Starting a new game of RimWorld can be a daunting experience. The world your colonists settle on is a dangerous one, and there’s the threat of raiders, killer mechs, disease, and starvation at every turn. The early game is crucial for the long-term survival of your colonists. Luckily, we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to RimWorld to help set you up for success.

Each of the three available DLCs has expanded the game in some way, with Biotech adding pregnancy and controllable mech units. We’ll be referencing all the DLC and how they apply to the early game in this guide. We’ll also offer more general tips on supplies and tech you should pick up leading into the midgame.

Best Beginner Tips for Rimworld

With that introduction out of the way, let’s get started on our beginner’s guide to RimWorld!

Modding the Game

Modding the game - rimworld beginner's guide
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We’ll kick off our beginner’s guide to RimWorld with some recommended mods. Before you start a new game, you should take a quick look at the extensive library of available mods. RimWorld has largely been developed by a single-person team, and with such an incredibly ambitious project, there is always room for more expansion. While many mods add great new content to the game, we recommend beginners focus on improving the game’s UI.

The first mods you should install are Harmony and HugsLib. These ensure the game works properly with other mods by providing a framework for them to function under. Next, you should pick up The Allow Tool, QualityBuilder, Smarter Construction, and RimHud. All of these improve the UI so you’ll get more precise control over your pawns.

If you feel this is a bit much for a beginner’s guide to Rimworld, don’t worry. You can play the game without these mods, but they certainly add more clarity and control over your game. Once you’ve played a little bit more, consider some of the other mods we have enabled on the list above. All of them add minimal content to the game, but allow for even more precise control in various ways.

Choosing Your Scenario

Scenario - rimworld beginner's guide
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Now that you’ve picked some mods to beef the game up a little, it’s time to start a new colony! Your first in-game choice is selecting a scenario, and Biotech adds some tempting new options. However, since this is a beginner’s guide for RimWorld, we’ll stick with the simpler ones.

You’ll want to steer away from anything too fancy in favor of the original game mode, Crashlanded. Mech-lords and Sanguophages are a lot of fun, but starting a brand new colony with them is only a good plan for seasoned players that understand the game’s dynamics.

Crashlanded is how the game was designed to be played, without many deviations from the classic gameplay formula. Every other setting here will be too complex and will likely overwhelm a new player.

Choosing Your Storyteller

Picking your story teller - rimworld beginner's guide
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Next, you’ll want to choose your storyteller. Of the three options, we recommend either Cassandra Classic or Phoebe Chillax, on either the community builder or adventure story difficulty. The game gets a lot harder if it’s set any higher than this.

The advantage to Phoebe is that the game gives you a long time in between random events like raider attacks. The downside is that not every random event is bad, so you also won’t get as many positive events like resource drops or refugees asking for help. Cassandra is the way the game was originally built, with a normal amount of time between random events.

The third AI storyteller is Randy Random, and we only recommend him if you want a more chaotic game. The events he throws at you aren’t balanced out, and instead are entirely randomized. A new player could easily think the game is just trying to torture them if they pick Randy.

Choosing Your Drop Location

Where to drop in - rimworld beginner's guide
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Picking a drop location is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in RimWorld. We’d be remiss if we didn’t cover it in our beginner’s guide.

A lot of the locations on the map aren’t viable, or at least will make your life hell in the early game. Particularly, you’ll want to stay away from any of the poles on the map, as these will be incredibly cold. The desert tiles, or even the arid shrubland tiles, will also both be very difficult to maintain a large population. For your first few games, you should try to land in a temperate forest with a “growing period” that lasts all sixty days of a Rimworld year.

A perfect starting location is mountainous terrain, which provides a natural defense against early raids. However, be careful not to choose a mountain that has caves inside of it. These caves will undoubtedly be full of hostile insects that can seriously harm your colonists. Stay away from these until you know the game a little better.

You can get most of this information by clicking on individual tiles and pulling up the “terrain” tab on the bottom left of the screen. This lets you see if there are features on the map that you can take advantage of.

Map Features

Drop in warnings
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Good features to look out for are rivers and roads. Rivers can be used to generate continuous power after you research the waterwheel technology, and are typically a source of rich soil. You can also build bridges to create choke points that concentrate enemies into a single line, leaving them undefended. Roads, meanwhile, provide a boost to your movement speed when traversing your map tile, and let you travel long distance more quickly. Ancient asphalt roads provide the biggest buff to your travel speed.

The map also shows you other settlements, represented by various icons. These factions will be important later on. By default, the only friendly factions are the purple-tinted icons representing Civil Outlander Unions, and the yellow-tinted ones representing a Gentle Tribe. You’ll earn the right to trade and do business with the Imperial faction later on, provided you have the Royalty DLC enabled. Just be careful not to settle too close to any other factions, or you’ll upset them and get raided very frequently. The game will tell you if you’re going to do this with a small warning pop-up.

Creating an Ideoligion

Ideoligion Tips - rimworld beginner's guide
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If you have the Ideoligion DLC enabled, the next step will be building your own Ideoligion. This is the set of beliefs your colonists will hold, and it can radically influence their actions and preferences.

New updates have added more beliefs you can select, but we’ll keep things simple for our beginner’s guide to RimWorld. We recommend a fluid ideoligion. This avoids too many starting rules, but allows your ideoligion evolve and engage with more mechanics over time.

Memes & Tenets

Traits - rimworld beginner's guide
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The Individualism meme will have minimal impact on the game, as will others like Collectivism. When it comes to the tenets of your ideoligion, we have a few specific recommendations.

Set Research to “fast” or “very fast,” as this currently gives you a research buff with no downsides. Set Physical Love to “free,” as this gives your colonists a mood boost and encourages them to share beds, saving you space in the long run. Finally, set Diversity of Thought to “accepted” so your original colonists won’t significantly dislike pawns from other ideoligions.

Make sure your specialist leader types don’t have any apparel requirements. Apparel can be hard to acquire early on, and you don’t want your pawns getting unhappy about a lack of gear.

With this combination of tenets, you’ll have a much easier time earlier on in the game. The fluid point system means that you can eventually add more memes and change your tenets. This helps you adapt to your changing situation as you progress through the game. If you’ve cultivated a herd of yaks for milk and fur, for example, you can addc them as a venerated animal to give your colonists a major mood boost.

Choosing Your Colonists

Choose your colonists - rimworld beginner's guide
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Next up on our beginner’s guide for RimWorld is choosing the right colonists for the job. This is where you might want to hit that “randomize” button until you get the right set of people.

Part of the game is that every colonist is flawed in some way. Sometimes these flaws are personality traits — a Depressive colonist, for example, is more liable to endure mental breaks. Other times, they’re a debilitating injury or medical condition. Some colonists are completely incapable of doing certain kinds of work, while others will be specialized in particular skills. It’s all about balance.

Pay attention to the small fire-shaped symbols next to skill ratings, as this indicates a level of passion for that kind of work. Passion means a pawn gains skill experience much more quickly than someone who isn’t passionate. They also gain a mood buff whenever performing work that makes them feel passionate. This can potentially counter the innately difficult nature of whatever kind of work they’re doing.

Biotech massively expanded the traits your colonists can have, adding variety in the form of different Xenotypes. Newer players should stick with Baseliner types, where they don’t have any additional perks or disadvantages.

Skills & Traits

Hunting - rimworld beginner's guide
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In the early selection phase, you’ll want to pay special attention to the Plants, Construction, and Shooting skills. Plants ensures you get a productive farm right away, Construction helps you rapidly build your base, and Shooting helps with hunting and base defense.

The default Crashlanded scenario starts you with a hunting rifle. A Hunter’s effectiveness is influenced by both their Shooting and Animal skills, so you should get a colonist with both of those skills if you can.

Some skills you can de-prioritize early on are Social, Intellectual, and Artistic. If you didn’t take a mountain base, you also likely won’t need anyone with Mining for a while. You’ll be able to recruit more colonists later on, so don’t worry about traits you might be missing out on just yet.

Lastly, you’ll notice some of your colonists may already know each other. If they have compatible skills, you could get lucky and start the game with two characters that are already married or lovers. This is very helpful, as their presence around each other will provide one another with consistent mood boosts.

Changing Your Settings

Dropping in - rimworld beginner's guide
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Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to finally start the game for real. Once your colonists have dropped in, go ahead and pause the game — we’ll need to change a few settings. Until you’re more experienced, we strongly recommend following the settings listed below in our beginner’s guide to RimWorld.

For starters, change the way your colonists react to hostile enemies from “Flee” to “Attack,” provided they’re capable of fighting. This keeps them from simply waiting until the last minute to flee — instead, they’ll open fire on hostile targets right away. Next, set it so that only your best fighters can wear armor. You can easily do this by setting their clothing restrictions to “Soldier,” then setting any colonists incapable of violence to “Worker.” While you’re at it, disable wearing tainted clothing, as it gives a huge debuff to your colonists’ mood.

Finally, check your food and drug settings. In the Food Restrictions menu, turn off everything that isn’t a meal, berries, milk, or pemmican. This prevents your colonists from simply eating raw rice if they don’t have access to meals when they’re hungry. You almost never want your colonists eating raw food, as it can make them debilitatingly sick.

Now that we’ve covered the general settings, let’s jump into more specific settings based on your colonists’ traits.

Trait-Specific Settings

Adjusting colonists' settings
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First up, check their schedules and adjust anyone with the “Night Owl” or “Quick Sleeper” traits to an appropriate sleep schedule. In the early game, you can also go ahead and assign a huge chunk of working hours in the middle of the day for all colonists. They currently have a massive mood buff due to their very low expectations, so it’s a good time to grind out some work.

Next, make sure anyone who doesn’t want to use drugs, like “Teetotalers,” isn’t allowed to consume them. You’ll eventually get ahold of some drugs, regardless of whether you start producing them yourself or not. It’s good to be prepared for any eventuality.

Lastly, enable “Self-Tending” on any colonists with medical skills. This lets them fix themselves (albeit at a slower pace) if they’re injured or have a condition to tend to. No other colonists need to get involved with their minor medical issues.

Setting Up Your First Base

Setting up your first base - rimworld beginner's guide
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When picking the location for your eventual sprawling compound of a base, there are many factors to consider. We’ll be sure to cover them all in our beginner’s guide to RimWorld. Foremost among them, you’ll want to look for geothermal vents, rich soil, and defensible positions. Finding an area on the map with a combination of these three things will be immensely helpful going forward.

Geothermal Vents

Geothermal vents won’t be important for a long while, not until you’ve got the technology to take advantage of them. Still, though, they’re an immensely important source of electricity later in the game. If you’re on a map where the temperatures get super low during the winter months, you can construct a sort of sweat lodge around these vents. These will up any other rooms connected to them, as well.

Rich Soil

Rich soil is valuable for farming and will make your initial rice supply come along a lot quicker, multiplying the fertility of the crops by 140%. Food is an ever-present challenge in RimWorld. As soon as you run out of your initial supply of packaged survival meals, you’ll need another food source and a place to cook it.

The easiest to establish right away will be a rice farm on rich soil. Go ahead and start some other patches of other food, too, both for variety and as a backup in case of blight or fire striking your rice crop. Vegetables are a good investment, as you can make mood-boosting Fine Meals with a mix of meat and vegetables. You can even make vegetarian Fine Meals by using more vegetables!

Base Defense

Defending your base will be very important later on. Choosing a position that gives you the natural advantage via terrain will be very helpful. Try to keep a mountain or hill blocking at least one corner of your base, eliminating an angle that targets could potentially approach you from. The best base will only have one good way to enter, but this isn’t always possible at first.

Ultimately, the best defense against raids in this game is to keep your colony’s wealth as low as possible. The strength of a raid in RimWorld is determined in part by the age and wealth of your colony. Wealth tracks items like your silver stash, extra weapons, or surplus food — the higher it gets, the stronger incoming raids will be. This discourages you from stashing vast amounts of materials that you don’t actually need right away. If you can spend your silver, do it!

Building Your Base

Setting up a farm
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Once you’ve settled on a spot, you’ll want to get started building two different rooms out of wood. Wood is an excellent material for walls in the early game, as it is plentiful and easily replenished. You should eventually replace these with stone when you can, as flammable wood isn’t good for the long-term.

You can save wood by building into a cliff face, which also lets you gradually expand into a mountainside once you acquire a Miner. Try to build a room with at least eight squares on each side. This will be the barracks for your initial settlers to spend their first nights while they set up their homestead. Rivers can also help with defense, as stated earlier, plus you can use them to generate power after some research.

Day One Priorities

Day One Priorities - rimworld beginner's guide
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Up next in our beginner’s guide to RimWorld, we’ll cover what you should get done as soon as possible. On their first day, your colonists should hopefully have built a shelter, along with hauling most of the gear that came with them, and in the absolute best case scenario with a rice paddy beginning to grow.

Storage

You can save time on storage setup right away by having your best fighter equip all the armor that came with you. Optimizing your organization systems to keep your colonists from spending all their time just walking from place to place will be invaluable later on.

Most items will decay if they are left outside for too long, and will decay more rapidly if they are in a river. Equipment loses quality as it decays, and can’t be repaired, so try to avoid letting clothing become tattered by leaving it outdoors. You can set up a quick storeroom by just building one to two walls and zoning a roof area over it. You can add doors to this room later.

Additional Rooms

Now that you’ve built a small structure, you can start to expand outwards from it. It is easiest to build your base altogether in one building, although in some climates, you can get away with separate structures.

The next set of structures you should work on will be your kitchen and butcher rooms. Keeping certain crafting stations, like the cooking station and the butcher station, in separate rooms will help keep you from contracting a foodborne illness. If you put the butcher station and the cooking station together, you need to have someone clean the room every time an animal is butchered or you will risk any food cooked in that room going bad. 

Furniture

Barracks - rimworld beginner's guide
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Once you’ve got a barracks established for sleeping, your next priority is to go ahead and add some furniture to it. Beds, then a table and a dining chair to avoid the harsh penalty your colonists take to their mood if they eat without a table. You can use this room as a dining room later on, once you’ve moved your colonists to their own bedrooms.

Shelves became much more useful with the release of the Biotech DLC, as they can now hold three stacks of three different items all in one square, and you can build small shelves that only take up one square as well. This makes your storerooms much more efficient and organized since you can set the shelves to only hold specific kinds of items. Set up a shelf for meals close to the dining table to save time every time your colonists want a meal.

Adding floors as soon as possible will also help you keep dirt from piling up inside your structure, significantly reducing the amount of time your colonists need to spend cleaning while also improving the appeal of the rooms.

Generating Power

Generating Power - rimworld beginner's guide
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Ensuring you have a source of power is the next topic on our beginner’s guide to RimWorld. Getting electricity running will let you start to control the temperature inside your structure and light the rooms to make sure your colonists move/work at full speed.

There are a few ways to do this right off the bat, and the specific location you’re in will influence which way you want to go. If you have a significant amount of open space near your base, you can use windmill power to generate electricity without needing to chop wood to power a generator. The downside is that sometimes you won’t have enough wind to keep the lights on.

If you decide to build a wood-powered generator, you’ll want to make sure to build a roof over it, so it doesn’t explode if touched by rain. This will be true of many different kinds of electronics. However, if you build a room around your generator, make sure you add a vent to the outside, as the generator will build up heat in an enclosed room. This heat can be a real problem in the summer months, but an open vent will let the heat escape. If you have cold winters in your location, you can close the vent to heat your whole structure.

Occasionally, any device that is built using “components” will need more of them to continue to function, and someone with adequate Construction skills will be needed to perform the repair. You can acquire more components by breaking apart crashed ships, or by mining them from the walls via “compacted machinery” squares.

Using Your Power

Water Power - rimworld beginner's guide
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The biggest reason to generate power this early is to set up a cold storage room for your food. You’ll want to build a room close to your kitchen that has double-thick walls. The extra layer of walls will keep the room colder with less electricity, and also keep that cold from leaking out too much into other rooms during the winter months. If possible, dig your cooler room into the side of a mountain or hillside structure. These areas naturally stay cooler than the outside.

You’ll also want to build two doors in a short hallway leading to the cooler. This airlock-like structure will make it much easier to regulate temperatures inside your building. Additionally, constructing an airlock on each entrance to your base is a smart decision in the long run. Maintaining safe and comfortable temperatures for all the kinds of work that need to be done inside your base is a challenge, but with careful room placement, you can save a lot of resources you’ll need for later.

Acquiring Technology

Tech Tree - rimworld beginner's guide
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You’re on your way to a functioning settlement with our beginner’s guide to RimWorld! Now that you’ve developed systems for food storage, your colonists all have somewhere to sleep. You might have even started to accept quests from nearby. You’re likely eating Fine Meals composed of both the rice you’re growing and any hunted animals from nearby. You might want to start building a ranch to keep some animals around for yourself.

Important to your goals in the future, though, is doing some research. You’ll want a colonist with a very high intellectual skill, and you will want to give their research table its own room with some space to expand. This will be your laboratory. The cleaner this room is, the quicker your researchers will be able to advance down the tech tree.

Research Priorities

Technology Priorities
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With access to the tech tree, you’ll want to prioritize a few things first. Batteries are a very popular first choice — even the game’s tutorial recommends them as the best first choice. It is absolutely necessary if you are powering your base with renewable power like windmills, keeping the lights on even if there is no wind blowing. 

After acquiring batteries, the next few techs you want to research will depend a lot on your individual situation. You could get a waterwheel generator to start making sustainable power that way, or if you already have a colonist with very high levels of intellect, you could go straight for geothermal power. Sterile tiles are also a great choice. You’ll want to lay these down in your kitchens, butcher room, hospital, and research laboratory. 

Once you’ve gotten enough of these lower-level technologies, you’ll want to head straight for microelectronics. With that tech, you’ll have advanced firmly into the midgame, where you can start to interact with travelers in space, edit genes to make whole new xenotypes, control a fleet of robots, and turn into a vampire!

Join the High Ground

And that’s it for our beginner’s guide to RimWorld — thanks for reading! We know the game is rather complex and not everything will make sense at first, even with this guide. Don’t worry, just keep playing and consulting this guide as needed, and you’ll make it yet. If there’s anything else you think we should cover in our guide, let us know in the comments below, and subscribe to our newsletter for more content on RimWorld and your other favorite games.

Happy gaming!