Welcome to Stardew Valley! A place where dreams come true, particularly if you don’t like desk jobs, this quaint little community is just the spot for anyone looking to create their own farm. And that’s your primary job in this game - building up, maintaining, and enjoying a farm. There’s lots to do in this process, and in this introductory article we’ll look at the basics of farming in Stardew Valley.
The simplest part of the whole process is making your own character. You can be male or female, you can like cats or dogs, you can look like a punk rocker or a traditional farm hand, all of these choices are up to you - and most of them are, ultimately, aesthetic. You can also choose whether or not you want to watch the introductory sequence from this screen, which you can probably skip after you’ve played through the game once or twice.
After you’ve played through the intro sequence you’ll get plopped into the game, and will be free to move around. Time to get to work.
In this first section we’ll have a quick look around the grounds, as well as Stardew Valley’s bustling community.
Upon awakening your new little farmer will receive some instructions on moving around the screen. Test yourself out, then check the package sitting in the middle of your room. It contains 15 Parsnip Seeds which you can use to get your farm started. Woot. While you’re here, note that you can pick up and move items around in your home by clicking on them. This makes home renovation relatively simple - though it’s important to note that you can’t move everything.
Once you’re done for the day, head back to your house and hop in bed to reset the timer. Thus begins a brand new day.
|The drop box in Stardew Valley.|
This is where you'll stow all your money-making items.
Most of your time in Stardew Valley will probably be spent in the fields outside your home. Here you’ll find, at the beginning, an assortment of rocks, bushes, twigs, trees, and other natural debris. You’ll need to clear these things away using tools in order to create a proper farm. We’ll come back to this in a bit. For the moment, you can explore a bit by using your tools to chop up the landscape so you can run around.)
Note the mailbox beside the house (you’ll occasionally get mail here) and the larger, wooden box to the right. The latter is one of the most important places in the game, as this box allows you to drop off any goods you cultivate and earn money. You need money to operate your farm. Get used to seeing this box!
|Pelican Town in Stardew Valley.|
Most of the NPCs live here.
Head east from your farm by two screens to find Pelican Town, the closest community. Pelican Town is a bustling little hub of activity where you can talk to NPCs and explore a number of the game’s options outside farming. Some general services include:
- Cultivating relationships. There’s a mixture of men and women in Pelican Town, and by befriending them with gifts and thoughtful gestures you can potentially earn yourself a mate. Just making pals can open up more areas of the game, as well. Note that NPCs typically have more than one dialogue box, so it’s worth the effort to click on them multiple times. Check the Social tab of the menu to see whom you’ve met, who you haven’t, and which NPCs are available for relationships.
- Buying items. The Joja Mart in the east sells a large number of seeds for starting new crops, Pierre’s in the centre of town sells seeds and saplings, and the Stardrop Saloon (past 6 pm, anyway) sells an assortment of food. Poke into any shops you find and see what’s available.
- Gathering items. If you search around enough you may find items laying about, such as the occasional Daffodil. Can’t hurt to grab ‘em. NPCs will also hand over items for free, on occasion - for example, Willy will give you a Bamboo Rod on your second day if you respond to his letter by visiting his shack down on the beach.
- Participating in local events. Throughout the year the NPCs will have birthdays, and on some special occasions there will be festivals that can yield additional benefits if you think to participate. You can get a listing of what’s coming up by checking the calendar, outside Pierre’s. The game doesn’t really remind you of these events, so you’ll need to keep them in mind on your own.
It's easy to neglect Pelican Town when you're caught up in improving your farm, but you should make an effort to visit once you're done your work for the day. Much of the game's storytelling meat is found off the farm.
|Stardew Valley's map. It's pretty big,|
for a farming simulator.
If you check your menu (Esc key) you can access a Map of the world. The Map displays plenty of areas beyond your farm and Pelican Town. You’ll visit them in due course, though if you feel like ignoring your farm for a while you can wander about and visit some of them now. A few are currently blocked off, however, and your attention is better reserved for other things at the moment. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to explore later.
|The calendar for Stardew Valley.|
Displayed here is the current time, weather, and day.
Like other farming simulators, time passes in Stardew Valley. The passage of time is represented in the top-right corner of your screen, which is also where you’ll find the current date. As you progress through the game seasons will change and different events will trigger depending on the date, but for the moment your primary concern is getting as much work done as you can before the end of each day. Pause your game (Esc key) whenever you’re idle to prevent time from passing needlessly.
It is important to keep in mind that a lot of the people in Pelican Town operate on their own schedules, and will be in different places at different points in the day. You can learn their professional schedules by hovering over their homes and businesses on the Map with your cursor, though you'll also have to follow them around and speak to them to see what they do on their off time, and when they do it.
Once you’ve had a look around, which will probably encompass most of your first day, you’ll want to jump into the meat of Stardew Valley: Farming.
A farm is only as good as its produce, and your initial yield in Stardew Valley will be crops. In order to grow crops you need to accomplish four tasks:
- Clear the land
- Plant the seeds
- Water the plants
- Harvest your yield
How you perform these tasks varies from crop to crop, but the basic process is generally the same. Let’s go through the steps.
|Smashing dem rocks.|
Clearing the Land
Your farmland is, when you start, covered in overgrowth. In order to properly grow crops you need to first set Mother Nature to rights. You can do this via your items, specifically the four tools (Axe, Hoe, Pickaxe, and Scythe) that you received at the beginning of the game. Choose a tool via your hotkeys, then click on the obstruction you want cleared to get rid of it.
If you get lucky you may receive a resource - things like Stones, Wood, Fiber, and plenty else - for your hard work. Resources are used in Crafting later in the game. They can also be tossed in the bin by your house to earn some money, though not a whole lot. More on that below.
Not every tool can clear every obstruction. The Axe can’t chop up rocks, and the Pickaxe won’t do much to tall grass. Experiment with your tools to see what works. Note, too, that you can upgrade tools in order to clear larger obstructions - your Axe can’t get rid of bigger tree stumps now, but it will once you’ve sent it in for an upgrade.
Once you’ve cleared space for planting you need to use the Hoe to till the soil. Choose a bare patch of dirt and smack it with the Hoe to make a hole. Do this several times to create a small field.
|Planting dem seeds.|
Seeds don’t grow outside soil. Once you’ve got a row of tilled dirt you can proceed to lay down Seeds, and you’ll probably start with the Parsnip Seeds you received at the beginning of the game. Choose your Seed bag from your inventory hotkeys, then click on the cleared spot to plant the Seeds.
You can make your fields as weird and haphazard as you like, but for efficiency’s sake it’s usually wise to grow the same types of Seeds in the same fields, and to do so in orderly rows.
|Watering dem crops.|
Watering Your Plants
Seeds do not grow overnight. It takes several days for Seeds to grow, the amount of time varying from Seed type to Seed type. In order to encourage growth you’ll need to water your seeds each day, using the Watering Can. The Watering Can runs out of water over time, so you’ll need to refill it from water sources. The closest, most convenient source is a small pond on your property, to the southeast of the house.
Occasionally it will rain. You do not need to water your seeds on rainy days. Handy!
|Making dem profits.|
Harvest Your Yield
Assuming you’ve been a good farmer and watered your Seeds each day, you’ll wake up one morning and find your crops looking plump and full. This means they’re ready to be harvested. Gather them up as items, then toss ‘em in the collection bin by your house. That night someone will come pick up your yield, and you’ll receive money - and experience - for your hard work. The better the crop, the more money you’ll earn, and the more experience you’ll get.
As mentioned above, you can throw resources into the bin as well to earn money, though not nearly as much as with crops in most cases. Note that anything you put in here will be carted away that night, so be sure you want to deposit something. If you change your mind, check the bin before sleeping to retrieve your item.
|The Energy bar in Stardew Valley.|
You're in trouble when this is empty.
The last important thing to note in this introductory article is Energy. Energy is displayed in the bottom-right corner of the screen as a green bar. Every time you perform an action you will lose a bit of Energy. If this bar bottoms out your character will become sluggish and slow, and if you continue to perform actions they will eventually pass out, ending the day. You can restore Energy by eating food items or sleeping in your bed. You will lose Energy just from wandering around, as well as working - you just won’t lose as much.
That’s as good an intro as any. Now you just have… the rest of the game! There’s plenty to explore, lots to see and do, and if making money’s your primary goal there are plenty of ways to rake in cash besides simple farming. We’ll get into the nuances of Stardew Valley in further detail in later articles.