In this Icarus Guide for Beginners, I'll tell you what you need to know to get started playing this ambitious new survival game from RocketWerkz and Dean Hall.
What is Icarus?
Icarus is a survival game that was created by RocketWerkz, a new game development studio founded by DayZ creator Dean Hall. The game was first announced in June 2020 and had a few delays, ultimately settling on its December 4, 2021 release date.
The planet of Icarus is "humanity's greatest mistake" -- a terraforming accident has transformed it into something strange. You're charged with heading down to the planet (either by yourself or as part of a group of 8), completing objectives, and escaping within a fixed time limit of several days.
It sounds simple enough, right? Here's the rub -- you leave everything behind on the planet save for a handful of resources you might bring with you. The important part -- at least in the early game -- is the progress of your character which allows you to unlock new building materials, items, and more.
Understanding Icarus' Mechanics
Before we move into the walkthrough portion of the Icarus Guide for Beginners, I'll be taking a moment to break down the basic mechanics in simple terms. This is, after all, a survival game. Knowledge is power -- and the key to keeping yourself alive.
Survival Mechanics, Simplified
Survival in Icarus boils down to seven key metrics:
- Health - A bog-standard life bar. If it gets depleted to zero, you get knocked unconscious. You either have to be revived by an ally or give up and respawn, resulting in the loss of some XP on your current level of progression due to "XP Debt."
- Temperature - You want to keep this in the ideal range. Too hot or too cold and you'll start to suffer adverse effects.
- O2 / Oxygen - You have to breathe like any other human. Run out of oxygen and you'll fall unconscious.
- Food - You also have to eat.
- Hydration - And you have to drink water, too.
- XP - Seen at the top left of your screen, you'll gain XP for completing most in-game actions. Eventually, you'll level up and earn 3 Tech Points and 1 Talent Point (more on that later). If you die, you'll lose a portion of your progression on your current Level.
- Buffs and Debuffs - Perhaps the most critical section - right above your health bar is an area for buffs and debuffs. There are all sorts of diseases in the game to worry about, but you can also protect yourself with various boons.
How Prospects and Missions Work
"Prospects" are missions that you can participate in. There are two key reasons to take on Prospects: earning experience by surviving during the mission and earning currency for researching or crafting high-tech gear.
Each Prospect has a time limit ranging anywhere from 4 days to 30 days, although most Prospects are 7 days. These are not in-game days, mind -- the timer runs in real-time and starts counting down the moment you return to space after a previous mission.
Take note: Prospects have objectives. You need to complete all of the objectives (whatever they may be) within the (rather generous) time limit and return to space to succeed. If you pull it off, you'll earn some in-game currency and unlock new missions further along the tree.
Finally, Prospect progression is based on your account and not your character. If you'd like to start with a new character, you'll be able to play all of the Prospects you've already unlocked; you just won't have the Level, Talent Points, and Tech Points that you've earned on your previous character.
How the Tech Tree Works
The Tech Tree is where you unlock all of the things you can build and craft in Icarus. You'll be making thatch huts and using stone tools in the early levels, but you can eventually advance to mighty rifles and solar-powered bases full of machines. You gain 3 Tech Points per level -- use them wisely!
How the Talents Work
Talents provide passive bonuses -- these can include buffs to your stats (such as gaining more carry weight), improvements to your abilities (such as running faster), and unique perks (such as the ability to convert Wood into Sticks).
Icarus Guide for Beginners - Getting Started
Now that we've got the basics down, it's time to move into the walkthrough portion of the Icarus Guide for Beginners. Your adventure will start off by creating a character. The options at launch are somewhat limited, but you should be able to put something together you're happy with.
Once your character is created, you'll get dumped into a menu screen within the Space Station. There's not much else to do here other than to get started with your very first Prospect: it's time to land on the planet Icarus and get your feet wet.
Your First Icarus Mission - Beachhead: Recon
Your very first mission won't offer much in the way of challenge. It will, however, throw you in the deep end without much in the way of instruction.
First, you're going to want to pick up some Sticks, Fiber, and Stone. Mash the F key and break up the foliage around your landing site for Sticks and Fiber; then, look around a bit for Stone. Make a Pickaxe as soon as you have enough materials. Then, break some larger rocks with the Pickaxe and make an Axe.
What to Unlock at Level 1
Continue collecting materials until you reach Level 1. You'll get 3 Tech Points; spend them on unlocking the Wood Bow, Stone Arrows, and Stone Knife. Spend your first Talent Point on "Lumber Yield" under Resources. Craft a Stone Knife and Wood Bow, and then craft at least 20 or so Stone Arrows.
Your next objective is to get some Leather and Fur to make a Bedroll. Wolves are your best target as they'll provide both materials; crouch and snipe them with your bow from far away to do additional damage. If they come after you, aim for the head (whether you're shooting your bow or using melee). If they come into melee range, your Axe will make a perfectly serviceable weapon. As an alternative, you can also target Rabbits.
What to Unlock at Level 2
The main bottleneck for making a Bedroll is Fur; you'll likely have far more Leather than you'd otherwise need. Continue hunting animals and you'll eventually hit Level 2; unlock the Campfire, Bedroll, and Thatch Beam. Spend another talent point in Lumber Yield.
Once you have at least 20 Fur, head back to your Dropship. Craft and place a Campfire. Fell a tree to gather some Wood, put it in the "Fuel" section of the Campfire, and put any and all Raw Meat you have in the "Device Inventory." Then, hit the "Activate" button and your food will start cooking.
What to Unlock at Level 3
By now, you should be at Level 3 (or close to it). If you still need some experience, cut down a bunch of trees -- they give 300XP each. Spend your three Tech Tree points on the Thatch Floor, Thatch Wall, and Thatch Roof/Ramp and spend your Talent point on Lumber Yield yet again.
You will also likely be running low on Oxygen at this point; collect some Oxite, put it on your Hotbar, and consume it to restore your Oxygen. If your Water is running low, simply walk up to the nearby lake and drink some. Then, build a simple Lean-To structure like this:
Craft a Bedroll and place it on the floor. Make sure your Campfire is nearby; you can't sleep without a lit Campfire near your Bedroll. If you've done everything right, you'll have completed the mission. If the game is not counting this building as proper shelter, add more walls to better close it up.
What to Unlock at Level 4
While you could leave now, it's a good idea to hit at least Level 4 to better prepare you for the next mission. Continue gaining experience until you hit Level 4. Once you do, unlock the Wood Rag Torch, Wood Spear, and Cloth Chest Armor to better equip yourself for the second mission.
Level 5 and Beyond
If you wish, you can continue gaining experience by harvesting resources and hunting animals. If you hit Level 5, I recommend unlocking the Bone Arrow, Wood Beam, and Wood Floor and spending your Talent Point on "Wood Breakdown" -- the latter's ability to convert Wood into Sticks is highly useful in the early game.
Should you push ahead to Level 6, unlock the Wood Wall, Wood Door, and Woof Roof/Ramp. This will give you enough pieces that you can make a fully-enclosed wooden house that is much sturdier than anything made out of Thatch.
Icarus Beginner's Guide - What's Next?
Beating your first Prospect brings us to the end of the Icarus Guide for Beginners -- what's next?
Well, this is a game that's all about progression. Now that you have your next Prospect available, you can dive right in. Your next immediate goals are beating the "Livewire: Terrain Scan" Prospect and hitting Level 10 to unlock Tier 2 of the Tech tree.
Looking ahead further, your next steps will be to conquer the unique challenges of the other Prospects. Spend your Tech Points and Talent Points wisely and you'll surely be able to overcome the challenges ahead.