RimWorld: 10 Tips for Getting Started

Are you just beginning to play RimWorld? Here are 10 helpful tips.

RimWorld is a self-titled story generator but is not-so-secretly a colony simulator survival game. Crash landed on a sparsely inhabited rim world in some far-flung corner of the galaxy; the player is tasked with managing a group of colonists, defending their base, and ultimately finding a way to leave the planet.

RimWorld is a complex game with lots of overlapping systems. It can be a daunting game to dive into, especially if you are unfamiliar with similar games like Dwarf Fortress or Oxygen Not Included. While we can’t possibly cover all of the game’s mechanics here, we can offer you these ten tips to help you get started with your first colony.

1. Make it easy on yourself

Scenario Selection Screen
Choosing a Scenario

RimWorld is a highly customizable game with lots of options for how you can start your game. You can be a crash-landed crew, a primitive tribe, or even a lone explorer, amusingly left naked and stranded in the wilderness. These possibilities make the game so replayable, but your first colony probably isn’t the place to experiment.

We recommend starting with the standard “crash landed” scenario, as it provides ample starting resources, a few weapons, and the right number of colonists to start a base without starving within the first week. It may seem a little boring, but there is no reason to make a difficult game even harder until you are familiar with the mechanics.

2. Ignore the DLC (for now)

Ideoligion Screen
Choosing an ideoligion

RimWorld has an impressive and exciting lineup of DLC available for purchase alongside the game. Each of these DLCs adds tons of new content and even more systems to the game. Loading everything into your first game is tempting, but you may want to wait a little longer.

As great as RimWorld’s expansions are, they do increase the game’s complexity. This may be too much for players unfamiliar with the game to try and learn all at once. While we wholeheartedly recommend checking this extra content out eventually, it’s best to make sure you can keep your colonists from starving before starting to worry about whether they’re ideologically opposed to vegetables.

3. Be selective with your colonists

Character Creation Screen
Configuring a character

Being crash-landed on a desolate planet full of terminators, aliens, and cannibalistic bandits gives you the right to be exclusive about who you allow into your colony. Especially at the start, carefully consider each aspect of a potential colonist before committing to them. Certain traits can make a colonist a drain on resources or even a danger to the colony.

Specifically, focus on what skills a colonist brings to the table. It’s best to try and get an even spread, but some skills are more important than others in the early game. Skills like Medical, Combat, Plants, and Construction are vital to a colony’s early survival, as this will dictate your ability to defend yourself and create a sustainable base. Skills like Mining and Social may become important later but can be used as dump stats for starting players.

4. Choose your landing zone carefully

Landing Zone Selection Screen
Selecting a Starting Site on the Map

Your colonists are fortunate enough to be able to choose where they crashland, so take advantage of it. Carefully take in the environmental attributes of a potential site before you choose where to start out. The most important factors include temperature, disease frequency, water features, and proximity to friendly settlements.

When first starting out, we recommend a temperate forest location that is relatively flat. The closer you can get to the planet’s equator, the better. This will give you plenty of time to grow and stock up on food for the winter while limiting dangerous wildlife and disease. We also suggest choosing somewhere with a river to generate power and somewhat close to a friendly settlement to allow for trade.

5. Search the map

Map Overview
Be Sure to Review the Map After Landing

When you first land in RimWorld, chances are that the map will contain lots of extra goodies that you can make use of. Look around for supplies that landed with you, like survival meals, weapons, armor, and building supplies. Make sure to “allow” these items so your colonists can gather them up and use them. The sooner you do this, the better, as items will begin to decay if left outside.

The map may also contain natural resources you can use. Berry bushes and wild game can keep you from starving (usually), while herbal medicine can save you from an infection (sometimes).

6. Start farming ASAP

Farming the Land in RimWorld
It’s Time to Get Your Farm On

Those packaged survival meals won’t keep everyone fed for long. You’ll need to start producing your own food if you want to survive the winter and keep your colonists from eating each other. Fortunately, you won’t need to find any seeds, but crops still take time to grow, so you’d better get started.

While not as nutritionally valuable as other crops, rice grows rapidly, so we suggest starting with at least one rice field on fertile soil to get things started. Whenever the freezer is looking a little empty, start growing rice.

7. Build something recreational

RimWorld Recreational Area
Be Sure to Create Recreational Areas

Surviving in an alien world is stressful, and your pawns will rapidly become depressed if their mental needs aren’t met. Just like they need food and sleep, colonists also require recreation and stress relief.

Building something recreational early on will help prevent your pawns from spiraling into constant mental breakdowns. A horseshoe pin requires only 10 pieces of wood or steel and practically no construction skill. Pawns are fussy, though, so you’ll want to expand your stress-relief facilities as your colony progresses, or they might start breaking things every time it rains.

8. Manage your pawns

RimWorld Colonist Management Screen
Manage Your Colonist Carefully

The colonists placed into your care are about as smart as a mound of wet dirt. The sooner RImWorld players understand that the only thing standing between their pawns and starvation is a little red X, the better. Delegation is the name of the game when it comes to building a successful colony, so take the time to set up schedules and work priorities.

Setting a defined work schedule ensures that your pawns get things done, and demarcated recreation time means they don’t overwork themselves. We also recommend manually setting work priorities to ensure that the most qualified colonists do the important jobs. You don’t want the brain-dead drone trying to remove an infected limb while the doctor sweeps the floor nearby.

9. Pause often

RimWorld Pause Screen
Take Time to Pause When Needed

Sometimes it may feel like nothing is happening at all during your game, and other times it feels like everything is happening all at once. You can pause the game at any time to look around and consider your options before resuming the game and letting things play out.

Pausing regularly helps players keep track of everything they need to. We recommend pausing for a moment each time you receive an alert so you can address the issue as soon as it appears. Pausing is also vital during combat, as it allows you to weigh options and command multiple colonists at the same time.

10. Roll with it

RimWorld Building Overview
Be Ready to Learn and Adapt

Above all else, RimWorld is one of those games where the wildest things can happen. We still talk about the weird and funny things that happened to our colonists during one playthrough or another. Things won’t always go the way you plan for them, and that’s half the fun.

Colonists might murder each other, lightning might burn down your food supply, or your pawns might try to take on a Megasloth with nothing but their bare hands. These disasters are part of the game, and dealing with them is the challenge players are tasked with. You don’t have to play out every losing battle, but sometimes losing really can be fun (or at least funny).

Final thoughts on getting started in RimWorld

Ludeon Studios has been developing RimWorld for a long time, and it’s one of those games we always seem to find ourselves returning to. The best advice we can give is to adapt and learn. Adapt to your situations as they develop, and learn from your mistakes. Oh, and don’t wrestle with the wildlife.

Aaron Van Dyck's avatar

About Aaron Van Dyck

Aaron Van Dyck is a thriller novelist with a passion for survival games and exploration. He started writing at the age of 13 and has always been drawn to the sense of self-reliance and freedom found in open worlds. An avid urban explorer and RPG enthusiast, he enjoys dungeon crawling and has a particular love for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Far Cry 5, and Cataclysm: DDA. He's also a fan of shooters and action games with immersive stories and unique monsters to encounter.

View all posts by Aaron Van Dyck →