Core Keeper is a gorgeous sandbox survival game that puts its own unique spin on the genre while keeping many well-known tropes intact.
Core Keeper is unique in that one of its biggest draws for some players will be the biggest drawback for others. The game tells you absolutely nothing. There are no tutorials, not even for important stuff like housing, and although some players will dig that, plenty won’t.
This is a game where you can get lost and discouraged very quickly, and considering all Core Keeper has to offer; it would be a shame to falter at the first hurdle. That’s where I come in!
In this Core Keeper Getting Started guide, I’ll give you a crash course on everything you need to know to get started in Core Keeper, from the basics to defeating your very first boss. If you’re ready to blow this subterranean world wide open, let’s begin.
Before You Start
Before you dive in and start helplessly fumbling in the dark, there’s a couple of things to take care of first.
Create A World
Before you can play Core Keeper, you need two things, a world and a character. The layout of every world is randomly generated, but a few things remain constant every time you play. You can choose to play in a Normal or Hardcore World; the only difference is that death is permanent in Hardcore. I strongly recommend a Normal World for beginners, but if you want to play on the razor’s edge where one mistake can lose it all, be my guest!
You can spend ages tinkering with your character’s appearance, just know that most of your outfit will quickly be covered with Armor when you start to play. Fortunately, you can change this a little later on.
You can also choose your character’s background. Each background starts with a few skill points and a unique starting item. I like the fisherman, as they start with a rod but pick whatever sounds good. If you want a completely vanilla start without any additions, choose the Nomad, as they start with nothing.
Are You Playing With A Friend?
Core Keeper has a great, simple process for multiplayer that allows you to progress together or bring your solo character into your friend’s worlds. First of all, you and your friends each need to create a character. Once you’ve done that, one of you needs to create a world, or you can decide to join a world in progress. Each player can have 30 worlds active anytime, so you’re never short on space.
Once you’ve got your characters and decided whose world you will join, the world owner needs to press ‘Esc’ to bring up the menu. From there, they can view the Game ID. Game IDs are complex, so it’s best to copy it into a Discord or Steam chat to share it. Each player can select ‘Join World’ from the main menu and paste the Game ID.
What to Expect From Your First Few Hours
One of the best things about Core Keeper is how open-ended it is. If you really want, you can make an incredible subterranean base complete with a farm and never even battle the bosses. If you want to progress through the game and see everything it offers, you will need to get your hands dirty at some point. If that’s your goal, this is a great way to spend your first hours.
Even though every world in Core Keeper is randomized, the Core where you start is the same. Your first priority is to mine the Wood covering the Core by punching with the left mouse button.
Once you’ve collected the Wood, you can craft your very first items by pressing TAB. This will let you build Torches, Pickaxe, Shovel, and a Basic Workbench. Set the Basic Workbench down, pick a direction, and start digging!
Go on your First Mini Adventure
Your first goal should be to explore your surroundings. The world is full of caverns, and if you dig in a straight line, it won’t take long to find one. Make sure you head towards any sparkling walls on your travels, as they indicate ores to mine.
Early on, these ores will exclusively be Copper. Mine all you can, as you can do some great stuff with it when you return to the Core. You’ll start getting hungry soon, so be sure to grab any mushrooms and berries. You can eat most food items right away, but unless you’re desperate, save them until you get back to the Core.
Exploring Yields Great Rewards
Core Keeper rewards exploration, and you can find some incredibly valuable items just by mining walls and breaking boxes in caverns.
It’s down to chance, but you can find jewelry that grants stat bonuses and even lanterns that make you glow! Even if you return empty-handed, you’re still collecting resources, stat points and filling out your map. Time is never ‘wasted’ in Core Keeper, even if you aren’t collecting mountains of loot.
Returning to the Core
When you return from your first trip, you’ll have an Inventory full of goodies to sort through. It may take a few trips to gather enough materials, but you should build all of these at the Basic Workbench.
- Cooking Pot
- Salvage and Repair Station
These are all great to have in your fledgeling base. If you have Mushrooms on you, put them in the Cooking Pot to make meals that are far more substantial than eating them in the wild.
So, What’s Next?
You can explore and tinker with your base for as long as you like, but most of Core Keepers’ content is gated behind the first boss, Glurch the Abominous Mass. I’ll explain how to defeat it in the following section, but a big part of your first few hours will be spent finding it.
Glurch always spawns near the Core, but the exact whereabouts are different in every world. There’s no foolproof strategy to finding the boss arena. Your best bet is to dig out the nearby caves until your screen starts to shake. An infrequent rumble indicates that Glurch is nearby.
I’ve played in worlds where this step takes quite a while. If it does, don’t despair, as you’ll be in a great position to fight and have heaps of resources when you finally find the arena.
Interact with Everything
The most important button on your keyboard is ‘Interact’, which is bound to E by default. Interacting allows you to use items like Crafting Tables and Cooking Pots. You use the same button to open and close doors. You’ll use this button often, so bind it to something comfortable. Controls are customizable in the Options Menu.
Getting comfortable Mining in Core Keeper is essential, and fortunately, it’s really easy! You can punch through walls with the left mouse button, which takes a few hits to break through each block. You can speed up the process with a Pickaxe.
You won’t get very far if you can’t see where you’re going, so you’ll need to craft Torches. You can make these out of Wood, and the starting area always holds a generous supply. Punch all the Wood you come across and you’ll collect it in your Inventory.
Press Tab and a small set of Crafts will be available (Pictured above). If you click the Torch icon a few times, you’ll have enough Torches to keep your exploration well-lit. The more Mining you do, the more proficient your character will become, which will speed up Mining in the future.
What’s the point of Mining if you’re not going to fill the space you dig out with something awesome?! There’s a massive amount of Crafting options in Core Keeper, and you can start trying them out the moment you create your first Workbench. You can make a Workbench with 8 Wood.
With the Basic Workbench and materials, you can make the following:
- Furnace – Turns any Ore you find into Ingots
- Cooking Pot – Combines any two food items into a meal
- Salvage & Repair Station – Repairs and reinforces tools
- Copper Anvil – Crafts Armor
- Tin Workbench – Grants access to more advanced crafts
Ultimately, you’ll want all of these in your base, so keep an eye out for their crafting materials while exploring.
Health and Food
Many players loathe Health/Food meters in games like this, but they are done well here and don’t require constant management. The bars in the top left corner of the screen govern your Health and Hunger, respectively. Your Health only drops when you take damage while your Hunger meter slowly drains through time. In Core Keeper, your Hunger meter drains much slower than in many other titles of the genre; on top of that, it’s easy to fill!
Food is plentiful underground. For a substantial meal, you can combine ingredients with a Cooking Pot to make Mushroom Soup and much more! I’ll explain some great early-game recipes in the following section.
X Marks The Spot
Once you’ve crafted a shovel, keep an eye out for these small crosses (pictured above) on the floor. If you use your Shovel on them, you’ll dig up a random item. Usually, you’ll find a seed, but you have a chance to find rare items like Armor and Trinkets.
Dress To Impress
Your character is incredibly fragile without protection, and the lowliest Slime can ruin your day if you go into combat in your regular clothes.
You need Armor, and I recommend building a shiny suit out of Copper before you properly explore the caves. You can make Wooden Armor early on, but it’s lackluster. Wood can be better spent on valuable items like Torches, Workbenches, and Chests.
Combat is very simple in Core Keeper. Every item you’re holding has a melee or ranged attack value. The higher the number, the more damage you do. Naturally, weapons will always hit harder than tools like Shovels and Pickaxes, but they will do in a pinch.
Enemies flash before they attack, giving you a brief moment to get out of the way. Slow and steady wins the race in Core Keeper combat, and there’s no shame in running away or hiding to heal when the going gets tough.
The Death Penalty
Death isn’t permanent in Core Keeper unless you’re playing in a Hardcore world. When you die, you’ll respawn near the Core. You keep any items in your top inventory bar (Hotbar), but you’ll drop everything else. Fear not; a small tombstone will mark where you died, and if you can get back to it, you’ll recover every lost item. Any items you retrieve that can lose durability (like a Sword or Bow, for example) will take a minor penalty, so you may need to repair your gear.
Farming is relatively simple in its current state, but with animals scheduled to come to the game later this year, expect this aspect of Core Keeper to be expanded upon.
Once you have a Hoe and a Watering Can, you can prepare an area to grow crops. You can till the land with your Hoe, and I recommend tilling a small space of at least 2×8 squares if you’re playing by yourself. Once you’ve prepared the area, you can place any seeds you find and water them with your Watering Can. You’ll need to infrequently come back to water your crops until they are fully grown.
The most shocking thing about Core Keeper for me is, according to Steam, only 16% of players have defeated the first boss. Boss Battles are vital, with many features locked behind defeating them, including Traders.
Understanding the Core Mechanics
Now you’ve got a firm grip on how things work in Core Keeper, let me explain a few mechanics in detail. Some of these may never make sense naturally unless you accidentally stumble across them. I’ll also explain how to defeat the first boss, providing a great stepping stone into the rest of the game.
Become A Fishing Pro
Fishing is a little frustrating until you get the hang of it, but it’s well worth learning. You can cast your rod while facing any body of water with the right mouse button. When a “!” symbol appears above your head, strike with the right mouse button to start the fishing mini-game. You can start reeling in your catch, but your line will quickly snap if you do it when the fish icon is red. The icon changes in a rhythm, which is different for each fish, so only reel in when the icon is orange.
Buffs and Debuffs
You can see any active Buffs and Debuffs under your Health and Food meters. Most of the time, these can be ignored, but if you’re relying on Food Buffs, these icons are the only way to tell if they have run out. You can hover over them with your cursor to discover what they do.
You constantly earn points for your skills through standard gameplay. Once you’ve got 5 for any skill, you can spend a point on its respective tree. There are some great bonuses to unlock, and you can choose skills to complement your playstyle. You can reset your choices for a fee.
You already know how to cook, but as recipes are hidden until you create them yourself, let me show you some of the best early-game dishes.
- Hearty Pepper Wrap (Heart Berry + Bomb Pepper). This meal gives you a temporary speed boost and is fantastic in the first boss fight. These ingredients are plentiful in the wild and well worth growing, so you always have a steady supply.
- Spicy Tulip Salad (Bomb Pepper + Glow Tulip) I love this meal as it gives you a respectable movement speed boost and a dull blue glow around your character. The light lasts ages and is excellent when exploring those pitch-black caves.
- Orange Berry Pudding (Heart Berry + Orange Cave Guppy) You’ll need to fish for the Guppy, but this filling meal gives you a temporary max health boost and a slight boost to your Mining damage.
There’s a ridiculous amount of recipes to discover in Core Keeper, and they can provide powerful buffs to suit any occasion.
Showdown With Glurch
The first significant milestone every Core Keeper player must topple is their first boss battle against Glurch the Abominous Mass. Core Keeper opens up after this fight, but Glurch will have you for breakfast if you stroll in unprepared!
The first thing you need to do is track Glurch down. He always spawns close to the Core, and you can tell when you’re nearby as the ground will periodically shake. The arena floor is coated in slime, which makes you walk slower but don’t worry, there’s a clever way to deal with that.
You don’t want to engage Glurch without a complete set of Copper Armor. If the fight goes well, you won’t even take a hit, but as Glurch will regain all of its Health if you die or run away, it’s not a risk worth taking.
Next, I advise you to bring a Wood Bow. You can find these in Static Slimes spread around the caves. They can also be found in locked chests. You can use a sword, but it’s dangerous being so close.
Finally, cook a few Hearty Pepper Wraps. The Wrap increases movement speed so you can stay ahead of the boss on the slimy floor. Make sure you eat one before you start the fight.
Now you’re like the Rambo of Core Keeper; head into Glurch’s arena and let loose with your bow. Glurch will chase you, trying to squash you with every jump. He’s not too hard to evade, but when you’ve dealt enough damage, Glurch will ‘enrage’, and his jumps will become faster and more erratic. Avoid the slime puddles on the ground as best you can, and keep shooting. The Hearty Pepper Wraps should keep you one step ahead, and once you’ve slain Glurch, you’ll have freed your first merchant!
With some trial and error, you can figure out most things I’ve covered in this guide if you are patient. Housing is the exception, as it has strict requirements and no way of telling what’s wrong if it doesn’t work. You can create a grand house for yourself, but if you want a home for an NPC, there are prerequisites:
- House size cannot exceed 8×8 Tiles
- Walls must have no gaps aside from a single door
- Must have a bed that the player isn’t using as a spawn point
- An appropriate summoning item (like the Jar of Slime from Glurch)
Housing in Core Keeper is very different from Terraria, where NPCs just move into empty buildings. Each NPC needs their summoning item placed on the house floor, or they won’t move in.
Tips We Wish We Knew Day One
Sleeping Is Great!
Beds can be crafted on the basic Workbench for 10 Wood and 5 Fiber and serve as a handy area to restore Health. When you use a Bed, it becomes your Spawn Point, so be aware of where you choose to sleep.
You can punch through many walls at a decent rate without a Pickaxe. If you hold a Torch, you can use it as your light source without placing one every few steps. Torches don’t degrade, so you can do this without wearing out your tools. The only downside is you’ll be leaving pitch-black cave systems in your wake, so do this sparingly.
You’re OK if you go AFK
Your Food Meter only decreases when you’re moving, so if you need to go somewhere while your friends are still in your world, you can stand in your base without worrying that you’ll starve. Your world will stay open until you manually close it too, so you don’t need to worry about getting kicked for inactivity.
It Pays to be a Hoarder
In Core Keeper, many late/end-game crafts still require basic materials from the beginning of the game. It’s tempting to turn your nose up at simple ores like Copper, but you’ll be glad you stockpiled it as it’s a key component in any electrics you may delve into down the line.
Become a Food Connoisseur
Almost every boss in Core Keeper is much easier with bonuses you get from cooked meals. Hearty Pepper Wraps are basically essential for the Glurch fight, and the Hive Mother battle is easy if you eat for Acid Immunity. Food in Core Keeper is far more in-depth than many other titles in the genre, so be sure to take advantage of it.
Pocket-sized Mine Carts
Mine Carts make traveling long distances underground a breeze, but it pays to put the Cart in your Hotbar (your top bar, NOT your Inventory) before you depart. If you die and respawn at home, your Cart won’t come back by itself. Having it on you at all times makes getting around much easier.
Things to Avoid
Core Keeper rewards slow, methodical play. There are so many fantastic items and trinkets up for grabs in the world, but they are easy to miss if you’re speeding around. If you’re rushing, you’ll miss valuable ore deposits, and it feels much better to have them at your base when you need them rather than having to go and farm for them.
Fights You Cannot Win
If you stumble across a big scary enemy, you don’t have to fight them! It’s possible to accidentally find bosses by exploring the world. You’ll never know what you’re up against if you don’t try, but before you blindly rush in, empty your Inventory at your base just in case you lose.
Beware the Salvage and Repair Station
The Salvage and Repair station is an excellent tool for repairing your gear. Unfortunately, one misclick can ‘Salvage’ your items, effectively destroying them. This is irreversible, so take your time when using this station.
Cloud Storage Errors
One issue I’ve had numerous times is my Cloud Save not matching the data on my machine. I’m not why this happens, but if you ever get a prompt about this on startup, make sure you choose to load the latest data for your game. You can lose a ton of progress with a simple misclick here, so be very careful.
Long-Term Goals To Consider
Build The Perfect Base
Core Keeper gives you the tools to run wild with your imagination and create a stunning base if you’ve got the materials. If you’re like me and lack that creative streak, you can still dig out an excellent Headquarters for your Mining adventures. You can spread your crafting benches and tools, so they are accessible and make a comfortable space for houses.
Once you’ve got the layout, you can block each entrance with Spike Traps to defend against pesky enemies.
Cross The Misty Threshold
After you’ve defeated Glurch, it will be time to spread your wings and explore dangerous new territory. If you dig in any direction, you’ll eventually find an intimidating, misty chasm. Build a wooden bridge across and venture into the unknown. Beware, enemies in this strange new world are fierce, but what is exploring without a bit of risk?
What Boss Do I Fight Next? (and How to Beat Them!)
Core Keeper is open-ended, and you don’t have to strictly follow any path through the game. Still, after you’ve defeated Glurch, you may want to continue your boss killing spree. If you do, I’ve got the perfect target.
Ghorm the Devourer is a solid choice for your 2nd boss as you can defeat it from relative safety. Once you’ve ventured deep enough into the Clay Fields (beyond the mist), you’ll stumble across a wide tunnel coated in slime. It circles the entire area, so you’ll find it no matter what direction you dig.
Ghorm is a mighty grub that rampages through the tunnel. Fortunately, it’s not particularly bright, so you can leave Spike Traps in its way and let them do the heavy lifting while you watch from the sidelines. The only issue with this strategy is you need a LOT of Spike Traps, at least 150. Spike traps can be made with a single Tin Ingot.
Ghorm never deviates from its path, so the best strategy is to wait until it passes and set your trap. 150 may sound like overkill, but if Ghorm doesn’t die, he will demolish you, and if he escapes, he will return with full Health!
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How Does this Game Compare to Terraria and Minecraft?
Answer: Core Keeper draws inspiration from both, but it’s unfair to compare because Minecraft and Terraria have been out for over ten years. Core Keeper technically isn’t even a full release yet. So far, we have a beautiful mix of both, with some Stardew Valley thrown in for good measure. The thrill of exploring the unknown is just as good in Core Keeper as in its contemporaries, and the difficulty feels less punishing, making it attractive for newcomers.
Question: How do I Unlock the Drill?
Answer: The Drill effortlessly smashes through the terrain, but you’ll need an Automation Table to craft one. The Automation Table will take a while to get as you need a Scarlet Workbench to get one. Scarlet Workbenches can only be prepared with an Iron Workbench.
Question: Does Core Keeper Have a Content Roadmap?
Answer: Yes, it does, and you can view it on the Steam Community Hub.
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