Beginner's guide

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Creating an initial, self-sufficient colony.

This guide is intended as a beginner's tour of the interface and mechanics in Surviving Mars. For more detailed information on the mechanics follow the links to the articles dedicated specifically to those concepts.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

  • Rockets are required for transporting cargo and people from Earth to Mars and back and for undertaking Special Projects (on Mars). Rockets can be bought on Earth for a lump sum of money, scrapped and also built on Mars (req. tech Advanced Rocketry (eng. 14-19)). Launching a rocket on Earth costs a lump sum of money, no matter the load, i.e. launching an empty rocket costs as much as launching a rocket at load capacity. Launching a rocket on Mars costs nothing, but you need to fuel the rocket.
  • All Resources can be bought on Earth, then transported to Mars at the additional cost of launching the rocket. All resources can also be found and extracted or produced on Mars, but the advanced recources Polymers.png Polymers, Electronics.png Electronics and MachineParts.png Machine Parts can only be obtained via the help of colonists.
  • Before you send the first group of colonists to Mars, you need to have at least one dome with the minimum dome buildings ready and fully supplied.
  • Research: instead of one research tree, there are the 6 (7 with DLC) research columns: Biotech, Engineering, Robotics, Physics, Social and Breakthrough (and Terraforming techs with DLC). The branches are completely independent of one another.
    • Technologies are researched automatically, the speed depends on the generated research points.
    • Technologies are researched one at a time and one after the other.
    • The order of the technologies varies! E.g. the technology Advanced Martian Engines can be on position 1 to 5.
    • Technologies can also be revealed by investigating Anomaly - Tech.png Tech Anomalies. Revealed technologies can always be researched (even if the preceding technology has not been researched).
  • Time: Surviving Mars is a real-time game without defined end point. You can play for as long as you like. The smallest unit of measurement is the hour. One day is divided into exactly 24 h, one work shift lasts precisely 8 h. One day is like the other, the game does not distinguish weeks, months, years or seasons! A day is called sol.

Before the first launch[edit | edit source]

You did it! You alone are in charge of the soon to start Mars program of your country. Before your first launch it's time to set up the whole program though.

  • Mission sponsor: The mission sponsor is the space agency responsible for your Mars endeavor. Every sponsor offers a unique flavor to the game.
  • Commander profile: With the command profile you define your own role in the colonization program
  • Colony Logo: Choose what fits best to your play style, sponsor and plan
  • Mystery: Mars is empty, right? Handpick a mystery for the late game or let yourself get surprised by the default Random mystery
  • Game rules: Game rules can make life on Mars easier or more difficult. Some disable achievements.
  • Effects: The main values changed by the above settings are shown here, and include the number of starting rockets, your available funding, your research per Sol and your starting applicants.

Once your program is set up it's time to hit next and load up your first rocket.

Game modes[edit | edit source]

  • Survival Mode: The standard "New Game" mode. The only failure condition is all colonists have either died or left mars.
  • Challenge Mode: Here you will find options for time limited challenge scenarios. Mission parameters, game rules and colony coordinates are predetermined and unique for each challenge.
  • Creative Mode: Reduced costs and limited survival threats make for more of a building experience rather than a survival experience. Achievements are disabled.

Difficulty challenge[edit | edit source]

Difficulty challenge represents the difficulty of establishing a colony once a map is started. It is determined by the selected mission Sponsor and commander profile, mystery, game rules and the total threats, resources and topography of the colony site and can range from 100% to over 1000%. Difficulty challenge increases the score gained from completing milestones.

Tutorials[edit | edit source]


There are built-in tutorials available from the main menu in-game. It is not necessary to complete the tutorials before starting a game, but it could be helpful for new players who are unfamiliar with the game. The tutorials are generally short and limit what can be done in order to maintain focus. Once the goals are completed, the tutorial ends and the player cannot continue to play the scenario.

Tutorial Description
The Basics In this tutorial you will learn how to navigate Mars, how to land a rocket, manage drones and construct buildings on Mars.
Rovers, Exploration and Research In this tutorial you will learn how to control and use rovers as well as the basics of Exploration and Research.
Power, Water and Maintenance In this tutorial you will learn how to set up Power, Water and Oxygen systems. You will also learn about building maintenance and how to prepare your first dome for human colonists.
Colonists In this tutorial you will learn how to call colonists to Mars, take care of their needs as well as learn how to manage the workforce.
Multiple Domes In this tutorial you will learn how to resettle colonists in different domes and how to connect Domes with Passages.
Game concepts