For newcomers to Stardew Valley, the game may come across as confusing and overwhelming. I remember my first time experiencing Stardew Valley and it was baffling.
Waking up to tend to your crops and animals, going fishing, dungeon crawling, socializing with neighbors? Which one do you do?
At first, you can be pretty lost on what you should be doing next.
There are so many things to learn in Stardew Valley’s gameplay mechanics and especially so for first-time players. You also probably don’t know the most effective ways of utilizing the limited hours in a day since you don’t have a routine yet.
That’s why today, we’re sharing our Stardew Valley Beginner’s Guide to help you get acclimated to the Valley, daily life, and sharing tips & tricks to better utilize your time.
Stardew Valley Beginner’s Guidebook
Stardew Valley – How to get started?
To start our Stardew Valley Guidebook, we’ll be going over the things you’ll be doing at the beginning of the game.
We’ll act as your Stardew Valley guide till you’re familiar enough to explore the Valley on your own.
Choosing your Farm & Character Creation
The first thing to do before starting a game is to design your character and choose your farm.
For the character creator, I’d recommend going through all the options and picking out a hairstyle, shirt, pants, eye color, etc. you like.
You can modify all of this later on in the game but not immediately. It’ll take a while to unlock the character modifier in-game, so make sure you’re comfortable with everything before proceeding.
Name your character, your farm, choose your pet (cat or dog), and finally, choose your farm design.
Now, this is an important step because once you choose your name, farm name, and farm design, you cannot modify it later on.
For newcomers, I’d recommend playing through the “Standard Farm” first because this is the original map. The other farms have various specialties like dense forests, an island layout, or even monsters roaming around which isn’t ideal for beginners.
Once you’re used to the Stardew Valley gameplay loop, you can start a new farm on one of the other 5 farm designs.
First Day on the Farm
After tragically listening to your grandfather’s last words, you finally move into his old farmhouse to get away from the monotony of modern life.
A few quick cutscenes and you wake up and can get started on cleaning the overgrown, debilitated farmhouse.
As soon as you wake up, you’ll see a gift box in the center of the room which contains Parsnip seeds.
Take the seeds and head out onto the farm. The first thing you should do is clear up some land. Chop down some trees with the Axe, break some stones with the Pickaxe, and cut some grass with the Scythe.
If you don’t like where you tilled, you can use the Pickaxe to destroy that plot. But if there’s something already planted there, this will also destroy the crop.
After you’re done planting the seeds, water them with the Watering Can. If you don’t water your crops, they won’t grow. You’ll have to water your crops every day, so that should be the first thing you do in your daily routine.
You can fill the Watering Can by going to any body of water around the farm and the Valley. And don’t worry, this might be quite the chore at the start, but over time you’ll unlock Sprinklers which water your crops for you every morning.
Once you’re done planting your seeds, you’ll have to wait 4 days for them to harvest. When it’s ready, pick up your crops, sell them at Pierre’s or the Delivery Box, buy new seeds, and repeat.
Different crops have different harvest times and crops that take longer usually sell for more.
This is one of the main ways to make Gold on your farm. It’s wise to invest your time and Gold in buying and planting crops at the start of your Stardew Valley gameplay.
While farming and harvesting crops are one of your stable sources of income, it might not pay off as well as some other methods in-game. Here’s what you should be doing to maximize your farming career.
The “Best” Start in Stardew Valley
Now that you’ve planted your first crops it’s up to you what to do next. I would strongly recommend going into town and exploring the surrounding areas. You’ll notice you have Quests in the “!” icon, so check that out as well.
Your first two Quests will be to introduce yourself to all the people in Stardew Valley and Harvest a Parsnip. Take the time to do that on your first day since there’s not much else to do. Finish up and go to bed.
On the 2nd day of your Stardew Valley gameplay, you’ll find a letter in the mailbox outside your house. “Willy” will ask you to come to the Beach on the south side of town and will give you a “Bamboo Pole”.
Now you can Fish at the pier, rivers, and lakes around the Valley.
Fishing is one of the most lucrative activities at the start of the game. You’ll have to get used to the fishing mini-game, but it’s well worth learning at the start of your Stardew Valley gameplay.
Alternating between fishing, planting & harvesting crops, and foraging berries/flowers will get you a fair bit of coin before Spring ends.
This will also increase your skill in those attributes, getting you more perks that will make tasks easier to do.
This is the gist of our Stardew Valley Starter Guide and now you’ll be able to go around the Valley and figure out your routine.
Stardew Valley Quest Guide
Now that you know the tips for starting Stardew Valley and are familiar with the gameplay loop, next up are Quests. There are many different types of Quests in Stardew Valley, but they’re easy enough to follow.
Story Quests are ‘unique’ Quests and serve as a progression system. You’ll get these Quests over time as you play; in the mailbox, on a certain day/season, enter a new area, etc.
These quests usually involve doing something like bringing character crops, reaching higher levels in the Mines, finding lost items, etc.
There’s no time limit for doing these quests and there’s no penalty for not doing them. But for your overall gameplay experience, I’d recommend doing them when you feel like it to ‘progress’.
“Help Wanted” Quests
“Help Wanted” Quests are the most common in the game and are of 4 types; Gathering, Slaying Monsters, Delivering Items, or Fishing. You’ll find them on the noticeboard outside of Pierre’s General Store.
Every day there will be new Quests posted from someone in the Valley. They’ll ask you to do/deliver something and in return will award you Gold.
The Quests are varied but soon enough, the missions will feel the same with differences in things you need to find, harvest, or a different fish to deliver, etc.
These Quests have to be completed within 2 days to receive the reward. But, nothing bad happens if you miss the deadline so don’t worry too much about these Quests. Do them if you need the Gold, but otherwise, you can ignore them.
Special Order Quests
Special Orders are not immediately available like “Help Wanted” or Story Quests. You’ll have to wait till Fall 2, Year 1. Fall is the 3rd season in Stardew Valley after Spring and Summer.
When you reach that specific day, you will trigger a cutscene as soon as you step into town.
The Special Orders board will pop up in front of Mayor Lewis’s house where you can choose from one of two available Quests. Special Orders tend to have longer timeframes to complete, ranging from 7-28 days.
These Quests are longer and need more resources/time to complete. For example, my first Special Order was for Pierre who gave me 28 days to deliver 25 Gold-quality Vegetables.
You’ll need to keep track of Special Orders you’ve accepted if you want the reward. The rewards are mostly Gold (500 – 6000), items, recipes, etc. which are substantial, especially early game.
New Quests are posted every Monday and you can have multiple activities at the same time. But I’d recommend not taking more than 2 Special Orders as you might not be able to complete them in time.
Luckily though, there’s no penalty for failing the Quest and they will be available again over time.
Tips After Starting Stardew Valley
Moving along in our Stardew Valley Walkthrough, now that you know the basics here are some tips to truly enhance your playthrough experience.
Sell What You Don’t Need (But Not Everything)
Once you get the ball rolling and start harvesting more crops, foraging, fishing, and dwelling in the mines, you’ll have a lot of stuff. Now, a general tip I’d recommend to new players is to sell most of the things you get.
But this doesn’t mean you should sell everything. You never know when you might need a crop or that shiny gemstone as a gift, for a Quest, a delivery, etc. A good way to manage this is to sell the excess and keep a stack of 5-10 (or more) of everything.
A good tip to know if you should sell something like a gemstone, relic, fossil, papers, etc. is to check in with Gunther at the library. You’ll need to donate items found in the Mines to get decoration rewards.
Once you’ve donated at least one of each type of item, you can keep the rest you find to sell or for gifts.
For harder to obtain items (gemstones, oils, wine, etc.) you can also keep some as a stockpile to sell if you needed Gold quickly. But for eggs, crops, and other products you make/obtain often, you can confidently sell those as income for the day.
You should also stock up on Gifts, Ingredients, and other materials that could come in handy. This makes it easier to befriend/romance characters and is useful for surprise quests that need something out of season.
Watch The Seasons
The first time I played Stardew Valley, I didn’t pay much attention to the season I was in. It was Summer and I planted crops that would take 7 days to harvest, but there were only 2 days left for the season.
In the next few days, I woke up to all my crops withered away.
Certain crops, fish, trees, and foraged items are available only in a certain season. So if you needed a Pumpkin for a Quest/Community Center deliverable in Winter, you need to wait till Fall the following year to get it.
There are other ways to procure out-of-season items, but mainly, you’ll need to keep track of the seasons as you play.
Another thing to look out for whenever the season changes count it as events. Each season has a special event; Summer, Spring, and Fall have 2 Festival days and Winter has 5 Festival days.
During the festival days, there will be various events/cutscenes, new stuff to buy, and things to do. It’s a good way to break the monotony of everyday life on the farm as the seasons go by.
But if there was something at a festival you wanted/needed to do but missed, it will come around again next year.
Also keep in mind that during festival days, you may not be able to complete a time-sensitive Quest like Help Wanted/Special Orders. This is because you might not have access to certain characters/areas because of the festival.
You’ll need to plan your deliveries and Quests around these days.
Upgrade Your Tools / Buildings
Once you’ve made some coin, it’s a good idea to invest in better tools and buildings. These tools will make life easier on the farm by making things faster, wasting less energy, among other benefits.
You don’t have to max out every tool, just the ones you use most are a good pattern to follow. The main tools you should be upgrading are the Axe, Pickaxe, and Scythe. To me, these are the most important tools in the game and the upgrades are crucial.
For tools like the Hoe, Trash Can, and Watering Can, it’s up to your personal preference when to upgrade.
I didn’t use them much since that’s the way I played, but you might need the upgrades. Make upgrade decisions according to your playstyle.
While tools are important, you can also invest in buildings and house upgrades. New buildings will let you access new things on the farm. There are a few buildings that are very useful early-game you should focus on.
To access these buildings, you’ll have to go to Robin’s house up north of the Town and talk to Robin when she’s standing in front of the counter. She is closed on Tuesday’s so keep that in mind.
For starters, I’d recommend building the Coop and Silo. The Silo stores Hay for the Winter/feeders and the Coop allows you to keep Chickens, Ducks, and other poultry that produce eggs to sell and make mayonnaise.
When you save up enough Gold and resources, make a Barn to keep farm animals like Cows, Sheep, and Pigs. The raw materials and products from Barn animals are a better source of income compared to most Crops and Coop animals.
Once you set up a Coop and Barn, that’s when you’ll start making some serious Gold. If you wanted to make a lot of Gold in the long run, this is what you should focus on.
Dating & Friendships
Besides all the hard work managing your farm, Stardew Valley also emphasizes interpersonal relationships with the townsfolk. This is denoted by a 10-Heart Meter for each character, found in the Social tab.
You can befriend almost everyone you find in Stardew Valley, and can even date some of them.
Currently, there are 12 romanceable characters; 6 men and 6 women. Other than these 12, you can’t date anybody else but you can befriend and max out 10-Hearts with every other character.
For characters that you can date, you can max out to 10-Hearts after they become your Girlfriend/Boyfriend. There are benefits to dating and being friends with people around town. At certain Heart levels, you will unlock Heart Events with the character.
These events will typically show a cutscene with you interacting with the character, their backstory, or something else going on. After this event, you’ll notice a change in the way the character talks to you, and they will even send you Gifts in the mail.
There are several ways to increase the Heart Meter, here are some of the main ways:
- Talking to them daily
- Completing delivery Quests
- Giving Gifts they love/like
- Giving Gifts on Birthdays
The Heart Meter will also decrease over time if you don’t talk to them or give gifts they hate. Keep tracking the meter with characters you want to be close to and interact with them often.
After dating and maxing out the Heart Meter, you can Marry one of the 12 romanceable characters. This means you’ll need to keep things up till you find the Mermaid’s Pendant, which may take a while to obtain.
Free Games Like Stardew Valley
There are plenty of games that follow the familiar Stardew Valley formula, but with a twist. Games like My Time At Portia, Moonlighter, Forager, Grave Keeper are all wonderful games with a similar feel.
There is also the Harvest Moon series which Stardew Valley was based on. These games are great options if you happen to get tired of Stardew Valley and wanted a break.
In terms of “free” games, however, the closest clone I’ve seen is Harvest Town on Android and iOS.
It has plenty of the same features and looks like Stardew Valley, but with additional content that you wouldn’t see in the original. The only downside is it’s only available on Mobile, but there are workarounds if you wanted to play on a PC, like emulation.
And that’s the end of our Stardew Valley Beginner’s Guide and hopefully, you can take what you’ve learned today and apply it to your own game.
This isn’t a be-all-end-all solution on how to beat Stardew Valley, but rather a guide that’ll get you started with a solid foundation.
It’s important to remember that the core of Stardew Valley is having a relaxing time, goofing off with the townsfolk, or working on the farm.
You shouldn’t focus on maximizing your output, but it’s there if you wanted to. Most importantly though, enjoy your time in the Valley. It’s truly a unique, deep world to dive into.
What should I do first in Stardew Valley?
What is the most profitable thing to do in Stardew Valley?
Does Stardew Valley ever end?
Who should I marry in Stardew Valley?
Will there be a Stardew Valley 2?
But he also mentions that he “would not be surprised” if Stardew Dew Valley 2 does happen. For now though, no, there is no official statement on if it’s in the works.