I was surprised to see only 1.4% of players have unlocked The Watney Challenge achievement. It's not overly difficult, if you set everything up just right. I'll go over what I did in the guide. With this method, I unlocked it on my first try.
The Watney Challenge Achievement Guide
Configure a new mission using the images below as a guide.
Sponsor: International Mars Mission - You may as well take all the funding you can get on this one.
Commander: Psychologist - To help your lonely new Martian stay sane.
Game Rules: Each of these 8 rules improve your chances or speed things up and none of them disable achievements.
- No Events - we don't need events for this so turn them off.
- Prefab Colony - free structures, why not?
- Fast Rockets - why wait for supplies if you don't have to?
- Fast Scanning - why wait for scans if you don't have to?
- Increased Production - more production = good.
- More Applicants - more chances that you'll get an ideal candidate.
- No Disasters - we don't need a meteor hitting the dome, right?
- Amateurs - we won't need any specialists.
Build, Wait, Win
Site: I chose Elysium Alpha and landed at the pre-exposed area at bottom right.
Your First Rocket
- Remove the RC Commander.
- Add drones until you have 15 on board.
- Put any remaining space toward orbital probes.
Your Second Rocket
- Before you even land, request another cargo rocket.
- Load it with 5 drones and 55 or 60 concrete.
- Send it.
Your Third Rocket
- Before you even land, request yet another cargo rocket.
- Load it with 3 advanced sterling generators & 3 moisture evaporators & any food that will fit.
- Send it.
Your First Cargo Pod
- Before you even land, request a cargo pod for $100M.
- Load it with 2 fuel refineries any food that will fit.
- Send it.
- Use existing and arriving probes to expose more of the area at bottom right.
- Land near the concrete deposit(s), build universal, concrete and metal depots.
- Create a transport route for your RC Transport that gathers metal from the surrounding area then drops it off at the metal depot.
- Land all your rockets - away from each other but within drone range.
- Build a concrete extractor. One is enough.
- Build a self sufficient dome.
- Build 3 Fuel Refinery/Moisture pairs
- Deploy Sterling Generators and run power lines/pipes as needed.
- Wait for everything outside the dome to finish construction and make sure it all works.
- Build one house, one small grocer and as many parks as you want. At least 1.
- That's all you need.
- Find a colonist with no flaws and 2 or more of these perks Rugged, Composed, Nerd, Religious, Hippie.
- Load just that one colonist into a passenger rocket and send it.
- Land the rocket and watch your guy or gal walk to their new, lonely, glass prison.
- If your colonist has Nerd, scan the anomalies in the area to complete research items and boost his/her morale. If not, that's ok - mine did not have Nerd and he still made it.
- At this point, just put it on the fastest game speed and keep an eye on things.
- Wait 9 sols.
That's all folks. Couldn't be simpler, IMHO. The image below shows what my base looked like when the achievement was won, for reference.