Surviving Mars

Release date: March 15, 2018
Platforms: Mac, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Surviving Mars: Starting Guide

How to equip your own expedition to Mars, how to prepare the area for future colonists and which settings to start with

Economical simulators have been making a triumphant comeback lately. They have turned their faces toward an average gamer by losing their original hardcore difficulty and becoming much more casual. And this change was good for them. Haemimont Games, one of the pioneers of economical simulator genre (they developed Tropico 3-5), decided to create the same simple and super-positive game (this time on Mars), without undue hardship. Apparently, gamers were very hungry for such simulators and so Surviving Mars was well-received. In this guide, we will tell you how to prepare for a very important mission of conquering Red Planet and, also, will highlight your first and vital steps in conquering a foreign world.

Pre-launch settings

First, in the main menu you will need to choose whether you want to pick «Easy Start» option or not. It will allow you not to worry about the game difficulty, but, between us, that's really boring. Instead, choose «New Game» and proceed to your mission editing screen. Now you will need to select a game difficulty by choosing your mission sponsor. Here is a list of all sponsors and their bonuses.

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International Mars Mission. This is the easiest level of difficulty because all of the Earth will chip in for your expedition. You will have 4 rockets at the start, $30 000 M, research per sol – 300, rare metals cost – 25, starting applicants – 200. Also, your rockets can carry 70 tons of cargo; colonists will never become Earthsick; Passengers Rockets can bring in more food (x10) and rockets will slowly synthesize new fuel.

USA. On this difficulty setting you will have: 3 rockets at the start, $8 000 M, research per sol – 300, rare metals cost – 25, starting applicants – 100. Besides, there are 70 tons rockets and periodic additional funding.

Blue Sky Corporation. Main parameters: 2 rockets at the start, $10 000 M, research per sol – 100, rare metals cost – 30, starting applicants – 100. In addition, you can buy more applicants, new rockets are cheaper, your drones can discover deep Rare Metals Deposits. Also, at the start you will receive unique bonus technology – Rare Metals Extractors.

China. Main parameters: 3 rockets at the start, $8 000 M, research per sol – 200, rare metals cost – 25, starting applicants – 200. Your rockets can carry 10 additional colonists; new applicants are generated twice as fast.

India. Main parameters: 3 rockets at the start, $7 000 M, research per sol – 100, rare metals cost – 24, starting applicants – 150. Besides, all buildings costs reduced by 20%. Bonus technology: Microgravity Engineering, which unlocks Medium Dome at the start.

Europe. Main parameters: 2 rockets at the start, $6 000 M, research per sol – 400, rare metals cost – 22, starting applicants – 100. Starts with 5 extra technologies. Every new researched technology will grant you additional Funding (double for breakthrough technologies).

Space Y. Main parameters: 5 rockets at the start, $6 000 M, research per sol – 200, rare metals cost – 20, starting applicants – 75. Drone hubs have additional drones; advanced resources are 50% cheaper.

Church of the New Ark. Main parameters: 1 rocket at the start, $4 000 M, research per sol – 0, rare metals cost – 20, starting applicants – 120. All colonists have Religious trait, which doubles birthrates; farming produces 50% less (disadvantage).

Russia. Main parameters: 2 rockets at the start, $5 000 M, research per sol – 200, rare metals cost – 22, starting applicants – 100. Bonus technology: Fueled Extractors; Fuel Refinery Prefab costs 50% less; increased rocket flight time (disadvantage)

It is clear that the bigger your resource pool, the easier the game becomes. But, of course, if it becomes too easy, it will also become boring. So, we recommend either playing as the USA (a lot of money) or as China (faster applicants generation).

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Next, you will choose a commander, your alter ego in the game. There are 11 of them, each with his own unique perks:

Inventor. Drones are slowlyoptimized to work better until Sol 100. Bonus Tech: Autonomous hubs (Drone Hubs no longer need Maintenance or Power).

Oligarch. Fuel production increased by 25%. Bonus Tech: Arcology (unlocks a Residential spire).

Hydro Engineer. Discovery of Water deposit at the start; Domes consume 25% less water. Bonus Tech: Water Reclamation, which reduces water consumption.

Doctor. Minimum Comfort required for birth lowered by 15. Bonus Tech: Stem Reconstruction, which increases the lifespan of your colonists.

Psychologist. While resting in homes colonists restore 5 additional Sanity. Bonus Tech: Behavioral Shaping, which unlocks a Sanatorium spire. In it, you can treat flaws in colonists’ characters.

Politician. Increases all your Funding gains by 20%. Bonus Tech: Martian Patents, that grants additional Funding.

Futurist. Breakthrough techs research speed is increased by 30. Bonus Tech: Autonomous Sensors (Sensor Towers no longer need Maintenance or Power).

Ecologist. Service Comfort of decorations increased by 10. Bonus Tech: Hanging Gardens (a new spire, which improves residences in the Dome)

Astrogeologist. Discovery of Rare Metals deposit at the start. Extractor production is increased by 10%. Bonus Tech: Deep Scanning, which allows to find hidden deposits by scanning the sectors.

Rocket Scientist. Additional rocket at the start. Bonus Tech: CO2 Jet Propulsion, which unlocks Shuttle Hub and allows long-range transportation.

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Here you can set a probability of different game events. These scenarios will greatly diversify your Mars exploration:

  • The Power of Three
  • Inner Light
  • Beyond Earth
  • The Dredgers
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Spheres
  • The Last War
  • Wildfire
  • Marsgate

We will not divulge specifics of these events, so as not to spoil your playthrough. It is better to pick Random setting here.

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Rockets are your main transport.

Rocket loading

So, it is time to load your first spaceship with everything you going to need on Mars. Initially, you will only have to worry about moving first blocks and resources to your Martian settlement, colonists will arrive much later. At this point, don't forget that money isn't everything because cargo holds of your rockets also have their limits. Therefore, you need a clear understanding what is or isn't necessary for your new colony. Choose wisely.

First, select Prefab Buildings. Right now you don't need high-level Polymer, Electronics or Mechanical Parts Factories, only the Drone Hub, some Moisture Vaporators and the Fuel Factory. It's up to you whether to take a Sterling Generator or not because it is very simple to establish your own energy area on Mars.

Then, reserve a place for RC Rover on your next rocket. You will need it to move and control your drones. RC Explorer and RC Transport are also absolute musts for exploring local anomalies, gaining first research points and gathering surface resources. There are 6 drones by default, that should be enough.

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Your drones work on energy, so there is no need to load concrete, metals or food on your first rocket, you will find them on Mars later. Pick sufficient amount of Polymers, Electronics and Machine Parts for buildings — at the beginning, you won't be able to extract or craft them. Orbital probes will help you scan the area for resources.

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Resources are generated randomly, challenging your logistical talents.

Starting a colony

So, your spaceship has finally reached the orbit of Mars. It is time to find a suitable landing site. Search the planet for a place with at least two points of metal, concrete and water. Concrete and water are absolute musts for your first colony, so look carefully. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on mountain tunnels, so choose a flat terrain for your landing site. Carefully look through the threat list, avoid cold areas (with an average annual temperature lower than -15 °C) and meteorite sites.

Resources are generated randomly, so after choosing a landing site use your orbital probes to scan surrounding quadrants for much-needed water, concrete and metals. Concrete is easy to find, but there could be problems with water and metals. Also, always land your rocket near available resource deposits.

After landing, the rocket itself will be your first Drone Hub. Don’t forget about control radius and always build your structures inside it. Initially, build resource depots, then unload rocket cargo holds.  To avoid confusion in the future, construct specialized depots (Polymer Depot, Electronics Depot, etc.) instead of Universal Depots. After that, form your first energy area by using Large Solar Panels and Power Accumulators. Don’t forget about Electrical cables.

If you have concrete deposit nearby, just build an Extractor on it and connect it to your network. To keep the voltage at night, in addition to Solar Panels, build 3 Wind Generators. If there is no water deposit nearby, unpack your Moisture Vaporators, construct Water Towers, Fuel Factories and connect them all with Pipes, which transport water and oxygen. This small complex will produce rocket fuel for your next flight to Earth.

Your rocket will eventually fly back to Earth, so you will have to control drones without it. Build a Drone Hub, Repair and Recharge Stations. Send RC Explorer to investigate nearby anomalies and RC Transport to gather resources on the surface. Meanwhile, scan nearby sectors for metal or rare metal deposits. Metal extractors will require colonists to mine, so construct a Dome nearby, then MOXIE (produces oxygen) and Oxygen Tank, connect them to your energy and water network. Your basic colony is almost ready! Now you only need to build some homes inside the Dome and summon first colonists from Earth.

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Building communications is your major headache in Surviving Mars.

Small hints

Queen of Bees. Build a Drone Hub before sending your rocket back to Earth or your drones will fly with it.

Breath Freely! Moisture Vaporators have a certain radius of water extracting. If you place two of them nearby, an amount of extracted water will drop significantly.

Duster. All of the extractors pollute the nearby buildings with dust. The efficiency of your Solar Panels will drop considerably when covered in dust.

Sacrifice. If you have too many rockets, you can dismantle one and use its components to develop your colony.

Power socket. You can always recharge your RC Explorer and RC Transport by placing them near Accumulator or Electrical cables.

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Summon your colonists as soon as you powered up a Dome.


We hope that our tips will help you to form a foundation of your colony. But that’s only a first step on the long road ahead. On that road, you will encounter constant accidents, extreme weather events, violent colonists, and etc. We will highlight all of these cases in our future guides, but for now, it is time for you to conquer the new world!