Icarus Beginner's Guide: how to survive, hunt, build shelter, and level up

Icarus Beginner’s Guide: how to survive, hunt, build shelter, and level up

Icarus is the challenging new PVE survival game from DayZ developer RocketWerkz. However, with this beginner’s guide you just might stand a chance.

I went into Icarus completely cold and, while I got there in the end in terms of enjoyment, I would recommend players first read a beginner’s guide. Despite being a veteran of getting my ass handed to me in Soulslike games, the frustration of slowly waiting to die in the dark from starvation was as far from a rewarding experience as I can imagine.

With that in mind, I have decided to compile the beginner’s guide to Icarus that I wish I had read beforehand. No spoilers or mission walkthroughs that could diminish your sense of accomplishment; a beginners guide that explains some fundamental strategies and systems so your first character doesn’t find themselves in a massive experience deficit (yep).

icarus beginner's guide
Image: Icarus / RocketWerkz

To get things started, let’s first talk a little bit about what kind of game Icarus is. The game puts you in the shoes of an aspirational space colonist that, at least to start with, doesn’t know shit.

They also, for reasons that aren’t ever explained in the game’s introduction, decide to begin their adventure on an alien planet without any sort of equipment other than their mediocre space suit.

Honestly, the colonists in Icarus could have done with reading a beginner’s guide to fucking existing, such is the extent of their apparent incompetence. Sorry, I digress.

As I was saying, until later in the game you start each mission completely unequipped – meaning the first thing you need to do is…

Pick up everything

You see all those rocks on the ground? Gather them up because tonight, we gonna make some real nice rock shit. While you’re down there pick up all those ferns and sticks, by nightfall we’re all going to wearing fern clothes.

And those majestic Douglas fir looking trees? As soon as you make your axe, it’s chop chop time.

The gameplay loop of Icarus revolves around gathering materials, which helps you level up, which in turn unlocks more things that you can make with those materials. Early in the game focus on collecting stone, fiber (from ferns), wood/sticks, berries, and oxidite (a blueish rock that can be consumed for oxygen).

With these materials you will be able to survive and make the critical starting items.

Tools, technology and talents in Icarus

Doing almost anything in Icarus will result in you being awarded experience, so in no time at all you will need to get acquainted with the game’s technology and talents systems. Each time you level up you will be given a number of points to spend in each tree, which will allow you to select the tools and talents you want for your character.

Early on in the game talents aren’t particularly important, but I would recommend upgrading your general stats such as speed, stamina, and health. These selections will be useful no matter what direction you decide to focus on – something best done later when you’ve got your head around the core mechanics of Icarus.

The technology tree, on the other hand, is extremely important early on – and if you’re doing as this Icarus beginners guide suggests, then you should prioritise unlocking the axe, pickaxe, knife, bow and stone arrows. These tools will allow you to gather materials quickly and, very importantly, hunt animals and defend yourself.

Hunting (more on this later) opens up a great new way of getting food and other critical resources such as fur, bone, leather, and meat.

technology beginner's guide
Image: Icarus / RocketWerkz

Shelters and setting up camp

Now that you have a bunch of resources in your inventory and nightfall is likely approaching, we should discuss shelter in Icarus. Use your remaining technology tree points to unlock the campfire, bedroll and thatch building blocks (floor, wall, roof, and side wall). If in a pinch, you can make a triangular shelter with two floor tiles and two roof tiles.

From here you want to position your bed and campfire undercover to guard against rain, which can put out your fire. Make sure to hold F when looking at your bedroll to set it as your default respawn point. Before resting, place fuel in your campfire (wood or sticks) and all the food you want to cook – this will increase its nutritional benefits and increase how long it takes for the food to spoil.

In the morning, it’s a good idea to deactivate your campfire and pick it up along with your bedroll; unless you plan on returning to this shelter the following night. This can be an important strategic decision as this will preserve your respawn point.

However, if you’ll be adventuring far away, it is wise to keep these items with you in case you need to make a new shelter on the fly.

As you progress in Icarus you will eventually want to unlock wood and stone shelters as they are more resilient to dangerous storms. In the meantime, unlock the repair hammer which you can use to keep your shelter standing in the midst of the storm.

icarus shelter guide
Image: Icarus / RocketWerkz

Hunting in Icarus (TLDR: kill everything)

This should be one of the most important takeaways form this Icarus beginner’s guide: kill everything that isn’t likely to kill you first. While hunting is a great way of collecting food and resources, it is also the fastest way to gain experience, and therefore unlock newer technology and talents.

At first this might seem difficult as the least threatening creatures do a good job of quickly retreating once they see you. Utilise stealth to get the drop on them and also for the added damage it applies to your first strike; aiming at an animal’s head also appears to be effective.

Wolves are a boon early game in Icarus because, despite being relatively weak, they will run towards you. A few swings from a stone knife should be enough to finish them off – just be wary of additional threats as they tend to hunt in packs.

Speaking of which, animals in Icarus will cooperate to bring you down – a bear barrelling towards you flanked by wolves is almost as ridiculous as it is deadly, but that’s the way it is, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

icarus hunting guide
Image: Icarus / RocketWerkz

Hold off on the Kill List: Extermination prospects

Once you complete the opening two prospects in Icarus, you will have a number of new missions become available at the same time. I recommend starting with a few of the alternatives before trying to tackle the Kill List: Extermination prospect, which is a significant step-up in terms of difficulty.

However, if you can’t help yourself and are drawn to the concept of hunting down an apex predator, then be sure to check out our guide to hunting the Alpha Wolf boss.

Well that brings us to the end of our Icarus beginner’s guide. I hope you’ve found some of this information helpful and adventure forth to enjoy the the game’s impressive environments and challenging gameplay loop.

Best of luck, prospector!


Icarus is out now.