Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
You've just been dropped off in the middle of a field. A tall man says you aren't looking so good. You're lost, alone, and fretting the inevitability of night, where horrible things will come to get you if you have no light. Oh, and also: you're slowly starving.
Welcome to the most horrible game in the world. The game of survival. (Also Don't Starve. Which is, in fact, a great game. But enough about that.)
This article will address the basics of Don't Starve. These tips may not help you survive a sudden Hound attack, but they're a good start for exploring your new home straight off the boat.
Don't Starve has relatively basic controls, and most of the game is a simple process of point and click. Click on a place and Wilson will walk there. Click on an item and Wilson will pick it up, interact with it, or at least examine it. Right-click on an item and Wilson will potentially do something more advanced, such as automatically eat the item, plant it, or equip it. The game has various hotkeys which you can use or ignore at your own volition (though at least knowing that Tab opens up the map is very handy).
Perhaps the most important thing to note for saving time is the Space bar. If you press Space, Wilson will carry out the nearest task to him which he's capable of doing. This may include:
- Uprooting grass
- Chopping down a tree
- Picking up gold
- Attacking an enemy
Space provides a much faster way to carry out Don't Starve's more mundane tasks, and should be employed whenever precision is not a factor. Defer to pointing and clicking if you want Wilson to do something specific and know there's a chance he might decide to do something else instead. This distinction is especially important in combat.
Your objective in Don't Starve is, at least at first, to survive as long as possible. There are three stats that govern Wilson's general wellbeing: Hunger, Health, and Sanity.
Typically the biggest problem in your initial games of Don't Starve will be Hunger. Everyone needs to eat, and the longer Wilson goes without food in his stomach the lower this stat will become. You must forage for, and eat, as much food as you can. In time you'll become largely self-sustaining, but at the start, you'll have to rely on what nature gives you.
Health is Wilson's life bar. If he gets hit he'll take dings to his Health. If he takes too many dings, he'll die. You're most likely to perish in Don't Starve when something wipes out your Health points. Some foods will restore Health when eaten.
Running around alone in the wilderness can take its toll on even the most stalwart mind, and the world Wilson's in is anything but normal. Taking certain actions—eating the wrong kinds of food, getting into battles, staying out in the dark for too long—will chew away at Wilson's Sanity. Lose enough Sanity and the world will slowly begin to change, usually for the worse. There's merit to losing Sanity, but at first, you should focus on keeping it high. Picking flowers is an easy way to maintain your Sanity.
Time itself is a terrible enemy in Don't Starve. The game is measured in days, and as time passes sunlight will fade to dusk, and dusk to night. Day is when you do most of your work; dusk is when you tidy up and build a fire; night is waiting and solitude. If you do not have a source of light at night horrible things will come out of the dark at you, and the chances of survival are poor.
There's very little chance of this happening when you take your first steps into Don't Starve, but after enough days, the Summer you've enjoyed will slowly give way to Winter. Winter brings out more dangerous foes and exposes Wilson to extreme cold, which can kill him.
The randomly-generated world Wilson is dropped into consists of a series of zones, each with geographically-distinct features. As a beginner, there are certain zones you'll want to stick to, and others you may want to avoid.
These are the most welcoming zones in Don't Starve. They're lush, fertile, full of food and wildlife and generally safe to traverse. Stick to the light green grass and you'll find plenty of resources to begin your survival experience. The only creatures to staunchly avoid here are the Bees, as they'll swarm you when attacked.
More daunting and less fruitful than Grasslands, Forests are a major source of trees. If you need wood, this is the place to come. Try not to delve too deeply into the darker grasses of Forests when you're just starting out, as there are some dangerous creatures within (namely Spiders) which will typically not let Wilson pass unmolested.
Noted for their endless fields of yellow grass, Savannahs are excellent hunting grounds teeming with wildlife. They're generally safe to traverse, and are a great source of grass. Be careful, though—Savannahs are sometimes quite large, and you won't find easy sources of food along the way. Have chow packed before you set off.
Rocky lands are aptly named, as they're the number one source of rocks and other minerals in Don't Starve. Find a big enough stretch of rocky land and you'll be set for stonework for the rest of the game. They're also dangerous and may be home to Tallbirds and Spider colonies. Tread lightly.
Contrary to what you may think, Graveyards aren't that dangerous—though they can become treacherous if you decide to dig up what's meant to be left alone. Aside from some random items strewn about, you won't initially find much of use in Graveyards. Once you have a Shovel, though . . .
Covered in an omnipresent purple mire, Swamps should be avoided by beginners. Their occupants are quite dangerous and can pop out of nowhere. If you must travel through a Swamp, stick to any roads you find. You should only explore Swamps once you have a firm grasp of the basics and want to test more advanced terrain.
The chances of coming across Chess turf on your first playthrough is fairly slim. Nevertheless, if natural ground gives way to marble at any point, turn back. Chess grounds are home to some of the most vicious creatures in Don't Starve, and though it's essential to travel here eventually, you almost definitely won't live if you visit as a beginner.
Connecting many of these environments are narrow, twisting roads. Not only do roads allow you to travel much more quickly than over rough terrain, but they often lead to important landmarks.
Wilson can only get so far on his own. He needs things from the world around him to stay alive. Make full use of what's around you to endure beyond the first day.
The title says it all. Go long enough without eating and Wilson will die. You must scour the lands for sources of food, be they vegetative, fruity, fleshy, or . . . something else. There are many ways to gather and grow food in Don't Starve, and it's wise to make use of all of them when you can. When you're just starting out, keep your eyes open for Berry Bushes and Carrots poking out of the ground. You'll find more sophisticated food sources as you go along. Food will go bad over time, as indicated by the coloured bar behind the food's icon; try to only eat items that are still in the green.
Rocks, Grass Tufts, Logs, Manure, a dozen other things. These are all resources, and they share a common bond: Wilson can use them to create and sustain other, more complex items. You can't have a fire without wood, nor a fire pit without stone, nor stone without a Pickaxe. Much of Don't Starve is spent gathering resources to create structures and items that will make Wilson's life a little easier.
Wilson is only as good as the tools he carries with him. Through the use of the construction toolbar Wilson can use his resources to craft Axes, Pitchforks and Shovels, among other things. Tools are a necessity for many day-to-day tasks: without an Axe, for example, Wilson would not be able to cut down trees for Logs. It's not essential to have every tool on you at all times, but it's wise to carry at least two or three, just in case. Tools wear down with repeated use and must be replaced.
Weapons and Armour
Wilson will get into battles on occasion, and doing so without the proper equipment is suicidal. Weapons and armour will allow Wilson to dish out a nice amount of pain without taking nearly as much in return. Like tools, weapons and armour will wear down. Keep a close eye on the percentile floating above the item's icon—you don't want to need a replacement in the middle of a fight.
Your ultimate goal in each level of Don't Starve is to find five (and collect four) Things. Bringing the four mobile Things to the fifth in the Chess field will allow Wilson to construct a way out of the level. You won't need to worry about these during your first few sessions, doubtless, but if you come across a Thing while exploring, you'd be wise to make room for it in your inventory. Just in case.
You should have a decent understanding of the bare bones of Don't Starve after reading this article. Next, we'll look at your baby steps in this horrid world, and what you should do to make it past your first sundown.