The Survivalists Beginner’s Guide

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting the past couple of months for The Survivalists, a product of Team17 Digital. They’re behind popular games such as Worms, The Escapists, Overcooked, and many more!

The Survivalists, released on October 9, 2020, is an open-world survival game akin to genre leader, Don’t Starve Together

But, monkeys!

Yes, you heard me right. The Survivalists’ gameplay greatly revolves around monkeys inhabiting the islands that can be trained to do your bidding. Just toss them a banana, demonstrate a task, and they will take care of this for you until you tell them to stop. More details on this later. 

If you just got The Survivalists or are considering it, join me as I break down some of the necessary components to having a successful first few hours of the game.

The Survivalists Hours Played

Take Care of your Vitals

The health and vitality system in The Survivalists is pretty straight forward. On the bottom right of the screen is your energy. Actions like sprinting, rolling, and swinging weapons or tools, expend energy.

Too much consecutive exertion will have you out of energy, unable to do more tasks. Lucky for you, you regain stamina at a rate at which I would suspect is much faster than in real life.

To the bottom left, you’ll find your health and hunger. Make sure you’re eating to prevent loss of health from starvation. This is fairly easily done with berries or coconuts.

Once you get a firepit down, you can craft more efficient meals. Skewers or even smoothies will replenish you much better than gorging yourself with berries.

Recruit the Monkeys

Now, The Survivalists isn’t just going to give you monkeys. You have to find and rescue or lure them into your clan.

Thankfully, this isn’t too hard. Monkeys are either found in cages scattered through the island, above and below the surface. Or, they’re found walking around.

Their undying loyalty is bought with a single treat called a Monkey Meal. At the cost of 1x makeshift bowl, 1x petal, and 1x berries, that’s a bargain if you ask me. These are all easily craftable materials, including the campfire needed to cook it.

Additionally, you can name and color your monkeys. Outside of being aesthetically pleasing, this can help you keep track of them better. 

Train the Monkeys

Training monkeys can be overwhelming. Frustrating, even! In fact, there could be an entire article based just on teaching monkeys.

The Survivalists does a good job of breaking down all the options you have. My suggestion is to start slow and get familiar with summoning and teaching your monkeys. 

For starters, pressing Q will summon all of your monkeys. From there, you can select individual monkeys or drag to select multiple.

Once you have your selection you’ll have four options. From the top and going clockwise there is throw item, follow, dismiss, and teach.

Following and dismissing are fairly straight forward in The Survivalists. In many cases, you’ll want your monkeys to accompany you for journeys and defense. Dismissing will allow the monkeys to free roam until you need them again — press Q. Throwing an item will save you a few steps from walking over to hand them whatever item you have active.

For teaching, you toss a banana which indicates how long you have to train. Here is a list of actions that monkeys can do for you in The Survivalists:

  • Gather
  • Harvest
  • Deliver
  • Building / Crafting
  • Combat 

Arm yourself and the Monkeys

Ah, glad we just mentioned combat. The islands in The Survivalists aren’t just home to easily-bribed monkeys. There are also hostiles who will attack you without hesitation.

In early situations, you may be able to solo kill the enemy. In fact, you’ll find, even if you have monkeys with you, they will watch unless you have prepared them for battle.

To tip the scales back in your favor, give your monkey(s) an array of weapons. From there, activate their learning mode and hit an enemy (or training dummy, once you’ve built that!). It’s as easy as that, you now have as many bodyguards as your heart desires.

Additionally, at night or if you find yourself near or inside a cave, bats will attack you.

Fighting Enemies in The Survivalists

Assign Monkey Specialization

You’ll find that things take a long time to do on your own in The Survivalists. Take the time to learn how to teach your monkeys. You will most definitely thank me later.

In fact, the more a monkey does a particular task, the more efficient they get at it. By having a monkey focus on a specific task for a while, they will become much faster in the long run!

For these reasons, I recommend each monkey try to alternate between 2 tasks. Let’s say you have 5 monkeys, also the number you can bring to a friend’s island.

1 monkey could be your chest carrier and builder specialist. 2 monkeys could be your combat specialists and when back at base gatherers. The final 2 monkeys could be harvesters when exploring and item deliverers when back at base and building. 

This is just an example and it’s not set in stone. There were times I set the chest down and put everyone on harvest to clear out a forest area. About midway through I started switching my monkeys to gather so that the items were placed into the chest. You’ll find what works for you as you play more of The Survivalists!

Set a Home Base

You don’t have to be particularly picky about this first base. Keyword here is definitely “first”.

Unlike a common strategy in Don’t Starve Together, you don’t need a mega singular base in The Survivalists. If you need some direction, try to pick an area backed by rocked walls. Having limited entry points will make things easier later in the game.

One more thing. Sleeping is how your progress. Make a bed with a luxury bedsheet as soon as you can so that you gain additional energy in the playthrough!

The Survivalist Home Base


Now that you feel safe enough to explore deep into your island, do so!

Most of everything on the island can be hit or harvested to be used in a building or crafting recipe. One thing to note is your base inventory is impossibly limited. As soon as possible, you should craft and pass a chest to one of your monkeys and tell him to follow you. Immediately you have additional inventory slots. Trust me, you’ll need them.

In a sense you should grab everything you can find, you’ll probably need it later on. However, I would definitely make sure you grab the raw materials in abundance early on. Rocks, grass, leaves, wood, petals, and berries/coconuts are the foundation for so many crafts and buildings. The inventory slots amazingly hold 99 per square. The Survivalists really are helping to make things easy for you. At one point I had close to 400 grass and about 20 minutes later I was shocked that I was nearly out! 

Crawl the Dungeons

In your exploration, you may come across vaults. Before entering, you may want to return to your home base and clear some inventory slots in anticipation of the goodies lying beneath the surface. 

When ready, return to the vault with your monkey army and get ready for a few skirmishes. Typically you have 2-3 rooms to clear from baddies. Afterward, you can fully loot and you’ll find higher tier items. Stronger weapons, metal, gold, or the in-game currency used for later goodies!

Whether you do this in the early parts of your The Survivalists playthrough or save it for later, do this for every vault you come across.

The Survalists Vault

Prepare for Raids

Based on the speed at which you progress in your own run in The Survivalists, the rest of this guide could be reordered. This means certain things may come before others. 

I mentioned before that your base would be best established in a defensible position. As you build and craft your way through the tree, you’ll notice walls and traps as options. Build these in a way to help funnel would-be enemy traffic.

Your opponents will eventually become a real raiding party that attacks you and your monkeys. This raiding party may prove to be a bit more difficult than the early vault enemies if you aren’t prepared.

Unfortunately, The Survivalists doesn’t give you much warning so it’s best to stay on top of things. Have at least one monkey in attack mode at all times. It can be a frantic mess trying to train monkeys while you are being beaten to death. 

With proper preparation, you’ll soon be the victor of your first raid attack!

Talk to Strangers

No, seriously. Not every living creature on The Survivalists islands is either a monkey or someone trying to kill you. There is a Mysterious Stranger who is a trading merchant. Give him what he desires and he’ll grant you access to high-tier items that may otherwise not be found. These items, such as the larger inventory I purchased immediately, require the gold coins that drop to the ground in vaults and defeating enemies. Attempting to explain the joy I felt expanding my chest storage from 16 to 36 is futile. I also grabbed a metal club and multitool for more efficient combat and crafting! 

The Mysterious Stranger travels by hot air balloon. Such a boss. Once he relocates, you’ll have to find him again. This may mean that he no longer is even on your island.

Set Sail

This brings us to the goal once you’ve cleared your first island. That’s right, every map in The Survivalists consists of several randomly generated islands. Crafting a raft and a sailing will grant you access to the open blue sea. Make sure you gather as many items as you and your monkeys can hold, get everyone on the raft, and set sail! 

Which direction? Depending on if you have a spyglass, which grants you the ability to see in one direction for a great distance, you may need to just pick a direction.

The Survivalists is procedurally built so I can’t imagine you could pick a direction and never find anything. If you are sailing and you feel you’re going the wrong way, just head back towards the island and pick a new direction.

Set Sail in The Survivalists

Rinse and Repeat

Once you reach a new coast, it’s time to start everything over again. This time you’ll be more experienced and better equipped to tackle the new obstacles! Explore, clear vaults, trade with the Mysterious Stranger, and defend yourself from raids!

Best of all, you’ll no longer be a beginner in The Survivalists!

How are you liking The Survivalists?

For those that already have The Survivalists, how do you like it? Did I miss any tips or tricks that beginners should hear? Let me know in the comments below!

If you don’t have the game and would like to try it, you can get The Survivalists here.

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