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Oxygen Not Included guide: how to ace your first 30 cycles in ONI

Every problem you need to solve in your first 30 cycles

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Oxygen Not Included is one of my very favourite games. And it’s also just recently been released, which means a whole wave of bright-eyed players have just begun their own journey into this hilarious, beautiful, infernally complex suffocation simulator.

So, to all those players: this is the Oxygen Not Included guide that I wish I had when I was first starting out. Updated for the full release of ONI, I’ll go through all the problems you’ll have to solve in your first 30 cycles step by step, and show you how to use this first month to create a beautiful, elegant, and fully functional base.

Oxygen Not Included guide: your first 30 cycles

Oxygen Not Included is a tremendously impressive simulation, and there’s an awful lot to learn about keeping your duplicants (or “dupes”) alive that the game doesn’t teach you. To illustrate my points, I’ll refer to various screenshots from the first 30 cycles in my latest game. If you want to have exactly the same experience as I did, here are the details you need:

  • Difficulty: Survival
  • Asteroid: Terra
  • Seed: 616868630

This Oxygen Not Included guide will assume some very basic knowledge – how to dig, how to build, how to set priorities, and so on. I’ve sorted the Oxygen Not Included guide into various “problems” that you’ll need to solve in order to keep your dupes alive and happy. So, let’s begin!

[Cycle 0] The Problem of Duplicants – Oxygen Not Included guide

The first major aspect of any Oxygen Not Included game is deciding upon your starting three dupes. There are a few basic guidelines here that I always follow:

  • Try to find one good researcher, one good operator, and one good digger or constructor.
  • Look out for positive traits which give you attribute bonuses, such as Night Owl, Early Bird, Buff, and so on.
  • These are the only negative traits you should be happy with: Gastrophobia, Pacifist, Squeamish, Yokel, Irritable Bowel, and Small Bladder. The rest are much more trouble than the dupes are worth.

You can see above the three dupes I settled on. If, like me, you end up with a Night Owl on your team, then while they’re sleeping at the end of your first cycle you should head into the scheduling tab and create a new schedule for that dupe, so that they’re always at work during the three default “sleeping blocks”.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 1 start

Oxygen Not Included starts you in the middle of an asteroid, with nothing but three dupes, a Printing Pod, and a Ration Box of food, and a vague indication to start digging. Stumped? I don’t blame you.

[Cycle 1] The Problem of Urine & Sleep – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Outhouse (x2), Wash Basin (x2), Pitcher Pump, Cot (x3)

So, you’ve landed in the middle of an asteroid, and already our attention has turned towards urination. The top priority for your first cycle is to establish a latrine area: dig out a dead-end somewhere nearby, and build two Outhouses at the end of it, with two Wash Basins at the entrance with their arrows pointing¬†away from the Outhouses (so that dupes wash their hands when exiting the latrine area).

But that’s not all! The other essential thing you need is a supply of water: else your Wash Basins won’t function. So dig towards the nearest supply and build a Pitcher Pump to suck up all that lovely soon-to-be-germ-infested water.

Once you’ve got those three things working, the immediate crisis is over. You’re no longer in danger of your dupes painting your asteroid yellow. The next step is to establish an initial barracks area where your dupes can sleep, so plop down three Cots in a separate room near the Latrine.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 1 end

This is what I accomplished in my first cycle: two Outhouses, two Wash Basins (always have as many Wash Basins as Outhouses), a Pitcher Pump, three Cots, and the beginnings of the next step, which is…

[Cycle 2] The Problem of Power & Research – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Manual Generator, Battery (x2), Research Station, Oxygen Diffuser

Now that your dupes have a place to relieve themselves, it’s time to look towards power. Many of the solutions to the various problems that arise throughout Oxygen Not Included require power. For now, all we’ll need is a single Manual Generator hooked up to a pair of Batteries.

The first two things you’ll need that require power are a Research Station (so you can set your researcher to work thinking up new ways to solve problems), and an Oxygen Diffuser. The Oxygen Diffuser won’t be needed for another cycle or two but you might as well build it all now and disable the Diffuser until all the natural Oxylite providing Oxygen to your base has run out.

Remember to hook it all up with wires! In total, you’ll need 1200-1400 Copper Ore to create all this, so make sure you mine any immediate patches of Copper Ore around your starting location.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 2 mid

You might as well place all of these buildings on the same level, so that you can save on Copper Ore by connecting it all via a single line of wire.

[Cycle 3] The Problem of Food – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Microbe Musher, Basic Farming Research

We’ve sorted our initial Power supply and the basic needs of our dupes, but the food in our Ration Box won’t last us long. Our plan for getting us through the first hundred cycles or more will be to build a Mealwood farm so we can feed our dupes with Liceloaf, but we’re not quite ready for that yet, and we need our dupes to not starve in the interim.

So, on Cycle 3 our priorities are twofold: first, we need to get our researcher started on the “Farming” section of the tech tree, beginning with Basic Farming and heading immediately on to Meal Preparation. And second, we need to build and hook up a Microbe Musher and set it to churn out endless Mush Bars – because food poisoning is preferable to starvation.

Besides this, Cycle 3 is a good time to expand the base a little more. You’ll see below I’ve placed doors at the entrances to our bathroom and barracks area so that we get the Morale boost from those completed rooms (if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, hit F11 in-game to bring up the Room Overlay). Your Printing Pod will also give you the option for a fourth dupe this cycle. Use the same criteria as I laid out at the start of this guide. If there are no suitable candidates, you can always pick the non-dupe offering, or reject it altogether. Remember, more dupes isn’t always a good thing as you’ll need to keep them fed and oxygenated. They’ve gotta be worth the trouble.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 3 end

By the end of Cycle 3, I have a fourth Dupe with Cot installed, Basic Farming researched, and a Microbe Musher hooked up and ready to churn out Mush Bars until we can transition over to Liceloaf.

[Cycle 4] The Problem of Food, Part 2 – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Mealwood Farm

The Food Saga continues. Hopefully by this time your researcher will have finished researching Meal Preparation, which will allow you to get starting with your Mealwood Farm using your shiny new Farm Tiles.

For the base layout I’m using (8 dupes per barracks), it’s a good idea to place down a farm of 30 Farm Tiles, which will be just enough to keep all 8 dupes fed. It’s okay if you don’t have enough Mealwood seeds for all of them right now; just plant however many you can.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 5 mid

This task may take more than a single cycle to complete. Here I am in the middle of Cycle 5, just about to actually plant my Mealwood seeds.

[Cycle 5] The Problem of Oxygen & Algae – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Enable Oxygen Diffuser, Dig out Algae & Copper Ore, Research, second Manual Generator

While you’re getting your Mealwood Farm set up, this is a good time to turn your Oxygen Diffuser back on if you disabled it earlier. You’re likely not to have much more Oxylite left by Cycle 5.

The other thing to take stock of is your material reserves. Check the dropdown menu on the right-hand side of your screen for anything you’re low on, particularly Algae and Copper Ore as these are essential and slightly rarer than the usual Dirt and Sandstone that everything is made from in your starting biome.

Also make sure you continue researching. Your research dupe should do little else. After Meal Preparation is finished,  beeline to Advanced Research and then pick up Power Regulation for the Jumbo Batteries it gives you.

And now would be a good time to add a second Manual Generator to your power station so that you can easily keep Oxygen Diffuser, Research Station, and Microbe Musher powered at all times.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 5 end

Looking at the Oxygen Overlay, you can see some areas of my base had started to darken after the Oxylite ran out; but with the Oxygen Diffuser now running, things are already starting to brighten.

[Cycle 6] The Problem of Storage & Pollution – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Create Water Lock for Pollution area, build Storage Bins

You’ll no doubt have tonnes of debris littering every surface of your base, which dupes hate with a passion (check out how much of an impact debris makes on the Decor Overlay using F8). So you’ll need to create a bunch of Storage Bins so dupes have somewhere to put all this trash. I’d recommend 10-15 Bins to begin with, somewhere off to the side of your base.

The other problem is slightly more complex. We’re going to install a Water Lock so that we have a place to store the nasty polluted materials that come from our Latrine. Outhouses produce Polluted Dirt, and Wash Basins produce Polluted Water. Both these things cough out Polluted Air, which isn’t nice to have floating around. Hence the Water Lock.

A Water Lock is a way of creating an airtight barrier between two areas, and it’s actually very easy. Check below for reference: you’ll need a V-shaped depression in the ground, and you’ll need to install a Bottle Emptier next to it, with Auto-Bottle enabled so that dupes will fill the space up with water. Once it’s done, deconstruct the Bottle Emptier, and build a Compost Heap (for the Polluted Dirt) and another Bottle Emptier over a small pit (for the Polluted Water) on the other side.

And there you have it! You now have a way to dispose of Polluted material without it constantly introducing Polluted Air into your base. Dupes won’t like going there much (they don’t like to travel through water), but luckily they’ll only need to go there sparingly anyway.

Oxygen Not Included - Cycle 6 mid

On the left, you can see my Water-Locked pollution area in progress, with room for both Compost and a small Polluted Water dump. Meanwhile, on the right, you can see the beginnings of my storage area.

[Cycle 7] The Problem of Morale & Rot – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Debris, Rooms, Sterilise Food, Super Computer

Now that your storage area is built, it’s probably an idea at this point to just set everyone who isn’t on critical tasks (research, providing power) to sweep up the debris throughout your base, because Dupes hate mess.

Another thing worth considering if you haven’t done so already is turning all your rooms into actual rooms to gain the associated morale bonus. With bathroom and barracks this will be easy; you can see below that I’ve also started putting together a Recreation Room and a Massage Clinic (requires Employment and Interior Decor techs) for even more of a morale boost.

Another big important thing to know is that your food will rot within a few cycles if you don’t keep it in a sterile environment. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to this. Deconstruct your Ration Box, and build another one at the bottom of your base where it’s 100% CO2. Carbon Dioxide is sterile, so your food will be preserved forever as long as the CO2 stays there.

Finally, continue to research! Build a Super Computer if you haven’t already done so, and start heading towards the Sanitation and Distillation techs.

All this will probably take several cycles, and that’s okay, because you’ve earned yourself a bit of a respite from the “always something to fix” mindset that Oxygen Not Included forces you to adopt.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 9 mid

Massage Clinic on the left, and Recreation Room on the right. Massage Tables are a hell of a drain on your power at this point, so I would keep them disabled for now.

[Cycle 12] The Problem of Transportation – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Fire Poles, Tiles

Fire Poles are great, and you should plan from Cycle 1 to incorporate them into your base. They cost a fair amount of Copper Ore, but they drastically increase the efficiency of your base and the transportation of your dupes. Refined Renovations is the tech you need, so make a start towards that if you haven’t already, and then put some Fire Poles down beside your main ladders.

If you have some spare dupe-power, you might also want to take this time to replace any natural floors, walls, and ceilings to your base with Tiles, because not only do they improve decor and morale, but they also allow dupes to run faster through your base.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 15 start

By the start of Cycle 15, I have two Fire Poles next to my main ladders. You will also notice my attempts to move the wide flat expanse of water that used to exist below my bathroom into a nice neat reservoir.

[Cycle 15] The Problem of Water – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Top up water reserves if needed

You may not need to do this if you got lucky with your world seed, but I needed to at around this point, so I’ll include it. Our next big project will require us to have a great deal of readily accessible water, and while I have a nice amount already, it could definitely be improved.

If you’re playing along with the same seed, you may have noticed an enormous supply of water above the base, which would be perfect if not for its awful positioning. So I decided to create a single-block tunnel through my base (walling it off so I don’t drown everything in water), and drilled into the bottom of the water reservoir above so it relocates to a more accessible position.

As I said, you may not need to do this, but if you do, then this is how it’s done!

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 15 mid

The breakthrough moment as my dupes drill into the bottom of the enormous water reservoir above my base, and it all deluges down through the carefully crafted tunnel in my base to top up my existing reservoir. Feels good man.

[Cycle 18] The Problem of Urine, Part 2 – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Replace Latrine with Washroom

Your first big project, and your first foray into the wonderful world of plumbing, will be the creation of a fully-functional Washroom, containing Lavatories, Sinks and Showers. You’ll also need a Liquid Pump at the bottom of your water reservoir, and a tonne of Liquid Pipes and Wires connecting it all properly.

Sounds like a lot, and it’ll take you a few cycles, but it’s not that bad really. Check the below image as a guide on how to hook it all up. I originally fed the polluted water from the Washroom directly into a Water Sieve, which feeds clean water back into the Washroom, creating a closed loop. And this is definitely a good thing to do later on; but as has been pointed out to me, at this point it might be worth saving on power and continuing to collect the Polluted Water in the hole you’ve dug, so that you can eventually use it for a Reed Fiber Farm (which requires Polluted Water and doesn’t care about germs).

But in any case, congratulate yourself – that was the biggest project you needed to complete within your first 30 cycles!

Oxygen Not Included guide - plumbing

The picture gives you an idea of a closed loop situation, which will run until the Liquid Reservoirs are filled up (this will take perhaps 80-100 Cycles), but for now you don’t need the Reservoirs or the Water Sieve – just drop the Polluted Water into the hole you’ve dug, as before.

[Cycle 23] The Problem of Oxygen, Part 2 – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Add another Oxygen Diffuser if needed

This is a good time to revisit your Oxygen situation and see if your dupes are getting all the life-giving gases they need. If not, then simply add another Oxygen Diffuser. It’ll use up more Power and Algae, but your situation with both should be fine, and besides, they only run when the ambient gas pressure is below maximum, so it’s not like they’ll both be running 24/7.

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 23

I decided to deconstruct one of the two Massage Tables that I wasn’t using anyway, so I could add another Oxygen Diffuser higher up in my base.

[Cycle 25] The Problem of Food, Part 3 – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Farm Station, Mess Hall

If you haven’t done so already, I’d place down a Farm Station in the same room as all your Mealwood so you can benefit from the Greenhouse room morale bonus. Now’s also a good time to find a good spot for a Mess Hall if you haven’t already. All you need for now is a room with a door and 8 or so Mess Tables inside. If you’ve got an artist and the required techs, you can set them going on turning it into a Great Hall too, for even more morale!

Oxygen Not Included guide - Cycle 25 mid

The beginnings of my humble Mess Hall. As time goes on you can expand this into a spacious and well-decorated Great Hall to give your dupes the maximum morale benefit.

[Cycle 30] The Problem of What To Do Next – Oxygen Not Included guide

  • Priorities: Power, Oxygen, Exploration, Expansion

Congratulations! No doubt you’ve reached Cycle 30 with relative ease if you followed this Oxygen Not Included guide. Here’s my base at around the Cycle 30 mark, for reference:

But what’s next for you and your dupes?

Now you’re entering what I would call the mid-game. Here the problems that need solving are further apart, but require much more time to solve. Things like putting together a proper Power Station filled with Coal Generators and Hydrogen Generators (preferably inside an Ice Biome filled with Wheezeworts so that nothing overheats). Things like building a self-powered Electrolyzer System (commonly called a “SPOM” – Self-Powered Oxygen Module) that uses water instead of Algae to pump Oxygen through your base. Things like exploring into other biomes in your search for Cool Steam Vents and Natural Gas Geysers so your base can reach the next level in terms of power generation and self-sufficiency.

But as for how to solve those problems… Well, for the time being at least, that’s for you to find out for yourself.

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Ollie Toms

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Ollie is a staunch lover of words, games, and words about games. Some say he used to be quite good at Rocket League. His alter ego is an Excel spreadsheet and his favourite colour is tortelloni.

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