Shack Chat: What's your first task in your favorite survival sandbox game?

From crafting to gathering and everything in-between, join the staff as they talk about what tasks they start on first when playing survival sandbox games!


With this week's full release of Obsidian Entertainment's multiplayer survival game Grounded comes discussion over the topic of which tasks to complete first. Not just in games like Grounded, but survival sandbox games as a whole. With the weekend fast approaching and with it plenty of time to dig even deeper into games like Grounded, the Shacknews staff has gathered to share which tasks they start on first in survival sandbox games.

Question: What's your first task in your favorite survival sandbox game?

Fill up on supplies - Ozzie Mejia

I'm not much of a survivor, but if I'm stuck on a desert island, the first thing I'll do is immediately search for whatever supplies I might need to stay alive. I'm talking about food, med kits, or whatever I might need to make a fire. I'm always cautious about staying out too long or being overly risky, so I'll play things conservatively and always make sure I can keep an overabundance of supplies, if need be.

Make a happy home - TJ Denzer, Senior News Editor/Survival Interior Decorator

Image from Cozy Grove showing a peaceful autumn landscape with a base packed full of items and supplies.
© Spry Fox

There’s nothing more stressful to me in a survival game than not having a safe place to return to. I need four walls and a door, or something giving the semblance of such. I know I’ll probably need tools for that, but honestly, building shelter is the goal. I need a place that I can return to and lock up. I need a place where I can pool my gathered resources, heal my wounds, get some rest, and plan my next moves. Perhaps just as important, I need a place that feels safe and cozy against the dangers of the world at large. Plus, building homes in survival games is just fun to me.

I’ll build something rudimentary and functional at first, but as my capabilities and resources grow, I’ll get really into it. I think it’s safe to say I’d spend just about as much time getting my settlement just the way I want it as I spend gathering resources… many resources of which will be used to improve my home. I know my fellow players will appreciate having a solid and functional shelter to come back to as well. I’m okay with holding off on my own adventures if it means building a safe and effective home base from which those adventures can flow. It feels like a fun community thing too. I like searching the online community, seeing what other players are building, and bringing back ideas for my own settlements, whether I copy their ideas outright or stylize them for my own needs. Ya gotta have a stronghold. If I’m in your game, I’ll make sure we all have one by the session’s end.

Make some tools - Blake Morse, Survivorman

Image for Grounded showing four kids on a leaf with an ant behind them and flying insects coming at them, overlooking a large backyard.
© Obsidian Entertainment

I was pretty obsessed with survival shows for a while. I got really into Naked and Afraid as well as Man vs Wild. I’m not sure how much of it has carried over into my gaming life, but I do know that having a tool like an axe or a machete makes producing things like shelter or gathering food that much easier.

The concept seems to hold up in the video game world as well, where on top of just needing to find some basic necessities, you usually have to go up against all sorts of nasty creatures which suddenly turns your tools into weapons in most cases. Much like in last weekend’s Splatoon 3 Splatfest, I’m on team gear here. It just makes the next steps you need to take in order to make it through whatever scenario you’re playing more reachable.

Craft an axe - Sam Chandler, Did I axe you?

Image from the Shacknews Grounded stream showing a character holding an axe overlooking a grassy backyard.
© Shacknews

No matter what type of survival game I’m playing, the first thing I’ll be making is an axe. This is a vital piece of equipment that serves multiple purposes. I can cut down trees. I can attack enemies. I might even be able to use it in some other fashion. Sure, I could go and find some berries, but that is a temporary solution and doesn’t quite get me on track to surviving. The next task? Some kind of sleeping arrangement.

Get Warm - Bill Lavoy, Faithful Cartographer

Image from The Long Dark showing a nighttime campfire scene.
© Shacknews

The first thing I prioritize my favorite survival game is getting warm. In The Long Dark, I spawn outdoors, and it’s cold. More than two or three minutes outside without warm clothes or a fire and I’m risking multiple temperature related ailments hitting me. Your core temperature can drop and you can get hypothermia, your extremities can be exposed to the cold and you can get frostbite.

In The Long Dark, getting frostbite is not something you can heal from. It will chunk a piece of your health bar permanently, meaning your maximum health will forever be lower. Sure, you have to worry about wolves and bears and food and water in The Long Dark, but the cold is your first enemy, and it can’t be skirted or outrun. You either get warm or you die.

Gather supplies - Morgan Shaver, Expert Hoarder

Screenshot from Don't Starve: Together showing a large, cultivated garden.
© Klei Entertainment

The first thing I do in most survival games is go around and scavenge for as many supplies and helpful items as I can. For example, in one of my favorite indies, Don’t Starve, I usually spend as much time as I can before it gets dark gathering wood, rocks, food and other assorted materials and hoarding them in makeshift bases.

I also do some light tool crafting… before heading out and collecting even more supplies with those newly crafted tools. I do this until I have way too much of everything, and then and only then do I proceed to explore other aspects of the game. Even in non-survival games, I love to gather and hoard items wherever possible because you never know when you might need them.

Get a weapon - Asif Khan, Has survived the pandemic so far

Image from Fallout showing a character shooting a makeshift laser weapon.
© Bethesda

I am not really the best at these survival type games, but my chances improve immensely when I have a weapon. Get me a gun, knife, sword, or even a stick, and I will last way longer. Crafting and grinding to get enough materials or currency to get a weapon is usually my go-to strategy when playing these type of games. 

Let there be light! And then housing - Dennis White

Image from Ark: Survival Evolved showing a base with a sign that reads My House.
© Studio Wildcard

I am very paranoid about darkness in games so I’m going for some kind of torch or lantern or some light source and then I’m going to put together some kind of structure that at least gives me a fighting chance against raiders. I need a roof! My days playing Ark: Survival Evolved taught me to go for a decent home on high ground before anything else!

Get an idea of the land/craft - Steve Tyminski, I will survive!

Image from Shovel Knight showing Shovel Knight by a glowing campfire in a dark forest.
© Yacht Club Games

What’s my go-to first task in your favorite survival sandbox game? I don’t play sandbox games too often but when I do, the first thing I like to do is get a general idea of the land and set up basecamp. Now, this also means gathering supplies so I don’t die as well as creating tools/food, also for not dying. In these types of games, you need things like an axe/shovel and/or a bed/tent right off the bat and you never know when you’ll get the chance to build them again. That being said, knowing where the caves/mines are and where the best animals for cooking are helps too.

And there you have it, the tasks the Shacknews crew starts on first in survival sandbox games. Now it's time to turn it over to Chatty. What are some of the first things you do in survival sandbox games like Grounded? Are you more of a crafter, or a gatherer? Let us know in the comments thread below! 

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

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