Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
If you have a basic understanding of what’s what in Don’t Starve, now it's time to put those basics into practice. You’re ready to set up your first camp. Base. Outpost. Whatever you want to call it. Whatever the name, it will be a big step towards lasting survival.
You begin your game of Don’t Starve on a small patch of green. You now have roughly three days before anything really bad starts to happen (assuming, of course, you don’t deliberately go looking for trouble). That should be plenty of time to work with.
You start each session of Don’t Starve with the capacity to make a few things, notably Axes and Pickaxes. You’ll want both of these right away. Assuming you began life in or near Grasslands, which is usually the case, you’ll find the pieces for both within walking distance.
- The Axe requires one Twig and one Flint. You can find these in Grassland areas. Twigs can be culled from Saplings; Flint can be found by breaking apart Boulders or simply looking around for small piles of grey rocks in the Grasslands. This latter course will be preferable at first.
- The Pickaxe requires two Twigs and two Flint. Though less important than the Axe for the first night of Don’t Starve, it’s still a good idea to get one in case you manage to easily locate large sources of Boulders. If not, don’t sweat it.
- Use the Axe to chop down Evergreens and collect a lot of Logs, as well as the occasional Pine Cone.
- Grab as many resources as you can carry while wandering through the Grasslands. In particular, you want to plunder Berries from any Berry Bushes you may come across, as well as any Carrots that may be sticking out of the ground. Note the locations of Berry Bushes on your map for later—even stripped of their Berries (which will grow back) they’re still very useful.
Preparing for Night
The primary danger on the first night is, well, night itself. Once the game rolls through day and dusk an impenetrable darkness will fall, and if Wilson is caught by it he’ll likely not survive. At worst you’ll want a Torch; at best you’ll want a full-blown Fire Pit. If you don’t plan on setting up a permanent camp where you stop, you can build a Campfire to save resources. Keep it burning by adding Logs and Twigs to the flames, and don’t set it up near flammable objects like Evergreens. There’s a good chance you’ll start a forest fire.
Preparing a Base
You’ll want to begin work on your very own base within the first three days of a new Don’t Starve session, preferably as soon as you begin. The base will serve as a nice point of return for resting up, preparing food, and waiting out nightfall. You can choose any spot you like to set up a base… but some spots are better than others.
- Your base should have a decent supply of Evergreens and Saplings nearby. In other words, you should build near at least one Grassland. Forests are a good choice as well, since they have a ton of trees, but they offer less food.
- Your base should have an ample supply of Grass Tufts. They haven’t been mentioned yet, but Grass Tufts provide Grass Cuttings, which are used extensively when refining higher-grade items. Building near a Savannah is recommended, both for this reason…
- … and because Savannahs are sometimes home to Beefalos. Beefalos are bulky, ambling herbivores that usually won’t give Wilson more than a cursory glance as he runs by. They’re good sources of hair and meat, but the primary reason to stick near Beefalos is the Manure they constantly generate. (Ew.) Manure is essential for setting up Farms a bit later in the game, and a sizable herd of Beefalos will provide all the Manure you need. It might take some searching to find a suitable grazing ground, but the effort will pay off. (Don’t build too close to the Beefalos, though. They will occasionally go into Heat when reproducing, temporarily transforming the herd from passive idiots to ferocious fighters. Look for the red mark on the rear as a sign of agitation.)
- Your base should be within a day’s walk of a source of Boulders. Boulders can be chipped apart for Rocks, Flint, Gold Nuggets and Nitre, the former three of which are essential to building a good base. You don’t need to be right beside Rocky Lands, you just need to know where they are.
- Your base should not be within striking distance of predators. The base should be a refuge from danger, not an easy place to raid. Keep your base away from Spider Dens, Tallbird Nests, Red Beehives, and…
- Swamps. You should never build a base in a Swamp. Ever. Swamps are not nice places to visit, and they’re too unpredictable to live in. They also don’t offer enough resources to warrant long-tern habitation.
- Optionally, if you’re feeling nervous about monsters, you can build your base near a Pig Village. Though they’re not friendly without meaty bribery (in other words, feed them some meat), Pigs won’t attack Wilson unless he attacks first. More, they will go after aggressive creatures that might be hounding Wilson, and can kill just about anything in sufficient numbers. Be warned! Pigs are voracious, and they will eat food left out in your base without hesitation. Pigs can also turn into Werepigs during a full moon or if they eat too much of the Monster Meat dropped by some creatures. Werepigs are fast and vicious, and will make short work of Wilson if he’s not wearing armour.
With any luck you’ve found a good place to set up shop on your first night. If not, spend another day or two casting about for an appropriate staging ground. If your first location doesn’t prove suitable, don’t worry – it doesn’t hurt to have two bases.
Setting Up a Base
All bases should be built around a single structure: a Fire Pit. Fire Pits are renewable sources of light and heat which will save Wilson a lot of grief. Whenever night begins to fall, slowly retreat back to this Fire Pit and set it up for a brief nighttime vigil. Make sure to always have lots of Logs, Manure or Turf (this will be explained later) to keep the fire going. The Fire Pit will also serve as your central cooking source for the first while, as cooked food typically yields more Hunger, Health, and Sanity benefits than raw food. By this point Wilson will probably be hungry, so fry up some Berries or a few Carrots to replenish his Hunger.
Your next priority after setting up a Fire Pit is to erect a Science Machine. Science Machines cost one Gold Nugget, four Rocks and four Logs, and will allow Wilson to prototype new items and structures. The Gold Nugget will likely be the most difficult of the items to acquire, so look for larger Boulders or Graveyards to track a few down. Try to collect more than one, as many advanced items require Gold Nuggets.
Once the Science Machine is running and Wilson is standing beside it you’ll have a range of new options. Some of them are much more exciting than a lowly tool, but your first investment should always be a Shovel. They cost two Twigs and two Flint to construct, a rather paltry cost compared to what they can do.
Remember those Berry Bushes you were plundering earlier? (Hopefully?) This is where the Shovel comes into play. When Wilson approaches a Berry Bush with the Shovel in hand he’ll uproot the whole thing, earning you a Berry and a Berry Bush. The Bush can be replanted back at your base where, with the application of Manure, it will sprout fresh Berries after a few days. Transplant as many of these Bushes as you can near your base and reapply Manure whenever they look yellow and barren to create a renewable source of basic food.
There are only two problems with Berry Bushes:
- They’re often plundered by Gobblers, the nervous-looking turkeys that randomly roam Don’t Starve’s worlds. Gobblers can reduce a garden of Berry Bushes down to bare twigs within moments if you don’t step in. Gobblers aren’t aggressive and will flee when Wilson approaches, so don’t be shy. Chase ‘em off!
- Plants are vulnerable to lightning strikes during storms, and a single Bush on fire can reduce the entire garden to Ashes. Not a bad resource, but a poor substitute for, y’know, food. Setting up a Lightning Rod (one Cut Stone and three Gold Nuggets) near the garden is a wise move.
While you have your Shovel handy it’s also smart to transplant other renewable resources to your base, namely Grass Tufts and Saplings. Like Berry Bushes, Grass Tufts require Manure before they’ll re-grow. Not so with Saplings. You can also use Pine Cones from trees to create small forests near your base for quick cultivation, though trees will not grow back from their stumps. You’ll have to dig out the stumps (worth a Log apiece) and plant new Pine Cones to see a new tree grow in the old one’s place.
Once all that’s done you can experiment with the other options offered by the Science Machine.
- Traps are a good investment if you live near a Savannah full of Rabbits. Place a Trap baited with a Berry to lure in a Rabbit, then cook it on the fire for a nice treat. Set your Traps a distance from your base so Wilson doesn’t scare the Rabbits away.
- Chests are great for storing items you don’t need to carry around everywhere you go (typically building supplies you’d refine via the Science Machine, such as Boards, Rope, and Cut Stone).
- Basic Farms take advantage of the copious amounts of Seeds dropped by birds. Set up a Basic Farm and plant a Seed and, in a few days, you’ll have a vegetable worthy of cooking on the fire. You’ll need a large source of Manure nearby to make farming a viable option, but it’s worth the effort.
- A Backpack is near indispensible. Though they take up the clothing slot, Backpacks allow Wilson to cart around eight additional items. Having a Backpack on hand will make foraging much, much easier.
- You can also build Walls (in the Straw, Wood and Stone variety) to better defend your base. Though they can force enemies into a culvert, Walls aren’t that useful overall. You’re better off letting Wilson deal with trouble in the open.
Continue to collect new resources as you come across them, preparing as much food as you can. In particular you’ll want plenty of Rope, Logs, Twigs and Flint handy, as the game’s about to become much more dangerous.
After Day Three
Days one, two and three are usually quite peaceful. Unless Wilson goes out of his way to get into trouble you’ll spend your time collecting items, building structures, and preparing for bad days ahead. They are definitely a-coming…
… and they’ll slowly seep into the game after day three.
Whether you intend to stay at home or plan to explore, you’ll need to protect Wilson with weapons and armour. You can make more advanced armaments later in the game, but for now you should focus on getting two things: a Log Suit and a Spear. Log Suits absorb most of the damage taken from monster attacks, giving Wilson a fighting chance where he’d normally get instantly murdered. Any tool can be used to fight, but Spears offer the most effective method of killing enemies early in the game. Both items can be made via common resources, and having both on Wilson at all times (though not necessarily equipped, you can do that on the fly) is essential when exploring unknown territory.
Wilson is now ready to go. What’s he going to face?
Up to this point you’ve probably been avoiding the pulsing white Spider Dens that appear intermittently in Grasslands and much more frequently in Forests, but you can’t do that forever. Spider territory can be enormous, depending on where you travel, and the Spiders themselves come out during dusk and roam around at high speeds. You will get into fights with Spiders. Deal with them one at a time, though, and you can kill them even without armour, so long as Wilson gets the first hit.
Once you have a Speed and Log Armour you can send Wilson into large groups of Spiders and Spider Warriors and expect him to come out relatively unscathed – which is surprisingly smart, as Spiders drop several items that are useful for crafting. Healing Salve, for example, can’t be procured without killing Spiders. Eventually you may want to transplant Spider Eggs (basically Spider Dens) a ways from your base so you have a steady stream of Spiders.
Though rare, Treeguards are an ever-present threat after the third day. These massive arboreal guardians will occasionally spawn after you’ve cut down an Evergreen. Fighting a Treeguard with a normal weapon is near-suicidal. You have only three recourses:
- Run away. The Treeguard will chase, but very slowly. This option is hardly optimal, as the Treeguard will, eventually, find you.
- Pacify it. Plant Pine Cones near the Treeguard as it follows you around and you’ll have a small chance of satisfying its environmental rage. The closer you are to the Treeguard when you plant, the greater the chances that it will cool down and leave you alone.
- Kill it. Yes, using a Spear on a Treeguard is a bad idea. There are other ways to do the job. The best is to lure the Treeguard to other creatures, typically Pigs, which will mob and attack it on sight. A Treeguard in a Pig Village faces stiff competition. Tentacles in Swamps and mobs of Spiders can also give a Treeguard a good go. Alternatively, you can lure a Treeguard through fires to do damage, as it won’t divert its course. This can fry the Treeguard’s drops, however, so be prepared for a less-than-useful outcome.
These wily dogs represent one of the greatest straight-up threats to first-time players who manage to make it past day seven or higher. Every handful of days you’ll hear growls in the distance, and Wilson will comment on the noises. After three or four of these warnings, a pair of Hounds will bound out of the wilderness and relentlessly attack you. As soon as you hear warnings, gear up Wilson with armour and a weapon and, if possible, find a Pig to help you with the fight. Hounds aren’t that difficult in a straight fight when you’re fully-armoured, but if they catch Wilson off guard they can murder you in seconds.
When you start a new game of Don’t Starve, Wilson will be a happy, mentally-stable individual. Do enough negative things, however, and his Sanity will slowly erode. As that happens the landscape will shift erratically and weird shadowy beasts will appear. They aren’t dangerous at first, but if Wilson’s Sanity dips low enough they’ll become corporeal and attack. Fighting these Hallucinations is a good way to pick up advanced resources, but it’s also a good way for beginners to get themselves killed. Until you’re a practiced hand at combat, you’ll want to keep your Sanity nice and high.
The following common actions will reduce Wilson’s Sanity:
- Walking around at dusk or after dark without a light
- Using a Wormhole, odd, toothy forms of transportation you’ll occasionally find while wandering the world
- Eating uncooked meat
- Eating spoiled food
- Eating Mushrooms
- Standing next to, picking, and eating Evil Flowers
- Getting into battles with monsters
With enough upgrades you’ll invent something that will restore Sanity whenever you eat food. For now, you’ll get the most Sanity returned simply by picking Flowers. Leave Flowers alone until your Sanity is running low for a quick pick-me-up.
Managing Your Food
You’ve done well to get this far, and as you step into the world of more advanced Don’t Starve content you’ll run afoul of the titular problem: starvation from a lack of food. In this case, though, you might starve because you’ve ignored the food you’ve collected.
Edible items in Don’t Starve will go bad if you let them sit for too long. When fresh they’ll bestow the maximum amount of nourishment; when stale they’ll lose some of their potency; once they’re Rot, well, y’know. Throw them out. To avoid wasting food, keep a close eye on your item bar and cook anything that’s dipping out of the green and into the orange.
Wilson should always have at least two or three edible items on him. They can be Cooked Carrots, they can be Morsels, they can be Berries, they can be mere Seeds. Whatever the case, make sure Wilson has something to consume. If you’ve run out of food, collecting more is your first priority over all else (save, perhaps, fending off monsters).
You’ve come a long way. The basics are yours. From here you can branch off and explore the world, build new structures with the Alchemy Engine once you have one built, and explore more ways to survive. This guide will now focus on more specific aspects of Don’t Starve, and how exploiting each one can bring Wilson that much closer to escaping his hideous ordeal.
Bob Bobbington on June 16, 2013:
Terribly sorry, I meant spear.. not shovel.
Bob Bobbington on June 16, 2013:
May I correct a few spellings/words?
"as well as ant Carrots" - Any?
"Once you have a Speed and Log Armour" - Shovel?
sm825 from The Uknown on May 25, 2013:
I have seen people talking about this game, now that I have a general idea of what it is about I may have to get the game. These tips should help me if I decide to get the game since this game seems to have a lot of things you can do at the moment.