Don’t Starve is an exceptionally punishing but stylish survival game that sees players selecting from various characters that each have unique traits and abilities. The game is notorious for being difficult to parse. Still, survival requires little more than learning the game’s base mechanics and playing carefully. Learning those mechanics when first playing, however, can be challenging, so in this Don’t Starve getting started guide is everything you need to know about the beginnings and basics of Don’t Starve.
Key Info Up Front
- Best Starter Characters: Walter, Wormwood, Wilson
- First Day Focus: Getting tools, food, and light
- Second Day Focus: Getting food and a Science Machine
- Days 3-7 Focus: Establish a supply line and prepare for winter.
Don’t Starve Overview
Surviving in Don’t Starve requires players to manage their character’s basic stats: Health, Hunger, Sanity, and Temperature. Health is lowered when attacking enemies or running into harmful things like fire. Health can be tough to recover early on in the game, so players should avoid combat until they are confident that they have the resources to recover from it. Hunger is the stat that players will have to deal with most frequently, as it is constantly draining. It is also the easiest to raise, as numerous food sources can be cooked and eaten to get one’s hunger back to complete quickly.
Sanity is the measure of the health of a character’s mind. It can be lowered by various resources, such as being in the darkness or eating certain foods. As a player’s sanity falls, the world around them will start warping. The player will eventually see strange happenings like trees losing their leaves, eyes in the dark, or even shadow creatures roaming the world.
If their sanity drops below 15%, those shadow creatures will start attacking the player. This can be useful to get specific materials later in the game. Still, players want to keep their Sanity as high as possible early on. To raise it, players can make sure their character is comfortable and in light, pick flowers, or wear particular pieces of clothing that will slowly raise it.
Temperature is another stat for players to manage, but one that doesn’t come into play until later in the game. This depends on the season, with players having to work to not freeze to death during Winter days. Don’t Starve also has a Day/Night cycle that players need to understand to survive. Its sections are displayed in the top left of the screen, where a clock is split into Day, Evening, and Night.
The duration of each section will change depending on the current season, so you’ll have to keep an eye on it every day. If you are caught out in the night without any light, you will be killed by monsters with no way of defending yourself. The nights also go through a moon cycle that can be seen in a small window by the clock. Players can run around during the night without a fire when the moon is full, but friendly Pig NPCs are turned into hostile Werepigs that act aggressively toward the player.
You should also understand how the game’s equipment works. Each character has only three equipment slots: hand, body, and head. The head can be equipped with various helmets and hats that each have different effects, while the hand is used to hold tools such as torches and pickaxes.
The body can hold different armor and pieces of clothing such as log armor or backpacks to increase your inventory space. You’ll want to take full advantage of these to increase your inventory while gathering resources and always having armor equipped if you plan on doing any combat.
Good Starting Characters
The first decision you have to make when playing Don’t Starve is which character you will play. The characters you will have available depend on what DLCs you have and whether or not you are playing alone in Don’t Starve or an online game in Don’t Starve Together, as there are some version-exclusive characters.
Every character has its strengths and weaknesses, but some are much easier for new players to learn the game while others are more complicated and prone to mistakes. So, these are the best three characters you should consider playing while you do your first few games of Don’t Starve.
- Title: The Gentleman Scientist
- Health: 150
- Hunger: 150
- Sanity: 200
Wilson is the most essential character in Don’t Starve and the original survivor that was first introduced with the game’s first Beta. He has well-balanced stats, while his extraordinary power is the ability to grow a wonderful beard. His beard has three stages that each have a different visual and provide an increasing amount of insulation during the Winter season. The beard can also be shaved to get hair easily and make a Meat Effigy to raise your Sanity.
Wilson is a great starter character because his attributes and power don’t have any drawbacks for players to learn, so he is good for doing everything in the game. The beard also helps lessen the burden of surviving winter and the need to craft supplies and clothes before the season comes, allowing players a little more leeway if they make it that far. Wilson’s easier time crafting Meat Effigies is also beneficial for managing Sanity, which can be one of the most challenging attributes to keep up later in the game.
- Title: The Lonesome
- Health: 150
- Hunger: 150
- Sanity: 200
Wormwood is part of the Hamlet DLC and can be purchased separately in Don’t Starve Together. He is made entirely of plants and has a deep love for all plants he comes across. This comes with some unique interactions and crafting recipes that can make some things easier for players.
Wormwood can craft unique recipes like the Bramble Trap, Bramble Husk, Living Log, and Compost Wrap. These items help him heal for the cheap price of some manure and provide him with a unique piece of armor. Living Logs are also particularly rare crafting components that normally get dangerous.
As players progress through the days, Wormwood will also bloom until he is covered with flowers. While he is blooming, flowers spawn behind him wherever he moves. He will automatically tend to farm plants around him. This makes establishing a farm supply much easier for new players. At the same time, his plant nature also prevents food from impacting his health.
This can be negative as it forces him to deal with manure. Still, it also makes it easier to get food for new players as you can eat monster meat and recipes without losing any health. Wormwood’s Sanity decreases when he is around destroyed or hurt plants. Still, it is also raised by planting any foliage, making regaining that lost sanity much easier than most other characters.
Here’s our complete Wormwood Guide.
- Title: The Fearless
- Health: 130
- Hunger: 110
- Sanity: 200
Walter is a free character only in Don’t Starve Together. Based on a boy scout, Walter comes with a squirrel-like companion and isn’t afraid of anything. He also comes with the unique slingshot weapon that is a fantastic tool for taking down enemies from a distance.
Ammunition can be crafted for the slingshot for relatively cheap, while the slingshot itself can be crafted again if it is ever lost. The pebbles that Walter can also be crafted come in various ways to increase power as players progress. Walter can also craft the unique Camper’s Tent. This item is a better version of the Fur Roll portable but more practical, like a tent.
He also comes with the unique Pinetree Pioneer Hat that reduces the sanity he loses when taking damage. Walter does not lose sanity from being in the dark, equipping certain items, or traveling through Worm Holes and Portals. He also can cook food over fire faster, loses hunger at half the rate while Sleeping, and gains Sanity when around trees. Walter can also regain his sanity and other players by telling stories around the Campfires.
Walter’s pet Woby also comes with numerous positives. Woby has a separate inventory of nine slots, significantly increasing Walter’s carrying capacity. Players can also feed Woby Monster food to transform him into a bigger form. Walter can then ride Woby like a Beefalo, allowing him to move faster and attack from his back with his slingshot.
However, if Woby takes damage while Walter rides him, he bucks Walter off. Walter’s negatives come from losing Sanity whenever he takes damage, constantly drains Sanity when his health isn’t full, and is allergic to Bees, making them deal extra ten damage to him. He also is unable to gain Sanity from clothing items because he doesn’t care about fashion.
When you first drop into a Don’t Starve game, you will have nothing with you other than any starting items that come with your character. To start things off, you’ll want to gather some starting supplies to make sure you can make it through the night and start establishing your camp.
To do this, collect Twigs from the ground or from Saplings and Flint that can be found on the ground. You can then use these to create Axes and Pickaxes. Once you get an Axe and Pickaxe, use them to mine boulders and chop down trees for rocks and Logs. Pick up anything else that the trees and boulders drop, especially gold.
You’ll also want to pick up Cut Grass from Grass Tufts and any easily found food as you run around. Berries and carrots are great starting options that will help you keep your Hunger full for a short while. You should do this throughout the Day and Dusk on the first day, and make a Fire or Campfire just before Night falls.
If you can find a good area, either by some Beefalo or Pig village set up there. Otherwise, an area next to a lot of berries, a pond, or an area with many rabbit holes nearby works well. During the night, cook the food you collected and eat as much as you need to refill your Hunger. Hold on to the rest and eat it as you need to.
For now, avoid any hostile monsters you come across, as combat is dangerous and will be expensive to recover from. You’ll also want to avoid Marsh regions with dark brown ground that looks wet and any deserts. Both regions have numerous dangerous enemies that are immediately hostile to the player and may track them for quite away. However, you should attack birds to make them drop seeds and collect any pine cones that drop from trees. These can be planted near your camp to prevent running as far to get Logs when you harvest most of the nearby trees.
During the second day, you’ll want to focus on mining boulders and finding a permanent place to set up if you haven’t yet. As you travel around, grab as many plants as you can for early food. While you’re mining boulders, you’ll be looking for Gold Nuggets. Also, make sure to get some logs to keep your fire stable throughout the night as well. If you have rabbit holes around your fire, you’ll also want to craft some Traps to place over them.
To set them up, all you have to do is drop them from your inventory right above the hole, and a rabbit will eventually get stuck in it as a cheap source of meat. If you find Beefalo, you’ll also want to start collecting their manure, which you can use as fertilizer to start up a farm.
If you can’t find a good place to make your permanent camp by the night of Day Two, don’t spend the night by a fire and make a torch instead. This will allow you to keep exploring through the night, as you’ll need to find a permanent place to set up soon. You’ll want your permanent camp to be close to a Pig Town or Beefalo herd, a Touchstone, a Savannah with rabbit holes, and a wormhole if you can find one.
The First Week
Once you have an established camp, you can start laying more groundwork for the rest of your playthrough. First, you’ll want to make a permanent Fire Pit that can be re-lit just by adding fuel to it. This will help cut the costs of surviving for the night and mark the location on your map if you ever get lost.
You’ll then want to make the Science Machine start prototyping new recipes. Prototyping occurs whenever you make a new recipe for the first time at the Science Machine or one of the crafting machines later on in the game. Once an item is prototyped, you can craft it anywhere, which is extremely useful.
One of the first things you should craft with your Science Machine is a Spear and Log Armor. These will allow you to hunt animals while protecting you from any bosses you happen upon while playing or hound attacks. As you use them, just make sure to keep an eye on their durability so you can replace them before it is too late. You’ll then want to work toward establishing a farm. Before doing this, make sure you have plenty of manure from Beefalo to fertilize the ground.
You can then get seeds from attacking birds on the ground. Once you have a handful, build your farm, fertilize it with manure, and plant all of the seeds you have. You’ll then have to prototype a watering can and fill it with a pond to keep them well-watered. It is also smart at this point to prototype a shovel and uses that to move Berry Bushes closer to your camp so that you can harvest them without traveling as far. After you re-plant them, you have to use a piece of manure to make them start producing berries again.
As you travel around the map, you’ll also want to stay on top of your rabbit traps. Each trap can be used multiple times, so when you see one is full, pick it up, murder the rabbit to turn it into a Morsel, and then re-drop the trap on top of the same rabbit hole. At this point, you can also start participating in some combat, such as against Spiders or Frogs.
Avoid the bigger enemies or any bosses as much as possible for now, and if you die, you can use a Touchstone that you have found to respawn once and return to your camp. When the hounds come to attack, you head to the nearby Beefalo herd and avoid getting hit while they deal with the Hounds.
Later in the week, you should also work to make the Crock-Pot. The Crock-Pot allows you to combine four ingredients into more advanced recipes to make staying complete much easier. Some essential recipes to know are:
This recipe is a great cheap food that can be made quickly with any piece of meat and some berries. It is also a great recipe to convert Monster Meat into something edible. To make it, add the ingredients in the Crock-Pot in the following order:
- Any Meat
This recipe uses three pieces of meat to make food that will almost fill the Hunger of any character. However, you should note that you can’t use more than one Monster Meat in the recipe; otherwise, it will become something else. To make it, use this recipe:
- Any Meat
- Any Meat
- Any Meat
Trail Mix is one of the earliest ways to heal your character and is a great option until you get more reliable items. To make it use this recipe:
- Roasted Birchnut
After you’ve gotten your camp established, you can begin exploring the various elements that make Don’t Starve such a captivating and exciting survival game. As long as you stay on top of your farming and hunting, you should have no problem finding food for yourself. As you work to craft better gear, combat will become less intimidating. Craft the Alchemical Engine to unlock even more crafting recipes when you can.
You’ll also want to make a razer to harvest fur from the Beefalo to make clothes for when Winter rolls around; otherwise, the cold will make quick work of you. Make sure always to keep armor and a Spear with you to help protect you from surprise Hound attacks.
To make your tools better, you can also trade meat with the Pig King for cheap gold nuggets that will make them last significantly longer than their standard counterparts. You should also make a Meat Effigy and carry it with you as soon as you can. This will prevent you from dying once without having to use a rare Touchstone.
Special Tips for Getting Started
- Move saplings, grass tufts, and berry bushes closer to your fire pit with a shovel to cut down on time walking around the map.
- Set camp up near Beefalo but not too close, as they become aggressive toward the player during mating season.
- If you need more manure than the Beefalo are giving you, feed flowers to Pigs. This will produce manure and make them follow you and help you fight or gather resources.
- Use a shovel to dig up any graves you find for easy resources, but make sure to keep an eye on your sanity while doing so.
- Build an icebox as early as possible to help keep your food from spoiling longer.
- You can light fires to help you out in combat, especially if you are under-prepared. Lighting a few trees on fire can save you from a horde of Hounds or Spiders.
What to Avoid when Getting Started
- Keep your fire pit away from your science machine and other burnable. The light of the fire spreads pretty far when fully fueled, and having anything too close will cause it to light on fire and set you back.
- Don’t eat monster meat unless absolutely necessary unless you cook it in a Crock-Pot first. Monster meat will lower your health when eaten, so if you don’t have a Crock-Pot, it’s best to just leave it where it falls when you kill the monster or let it rot and use it for fertilizer.
- Don’t use more complicated characters like Wes or Webber until you feel comfortable with the game’s basic systems. They often add their mechanics and complications to things.
- Don’t be too greedy when taking resources. It can take a while for the world to repopulate its resources, so you’ll want to make sure to not leave it entirely bare; otherwise, you won’t have what you need in the future.
Question: Is Don’t Starve a horror game?
Answer: There are elements of Don’t Starve that are meant to be scary or unsettling, but it is not focused on scaring its players.
Question: Is Don’t Starve Together cross-platform?
Answer: No, Don’t Starve Together; players can only join servers with other players on the same platform.
Question: Is there an ending in Don’t Starve?
Answer: There is an ending in Don’t Starve, but only if you play on Adventure mode. Otherwise, the game is just a challenge to see how long you can survive.
Getting started in Don’t Starve is often the most challenging part of the game for new players. Once you know how to set your playthrough up for success, the task of surviving becomes much less daunting. Getting to this point also allows you to explore the other game elements, which is one of its most rewarding aspects.
There are tons of secrets to discover in Don’t Starve, so make sure to experiment and explore as much as possible. Dying can be frustrating, but it is inevitable and far from the end.
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