Sons Of The Forest tips: How to survive your first day and night

What should you do on your first day of Sons Of The Forest? From day one, 2014’s survival horror game The Forest was filled to the brim with interesting ideas and horrific dangers, and its sequel has most certainly followed suit. It’s a pretty intimidating game, Sons Of The Forest, not just because of the ever-present cannibals and mutants looking to feast on your flesh from your first day on Site 2, but also because of the diegetic user interfaces and building system.

If you’re struggling to get a handle on what’s going on and what you should be doing when you first start a new game, you’re not alone. The good news is that we’ve already been through that process a number of times, and we can tell you exactly what you should prioritise learning and doing in order to make the most of your first hour, day, and week. In this beginner’s guide to Sons Of The Forest we’ll walk you through 15 top tips to bear in mind from the very start, to help ensure you survive your first day and night and get off to a roaring start when it comes to long-term survival.

So without further ado, here are our top tips for surviving your first day in Sons Of The Forest:

1. Loot every container at the crash site

An open container with 2 Duct Tape inside, lying on the snow in Sons Of The Forest.

When you first awaken after the crash at the beginning of Sons Of The Forest, the very first thing you should do is pick up just about everything you possibly can from around the crash site. There are various travel cases and crates scattered around your spawn point – open them up and take everything inside.

You’ll find some very useful starting items in these containers, from rope to energy bars, meds, and a can opener so you can live off tins of cat food until you find a slightly more human diet. Only once every container is opened and every item taken should you start to explore your surroundings.

2. Use your backpack to access items quickly

The player holds up their backpack in Sons Of The Forest.

The inventory in Sons Of The Forest is a physical space, with all your food, tools, resources, and cannibal body parts laid out neatly across a mat. You can pan the camera around the inventory to reveal more, and you can select and combine various things from the inventory, but if you want to access something in a hurry – like a weapon to fend off mutant cannibals – then your best bet is to use the backpack.

You can access the backpack by holding down the inventory key instead of tapping it. This will allow you to quickly click on any of the items or tools attached to your backpack without having to enter the inventory screen. If you want to change what’s attached to your backpack, then open your inventory and find your backpack at the top. Click on it, then add and remove items as you like. Next time you use your backpack, all the new items will be there.

3. Set up your first base near a river

A waterfall in Sons Of The Forest.

There are several reasons why it’s a very good idea to set up camp near a river. Most importantly, it’s an easy and limitless supply of fresh water that you can use to slake your thirst. For more information, check out our guide on how to get water in Sons Of The Forest. Another reason why water is your friend is that enemies cannot swim in deep water, whereas you can.

So when you first move on from your starting area, open your GPS map (click the middle mouse button to change the zoom level until you can see a long distance around you) and seek out the nearest river for a handy and defensible spot to set up your first base. Once you’re there, you can start to place down all the basic camping gear, like a fire (learn how with our guide on how to make a fire in Sons Of The Forest) and a shelter of some sort. Speaking of which…

4. Make a Tent to save your game

A Shelter Tent on the beach in Sons Of The Forest.

There’s no autosave feature, so if you want to save your progress in Sons Of The Forest you need to do it manually using a resting area of some sort. The easiest resting area you can create is a Shelter Tent, which is made from nothing more than a Tarp and a Stick. The former you’ll have found in one of the containers at the crash site (if you paid attention to tip #1, that is!), while the latter can be found anywhere where there are trees or bushes.

5. Tell Kelvin to gather food and other materials

The player waves at Kelvin as he stands dazed in Sons of the Forest.

Don’t neglect your companions in Sons Of The Forest. Virginia may take a while to warm to you, but Kelvin is there from the very beginning, and he’s as loyal as a dog. After rescuing a deaf and brain-damaged Kelvin from writhing in agony at the crash site, you’ll be able to write messages on your notepad to give him orders. These orders range from gathering sticks, logs, or food to clearing areas ready for building, hiding if there’s an enemy around, and more.

The best thing to get Kevin doing at the beginning of the game is gathering fish – as long as you’re near a body of water. Food is a real problem at the beginning of Sons Of The Forest, so a fairly renewable source of fish is a real boon. You can also tell Kelvin to set up a Shelter for you, or to clear the area nearby while you go off in search of other more exotic materials.

6. Chop trees efficiently with your axe

The player uses their axe to chop a tree down in Sons Of The Forest.

In most survival and crafting games, all you need to do to chop down a tree is to point at it and start chopping. In Sons Of The Forest, your axe actually cuts through the tree trunk at the point where you aim it. If you don’t bother moving then it’ll end up taking a very long time to cut down a tree even with the upgraded Sons Of The Forest Modern Axe, because you’ll effectively be chopping the empty space which you’d long ago ridden of tree trunk.

To chop down a tree efficiently, circle around the tree once you’ve made a dent in one area, and then start chopping from a different angle. This way you can cut down even the girthiest tree in seconds.

7. Head to the 3D printer as soon as possible

A player stares at a 3D printer, lit by purple light, in Sons of the Forest.

One of the most important sites to seek out and explore early on in Sons Of The Forest is the 3D Printer. This device can be found in one of the cave systems marked on your GPS map, and it uses a resource called Resin to craft items that you can’t get any other way. The essential item to craft early on with the 3D Printer is the Mask, which can help you pacify the more dangerous cannibals that will approach you after your first day or two. But there are various extremely useful items that you can obtain using the 3D Printer, so make it a priority to get there in your first couple of days.

8. Steer clear of enemies unless they attack

A masked maniac takes a swing at you in Sons Of The Forest.

When you first start playing Sons Of The Forest, you may be taken aback by just how sophisticated the AI powering the mutants’ behaviour is. These cannibalistic enemies often don’t want to pick a head on fight with you – at least, not until they’ve observed you for a while. And it’s best not to escalate things early on, so try not to attack them unless you have to.

If you do attack mutants, they’ll immediately become more aggressive, and they’ll try to defend their fellows. In larger numbers, they can be a handful for a new player, so be very careful, and heal up if you need to. Learn how with our guide on how to heal in Sons Of The Forest.

9. Increase your attack damage with manual labour

A player wondering through the woods while holding a GPS in Sons of the Forest. Another player walks ahead in the woods.

See the icons above your minimap in the bottom-right corner of the screen? The hunger, thirst, and tiredness icons are fairly easy to understand, but what does that muscled arm icon mean?

This is your strength meter, and as you do more physical activities like chopping trees and hauling logs, this meter will fill up. The higher it is, the more damage you will deal with your melee attacks. So exercise pays off in Sons Of The Forest.

10. Scroll through the Guide Book to see what you can build

The player in Sons Of The Forest holds up their Guide Book to see what structures they can craft.

At the beginning of the game you’re given a few tools, one of which is a Guide Book that you can access at any time either from the inventory or by tapping “B” on the keyboard. This book teaches you how to build various structures in Sons Of The Forest, and it’s filled with useful information. You can click the buttons at the bottom of the page to flick through the book page by page, or you can use the tabs on the edge to skip ahead to particular building categories.

You can also switch the mode from right-handed to left-handed, which is very important. When held in your right hand, the book gives basic how-to guides for simple structures like walls, floors, stairs, fires, and so on. In your left hand, it operates more like the Guide Book in the original game, showing you a variety of more complex builds which you can click on and then place down into the world as a template which you then fill with the required materials to build.

11. Spend some time building your own custom base

The start of a custom build house in Sons Of The Forest, located next to a river.

There’s a very interesting and immersive building system in place in Sons Of The Forest, one that’s much more flexible and ambitious than in The Forest. While it might be tempting to go for the easier approach and use the templates in the Guide Book to make building easier for you, I’d strongly urge you to quickly move on to freeform building. When you’re not working by a template, you have immense freedom with your builds, as you’re able to place out each log and carve out each window individually, allowing you to create a home that’s truly yours.

12. Conserve ammunition as much as possible

A player aiming a bow at two mutants as they vault a wooden wall in Sons of the Forest.

You’re unlikely to come across much ammunition (much less a way to use it) in your first day, but it’s worth bearing in mind from the very beginning that ammo is a precious resource, and you shouldn’t spend it without good reason. Whether it’s arrows for your bow or slugs for your shotgun, hold onto them until you absolutely need the maximum amount of firepower.

13. Prioritise nearby caves over the main story

A player stands holding a GPS while staring at a tent in Sons of the Forest.

When you’ve got a decent starter base set up, your next step in Sons Of The Forest should be to open up your GPS and see what all those markers on the map are about. The green markers are story bits, so if you want to get on with your quest to find the missing billionaire, then these markers should become your priority.

But there are also cave entrances marked on the map, some of which will house unique and important items like the Rebreather, the Shovel, and the Zipline Gun. Some may also contain areas of loot which can only be obtained by finding the right Keycards elsewhere on the island. Either way, just as with the 3D Printer, it’s a great idea to get these items as quickly as possible before you move on with the main story.

14. Learn the basic hotkeys

Sons of the Forest image showing a player holding two halves of a snapped stick at a crafting table.

The original game never held your hand, but in its current Early Access state, Sons Of The Forest really doesn’t tell you much at all about how to do even the most basic things. The best way to give yourself a solid foundation for playing through and enjoying your first session is to learn the basic hotkeys and how and when to use them. Here are a few examples:

  • Tap the interact button (by default: “E”) to pick up an item, or hold the interact button to consume it if it’s edible.
  • If you have in your hands a tool or some other thing that can be put in your inventory, then using the “Drop” key (by default: “G”) will place it there instead of dropping it on the ground.
  • You can also press “G” to come out of the cooking menu while interacting with a fire.
  • Rebind your Lighter, Book, and Inventory keys to easily accessible keys, as you’ll be using them a lot.

15. Stockpile resources ready for winter

A player holding a log wanders towards their base in the snow in Sons of the Forest.

One new feature in Sons Of The Forest which was lacking in the original game is the changing of seasons. As Winter approaches and the days and nights get colder, food will become very scarce, and mutants will become more aggressive, fuelled by their hunger for human flesh. Because of this, you should set yourself a loose goal to stockpile food and other resources, including logs and other building materials, so that when winter arrives you can wait it out with a sturdy, well-protected base and a surplus of food.