Oxygen not included is an excellent game that challenges players through connected simulations where every action a player takes can have many different reactions. This guide is intended for players just starting out and looking to survive their first 50 cycles (days containing 600 seconds).
The game simulates many layers that each interact with one another (e.g. heat, pressure, germs, electricity, duplicants, morale, critters and many others). Much of the game’s enjoyment comes from discovering how these interact. Players are thoroughly encouraged to dive in and discover through trial and error, you will not be alone if even your 5th base does not survive to 200 cycles. This guide should however drastically improve your chances for surviving the early game and giving you a firm base from which to build and experiment.
We will cover:
There are a few major points that should be highlighted upfront that can make the game overly challenging and lead to a quick colony death. For this reason we recommend new players:
Stress, germs and overpopulation are three significant causes of colony wipe-out and avoiding those four actions will go a long way to keeping your colony safe in the early game.
When you start the game, you are given 3 randomly selected duplicants (dupes) that each have their own set of traits. Whilst you will be able to add more duplicants later in your game, this first dupe seleciton opporunity is special since you can infinitely re-roll the dupes until you get “good” ones. This is a helpful mechanic for new plaers so lets discuss good and bad traits for your starting dupes.
Attributes can be thought of the dupe’s skill level in various tasks. These can be leveled up during gameplay but having a head start in particular skills within your colony can be helpful.
In a loose order of priority, valuable attributes for a starting colony are:
Generally there are no bad attributes, just attributes that offer little benefit in the early game:
Traits modify your dupes and they are fixed for the life of the dupe (with only a minor exception). For this reason picking bad traits can be particularly damaging for a new player. Most traits simply increase attributes, but some have material, life-long effects on the dupe and the efficiency of the colony.
In a loose order of how undesirable the trait is, try to avoid all of these in your first three dupes, but in particular, never take a dupe with either of the first two:
Others are generally less harmful but be careful not make a silly match-up. E.g. if you’re selecting a dupe with high Learning to be your researcher, make sure it hasn’t got the Yokel trait and therefore can’t research.
Below you can see the dupes I have selected for this run through.
Having accepted your first three dupes, you start you game inside the center of the starting biome. As you build out your base in this center biome, having a structure in mind can keep things orderly going further into the game. We generally advise the below configuration of three columns of 16x4 spaces (excluding walls and floor) separated by a gap of 2 tiles to be used for transportation. This is not required, feel free to play freestyle, but after a few bases, you may find yourself tending to this structure anyway for the benefits that come later.
The location of water pockets will inhibit this to start. Be sure to leave a border two tiles thick of non-sand elements around water pockets to ensure the water pressure doesn’t burst through the walls. One other item you might not want to dig up are wild Bristle Blossom. Try build around them until you have a nice farm going. If you were trapped on a desert island, you wouldn’t cut down all the coconut trees would you?
From the second you start playing your dupes bladder’s start to fill. If bladders fill when there are no toilets to use, the dupe will urinate on the floor and spawn several liters of Polluted Water containing the food poisoning germ. Food poisoning would have to be the dominate cause of most new base deaths. We must avoid food poisoning, and one part of this is a one-way bathroom.
In the image below I’ve built a one-way bathroom containing an Outhouse on the side of my base. Dupes can only enter/exit through one path. Upon exiting, they must pass by the Wash Basin. The arrow on the Wash Basin indicates that when a dupe passes the building in that direction, they must use the basin.
The Basin is important because using the Outhouse results in the dupe being covered in germs. Clicking the germ filter view in the top right of the screen gives a view of germs across the map. The below image is taken after the dupe used the Outhouse but before they have based the basin.
The room size we set up above is already useful as it gives us space for four basins and toilets in our bathroom. Two should be safe for a colony of this size. No dupe should have to wait too long for a free Outhouse. Importantly, you must have as many basins as outhouses. Dupes will not wait to use a basin, so if there isn’t one free after using the outhouse, a dupe will walk out the room and spread germs throughout your colony.
Speaking of rooms. Clicking on the room overlay icon in the top right of the screen will give the following view if you have an enclosed space fulfilling the necessary requirements. We have built a Latrine room. Rooms give bonuses, its important to occasionally check the room overlay to confirm your renovations have not broken a room. These bonuses become increasingly important to dupe morale as you play.
Note that I have used a cheap Pneumatic Door and set it to always open. To have a room you need to enclose it fully, but open doors still count toward enclosing a room. Having the doors closed would just slow your dupes down if each of them is opening and closing 20 doors or more per cycle. Building these doors will require Copper Ore so dig towards some.
To promote airflow through the base I’ve also used a closed door as a wall. Later we will get tiles that serve the same purpose, but a pneumatic door is fine.
Sleeping on the ground stresses your dupes. You will lose control of stressed dupes and stress-outs can be the beginning of the end for a colony. Let’s not have have our dupes sleeping on the ground.
In the image below you can see I’ve set up a sleeping room above my central room. The location is not critical, but having the bedrooms higher helps make sure your dupes are not sleeping in the own carbon dioxide but instead nice oxygen (Oxygen (Gas) is lighter than Carbon Dioxide (Gas) so works its way up). If you do build above, connect the two floors using ladder in one of the two spaces we’ve reserved between our rooms (We’ll use the other space for fire poles later that help dupes move down fast).
If you enclose the room and fulfill the requirements, you’ll also give your dupes a room bonus from sleeping in a Barracks.
Clicking the clock in the top left of the screen gives you the following view of your shift arrangement. Shift are important because:
Because dupes can go to the toilet during “Downtime”, it’s typically best to remove bathroom time and extend “Downtime” as I have in the image below. This will give us an extra morale boost and help us promote sooner.
We want to start researching some new tech, but to do that, we need power. Our only source of power to start is the Manual Generator. It has to have a dupe running on it it order to generate power. We don’t want to have a dupe running every time we want to use electronics so we also want to build a Battery to store power. In the image below you can see I’ve built the generator and connected them both using Wire to the Research Station.
A note on wires, they have a negative Decor effect. It’s best to build them behind walls and floors to hide them and the negative Decor effect. We won’t go into depth on Decor, but generally you should try hide things with negative Decor so your dupes are upset but unpleasant working environments. You can click on the decor overlay in the top right to see the good and bad decor in your base.
With our first power circuit built, we’re now ready to put our research duplicate to work.
Our dupes have toilets and a place to sleep, now we need to feed them. For that we need to research some new tech. As a first step we will research Basic Farming, this will unlock important tech for feeding our dupes. As a general guide, the below research order is helpful for a new base:
We want to make sure our research dupe with his high learning skill is the only dupe working the research station. Anyone else would research slower, consume more materials and generally slow our progress. To control who does what tasks with higher priority the games gives us a priorities tab in the top right.
You can see below that I have de-selected all existing and potential new dupes from ever performing research. Further, I have increased Hassan’s priority for the research task to help make sure he researches before doing other jobs.
To further ensure research is conducted before other lower tasks I have also increased the general priority of the the research station to 7.
Whilst your other dupes wait on your researcher to finish the farming research, they can begin digging out a farming room.
In the top left of your screen are some vital metrics for your colony. We can see at a glance:
We haven’t addressed point 5 yet and the initial food we started the game with will eventually run out. Once your dupes run out of food, death will follow very fast, so lets build a farm with the new tech we researched.
Your first farm will be a crop of Mealwood in order to grow meal lice. The database entry for Meal Lice shows it takes 3 cycles to be produced and contains 600kcal. You can also see that two can be used at the Microbe Musher in order to produce Liceloaf, which has higher quality and total kcal of 1700. On average then, each Mealwood produces 1700kcal/2 lice/3 cycles = 280kcal.
A normal dupe requires 1000kcal per day, so some loose math suggests 4 plants for each dupe. Oni Assistant has put together the Oni Food Calculator for you to help calculate the farm size for this and other crops give your colony size.
Below you can see my base update with a small farming room and microbe musher to process the meallice.
A note on consumables. Because we want to maximise the benefits of our Meal Lice by cooking it into Liceloaf, we want to make sure none of our dupes eat the Meal Lice. You can disable dupes ability to consume this food using the consumables screen:
By now your research should be finished for “Jobs”. This opened up an entire new facet of the game through the Jobs Board. After building the jobs board you will have access to the interface below through a button in the top right of screen. Here you can see I’ve assigned our researcher the job of research assistant. They will get an immediate benefit to the learning skill and start progressing towards mastery of the job and the ability to be promoted further.
Importantly, at the top of each column is an indicator of the morale requirements needed to be satisfied in at that job level. You should not promote a dupe into a position that your base is not yet providing the morale for. The morale requirements are permanent, even if you demote the dupe down to a lower position. Under the “Vitals” screen I can see all of my dupes have between 4 and 6 morale, so I won’t be promoting anyone past Tier 2 jobs until I improve that.
Promoting too early can lead to stress-outs and eventual colony loss.
Note also that I am on cycle 3 but still only have 3 dupes despite the printing pod providing new dupes eery three cycles. All of the dupes I was offered by the printing pod were poor choices so they were all rejected. Having only 3 dupes will slow me down, but it is better than carrying a 4th, low utility dupe through the entire game. I throughly encourage you to be picky with your dupes and select only good dupes (refer to Duplicant selection).
At this point our oxygen is running a little low. In the screenshot below I’ve used the Oxygen Overlay in the top right of the screen to show that the oxygen pressure is our bedroom is getting a little low. Low oxygen stresses dupes and stressed dupes will go out of control and risk a base wipe-out. Let’s add of oxygen production.
Below you can see I’ve added two sources of oxygen:
Both items will stop producing oxygen once the surrounding pressure hits 1500g so there’s no risk of over pressuring our base. Having the Terrarium consume 33g/s of CO2 will help slow the build up CO2 in the bottom of our base.
Looking at the database entry for Oxygen (Gas) you can see that a normal duplicant requires 100g/s, whilst the diffuser outputs 500g/s on its own. So just the diffuser on its own is good enough for 5 normal dupes, 500/75 = 6.6 dupes with divers lungs.
At this point your base is in good shape. You have food, water, oxygen, electricity, sanitation and sleep all under control. Whilst we have a lot of algae and water near us, they are finite, we we will want to move onto better methods for sourcing our water and oxygen in the future.
Additionally, our power is very manual at the moment and consumes a lot of dupe time via running on the manual generator. Our researcher is working towards a coal generator combined with tech from “Generic sensors” research that will allow us to automate power. It will take some time to do all this research so now is a good time to have the other dupes work on preparing the base a little, a few comments on the image of our progress below:
So we’ve rushed to researching Combustion and Generic Sensors, giving us all the tech we need to automate power production. With the rock granulator we can run 5 orders of refining 100kg of Iron Ore into 50kg of Iron (Solid), giving us 250kg of iron; enough to build a simple automated power arrangement:
A few points on this simple design:
Now our power is largely automated, dupes only need to infrequently add more coal.
At this point you’re probably around cycle 10 and the base is in a condition that it could survive quite happily for at least another 50 cycles. To help make sure that happens though there are a couple further projects we can get done quickly:
The Algae Terrariums are outputting Polluted Water which sublimates into Polluted Oxygen, this stuff multiplies the deadly Slimelung germ. Luckily we haven’t dug into the Slime biome yet, so we’re safe from that. But we should still remove this polluted oxygen. Tunnel your researcher toward “Decontamination” in order to unlock the Deodorizer. Building one of these near your terrariums will suffice.
By now our researcher is ready to be promoted but we haven’t got the morale to support that job. Check the rooms overlay and look at what is required to build a “Mess Hall”. Carve out a room fulfilling those requirements and your dupes will have a nice place to eat and get a morale boost. To build the Mess Table you will need to research “Meal Preparation”.
To further boost colony morale our researcher should also research “Atistic Expression” this gives us the ability to place Hanging Pots and put to use the high Decor Bluff Briar plant. I have placed these in key locations where dupes spend a lot of time, in particular our researcher’s’ second promotion requires higher morale than others. In addition to this you can see our artist has started practicing art around the base with multiple Sculpting Blocks. These low quality pieces can be deconstructed and re-constructed to give our artist more practice.
Food storage. Below the new Mess Hall I’ve built a simple food storage room. This room is designed to catch CO2. CO2 is an Unbreathable Gas and therefore food won’t decay when stored in it, unlike the Oxygen elsewhere in our base. Because CO2 is a heavy gas, it will sink and fill up our food storage room.
Expanding sanitation and food. If you are lucky with dupes, continue expanding the toilet and farm solutions. You can see in the image below I’ve grown to 5 dupes by cycle 15 and have expanded the toilets and farms accordingly.
Now your base is looking pretty good and ready to survive the next 50 cycles pretty safely. Given you’re probably only at cycle 15-20 at this point, check out the Mid Game Guide (Coming soon) to see what your priorities are for the remaining 50 cycles.
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