Darwin Project Beginner's Guide: How to Beat the Odds

Having trouble getting the game started or haven't quite gotten your first win in the Darwin Project? Here's a guide with some tips on how to get started in this new survival Battle Royale.

In a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future where the world is stuck on the brink of another ice age, a new project -- half science experiment, half live entertainment -- is launched: the Darwin Project. Forcing participants to survive the cold and a fight to the death, surviving the cold will be the least of your worries. 

Scavengers Studio's Darwin Project -- which just made its way to Steam Early Access last week -- is an ambitiously fun take on the Battle Royale formula. Equal parts Tomb Raider and Fortnite, this rendition is liberally spiked with lively Twitch streamer commentary. 

While the ability to play in doubles still remains locked, you are given the option to jump into quick matches as a combatant (normal play), or once you've got a handful of matches under your belt, as a game director. 

With a much smaller map and a limited number of players, games are quick, and the chance of making it into the top three much higher. This guide to the Darwin Project will tell you the things you'll want to know to ensure your place in the top spot. 

Trust me, there's more than chance and skill at work here!

Optimize Your Gear and Gather Items to Survive

While you might get lucky and get a kill right at the get-go by spawning close enough to someone else and braining them a few times with your axe (or shovel), there's a much greater likelihood that you're going to want to gain the upper hand on your opponents -- and largely without relying on the fickle whims of your (occasionally) all-seeing Show Director. 

With this in mind, be aware that everyone has their own basic play style. Take these suggestions as you will!

Customize Your Crafting Wheel

All players should customize their crafting wheel while still in the main menu. This way you won't be under serious time constraints while trying to figure out what gear you want to make.

Specialize Your Arrows

Take a look through some of the specialized arrows (I am a fan of the Hunter arrows myself). Be aware that if you do choose these, you won't spawn with any and you'll need the materials to craft them. 

Use Traps Liberally

Your traps are all about gaining the upper hand on your opponents -- try and ensure that you can see them but that they can't see you. To that effect, smoke bombs are a good bet which allow you to hide from their radar (yes, this still counts as a trap). I also recommend the tripwire and bear trap for showing up on radar (to everyone) and immobilizing them for a few free shots.

Pick Up Electronics

Push for electronics hard and early. These will give you the biggest advantages on all other players, but be warned that if you want them, other players certainly will too! Electronics will allow you to craft items needed for abilities (and these are permanent once you've made them). I like pushing for Teleport first (mobility is key, particularly early on, when any edge is of enormous consequence), Radar (obvious), and Energy Shield (invincibility while it's active, so excellent for one-on-one scrambles).

More Health, Less Dying

Push for more health, always. You could rely on the Director to spend their Health ability on you, but what are the chances, really? Killing other players will give you back some Health, but be aware that you can also find medkits in loot boxes and by harvesting deer (there are lots of them).

Wood is Your Backup Plan

Contingencies! Try to keep at least one block of wood at the ready for a quick fire in a pinch. Warmth goes up super quick, and there's nothing like freezing to death in the middle of a fight or right at the edge of a zone close. 

Search Cabins

Look through the cabins -- lots of these will have hidden radars in the corners that allow you to track the movements of all the players on the map. (You'll often find stuff to harvest materials from too.) 

Stop Jumping Around

Juke on land, not in the air. Jumping around might feel like you're dodging around more, but you move a lot slower while jumping, which makes it a lot easier for the other person to track you with their arrows.

Specialize, Specialize, Specialize

Other gear (boots and cloak, for example) should be specialized per your play style, whether you want to get away with being less noticeable with a Fur Cloak (less need for fire) or a Runner Cloak (good for escaping out of closing zones, racing for electronics, etc.). 

A character holding an ax with bow on her back looks at a fortification in snowy, wooded area of Darwin Project

Work Around the Black Screen Glitch

New as it is, the game has been running fairly well for most people ... barring a few issues on startup. As has been reported, many users are seeing a black screen after the initial loading screen disappears. 

Some users reported that it was the fact the game was installed on and running off of a separate hard drive that caused the extra long load times during this black screen (sometimes to the tune of 5-7 minutes!). For these users, it would eventually load, but the best option was (if possible) to re-install the game off the OS drive

I experienced this bug as well, and being the impatient person I am, abandoned the waiting game after about two minutes of looking at nothing. My personal go-to is always to make sure that my graphics drivers are up to date. That done, I keep a close eye on my antivirus/malware program in case it tries to block any suspicious (read: any) new startup item. 

Whether the one, the other, or a combination of the two, my game booted up just fine and in less than 30 seconds. Before making the jump to reinstall, give this a try!

A character holding an axe and looking at some futuristic technology

Be as Charming as You Know How to Be

... It feels weird just writing the above. And yet know this: Your voice is on, and someone is/may be listening to you. I may or may not have inadvertently found this out while talking dirty on a Skype call and then realizing some random was calling me out on it. Whoops.

This is not exactly how I would suggest setting out to charm your audience.

But be aware that you have one, and if the Director starts talking to you, talk back. If you're engaged in a fight, you can talk to the other player as well. Keep things interesting. This streamer-type engagement is what elevates the mostly solo task of playing into something that's, in most cases, highly entertaining if not out and out hilarious. 

People being what they are and the job description of the Director being what it is, this can come out in the form of extra hints on other enemy locations or power-ups (e.g., a shot of health, speed boost, warmth, invincibility, etc.), or on the flip side, the Director can also declare a manhunt on you. This means extra loot for all the other players if they kill you, plus they can see where you are. Note that in this situation, you do gain more arrows and resources to try and outlive the chaos. 

This Goes for Directors Too!

As the Director, you are able to affect the Darwin Project (closing off zones, dropping nukes, causing gravity storms) and the players (through the power-ups mentioned above). In order to perform one of these actions, you have to wait until you gain an Ability Point. Don't play favorites too hard -- make this an interesting game for everyone, and try to be a little fair in how hard you troll each of your little puppets. Make 'em dance!

(There is no real dance button. You could manage to finagle them into singing you a song.)

At player death, others have the opportunity to rate you as a Director. The more engaging you are, the likelier they are to score you higher (or at all). 

Be aware that if your Director rating falls below a certain point, you'll be limited in your Director abilities to those that affect the game only. 


Do you have any other tips for Darwin Project that should make the list? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Darwin Project tips and information!

Featured Columnist

Avid PC gamer and long-time console lover. I enjoy sneaking, stealing everything not nailed down, and shooting zombies in the face. I'm also a cat.

Published Mar. 15th 2018

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