The patrol helicopter is one of those in game elements that most players hear coming and run for their lives when it’s near. It’s mean and powerful and those aren’t a great combination when you get its attention. Something that hasn’t been entirely clear however is just how the patrol helicopter goes about taking out a jihad on players. We did a little digging to discover how it makes its decisions and found it’s actually really very simple.
The first thing that’s probably an obvious one is that you need to be alive and awake. Dead and sleeping Newmans don’t count and it doesn’t care. The next important factor is that you are within 150 meters of it and you are considered visible. Visible just means that during the day there is a direct line between your eyeballs (literally) and the patrol helicopter itself, and at night you’re also in the spotlight or close to.
The third and most important points of assessment are what you’re wearing and what you have on your belt (aka hot-bar at the bottom). The patrol helicopter will only take an interest in you if you have a threat level larger than 0.5. Your threat level is recalculated every 30 seconds and goes like this, start with 0, if you are wearing more than 2 items of clothing (3 or more) add 1, if you have any of the threatening items listed below on your belt add 2.
Threatening Items: Assault Rifle, Bolt Action Rifle, Crossbow, Custom SMG, Eoka Pistol, Hunting Bow, M249, Pump Shotgun, Revolver, Rocket Launcher, Semi-Automatic Pistol, Semi-Automatic Rifle, Thompson, Waterpipe Shotgun
Simply put, if you’re wearing more than two items of anything on your clothing bar, or you have any of the above threatening items above on your belt, you’re screwed. We did a little testing here with a belt full of tools while wearing Metal Chest Plate and a Metal Facemask, it didn’t care. However the moment we popped on some Burlap Booties as part of the whole ensemble it started to rain hell down upon us.
Our recommendation for the patrol helicopter, as it stands in todays version of Rust, is that if the patrol helicopter is on its way make sure you don’t have a single one of the above threatening items on your belt, and that you are wearing 2 or less items of any kind of wearable, clothes, armour, strap on, whatever, just 2 or less. Given this mix it should leave you alone and you can keep doing whatever it was that you’re doing without any concern of being rekt.