Kenshi is an unforgiving game. The wastes are a cruel place filled with dangers, and you need to be ready. That’s where this guide is going to come in. This Kenshi beginner’s guide will help you learn some basic techniques and answer some burning questions you might have. We won’t cover every question that comes up, but we will try to get the basics out of the way.
Always try to have food and first-aid kits on a few members of your squad. Early in the game it will be much harder to get the food and backpacks you really want, but with some later tips in this Kenshi beginner’s guide, we can help alleviate those money problems. We’ve got more guides for you as well. Maybe you want to learn how to take down the Holy Nation or the Shek Kingdom. Use those World State guides to do so.
The first questions many players have are about creating a character. The start you choose is pretty important. More advanced players might want to go for the lone wanderer or rock bottom options. A new player will find it much easier to create a team up front. Having one of the starts that gives you a few companions makes making money and early fights so much easier.
The first thing you need to learn is that Kenshi is not going to hold your hand. If you rush into a heavily defended base and start attacking people, you will get swarmed and cut to ribbons. if you try to attack a pack of Bonedogs, you’re going to get turned into chum. Don’t just rush blindly into any fight. Take the time to stalk your enemy and learn what their paths are. Do they have friends around? It would really suck to get ambushed while trying to hunt down a bounty because you didn’t check the surrounding area.
One of the ways you can help alleviate the difficulty of early fights is by picking the right character type. Shek have bonuses to certain combat skills XP gain. So if you plan to wage a guerrilla war, that may be the option you want to go for. You will also want to focus on understanding the game’s stat system. For example, toughness and KO resistance go up as you take damage. This means you want to pick a sturdier race if you plan on a lot of fighting.
There’s also plenty of bugs to be found. This game is very much a diamond in the rough. You need to save often and before any big missions or bounty hunts. Pressing F5 will quicksave the game. Get used to pressing this.
Making Money Early
One of the best ways to make money early on is by kiting and salvaging. You can lure enemies into the guards around settlements and letting them kill the enemies. As long as they are of a different faction, like the Dust Bandits around The Hub, you can do this infinitely. Just get close enough to the Dust bandits, maybe fire on one with a crossbow. This will aggravate them and they will chase you.
Run back to the town and let the guards handle them. You can join in the fighting on the periphery if you want, but be careful not to get surrounded. Once all the enemies are dead, you can loot their bodies for weapons and other useful items. Run over to the nearest vendor and sell your loot. With enough bandits around, you could make thousands of Cats.
Mining is another option, especially if you pick the team-based stars, but it’s pretty slow and boring. Your first focus in Kenshi should be on having fun, after all.
Don’t worry about base-building too soon
Getting too invested in the base building aspects before you have the cash and resources to support it is a great way to get stuck. Not only do you need to vertically integrate productions chains for Iron Plates, Building Materials and so much more, but this can be pretty annoying. The biggest hurdle most people face is the constant bandit raids. The other factions like the Holy Nation will also raid your base if you attack them.
Adventurers Guild – Lore Friendly Recruitment can help with this. It’s pretty expensive to hire minions this way; as you need to pay anywhere from 5,000 Cats to 20,000 to spawn a team of three potential recruits, you also have to pay to recruit them. But if you need Skeleton NPCs to man your turrets, this is the best way to get them. Skeletons are the best haulers and gunners in the game, as they can do a task without ever having to worry about food. So grab a couple and assign them to turret duty.
Taxes are a thing as well. If you build within certain faction zones, like the Shek Kingdom, they will send tax collectors to your base. The Shek are unique in that they collect a food tribute. United Cities just want cash. The Holy Nation better be answered at the door by a human male holding a copy of their religious text.
Base-building can be super rewarding, but also a nightmare. The building mechanics in the game are prone to bugs. with enemies commonly phasing through walls. If you find this is an issue, here are a couple of things to try:
- Press Ctrl + Shift+ F11 – This command forces the game to recalculate the loaded navmesh. If you find buildings not working or characters stuck, press these buttons and the game might fix it for you.
- Press Shift + F12 – This opens up the in-game dev console. Press FIX STUFF to have the game alter any broken or duplicated buildings, among other common bugs.
- Check character toggles – Do you have a character not doing Jobs that you assigned them? Make sure they don’t have HOLD toggled on in the bottom right of the UI.
- Build buildings before walls – Because of quirks in the way the game maps out the zone for your base, there’s a very annoying bug that can happen. The radius around your base expands as new buildings are added. If you find that walls are being placed but not build, they may be outside this radius. The common indicator for this is a wall build site that’s marked as owned by nearby settlements, not the player faction. If this happens, cancel the broken build and work on other buildings first. As the control zone expands, the game should eventually allow you to finish those bugged walls.
All that isn’t to say that building your own bases is a bad thing. The amount of loot you get is insane, especially after defeating a raid. But the point is, you need to be ready to take down those raids before you invest in your base. Of course, if you wanted to roleplay a ruined faction that’s taken out by slavers and has to build back up, you certainly can.
In this section, we will cover some questions seen asked by many Kenshi players who are new to the game.
Should I worry about technology?
Technology has its limits unless you plan to pour serious time into hunting blueprints. Weapon crafting in particular forces the player to unlock weapon types before allowing them to be made. So if you want to make High-Grade Katanas; you first need to find the Katana blueprint, and then research multiple Tech Level updates to unlock grades beyond white gear. For contrast, Armour has no such restrictions. With a high enough skill and the right blueprint, an armour crafter can make anything, no extra tech levels needed. This makes Armour both a good gear upgrade and a great money-spinner.
More advanced research into power generation and farming is only useful for bases. So if you’re not planning to play a game of base building, you don’t need to worry about that.
How do I find a certain blueprint?
If you do want to get into the technology game, finding blueprints is the first step. You could dive through the FCS and use the modding tool to find out what vendor lists sell certain blueprints, but that’s technical know-how not everyone has. The wiki has a good page on all the basic prints in the vanilla game.
How do I train a skill?
Certain skills take certain actions to level up. Another trip to the wiki could help you figure this stuff out, but here are the basic ideas on how to improve baseline stats.
- Strength – Fill up your inventory to Heavy weight and then run around.
- Dexterity – Dexterity can be trained (albeit very slowly) by shooting turrets. No benefit, however, from practicing turret shooting at the Training Turret. There are mods that add such a turret though. You can also “train” by having boxing matches with your prisoners. Take someone hostage and then take their weapon away. The resulting fight raises Dexterity and Martial Arts skills.
- Perception – Perception can be trained (albeit very slowly) by shooting turrets. No benefit, however, from practicing turret shooting at the Training Turret. There are mods that add such a turret though.
- Toughness – Taking damage increases your Toughness.
- Athletics – Just run around with your inventory weight at light or lower.
- Swimming – Just swim in a body of water.
Trade and Science skills like Smithing, Labouring and Farming are all leveled up simply by doing related tasks. So there’s a certain incentive to buy some of the benches related to these tasks to help level them up. Don’t forget, you can buy ruined houses in The Hub and other cities and put crafting and research facilities inside. You won’t get raided, and you still can train up characters in the early game.
Combat skills are trained by using the weapon you wish to level up. Dodge and other related skills can be trained in this way as well. Training Dummies only affect Melee Attack by default.
What do stats mean?
The way that stats relate to each other in Kenshi is somewhat esoteric. The UI does an OK job of explaining some bonuses, but not enough of them. new players often have trouble figuring out what type of stats to focus on. For an example, let’s talk about Dexterity.
Dexterity is probably one of the more important stats, aside from Strength. Dex affects the attack rate with all weapons, and also scales Cut damage on any weapons that deal that kind. Let’s say you want to use Sabres, that means you need high Dex, as they are primarily Cut damage weapons.