The leveling system (or at least, the first part of it) is live on the prerelease branch. Crashing often and missing many fundamentals, there is still much to be done before it’s ready to go mainstream. That said, the base is in place - giving us the first glimpse of how this new form of player progression will function.
Keep in mind that this is an early iteration of the leveling system. Many things still are missing and are going to change. This article isn’t meant to provide specifics, rather, an overall sense for the mechanics of this new system.
Note: After a reddit post has gotten a bit heated about these proposed skills, I feel the need to reiterate that all of this is hypothetical. The information in the skills section was taken verbatim from the roadmap Garry posted at the end of last year - none of it is even in the game yet. So don't freak out at the specifics, and trust that Garry and Co. aren't going to totally fuck up the game.
One of the most noticeable changes is to a classic piece of the UI: the inventory (or tab) screen. On the right column since the days of Legacy, the crafting menu has been moved to an entirely new screen. This makes room for the different categories of craftable items along with the new method of unlocking blueprints.
At the moment, you gain experience points (XP) through gathering. Be it a tree, node, or dead animal, your XP bar goes up as you hit things. The amount of XP gained per hit also varies given the tool. More ways of gaining XP are planned (such as crafting things and working with others), so how you level up will become more diverse in the future.
Rust's new approach to character progression is similar to many XP systems used in games before. XP is gained by doing certain things, and levels are accrued as XP is gained. What does all this XP and new levels get you? Blueprints.
Unlocking and learning blueprints
Like current progression, certain blueprints will be available to players by default. Instead of studying blueprints through loot drops and research benches, however, you’ll unlock blueprints as you increase levels. Then you’ll use your XP as a currency to buy (study) blueprints.
It’s hard to say how any of these specifics will look, as much still needs to be created. What does seem clear is blueprints will exist in a tree system, meaning before you can unlock one item, you’ll need to unlock its children. Also, how you progress through the tech tree may depend on your skills…
This new leveling system will feature 3 categories of skills, each with level up. Players are created with a random level and your total level is worked out by adding all three together. Here are the 3 skill categories and their proposed benefits (as stated on the roadmap):
Increased health regen speed
Faster gather speed
Higher yield gathering
High level items
Reduced crafting time
Longer crafting queue
Increased maximum health
Increased movement speed
Another cool proposed feature is you’ll share a percentage of nearby player's skills.
When will this be live?
That is up in the air at the moment, but one thing is clear: There is still a lot of work to be done. The current prerelease build is missing textures, notices, UI elements, core functionality (mainly, the skills system), and crashes most times you try to gather anything. It is not by any means stable, much less playable.
A launch of this magnitude requires a full wipe (both map and blueprints), which is currently set for the first Thursday of the month. Given March 3rd is just over a week away, I’d say it’s a huge longshot to expect this leveling system will be ready to go (and relatively bug free) by that date. Given this, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don't see this launched till April.
Either way, I’m excited to see how this new system progresses and can’t wait to provide you all more information as it becomes available.