Factorio – Survival Tips for Hostile Worlds (Beating the Early Game)

Tips and tricks on how to survive hostile worlds under extreme conditions. Guide is most useful for Deathworlds, or Deathworld Marathon playthroughs, however the strategies can be utilised anywhere for optimal factory starts.

Early Game Survival Tips for Hostile Worlds


This is a general guide providing some useful information for surviving hostile worlds, that may give the player the extra help needed to make it through to the next day, and hopefully beyond. There is an emphasis on early game strategies and techniques, as this is the most difficult time for the factory, and helpful actions at this stage can make later stages easier.

Perimeter and Enemy Expansion

Within hostile Deathworld environments, enemy nests are more numerous, closer to the starting area, with far more dangerous bugs that evolve at a faster rate. It is important that enemy expansion is prevented, or slowed down, in order to protect future patches, and defend the perimeter of the factory.

Resources to do this, especially under Deathworld Marathon settings can be very limited. Furnaces are a cheap resource that only require stone to handcraft. Using a spaced line of furnaces to outline a rough perimeter, and paths to future resource patches, will deter enemy expansion into these crucial areas. Enemy attacks on furnaces will highlight (alert) an area where expansion may have been attempted.

This early action can prevent more nests from appearing closer to your base, within your pollution cloud, and stop bugs making their home on valuable ore patches. Furnaces can also be used in place of walls, to give turrets extra protection against attacks.

Handcraft and Handmine

In the early stages of the game, pollution is a major problem within Deathworlds. There is a higher chance of pollution reaching enemy nests, and being attacked at an early stage of the game can be dangerous.

Handcrafting and Handmining, do not contribute to pollution. It is advisable to handcraft as many items as possible, and if necessity requires it, handmine in place of a drill. Miners emit significant amounts of pollution, and removing even just one, can make a big difference to the pollution cloud. The player can handmine at the same speed as that of an electric miner. A strategy could be to handmine on the patch nearest the enemy, or handmine the lesser used resource (in the early game) of coal or copper.

Loading and unloading of furnaces with ore/coal is also an option too if electricity or fuel is in short supply. Likewise using less inserters and more belts/splitters, will save on resources and limit pollution.


Look for rocks, specifically huge rocks on the map. Mining rocks, which are part of the natural terrain yields stone, and stone/coal for huge rocks. This is a fast and non polluting method of gaining a large amount of stone that can be used to build furnaces, which could be utilised in defences and perimeters.

It is a good idea when exploring the map, to take the opportunity to mine rocks that are discovered, and all huge rocks- the coal makes these finds extra useful. Rocks can also be located on the map screen and are displayed as a grey square symbol (huge rock is a larger square). This is helpful for finding rocks within forests that might otherwise be hidden.

Trees Absorb Pollution

Even dead trees on the ground in a harsh desert environment absorb pollution. It is important to make use of trees to help absorb pollution that is emitted from the factory. Try and smelt iron and copper in wooded areas, and position miners the farthest spot on the patch from the nearest enemy nests.

Running a belt from miners to a wooded area for smelting can be helpful for reducing the pollution cloud. In addition, positioning the boiler/steam engine setup in a forested area, or far away from nearby enemy nests is especially beneficial. The boiler emits 40/m, the largest of all machines within Factorio. Minimising the impact of boiler pollution with a strategic positioning can help immensely in the early stages of the game.

Remove Trees from Far Away Locations

As previously stated, trees absorb pollution and are a fantastic aid during the starting stages of the factory. Limiting the amount of trees that are removed within your perimeter and pollution cloud is helpful, as once a tree is removed, it cannot be replaced.

Harvest trees for wood from far away locations, in order that you gain maximum benefit from the trees in close proximity to your factory. This can easily be done whilst exploring the map and hunting for rocks.

Do Not Overproduce

As resources are limited within Deathworlds, and all production involves some emission of pollution, only create what is required. Pollution also contributes to evolution, so even if the pollution cloud is not hitting enemy nests, it is generally unhelpful within the early stage of the game to stockpile items that are non essential.

Prioritise military items and science above all other things during the starting phase of a Deathworld. There is little need for the stockpiling of other items.

Military 2 – Grenades

One of the most important technologies to get early is Military 2. This gives the player access to grenades, which are incredibly effective against the early biters of Factorio. It is worthwhile to make this research a priority, as not only does it enable the player a secondary weapon, grenades can eliminate multiple enemies, saving on iron resources. The player can also throw a grenade and run at the same time, which can make it easier for the player to avoid enemies or incoming spitter/worm damage.

The blast radius of grenades make them useful weapons for attacking groups of enemies and biter nests in the early stages of the game.


The shotgun is a good weapon to use during the early part of the game especially vs nests. The weapon deals a high amount of damage, and can be a more cost effective means of attack when resources are limited. A nest will include many targets close together, ideal for the shotgun.

The weapon however can be harder to use effectively, as it has a shorter range, and it will not auto target enemies like the submachine gun does. The player may also have problems dealing with enemies that are at extreme close range. For these reasons, the shotgun is often overlooked, in favour of the submachine gun, however in a resource strapped Deathworld, the shotgun is a handy weapon provided it is used in the correct way.


Worms are only created during biter expansion. Provided all spawners are eliminated when destroying a nest, immobile worms on their own cannot reproduce or attack you (if far enough away). They pose no threat, therefore weapons or resources could be saved and used for other purposes.


It is important to be aware of how big the pollution cloud is getting and what nests it is hitting, or potentially going to hit in the future. This is especially important in Deathworlds as nests are larger and populated with more powerful enemies. Use radar to help uncover the fog of war to fully reveal the surrounding territory and potential nests that the pollution cloud might encounter. This is extremely beneficial for uncovering land across water that might contain larger nests.

Radar is particularly expensive in terms of energy early in the game. It can be useful to use solar to power radar to reduce the use of boilers for energy production. Once an area is fully revealed, the radar can be moved to a new location. If a perimeter has been established, the enemy will not expand into that area, and any attacks that do happen will show up in alerts. It is therefore not necessary to keep radar in areas fully revealed in the early stages of factory development.

Alternatively use radar outposts that are off grid powered by solar. These work only in the day time, however will gradually reveal the fog of war and provide a useful field of vision into those areas.


Fire is a potent weapon against bugs. In heavily infested worlds, it can be a good idea to make the research of flamethrowers a priority. Eventually, without proper research or upgrades, biters can evolve past the point where basic firearms are effective on them. When big biters come on the scene, generally red ammunition is required, and the production of this can eat into resources of iron and copper. The research requirements of projectile technology are also quite heavy, especially under Deathworld marathon conditions.

Biters have very poor resistance to fire, and flamethrower turrets are incredibly effective against them. Flamethrower turrets do not require very much oil per shot, and are extremely cost effective for the price. If the enemy can be held back with several layers of walls, a single flamethrower turret can eliminate multiple enemies with one shot. In addition, cliffs cannot be destroyed by the enemy, and as such should be utilised in defensive perimeters.

The portable handheld flamethrower is also effective and can be used by the player to defend areas against biters. This is useful, as flamethrower turrets are quite resource intensive to build, so the portable version could be used until the infrastructure is in place.

Even though flamethrower turrets are incredibly effective, fire can be a dangerous thing for nearby forests that are absorbing your factory’s pollution. Without due care, a misplaced turret could potentially burn down nearby forests. Cut down connecting trees that are within a flamethrower turrets fire range, to prevent the entire forest burning down should the weapon engage. Alternatively place flamethrower turrets after segments of forests. (Note flames only ignite trees when they hit the ground).

Modules (Early-Mid Game)

Aside from the use of green modules to reduce pollution, it is highly beneficial on resource strapped worlds to use productivity modules on research labs, and if possible assemblers producing science. The extra science that is produced will save on resources, which is a great help especially under marathon conditions where recipes are more costly.

Productivity modules increase the power consumption of buildings, so try and utilise solar power as a non polluting way of creating energy. Once there is a solid defensive wall with flamethrower turret coverage, the pollution cloud becomes less of an issue, with factory expansion/advancement being the next goal.

Offensive Options (Early-Mid Game)

Bugs will evolve faster within Deathworlds, and the resource limitations, especially under marathon settings, can make the elimination of the larger nests more challenging during the early-mid stages of the game. There are several effective options that are available for the player, for taking out powerful biters, with lower levels of military research having taken place.

The most effective is the rocket launcher and land mine combination. This strategy involves laying mines in the expected path of biters, who are then stunned and killed, giving the player the opportunity to eliminate enemy nests with rockets. This strategy can work well against highly evolved enemies, with the player having very basic military technology present.

Another option is flamethrower turret crawl using walls. This is an incredibly effective technique that works in a very similar way to the regular gun turret crawl. The only difference is the flamethrowers are protected by a layer of walls. Turrets are “crawled” into the enemy nest, which then eliminate all bugs and spawners within range. The player only needs access to oil and stone/walls to carry out this tactic.

These two strategies are extremely effective within playthroughs where military technology is lacking and/or significant enemy evolution has taken place. They also do not require higher levels of research to have been undertaken eg blue science.

Alien Hive Respawn Mechanics

Worms and spawners don’t randomly appear. They are created by bugs that “sacrifice” themselves to become worms and spawners. When you attack a group of spawners and worms, some of the bugs that are injured can scatter. If you make sure no bugs escape your attack, bugs to form new worms and spawners have to come from much farther away to resettle in that area.

Spawners create expansion parties of 5-20 bugs every 4-60 minutes (more often when evolution is high, less often when evolution is low). That expansion looks for a location that is 3-7 chunks away from existing worms and spawners and at least 1 chunk away from any player built structures. (A chunk is a 32×32 tile grid on the map. You can see the chunk boundaries and tiles by pressing F4 and selecting the show tile grid option).

You can proactively prevent the problem you are having by making sure you let no bugs escape when you eliminate a group of spawners and when you build your walls that you build it 1 or 2 tiles into the adjacent chunk. (If you want to cheese it you can leave one worm, if you are careful with your attacks, in that chunk and an expansion party won’t settle in that chunk. When you arrive to build you can take out the last worm and start construction).

If you do these things then the expansion party can only come from a spawner 7 chunks away from the area you cleared at maximum. Once you have an area clear but before you have begun building in it you can set out radar to keep an eye on your cleared area and make sure no expansion parties have wandered in while you were still clearing terrain to build.

Bonus Tips

How to deal with biters?

  • Stop researching things that don’t help with enemies like concrete (that actually absorbs 0 pollution; even sand absorbs a tiny bit). In fact you don’t have to research anything; you might have other priorities that compete for pollution costs.
  • Get grenades. They are probably the single most overpowered thing you can get before oil. Gun turrets lack aoe and waste iron horrifically, especially if you use the even more wasteful piercing magazines. Even the biggest waves can be defended with a few grenades. With heavy armor + fish (to heal) you can even let biters to surround you and grenade yourself for maximum efficiency! The car is squishier but it can run circles around tougher nests, fall back, and repeat as long as you have spare repair packs + grenades.
  • Replace the radar farm with more iron drills and bigger pillboxes (2-4 turrets). Radars cost pollution indirectly all the time and don’t actually stop enemies. Turrets only cost extra pollution (beyond the upfront costs of building and first-time loading them) when nests escape your attention, and cover your back when you’re far away.
  • Look for oil. Everything good after grenades/car needs oil (bots to automate building and repairs, flamethrower turrets or landmines for walls, eff1 to reduce pollution, tank for bigger nests, etc.).
Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 6901 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

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