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Stardew Valley: A beginner's guide, tips and how to download

Stardew Valley recently arrived on Xbox and PS4, having already graced PC, but sadly not Android or iOS. Here is how to get more from your virtual farm.

The original Harvest Moon on Gameboy was one of the best games of all time. So when we laid eyes on a spiritual successor of sorts, Stardew Valley, now available on the latest generation of games consoles, we had to investigate.

As it turns out, any concern that Stardew Valley (the work of game developer Eric Barone of ConcernedApe) would be a bad clone without any of the same character and appeal was unnecessary. It is a borderline clone made even better.

From making money from the fat of the land to saving up so you can upgrade your humble abode, the gameplay mechanics that made Harvest Moon so charming and so rewarding have been retained. Only now they are underpinned by more substantial foundations including the chance to marry a fellow Pelican Town resident.

Stardew Valley is, quite honestly, one of the best games we have played in years and has as much, if not more, character than most of your modern-day games. Because shooting ze enemy in Call of Duty can prove tedious after a decade.

No wonder, then, various gaming publications entertained the idea of giving it their respective game of the year awards. Not only that, it has been downloaded nearly two million times – an especially impressive feat for a game that shuns the ever-popular (and ever-damaging) 'freemium' model.

Yet beneath the cutesy low-resolution visuals is a game with a multitude of ways to make money and better your digital farmer's life, giving it substantial depth and addictive qualities. It is the sort of game that you allow yourself to play for "just another ten minutes". Next thing you know, it is 2am.

We shall not keep you any longer for you will, of course, have crops to harvest, villagers to impress and a house to upgrade. Here is our Stardew Valley Guide that will help you get started in your quest for 'the good life'. Minus Tom and Barbara, of course.

Quick tip: Use CTRL+F or Apple+F to search for a term, it will save you some time finding exactly what you need to know.

Stardew Valley: How to download on PC, Xbox One and PS4

Just in case you need to get the game, there are a number of ways to download it. The first is through Steam, which is a bit of software that lets you play games and share achievements with a community. The price is US$14.99 or £11.99.

Steam download link

Alternatively, you can fire up your Xbox One or PS4 and head to their respective game stores. Search Stardew Valley and then part with £11.99 for the privilege of owning the game. Given the hours of entertainment, it is excellent value for money.

Stardew Valley tips & tricks - The basics

Stardew Valley: The basics

Making money is a big part of Stardew Valley. While the idea of maximising profit may be a turn-off, it plays an essential role in letting you progress and buy fancy things to make your home look nicer or make even more money.

Luckily there are various ways to bring in dough, the most obvious of which is planting crops, watering them (different seasons have their own crops) but you can also fish for fish, forage, help out villagers and even harvest lightning later in the game.

First, though, you must customise and name your character, preference for a cat or dog and then pick the sort of farm you want. We went with the map where monsters can come out at night.

Stardew Valley: Farming

To get started, you need to either find some seeds (they can be foraged or brought from the shops in Pelican Town). Note the Joja market is more expensive so use the local shop to save money.

Once you have your seeds, clear an area, use some fertiliser if you have any (monster slime can be crafted into a basic fertiliser or bought from the shop), then plant the seeds and water them using the watering can.

Rinse and repeat every day (except when it rains) and then pick up the fully grown product when ready. Stick it in the box to the right of your home to sell it, go to sleep and in the morning you will be paid gold for your hardship.

All crops have a time to grow so a 10-day crop will take 10 days excluding the day you plant them (so actually 11 days). Most let you walk through the middle to water them, but some will have to be planted in rows. These are usually crops that rely on a trellis such as hops.

Better fertilisers allow you to make more money. Be weary that seasonal crops will die as you move from one season to another so make sure crops are set to finish growing before day 28. Some crops can work between seasons, one example being corn.

Crows can become a pest so it is worth crafting a scarecrow, if only to complete the relevant early quest that rewards you with gold.

Stardew Valley: Fishing tips

To catch a fish, you need a fishing rod from Willy. He actually gives you a Bamboo Pole. For 1,800 gold, you can upgrade to a Fibreglass Rod (once you reach fishing level 2, which is achieved by fishing), which lets you add bait.

Bait can be made from monster sap earned from killing monsters or bought from Willy for five gold a piece. Go into your items menu to attach bait to the Fibreglass or Iridium Rod.

An Iridium Rod becomes available when you reach level six in the fishing skill (this can be done fairly easily if you spend a few days fishing from dusk until dawn) and part with 7,500 gold. Unlike the Fibreglass Rod, you can add tackle to make it better.

Fishing is usually lucrative, especially when you unlock the better rods and upgrade them with bate that improves the bite rate, but it is best done on a rainy day for the following reason...

Stardew Valley: Upgrade your backpack capacity

In the store where you buy seeds (Pierre's General Store) you can pay 2,000 gold to increase your ability to carry 24 items (go up to the backpack on the counter), up from the standard 12. Upgrading to 36 slots costs 10,000 gold and needs the 24-pack upgrade first. Definitely make this a priority in the first year as the 12-item limit can be a pain. That is, unless you...

Stardew Valley Tips & Tricks - Upgrade your backpack

Stardew Valley: Craft a wooden chest

The alternative is to craft a wooden chest, which gives you up to 36 slots to store whatever you want. You can build as many as you like and, rather usefully, give each one a different colour to help you know where things are (green for crop produce, for instance).

All you need is 50 wood, which can be easily collected from chopping down trees on your farm or buying from the store. This is a much cheaper option to avoid quite so much item juggling, although the 24-item upgrade is still recommended.

Stardew Valley: Move a wooden chest

Super useful tip. Moving a chest and other items can be done by hitting them with a pickaxe (bit strange, but there you go). In the case of the chest, it must be empty or it will remain in place. Just in case you were getting fed up of hitting it to no avail.

Stardew Valley: What to do on a rainy day?

Rainy days water all your crops for you so use the extra time to either head into the Mines and work your way down to lower depths (more on the Mines later) or go fishing all day. Catfish appear in rivers when it rains and make good money, not to mention the fact one is required for an early quest that rewards you 600 gold.

Stardew Valley: Sell fish

You can sell fish directly to Willy when he is at his shop from 9am to 5pm. Outside of those hours, you can use the sell box to the right of your home. There is no difference in how much money you make, it is just the fact you have to wait until the next day to be paid whereas Willy will give you the gold there and then (cashflow).

Stardew Valley: The most profitable crops

There are a lot of ways to make money and some are easier to operate than others. Items such as wine are profitable but take more time to reap the reward, for instance, while some generate more seeds to multiply their number. Some can be harvested again and again, while others are one-time-wonders.

Arguably the most profitable crop in Spring are strawberries. As for the summer, blueberries are difficult to beat, especially in the first year. In the fall you should go for cranberries or rare seeds (available to buy but not plant in other seasons).

Crops are a problem in the winter so find other ways to make money. Animal-based goods are more profitable as of the 1.1 Stardew Valley update so the end of the year could be a good time to start.

Stardew Valley: How to upgrade your house

The home you get at the start of the game is homely and useful for checking the weather, getting your fortune told and watching the odd show (which provide recipes so check every day before you leave), but it can also be decorated using various items.

Besides looking great, the first upgrade provides you with a kitchen that can be used to craft recipes that recover health and energy so you can survive longer in the Mines or work for longer in one day. This costs 10,000g and 450 wood.

Stardew Valley: How to improve your skill

Nice and easy, just keep using them. Fishing a lot will raise the fishing skill, which at certain levels will allow you to pick a new skill specialisation (one increases the money made from each fish by 10 per cent). The same applies to farming, cutting trees etc.

Stardew Valley: How to upgrade tools

To make your tools better, you can pay to have them upgraded. Each upgrade improves the level of potency. A watering can, for instance, gets a greater water capacity and then can eventually water an area of 9x9, making it possible to maintain bigger areas of crops in a shorter time, freeing up more time to do other stuff (or add even more crops).

The first upgrade to a copper version of a tool costs 2,000 gold and requires five copper bars. Next is steel, which needs 5,000 gold and five iron bars (made from 25 bars of iron ore that have been put in a furnace). Gold costs 10,000 gold and five gold bars, then the top-of-the-range Iridium version is 25,000 gold and needs five iridium bars.

Stardew Valley: How to make villagers like you

There are a number of reasons why you should make your neighbours like you, including the fact they teach you new cooking recipes (you need to upgrade your home to access the kitchen). It also lets you eventually propose to them and access their bedrooms, which in the case of one quest is essential.

Seeing how much a villager likes you is done within the menu. Giving a gift (up to two a week, the counter resets on a Monday) helps improve things and some items have a more positive impact than others (usually the rarer, pricier ones).

Some items will be disliked and have a negative effect. Gifting on a birthday increases the effect of a positive item by eight times so keep tabs on birthdays by having a look at the calendar outside Pierre's General Store.

Stardew Valley Tips & Tricks - How to be popular with villagers

Stardew Valley: How to make your own fertiliser

Making your own fertiliser is another useful way to maximise the profit of your crops. You can buy it but you are better off felling trees to get sap, two pieces of which can be crafted into one unit of basic fertiliser.

Quality fertiliser, the next level up, can be bought for 150g a unit or made from one fish and two sap. You need to be level nine to make it, though. Other fertilisers give a chance of retaining water overnight, or increase growth rate.

Basic and quality fertilisers provide a higher chance of a quality crop growing, which in turn sells for more money. Only one fertiliser can be used per soil tile. Use a hoe to get the ground ready before using a fertiliser, then plant a seed.

Stardew Valley: Clearing rocks

Until your pickaxe has been upgraded, you can use a Cherry Bomb to blow up the wall, although you need to learn a new language (Dwarvish) to speak to the dwarf (obviously). To learn the language, find four Dwarvish scrolls in the Mines and donate to Gunther at the museum. Once done, you can now buy some rare items such as a Rarecrow (there are eight to collect).

Stardew Valley: How to join the Adventurer's Guild

To join the Adventurer's Guild, simply kill 10 slimes as part of the 'Initiation' task you get after reaching level 5 in the Mines. Getting to level 5 requires using a pickaxe on rocks to find the ladder down to the next level and smacking the odd slime with your rusty sword.

You also need to wait until the 5th of Spring for a letter to arrive, at which point access is no longer blocked by rocks.

Stardew Valley: Explore the Mines

For gaining resources such as clay and copper ore, the Mines are invaluable. Iron ore is an essential resource for crafting (found from level 40 onwards) and you will find a lot of geodes, which can be broken by a blacksmith into more materials and rare materials you can donate to the Museum. The lowest level is 120.

Bear in mind you can use the lift to return to a level as long as it is a multiple of five. This is especially useful when you reach level 20, where there is a place to fish, and for progressing down to level 120, which is worth doing because your foes get tougher, surroundings change and the rewards only get better.

Stardew Valley: Donate to the Museum

Near the blacksmith is the Pelican Town Museum, which is where you can donate items to find out about them. Donate a certain number and you can collect a reward. Eventually you get a key to the Sewers.

Stardew Valley: How to craft items

Especially useful items, such as a water sprinkler, can be crafted using a certain number of certain materials. Unlocking different items usually requires levelling up a skill, but can also be taught or given by villagers. Head into the menu and see what you can make, then place it where you want and off you go.

Stardew Valley Tips & Tricks - Crafting Items

Stardew Valley: Barn or Coop?

In the first year and looking at building a coop or barn? You should hold fire as the cost of getting either going are substantial, making it better to stick to crops. Wait until year two and ensure you craft the items that convert the base ingredients (eggs, for instance) into more profitable items (such as mayonnaise). Another reason for waiting is the silo...

Stardew Valley: Build a silo early

Your animals need to eat hay to be happy and hay costs money in Stardew Valley. Luckily your farm land is filled with flowers you can slash with your scythe (avoid clearing your farm early for this very reason) and up to 240 units can be stored in one silo. You can build more than one and the hay can sometimes be automatically added.

Stardew Valley: Where and how to find iron ore

Iron ore an be found from level 40 to 50 in the Mines. You get from one to three ores from mining an iron node, if any, and five are needed to be crafted into one iron bar using the furnace. Speaking of which...

Stardew Valley: How to craft a furnace

Open up the crafting menu once you have 25 stone and 20 pieces of copper ore. The recipe comes from Clint, the man who runs the local blacksmith located in the bottom right of Pelican Town centre.

A silo costs one iron bar (made from five iron ores, which can be mined in the Mines or bought from the blacksmith for 150 each) in addition to 100 gold, 100 stone (break up rocks on your farm or in the Mines) and 10 clay (see how to get clay).

Stardew Valley: How to refill the watering can

Ran out of water in your watering car? You should build a well, which costs 1,000 gold and 75 stone. Early on in the game you can make 1,000 quite easily from a few crops and fishing. Or just keep filling up using the river near your home.

Stardew Valley: How to find the train

Beyond a certain point in the game in year one, a train will start passing through Stardew Valley. Besides being visually nice to look at, it provides items you can use including word and coal. A message will appear on screen telling you the train is passing through, at which point you can head north on the map (use the in-built map for directions) and then wait for it to turn up.

Be warned: The train can kill you if you decide to let it run you over. Plus the rewards are hardly that useful as you progress (the time spent there would be better spent elsewhere), but it is nice to see it once.

We will continue to update our Stardew Valley guide as changes are made and new features are added so be sure to bookmark it and check back soon for more tips and tricks. Thanks for reading, folks.

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