Icarus is a harsh and unforgiving place, a product of a failed terraforming project. Surviving here will require more than just a stone axe — but, in order to craft these you’ll need to level up.
While most activities in ICARUS give you experience points, the process can be very slow, especially if you aren’t willing to risk death at the hands of a wolf pack. If your goal is to level up as quickly as possible (while avoiding sharp teeth) this guide will give you efficient but simple methods for racking up the XP.
All of these techniques were tested with zero relevant Talents. If your character has talents that increase the speed or efficiency of certain resource collection, that can increase the rate at which you gain XP.
A Note on Hardcore Missions
Hardcore Missions grant increased XP, so if you’re looking to speed level, it can be a good idea to do so while on a hardcore mission. The KILL LIST: Hardcore Extermination mission is unlocked early and gives you 6 hours in the Forest, so it’s a great choice for leveling up.
Keep an eye on the mission timer and try to avoid the more dangerous predators! When you’re done leveling, simply return to the dropship and leave the planet.
The Speed Method: Lumberjacking
The fastest way to level up at early levels, bar none. Our testing has shown that this gives 50% to 100% more XP than mining stone, or logging plus crafting.
Required: All you’ll need for this method is a stone axe, an area with trees, and food in your stomach. Ideally, get stamina-increasing foods — veggies like Pumpkin and Corn are perfect.
Chop down a tree.
As soon as that tree starts to fall, run to the closest tree and start chopping that one down.
Collect plants while you regenerate Stamina.
That’s it! If you focus exclusively on felling trees, and don’t bother splitting the logs that fall, you’ll get XP much quicker than if you stopped to collect the fruits of your labors.
It is worth collecting nearby plants while you wait for Stamina to regenerate, but do so while walking so as to not delay the time it takes your stamina to return.
The Utility Method: Lumberjacking and Crafting
If you want to actually collect some resources and potentially build a shelter while leveling up, this method lets you collect resources while grinding your experience points. This method also doesn’t require finding food like the tree-felling one.
Note: this method is also meant for low-level players (until about level 10). Once better-equipped, you will likely find superior sources of XP.
Required: All you’ll need for this method is an unlocked Thatch or Wood Wall in your tech tree, a stone axe, and an area with trees and bushes.
Chop down trees, chop the fallen trunks and remaining stumps until they turn into wood, then pick all of it up.
Once you run out of stamina, open the crafting menu and select the Wooden Wall (or Thatch Wall if you aren’t level 5 yet). Click the “Max” button and thencraft as many walls as you can.
Your stamina probably still isn’t back yet, so walk around harvesting bushes for sticks and fiber.
Once your stamina is full, go back to step 1 and repeat! Little addition, though: when you get to step 2, before you craft the walls,right click the stack of walls in your inventory and destroy them to get some of the materials back.
The No-Look Method: Mining
If you’d like to watch TV while you grind XP, this method requires the least attention to your screen.
Required: All you’ll need for this method is a stone pickaxe, and an area with rocks.
Hit rocks with your pickaxe
It isn’t as fast as the other methods, but it’s pretty close to the Utility Method, but requires basically zero attention. You may have to occasionally reset your position, but once you find a rhythm you can just slowly move left or right with [A] and [D] as you hold down [LMB].
Keeping Yourself Safe
It’s pretty easy for a bear or a pack of wolves to sneak up on you while you’ve got a face full of tree and bush. Luckily, there’s an easy way to keep yourself safe: fences!
Unlock Thatch Railing (or Wood Railing if you’re level 5+) and create a small pen near the area you’re going to be leveling in. Make sure you have a bow and some arrows crafted, along with a knife (when things get a little too close).
If predators attack you, simply sprint to your pen and jump inside. You can then use your bow and knife to fight back; it will have to destroy the railing before it can attack you, and if it does manage to break through you should have done enough damage to it that you can win the fight. Alternatively, jump out and run, leaving the railing behind as a barrier — we discuss this strategy in more detail in our Surviving Bears guide!
Thanks to Dionaea and chrono539 from the ICARUS Discord for this tip and image.
Blueprint Points are precious. If you don’t want to spend them on unlocking railing tech, there’s another way to deal with predators, though it’s riskier and harder to pull off:
Craft 2 thatch wall and 2 thatch ramps.
Place the wall on the ground. Build one ramp from ground to the top of the wall, and one from the top of the wall upwards (see the image below).
If the first wall sinks pretty far into the ground, you’ll need to put another one on top. However, if you have to place two walls like this, you will no longer have a second wall in your hotbar for deconstruction (you will see why that matters below). So, just build yourself a 3rd one.
Put your remaining wall in your hotbar, ideally into one of the first few number keys — this way you can easily press it while running.
If you’re attacked by a predator, run to your contraption and sprint up the ramp to the top. Use your hotkey to select the wall in your inventory, then turn around and aim at the lower ramp section and press [Y] to deconstruct it. You’ll then be able to get a few arrows into the wolf or bear while they attempt to destroy the wall you’re standing on.
There are a number of talents that can assist you in speed leveling. We’ve listed them in order of how well they’ll help you level faster:
Speed Chopper (Construction – Tools):+5/10/20% Attack Speed with Axes — Naturally, the faster you can chop, the quicker you’ll level up
Speedy Mining (Construction – Tools):+5/10/20% Attack Speed with Pickaxes — As above, the faster you mine, the more xp you’ll earn.
Chase ‘Em Down (Survival – Hunting):+10/25 Base Stamina — With more max stamina, you’ll be able to chase down prey (or escape predaors) more easily, and mine/chop more before resting.
Marathon Runner(Solo):+10/25 Base Stamina — Increasing your base stamina can help you chop more trees before you have to catch your breath, and also allows you to chase prey/run from predators longer.
Hunting for Experience
While it’s much, much riskier than simply chopping down trees (not that trees haven’t been known to fall on careless prospectors), animals give decent experience, and predators give significantly more XP than trees and rocks. If there are wolves or a bear in the area, it can be worth building the above-mentioned railing pen and luring them to you with a well-aimed arrow from afar.
That being said, under normal circumstances forests are easy to find, while predators tend to be much less abundant. So,if you are confident in your combat skills and want to use this strategy as an efficient method, you should head to transition zones between biomes. Animals here spawn in larger numbers and re-spawn quickly once you leave and come back.
Desert transition zones with the Forest are a better option for a lower-level character, since these animals tend to have lower HP. Try to use our safe hunting methods above first and learn how to land stealth kills before you commit to this method as a reliable way to level — remember that there is an XP penalty to respawning.
Consume unique foods to fill up your three stomach slots and keep your HP and Stamina high. Check out our Hunting Guide if you need more starter and advanced tips.
EIP.gg takes no responsibility for prospectors maimed or killed as a result of this tip.
We hope this guide on leveling in ICARUS was helpful! Please note that given the limited time the ICARUS Beta has been live thus far, this guide is the result of somewhat limited testing.
If you’ve found other methods for leveling up quickly, please feel free to share them in the comments below. Other suggestions or questions are, of course, always welcome!
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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.