Beginner’s Guide – Sons of the Forest

Much like its predecessor The Forest, Sons of the Forest is very light on tutorials. Besides a few basic suggestions about looking at your inventory and guidebook, the game doesn’t give you any short term goals, or any real direction as far as what you should be trying to do besides “Find Team B”. With that in mind, this guide offer some essential tips and tricks for Sons of the Forest, from meeting your basic needs to making best use of the game’s companions.


SotF is a survival crafting game, but staying alive is surprisingly easy — once you know the basics. When the game starts, you’ll want to open your emergency kit right away by opening your inventory, which is done with computer key i t /button xbox dpad down. Then select the emergency kit This will give you access to all the essentials, like an axe, GPS tracker (which serves as your map), and a lighter. To equip your axe, put your cursor over it and press icon mouse left click v2/button xbox lefttrigger.

emergency kit beginners guide sons of the forest guide

Chop down small trees to get sticks, or find sticks on the ground. Once you’ve got a couple sticks, you can craft a spear by going back into your inventory and putting two sticks, some tape, and the utility knife on the mat together — press icon mouse right click v2 /playstation r2 button to put things on your mat for combining, then use the same button on the gear icon on the crafting mat.

Now you can head to the beach and hunt turtles! Open your GPS tracker with computer key m t/button xbox dpad right to find the nearest beach. Of course, you’ll need to cook your food — see our guide on How to Get Food for details. You’ll also get thirsty on the way, so use your GPS to look for rivers (you can’t drink from the ocean) — details can be found in our How to Get Water guide.

To rest, you’ll need a shelter! Kelvin can build you one, or you can do it yourself with the tarp you found at the crash site and some sticks. It’s simple to build: just equip the tarp from your inventory, place it on the ground with icon mouse left click v2/playstation r2 button, then look at one of the corners of the tarp. You’ll see an arrow pointing upwards — when you do, press icon mouse left click v2/playstation r2 button to place a stick (if you don’t have one, you’ll need to find one). Then you’ll be able to save or rest at your shelter by pressing the indicated button.

making shelter beginners guide sons of the forest guide

Of course, for most of your basic needs, you can also just ask Kelvin. Therefore, reviving your fellow soldier at the crash site is really the best way to stay alive. You spawn facing Kelvin, and you can also see him on your minimap as a blue circle labeled “K”. At the beginning of the game, walk over to him and hold playstation x button/button xbox a v2/computer key e t to stand him up and make him useful.

You can then interact with him by holding playstation x button/button xbox a v2/computer key e t, allowing you to give him basic commands. He can catch fish, meaning all you need to worry about is finding yourself water. He can also build you a shelter, which is how you’ll rest and save your game. If you want to move camp, you can tell him to “Clear Shelter”, and he’ll pick up the tarp and stick so you can have him rebuild it somewhere else.

There’s a lot going on in the bottom right of your screen. Here’s what all the Sons of the Forest HUD icons mean:

  • Strength – Represents your progress to the next strength level — each level grants you more melee damage, plus a minor increase in maximum HP.
  • Thirst – Represents your need for water.
  • Hunger – Represents your need for food.
  • Rest – Represents your need for sleep. Note the pink in the Rest meter — this occurs when some food items grant extra, temporary rest.
  • Health – Represents your current and maximum health. The lighter red is your current health, the darker red is your missing health.
  • Stamina – Represents your ability to sprint, jump, and use weapons and tools. The lighter blue is your current stamina, and the darker blue is your missing maximum stamina. Using stamina will remove a slice of the lighter portion temporarily, representing how much of your current stamina you’ve used.
  • Armor – Represents additional protection that will block damage, preventing health loss
hud icons beginners guide sons of the forest guide

Some of the controls in Sons of the Forest aren’t very intuitive, and some of the ones you’ll want to use all the time are placed awkwardly (jump on controllers, light sources on PC, to name just a couple examples). Fortunately, the controls are all 100% remappable, so it’s a good idea to inspect them in the options menu and remap them to your liking.

If you want a handy reference for your phone or second monitor, we’ve got a page with the game’s Basic Control scheme for ya! It’ll only work until you change them, of course.

Update: since patch 02, exploiting the save/reload system isn’t possible in single player.

The game is currently in early access, and it’s possible they’ll change this soon, but for now you can very quickly collect tons of sweet loot by repeatedly reloading your game. This is because all of the loot spawns reset upon loading a saved game. This includes crates, even the ones at the crash site where you start the game! One of the crates at the crash site seems to always spawn with meds, and healing is one of the few things that can be hard to come by in Sons of the Forest. Here’s the easiest way to take advantage of this:

  • At the start of the game, “rescue” Kelvin, then tell him to set up a shelter
  • While he does that, loot all of the crates around the crashed helicoptor
  • Save your game at the shelter
  • Quit and reload your save
  • Loot all the crates again
  • Save your game at the shelter
  • Quit and reload your save

You can do this as many times as you like, amassing a small fortune in duct tape, ammo, and medicine. Another good place to do this is on the beach near where the pistol is found — there’s a corpse there with food, ammo, and medicine. This beach is fairly easy to see on the GPS tracker, as it’s the one near the purple exclamation mark that’s out in the water.

spot to abuse respawn system beginners guide sons of the forest guide

Early on in the game, you’ll meet Virginia — treat her right, and you can get Virginia as a companion. Once you’ve successfully befriended the mutant, you’ll be able to give her items, including guns. This is a really helpful thing to do, since she apparently doesn’t need ammo, and at time of writing, giving her a gun sometimes doesn’t even remove it from your inventory (this seems to vary from report to report).

Unfortunately, you can’t give her orders like you can Kelvin, and she kind of does her own thing most of the time. Still, you never know when she’ll show up and provide cover fire, so it never hurts to make sure she’s as loaded out with weaponry as possible — note that she has three hands, so you can give her both the pistol and the shotgun.

There are enemies scattered across the island, plus plenty to find in the game’s caves and bunkers. While sometimes conflict is avoidable (like when an enemy has literally grown into the passageway you need to get through), often you can simply back off, and the game’s enemies will do the same. Resources might technically be unlimited now, but it’s still a pain to save and reload, so you’re usually better off not fighting if you can help it. Fortunately, it seems like you can outrun every enemy in the game. Furthermore, they generally won’t chase you very far. When in doubt, discretion is the better part of valor in Sons of the Forest.

blocking is strong beginners guide sons of the forest guide
Blocking is good — running is better

There are lots of points of interest on your GPS tracker, from the GPS markers you need to find to the islands many caves. You’ll find goodies in the caves ranging from the usual food, crafting materials, and ammo, to unique weapons and tools like the Stun Gun and the Rebreather. These underground areas range in danger level, with some being full of enemies and others empty of everything but loot. Because spelunking can be dangerous, it’s a good idea to create a shelter outside of caves and save your game before entering.


We hope this guide helps you get started in Sons of the Forest! Questions and suggestions welcome in the comments below.

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DanielD
DanielD

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.

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