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Caves in Icarus
Caves are a very important location while surviving on Icarus. Players will not only need to be on the lookout for them, they should also take note of their location and remember it for repeated visits. They are the only place in which a player can find several key ores used in mid to late game technology. Most notably, these ores are:
- Iron Ore
- Copper Ore
- Aluminium Ore
- Platinum Ore
- Titanium Ore
You get Coal Ore as well, but this can occasionally be found outside of caves too. Items in every tier use some of the metals created by these ores. They're simply essential to progress beyond basic wood and stone materials. In fact, you can't even build a stone base without iron ore!
Caves are generally found along the mountainside or below ridges though some can be found under water. You'll see entrances going into rather small caverns where you'll find a handful of ore nodes. Simply walk on in and start mining.
However, many caves are hidden and require you to mine through a layer of stone before accessing them. These may also be along the mountainside, but you'll notice you are able to mine stone at that specific point in the mountain whereas in other areas you aren't. The entrance will be a little visually distinct as well, so you can detect a hidden cave somewhat reliably if you know what you're looking for. You'll see a flatter spot with some edges in the stone. Refer to the image below for an idea.
Mining in Caves
You don't get those valuable ores without a little bit of added inconvenience. While mining in a cave, you receive the underground debuff, hurting your stamina and health regeneration. You may also get pneumonia, further harming your character by inflicting a debuff that significantly reduces health regeneration, maximum stamina, and even slightly lowers experience gained.
Additionally, there isn't much light, so it can be challenging to find nodes. You may find yourself lighting a torch to identify remaining spots to hit with your pickaxe.
However, much of this inconvenience can be mitigated! Deployables can be placed in caves, so you can place torches in there to light up your efforts. You can also place boxes as well so you can clear the nodes and store your loot. Caves are considered shelter, so the deployables won't take damage and you can even shelter in there from a storm. Realistically, you can fit a small base for yourself. Furthermore, you can craft a dehumidifier and place it in the cave. When fueled with charcoal, it will remove the underground debuff.
Lastly, for a larger cave you may want to set up a simple base to mine more comfortably. You may even want to consider setting up the necessary gear to smelt and craft with the nodes so you can avoid taking trips packed full of heavy ore back to your base. It would be particularly useful for things that require metals but aren't notably heavy such as arrows, bolts, and bullets. A very useful option is to make a mortar and pestle to craft steel bloom with. It is significantly lighter than the iron and coal ore separately, making it much easier to transport the same amount of resources. Plus, the mortar and pestle itself is easy to carry around and inexpensive to craft should you lose it.
Isolating certain metals to caves can be inconvenient, but it does do a good job of forcing players to explore and even set up outposts for gathering resources. The idea of resource bases scattered around at discovered large caves creates some interesting logistical challenges to solve. This also extends the usable area of the map for anyone exploring as there's another place to shelter and gather supplies. This way you can stray further from a central base without dramatically increasing your risk of getting caught out in a storm or without necessary resources.