Detector until a flag is placed, and they may use any melee tool to retrieve the buried loot. These are the only things necessary to carry out this minigame activity.

Searching for Metal Rich Zones

Before setting out to find buried treasure, it is important to understand the scope of the challenge before you. First, we should lay out some ground rules about where MRZs can exist within the world and what unknown variables might impact your ability to retrieve the loot.

Biomes

Holding a Shovel in the Arctic Biome of RUST

Long story short, the biome that you are searching in absolutely matters. The Temperate and Desert biomes are the perfect locations to begin your treasure hunt. Unfortunately, the Arctic Biome was left out in the cold. MRZs cannot at this time spawn in any area covered in snowfall or very close to it. A commit to include the tundra was made by the developers, but it appears it wasn’t incorporated into the live version of the game.

Monuments

Holding the Metal Detector cloose to a monument

Often in RUST, especially during our primitive stage, we think of monuments and their boundaries regarding how close we can get without radiation being a factor. This game mechanic also has a similar influence on the Metal Detection System. 

MRZs can spawn right up to the point that players without proper radiation protection would be able to get, and in some cases, even closer. At this time, MRZs and Dig Sites cannot exist inside the monument’s boundaries.

Roads

A flag placed on a paved road in RUST

So what about the open road? Dirt roads are much simpler and absolutely no problem when it comes to detecting and digging up treasure, as they are very much on the same plateau height-wise as the landscape. 

Concrete and Ring Roads, however, are slightly more elevated. Yes, MRZs and Dig Sites can spawn directly on top of roads, and in some cases, players might need to crouch while detecting to get a flag to place. In some spots, this may not be possible.

Safe zones

Holding a Metal Detector near a RUST safe zone

Safe zones can have MRZs come right up almost into the monument. Great, right? Well, no, because at this time, most melee tools are considered hostile weapons and cannot be wielded while in a safe zone. Rocks, Torches, and Paddles are the exceptions to this.

You can go through the entire process up to and including placing down the marker flags, but at the end of the day, if you are too close to pull out a melee tool, you are out of luck. Fortunately, if you are just outside the safe area, using a tool on the flag will not mark the player as hostile.

Other Considerations

For thoroughness’s sake, we aimed to test every environment in which one could check for buried treasure. While treasure could spawn on beaches, it seemed to deviate away from the water completely. The same goes for rivers and other bodies of water. We did have one flag spawn quite close to an inland water basin, but the flag remained firmly on land. 

For a good metric, we tested 46 caves on nine different maps. None had any indicator of loot present belowground, with only 2 having it above ground. We attempted to search for treasure deep underwater near sunken ships and rock formations, but none existed with this system.

The Process for Finding MRZs in RUST

Step 1 for Finding MRZs in RUST

Once you gather all of your necessary tools and provisions and you’ve decided to leave the base and track down the treasure, we should probably educate ourselves on how this ‘sophisticated’ technology works. 

Start by adding the Metal Detector and melee tool to your hotbar and equipping the detector. The Metal Detector is automatically turned on when it enters the player’s hands. The likelihood that it will immediately begin sounding auditory and visual cues is slim but not out of the realm of possibility. 

By default, 1200 MRZs should exist within a roughly 7×7 map squared area. Server admins can change this value with a server convar, found at the end of this guide.

With the Metal Detector in hand, we must run, horse, or fly around until we get some indication of an MRZ being present by our instrumentation. At first, the machine will sound with a single faint blip noise, and the red indicator light atop the business end of the metal detector will light up once. We are near an MRZ.

Slowly inch forward, with the goal being additional blips and the lights on the left side of the control panel of the Metal Detector starting to line up green. Players should not be using (hold the right mouse button down) during this stage. 

Walk in semi-circles to pinpoint in which direction the treasure could be. This is further indicated by more lights turning green and the frequency of the auditory blip increasing.  

Step 2 for Finding MRZs in RUST

Once we have filled all the green lights, it is time to hold the right mouse button and click down to enter a forced-walk ADS (aim down sight). All focus should now be on filling the right red lights while maintaining a full green light bar. If green lights start to fade, stop your walking direction and adjust to a different one.

Step 3 for finding MZRs in RUST

When all green and all red lights are illuminated simultaneously, hold fast with the right mouse button still held down for roughly one second. At first, a small blue flag should appear at your feet, turning into a solid red flag after this short period. Bingo. Be aware, though, that other players can also see these flags!

Step 4 for finding MZRs in RUST

How to Dig Up Buried Loot

Once the red flag appears, the only thing left to do is uncover our buried treasure. Swap from the Metal Detector to your melee tool of choice. Using your attack key (left click by default), give the small red flag three quick taps with the tool. This will cause the flag to despawn, and whatever loot was buried beneath it will quickly spring to the surface. The images below depict the Shovel tool slated to make its way into the game.

Per how the metal rich zones work, there is a reasonable likelihood of other dig sites around this flag. Once you have dug up your loot, recheck the Metal Detector to see if further loot is in the area. It will not light up at all if this MRZ is exhausted.

While the complete list of possible items retrievable through this system has yet to be published, below is a small sampling of what we recovered during the end week of Staging. Location matters, as different biomes will produce different resources and loot.

Item RecoveredQuantityInstances Recovered
5.56 Rifle Ammo8-103
Coffee Can Helmet11
High Quality Metal4-515
Metal Fragments18-2518
Pistol Bullet8-101
Scrap8-155
Commands & ConvarsValueDescription
metaldetectorflag.timeoutduration10800
metaldetectorsource.attemptspersubsourcespawn5
metaldetectorsource.mindistancebetweensubsources1.5
metaldetectorsource.population1200Population active on the server, per square km
metaldetectorsource.timeoutduration3600
metaldetectorsource.servercountsources

Final Thoughts

The Metal Detection System is still new content in RUST, and it’s only a matter of time before exploits are discovered and bugs are patched out. We hope you found this information educational, if not broken or exploitable. Be sure to share any exploits with us directly on our Discord. We will do our best to update the listed mechanics as Facepunch updates the game.

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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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