Prepare for apocalyptic farming.
Farming is a tough vocation at the best of times, but post-apocalypse, it’s even harder. Atomicrops is Stardew Valley turned rogue-lite, where the rewards of ultra-GMO crops are offset by mutant creatures and plants that roam the wastes and attack your farm at night. Increase your chances of surviving your first few seasons with our handy Atomicrops guide, full of tips and tricks for farming and staying alive while doing it.
Bear in mind that Atomicrops is currently in Early Access, so the game will likely change over time – we’ll try and keep this guide updated when it does.
How to make money
You make money in Atomicrops is by selling your harvested crops every morning when the helicopter comes to pick you up and take you to town.
There are several important steps you can take to increase your money earned. Firstly, fertilise the soil your crops are planted in – fertiliser is the pink resource dropped by enemies, and can also be deployed by a tractor. Fertiliser increases the size of your grown crops, netting you more cash on sale. Each square of soil can be fertilised multiple times.
Another effective tactic is to plant a 2×2 square of the same type of seed. This can grow into an extra-large crop if you fertilise it, and is worth more than four separate smaller crops put together. Finally, keep an eye out for bushes of wild crops you can pick out in the wilderness – these are easy bonus money.
Speak to the mayor at the end of every season
Each season is only a few days long. When you return to the town after a season ends, you can access a new area in which you can speak to the town mayor. He’ll assess your haul for that season and reward you appropriately with some high-value items. A bridge repair piece is often one of them.
For that day, this also opens up some extra shops, such as where you can buy items in exchange for rose petals and another you can buy tractors for cash. Bear in mind that you may wish to save those for flirting with a potential partner, however.
How to heal
To heal, you can buy hearts from town using rose petals, and sometimes the two romanceable characters will give you health, also in exchange for rose petals. If you get lucky, some enemies drop health pickups, as well as green plant chests. If you pick up health drops while at full health, you’ll start to ‘grow’ an extra heart container. You can also further bolster your health with organic armour that grows back every day.
Explore the map
While tending to your farm is very important, you should actually spend more of your time during the day exploring the wastelands to the North, East, South and West of your farm. Here you can earn a variety of loot, from seeds and fertiliser to power-ups, tractors and livestock.
The desert in the West and the forest in the East are open at the beginning of a run, so you should start there. The desert is arguably the least dangerous of the two, so feel free to begin with that one.
Reaching the other areas requires you to repair the bridge connecting them using bridge repair materials, which are expensive. Accessing the North and South areas costs one of these each, whereas expanding further to the West or South costs two – so do this later on.
Explore each area methodically. If you start with the West, tackle the top or bottom half in a day, visiting each camp in turn (more on those in a minute). This should take you a total of four days to fully explore the initial East and West areas, by which point you will have completed the spring season and should have acquired at least one bridge repair kit.
A winter wasteland lies to the North, while a jungle sits at the South. These levels are a little larger than the other two wastes, plus they’re definitely tougher – you’ll need a good upgraded weapon.
Know your camps
Each area of the wasteland has numerous enemy camps scattered around it. Concentrating on clearing these out is crucial to bagging loot. A camp’s enemies are marked with a special pink icon to differentiate them from normal monsters – you have to kill all of a camp’s enemies (even if they roam away from the camp) before receiving the reward. Here are the different types of camps that you’ll see:
These small, lightly guarded camps contain a squirrel taken captive. Free the squirrel to receive a small number of seeds.
Similar to the above but with a chained-up flamingo. Kill its captor and you’ll get a couple of rose seeds.
Another small and lightly guarded camp, crates contain one or more pickaxes if you kill its surrounding enemies. These can be used to expand your farm by one square each.
Birds on scrolls
Camps with two birds perched on scrolls are guarded by a few enemies and reward you with the choice of one of two item scrolls.
Tractors in Atomicrops don’t look like any tractors I’ve seen before. But you can identify them as the round mechanical heap. Kill the surrounding enemies to gain the tractor. These have handy abilities that are charged up by killing enough enemies.
Green plant chest
A large green plant encampment is typically guarded by several enemies. This is one of the best camps, often containing a healing heart and a couple of other good items, so ensure not to miss these ones.
Camps with two animal pens feature a few enemy guards and reward you with a choice of two livestock when you defeat them – or sometimes, a turret that can defend your farm at night.
Similar to the above camps, but instead of livestock these will reward you with a choice of two pieces of equipment.
You don’t have to kill every enemy
While random enemies out in the wilderness can net you seeds and fertiliser, you only have very limited time in a day. Focus on enemy camps in order to earn more rewards. Likewise, when defending your farm at night, prioritise fighting the creatures that pose more of a direct threat to your crops – slugs, for instance, that will eat them.
Learn to multitask
Like any farming sim, time is of the essence in Atomicrops – particularly with how quickly the days and seasons go by. To make sure you get chance to explore the wilderness during the day and still grow enough crops while defending them from enemies, it often pays off to do the latter two tasks simultaneously.
Atomicrops’ mutant groceries don’t need sunlight, so you can still grow them at nighttime when monsters descend. Make sure that your plot is fully seeded and fertilised, if you have the resources. Keep an eye on your water reserves, filling up whenever necessary at the well, while staying in the vicinity of your crops so that you can water them. Then harvest as soon as they’re ready, replacing them with more seeds if you have them.
The above is all possible while fighting enemies on the farm. It takes a bit of practice, and sometimes you’ll have to briefly retreat if it gets too dangerous on your plot, but the more you can double up on activities, the more profitable your farm will be.
Weapons guide – which weapons are best?
Weapons in Atomicrops work a little differently to how you might expect. For some unfathomable reason, they break after just a day of usage (I guess because they’re all rusted from the apocalypse?). This means you’ll have to buy a new one each day, with the choice of two random weapon guns at a time. You can also upgrade weapons, but this is very expensive and again, will only last for that day. You should probably be able to upgrade your gun once daily (100G) during the summer season, while you likely won’t be able to afford the second upgrade (300G) until around wintertime.
The regular two-shell shotgun is passable but not very effective, as of this time of writing. When you’re getting swarmed by enemies, its two shots and fairly slow reload could leave you in trouble.
The SMG is rapid-fire with a limited range. Its damage output is reasonable and gives decent crowd control – it’s just not the most accurate.
The assault rifle is a fairly basic but pretty effective weapon. In practice, it behaves like a more rapid-firing and longer range version of your default gun, making it an effective replacement. It’s also cheap – this makes it one of the best guns early on in the game.
The Jackrabbit is a pump-action shotgun that’s a marked improvement from the standard one. Because it has multiple shots, it’s useful for dealing with swarms of enemies, or emptying a bunch of shots into one larger foe.
The sniper rifle is a fairly versatile gun that delivers two powerful, accurate shots at any range. It’s slow to reload so you’ll need to be accurate, but if you line up several enemies you can hit them all at once. Its attack damage also makes it suitable for fighting bosses and other tough enemies.
The blunderbuss fires a powerful blast that can hit multiple enemies in its path, delivering more damage to those which are closer. It’s powerful, just prepare for the slow reloads.
The flying squirrel is a bizarre novelty weapon, firing several homing squirrels towards your targets. Though the damage output is decent, the slow reload and unpredictable aiming make it less than ideal.
The butcher’s knife has a bonus effect: enemies killed with it are much more likely to drop fertiliser. It can also hit multiple enemies at once and can deliver a critical hit for double damage. The problem with the knife, however, is that it’s thrown in an unwieldy arc that takes practice to aim. This makes it a difficult weapon to rely on when you’re getting swarmed by enemies.
Watch out for enemy attack patterns
Enemy bullets in Atomicrops can be quite unpredictable, with them not always being shot directly from the sprite of the enemy, and animations not always telegraphing the shot – a notable example is the hermit in a can which shoots a wide spread of four bullets that don’t line up with its body. This problem is only exacerbated when you start fighting enemies with circling and homing bullets.
Because health is at a premium in Atomicrops, play cautiously with this in mind – try to avoid getting too close to enemies that fire bullets, because you may not always be able to predict when they fire.
There is also a variety of enemies that use area of effect attacks, with their impact area shown as a red outline. Thankfully, you usually have time to react and get out of the way. Sniper enemies appear in increasing frequency as you progress too, telegraphing their attacks with a laser sight. Circle around them as they aim to avoid the shot, then close in for the kill. When you’re surrounded by multiple snipers it can make it very difficult to dodge these attacks, so don’t leave them unchecked for too long.
Boss battle tips
Each season features a boss battle at nighttime, typically on the last day of the season. The boss music kicks in, and a subterranean enemy tunnels towards you, engulfing you and starting the battle. If you’re about to start the last day of a season, make sure you stock up at the town with health and a good weapon. Here are the first three bosses you’ll face:
The Monstropod is the first boss you’ll face, a giant snail. The Monstropod will charge towards you and spawn slug minions, and the rabbit on its back will fire a few shots. It will also munch your crops if left unchecked. When it takes enough damage, it’ll briefly retreat to the edges of the level before charging in again.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of Atomicrops’ combat, the Monstropod shouldn’t give you too much hassle. Most weapons are viable for the fight – ideally, you’ll have upgraded from the default starting weapon, but even that is okay in a pinch.
Sol Crusher (Summer)
The Sol Crusher is a significant step up in difficulty from the Monstropod, appearing towards the end of summer. Its first form is a smiling sun and rainbow, but exhaust its first health bar and it’ll turn into a tougher, angrier sun.
The Sol Crusher battle goes a bit bullet hell, with it periodically hunkering down and firing waves of bullets that you’ll have to concentrate on dodging. Once it turns into its angrier sun form, it’ll sometimes charge at you, fast – this is actually quite hard to dodge, so make sure you’re keeping an eye out for it at all times. Because the Sol Crusher is particularly dangerous up close, you’ll ideally want a more long-range weapon like the sniper rifle or assault rifle for this battle.
Old Mech-Donald (Fall)
The hilariously named Old Mech-Donald is an anthropomorphic tractor that zooms around the farm. As well as charging directly towards you, it also attacks by blowing out clouds of poisonous red smoke. It’ll also periodically hunker down and roll huge tractor tyres across the level either vertically or horizontally – when this happens, forget about attacking for a minute and just make sure you dodge these as they’re massive.
A long-range weapon like the sniper rifle or assault rifle is handy for attacking Old Mech-Donald from a safe distance while he’s puffing out the poison smoke, but I’ve also had success taking him down with a Jackrabbit 12.
Look out for the rare yellow creature
Occasionally, you may come across a non-hostile, yellow animal that wanders around, minding its own business. What do you do with it? Why, shoot it, of course! It’ll immediately start running away from you, but do your best to pursue and shoot it as many times as you can before it burrows underground – you’ll receive a lot of fertiliser for your troubles, you heartless git.
Atomicrops features a rudimentary romancing mechanic. There are two characters in town, Rue and Borage, that you can give rose petals to, to receive a bonus item in exchange. Give them rose petals on enough days (the necessary amount increases every day) and you can marry them. It’ll likely take a while before you get enough rose petals to marry one of them.
What does your spouse do? Borage is more of a homebody, tending the farm while you’re away, increasing its stats and gifting you seeds, while Rue is a helpful wasteland companion that’ll help you fight and hunt out items.
What’s better – mouse and keyboard or controller?
Both control methods for Atomicrops are viable but each has its pros and cons. While keyboard and mouse is better for more accurate tilling and crop planting, a controller is a natural fit for twin-stick shooters and makes it easier to fight while simultaneously tending to your farm. Personally, I prefer a controller. But try both and see which works best for you.
James loves a deep action-adventure game, RPG or Metroidvania. He can often be found in The Indie Game Website’s review section casting his critical eye over the latest indie games.