A veteran "Rust" degenerate with 3k hours, a rock, and a dream.
Rust Tech Tree
The workbench tech tree allows anyone to unlock the ability to craft any craft-able item in Rust so long as they have sufficient Scrap. Prior to this addition, you had to get the item and use the Research Table and learn it prior to be able to craft it. This effectively increases the accessibility of all the content to all players in Rust while making more Scrap earning strategies viable for all purposes. This is particularly relevant for T3 blueprints like Rockets, C4, Assault Rifle, or Metal gear which only drop in very limited places. In order to get your hands on one, you had to get it from those limited places, buy it from someone, or take it from someone which is really challenging for newer players or smaller groups.
How It Works
The Tech Tree is fairly simple. With Scrap in your inventory, you can open the Tech Tree at your Workbench and begin researching. You have to start at the top of the Tech Tree and work your way down. It's a long dependency chain with multiple themed branches so you can split up what you're focusing on.
For example, you can go down the branch that has various types of electronics or gear while avoiding the branch for clothing or deployable items. Some items open up multiple branches, while other areas of the branch require just one of multiple to move forward.
A good example of this is Explosive and Incendiary 5.56 Rifle Ammo in the Tier 3 Workbench. You simply need one of them to research to move on to the Full Metal branch or the Explosives branch. Pay close attention to how the lines are drawn as they will indicate how the branch moves.
The first and cheapest Workbench to craft with a cost of 500 Wood, 100 Metal Fragments, and 50 Scrap. This Workbench is overall cheap, but due to its high number of total items, it isn't necessarily cheap to Tech Tree everything. However, most of the items are skippable except for a few key branches.
- Total Cost: 4,495 Scrap
- Cost to Revolver & Ammo: 565 Scrap
- Cost to Wood Compound: 715 Scrap
- Cost to Satchel Raiding: 765 Scrap
The otherwise notable blueprints in Workbench 1 are Ladder, Bed, Mixing Table, and a handful of electronics. Leather gloves are also useful for early game and people living in the snow and cost 175 Scrap to reach.
The Workbench 2 costs 500 Scrap, 500 Metal Fragments, and 20 High Quality Metal to craft. Despite being the 2nd Workbench, it's actually the most expensive to fully Tech Tree due to both a high number of blueprints and a presence of many expensive blueprints. Furthermore, there are many pivotal blueprints scattered throughout the Tech Tree so it plays a critical role in most standard play.
- Total Cost: 10,740 Scrap
- Garage Door: 515 Scrap
- T2 Gear (minus pants): 520 Scrap
- Large Furnace: 875 Scrap
- Auto Turret: 1,330 Scrap
- Semi Automatic Rifle: 1,675 Scrap
- Stone Compound: 2,025 Scrap
- Rocket Launcher: 2,300 Scrap
Workbench 2 is ideal for splitting up blueprints among different teammates with clear gear, weapons, and utility branches. It's also ideal to try and avoid using the Tech Tree for weapons if possible as a good chunk of the cost isn't essential.
Featuring the strongest items, a Workbench 3 is the most expensive. It costs 1,250 Scrap, 1,000 Metal Fragments, and 100 High Quality Metal just to craft it. The good news is nearly every item in Workbench 3 is valuable, but the bad news is that they're very expensive with pieces either 125 or 500 Scrap to research.
- Total Cost: 5,875 Scrap
- Cost to Explosive Ammo: 625 Scrap
- Cost to Rockets: 1,750 Scrap
- Cost to Full Metal Assault Rifle: 2,125 Scrap
There aren't many branches in the Tech Tree and due to the cost only a handful of items really worth spreading blueprints around on your team. Those items might be Explosive Ammo, Explosives, and Rockets so that multiple people can help craft materials to raid with.
Other Notable Set Completions
As there are categories of items that span multiple Workbenches, below I'll include a few additional categories and their cost of completion.
- Berry/Hemp Farm: 1,365 Scrap split among T1 and T2
- Standard Auto Turret Electrician: 2,120 Scrap with an extra 265 to reach Smart Switch
- Launcher + Rocket: 4,050 Scrap
- Builder: 4,490 Scrap to get all major building items
- T3 PvP Chad: 4,705 Scrap for high-end PvP gear
Tech Tree vs. Research Table
The Tech Tree creates an interesting dynamic with the Research Table. While the research costs are the same for a given item in either, the Research Table consumes the item, whereas the Tech Tree does not. That makes a given item more expensive when using the Research Table. However, the Tech Tree requires all previous items unlocked, which makes the sum total cost of a given item much higher if those items lower on the tree aren't useful.
The result is that using the Research Table is better for researching a few items on long and expensive branches of a Tech Tree where you don't want most of those items. Especially if you can get easy access to many of the items you want to research. It's also more effective for spreading key blueprints to teammates such as Medical Syringes or different types of ammo. It's actually a common strategy to have certain teammates split up learning the Tech Tree for each Workbench or branches within a Workbench, and then craft any individual items people need blueprints for. However, as usual, the crafter should be the person who plays the most or the primary builder.
All together the Tech Tree is a wonderful addition to Rust. It does diminish the excitement one used to get putting a high-tier item in their inventory for the first time but the flipside is the entire game is more accessible and allows for more strategies to be successful. A lucky drop or sneaky kill can still snowball you forward, but a steady grind of low-tier monuments or even regular barrel smacking can still bring you to end game content eventually. This dynamic still allows for an aggressive pace in the hardcore players but doesn't leave the lower tier areas with smaller or newer groups behind.