Don't Starve is a survival game with a straight-forward gameplay and many possibilities. The game encourages exploration and experimentation, but is quite unforgiving to the unprepared. The player is free to run about, collect items, kill innocent animals, or just about do anything else from day 1. This may be overwhelming and the game is considered difficult to beginners, and it is in fact intended that the player dies and has to restart multiple times.
This guide aims to introduce concepts gradually and give the basic overview to those completely new to the game. Therefore, this guide will initially contain some starting advice that seasoned player may wish to avoid or act differently upon. Some less crucial details are also initially omitted for the sake of clarity. Clicking links to other articles will give full in-game details of any linked concept.
- W/A/S/D – move
- Left mouse button – move/take/use/attack as indicated by tooltip
- Right mouse button – examine/use as indicated by tooltip
- Spacebar – perform action on closest object
- Tab – show/hide Map
- Additional controls
- Mouse scroll – zoom in/out camera
- Q/E – rotate camera 90°
- Shift + Left mouse button – force examine action
- Ctrl + Left mouse button – force attack action
At the start of the game, you are placed in a semi-random grassy location in the world. The first priority is to gather enough resources to be able to make a Fire, craft some Tools, and Eat. Fortunately, all the necessary Items are found nearby. Start exploring, and look for these:
– This is a Flint item that can be picked up.
– This is an edible Carrot that can be picked up.
If nothing else, make sure to collect 2 Twigs and 6 Cut Grass for 2 Torches or you will not last the night. You may wish to hold on to your Food if you are not starving, as you will be able to cook it for better results.
The best locations to explore are Grasslands (light green) and Forests (brown), as they contain these items. You can visit other Biomes, but be wary what they contain (more on this in #Exploring other Biomes). Resist temptation to punch Spider Dens – white cocoons that are home to several Spiders that will attack you.
If, hopefully, it is still light and you have a bunch of Twigs and Flint collected, it's time to craft some tools. Tools can be crafted like all other items – by selecting one of the Crafting Tabs on the left side of the screen, selecting the desired item and clicking Craft. Look for Tools Icon: .
All Tools are equipped in the Hands slot. Right clicking the Tool in the inventory will equip it. Object mouseover tooltip will now show available options for Left clicking when using this Tool, such as "Chop Tree" instead of just "Examine Tree" when an Axe is equipped.
It will take several chops, but will eventually yield several Logs. These are very useful, and used in many recipes. Larger Trees will yield more Logs, but smaller Trees will later grow large. Remember you can use Spacebar to quickly gather dropped items. Trees can be replanted with Pine Cones, which also drop when a Tree is chopped down, so they can be easily renewed.
This is very useful, as you can transplant these plants close-by and collect them regularly. Shovel can also be used to uproot Stumps left after chopping a Tree for an extra Log.
These three Tools are the main resource gathering Tools you will use throughout the game.
A full day in Don't Starve lasts 8 minutes, and daytime lasts for only 5 minutes. After that dusk will settle for a minute before turning into a pitch black night. It is not possible to survive in the total darkness, as the player will be soon killed by the Grue monster. Fortunately, there are many light sources in the game.
The most basic portable light source is a Torch. It is under the Light Icon: .
However, Torches go out quickly, and the player will need at least 2 to last through the night. Torches are also held in the Hand slot, so other Tools cannot be equipped without putting out the Torch.
Usually, there is little else to do during the first nights than to wait it out. You can run around and explore further, but the visibility will be limited, and you could accidentally stumble on a Spider Den with Spiders that come out at dusk and night and can easily kill you in a group. Fortunately, they can be outrun fairly easily, they don't wander far from their Dens, and there are not that many at the start of the game.
At some point, you will want to set up a base to build your structures and hoard your items. If you are fast and aren't particular about your surroundings, you may do this as soon as day 1. Usually, the centerpiece of a base is a Campfire. You probably want to wait until dusk before building it, so you don't waste fuel.
Campfires need fuel, and most in-game objects can be burned – Cut Grass, Twigs, Logs, uprooted Plants, etc. The fire will provide light at night and also allow you to cook Food, increasing its nutritional value.
Be warned that Campfire is cheap, but will burn out and is also dangerous as it will set nearby objects on fire if you add too much fuel. If you have the resources, it is wise to invest in the Fire Pit instead that can be relit, is contained, and also lasts longer.
Exploring other Biomes
Grasslands (light green) and Forests (brown) are the safest places. You can visit Rockylands (grayish rock) for mining Boulders, but be wary of Tallbirds – tall black birds that will attack you if you get close. You can also explore Savannas, home to neutral Beefalo, although there is little to do there for now, except collect Grass. Avoid Marshes for now, as they are home to Tentacle monsters that can kill you very easily and are burrowed underground until approached.