Raft – Beginner’s Guide: How to Play

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Raft is a post-apocalyptic survival game where players are left to survive on a stranded raft on the endless ocean.

Even though the final chapter of Raft was released 2 years ago, with over 250,000 positive reviews, the game continues to attract thousands of players who love the survival genre.

Recommended Read: Raft – Building Guide

If you’re new to the game and don’t know what to do in Raft, here’s everything you need to know as a beginner!

Table of Contents

What Is the Goal of Raft?

In Raft, you play as a scout with the only mission to discover habitable land for human beings.

By going through 8 different story islands and helping people, you gradually learn about the story behind Raft and liberate Utopia from Olof’s dominance.

Utopia is the final destination, and it is also the promised land for refugee people around the world. By defeating Olof in Utopia, you basically complete the goal of the game.

However, as discussed in our previous article on what to do after Utopia, the goal of Raft can vary depending on how you want to play the game and what you want to achieve.

For some players, the goal of the game is simply to complete the story.

But others may want to survive on the stranded raft for a whole year, build a giant tower in the middle of the ocean, collect all the rare items in the game, or something else. It’s up to you.

How to Play the Game

Once you create a new world and put your feet on the raft, the only thing you see is a Plastic Hook in your hand and no instructions whatsoever.

Soon enough, you’ll start seeing a lot of items floating towards your raft.

To play the game, you must use the starter Hook by holding and releasing the left mouse button to throw the Hook into the ocean to collect the floating items.

With enough resources collected, you can build various structures to help you survive. The overall goal is to keep your hunger, thirst, and health bar full.

Later on, you’ll come across different types of islands. They serve as places for exploration and gathering of even more resources that you can’t get from the ocean.

Once you have the blueprint for the Receiver and Antenna, you can start the story in Raft by following the provided coordinates to find the first story island – Radio Tower.

The gameplay then continues, and it’s a loop between these actions:

  • You collect resources and try to survive
  • You visit non-story islands to get more resources
  • You upgrade your raft and structures
  • You go to a story island and find coordinates leading to the next story island

The game ends when you complete Utopia or achieve your goals.

First Things You Should Do

The first thing you should do in Raft is to collect as many floating items on the ocean as possible.

You need a lot of Planks and Plastics for expanding your raft, as well as for building other things like:

  • Water Purifier for clean water
  • Grill for cooking food and fish
  • Storage to store items

Your starter Hook will lose its durability with each use and break after 40 uses. So, save at least 1 Plank and 2 Plastic to craft a backup Hook.

Prioritize hooking Barrels and Metal Safes, as they give a lot more items, including Scraps, which are used in many recipes.

Note: Ropes can be crafted from Palm Leaves in the Resources tab (screw icon), while Scraps can only be found in Metal Safes or on the ocean floor near islands.

Solve Hunger and Thirst Problems

To keep your hunger in check in the early game, make a Simple Grill using 6 Planks, 1 Scrap, and 3 Ropes.

Then, put it on your raft (preferably near the center) and add some Planks as fuel to the bottom part. You can then put any raw food on the grill to cook it for later consumption.

Of course, eating raw food is also an option. However, raw food restores way fewer hunger points than cooked food.

Raw Beets and Raw Potatoes are good options in the early game. But remember to save some and build Crop Plots to grow them so you have a renewable source of food.

In case you’ve already eaten all of your veggies or haven’t found any, craft a Wooden Fishing Rod using 6 Planks and 8 Ropes to catch small fish.

Cooked fish restores a lot more hunger than veggies, but the cost of making a Fishing Rod is quite high at this point in the game.

In contrast to finding and cooking food, getting clean water is way easier, as you can scoop water straight from the ocean and purify it endlessly.

For more details, check out our guide on how to get water in Raft.

The Shark

Besides hunger and thirst, the shark is the biggest threat since it will attack a random foundation on your raft, breaking all structures built on it.

In normal difficulty, the shark attacks every 5 minutes, and you have to deal at least 15 damage to it to chase it away. Otherwise, the shark will continue biting the foundation until it’s destroyed.

In the early game, your only weapon is the Wooden Spear, crafted with 8 Planks and 3 Ropes.

It deals 5 damage per hit, meaning you must hit the shark 3 times in order to chase it away and protect the foundation.

Once you successfully chase it away, remember to repair the attacked foundation to prepare for upcoming attacks.

Research Table and New Recipes

The next thing you want to do is to build a Research Table and research new recipes.

Fortunately, we have a guide on how to research in Raft. So, check that out!

There are plenty of useful recipes, but try to unlock these first:

  • Smelter
  • Advanced Purifier/Grill
  • Empty Bottle
  • Simple Collection Net
  • Metal Tools and Weapons (Scrap Hook and Metal Spear)

The Smelter is required to progress further into the game, while other tools and structures immensely increase your quality of life.

Explore Islands

Islands spawn randomly around your raft. To explore them, you must anchor your raft using either a Throwable Anchor (early game), a Stationary Anchor (mid-game), or an Advanced Stationary Anchor (late game).

Islands contain unique resources you cannot find on the ocean, such as:

On the first few islands, dive down to the ocean floor and gather at least 14 Sand and 14 Clay.

Then, use them to craft 7 Wet Bricks and put them on your raft to dry them.

You need one Dry Brick for researching in the Research Table, while the other six Bricks are used for making a Smelter.

Unlocking the Smelter allows you to smelt a lot of items, which can be used for further research and crafting.

One of the most important items you can smelt in the Smelter is Metal Ingot.

It’s used in many metal tool and weapon recipes, which, in the end, allows you to permanently stop shark attacks.

Use the Receiver to Start The Story

You receive the blueprints for the Receiver and Antenna after around 20 minutes of playtime.

To use the Receiver, you must place it on the second floor, along with 3 Antennas.

For more details, check out our guide on how to use the Receiver in Raft.

From this point, you can actively travel to any island you’d like (green dots on the Receiver screen) or start the story in Raft (blue dots).

Green dots are large non-story islands. They usually have 2 to 3 wild animals that you can catch and tame to farm for their resources like Eggs, Wool, or Milk.

Large islands also have the Trading Post – a place where you can purchase various cosmetics, useful blueprints, and resources.

You need Trash Cubes and Trade Coins to purchase things at the Trading Post.

Trash Cubes can be made with the Recycler found in the Radio Tower, while Trade Coins are obtained by selling rare fish caught using Fishing Bait to the Trading Post.

Story islands (blue dots) have resources and loot on them, but not a lot compared to normal islands.

Their main purpose is to reveal Raft’s story and give you new recipes and coordinates to help you on your journey to the next island.

The only exception is Balboa Island, where you can catch a lot of Bees to make Beehives and Honey.

Mid to Late Game Content

The game continues with a gameplay loop, as mentioned earlier.

You collect resources from the ocean and non-story islands to build things you need. Then, you travel to each story island to get more powerful tools and complete the various quests.

After completing each story island, your raft will be upgraded significantly with new game-changing structures.

For example, Vasagatan offers the Steering Wheel and Engine blueprints which you can use to effortlessly rotate your raft and boost its speed.

The Caravan Town gives you a Metal Detector blueprint. It’s one of the most important tools for finding Titanium.

This story island also has the blueprints for the Zipline Tool and Battery Charger, which are crucial for exploring other islands and recharging Batteries.

Each story island has at least 2 new blueprints to improve your quality of life. But we won’t spoil you anymore so you can experience the joy yourself.

Tips & Tricks for New Players

Here are some random tips and tricks you should know when playing Raft.

1. The Craving System

Food and water are more effective when your hunger and thirst bar are low. This is because of the craving system in the game. So, it’s best to eat or drink when your status bar is lower than 1/3.

Dishes provide a lot more hunger points than individual cooked foods and raw foods. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to cook in Raft. Here is a list of the best foods in Raft.

2. Hotkeys

You can hold the Shift key and click the left mouse button to quickly move items between different containers (chest, your inventory, or hotbar).

Scrolling the mouse wheel while holding the right mouse button allows you to select a specific amount of an item.

The middle mouse button lets you quickly select the structure you’re looking at when building with the Hammer or the color when painting.

3. The Truth About Sails

While multiple Engines can significantly increase your raft speed, adding more Sails doesn’t add any speed to your raft at all.

For more details on how Sail works, check out this article.

4. Always Anchor Your Raft When Exploring Islands

Losing your raft is a common problem that happens all the time.

Since everything in the game spawns around your raft, it’s essential to anchor it whenever you want to explore an island or dive into the ocean to collect resources.

5. Avoid Building at the Raft’s Edges

Always build important structures in the center of the raft to avoid shark attacks. When a foundation is destroyed, all structures built on it are also gone.

The most painful and common thing that new players lose is the Engine.

This machine needs multiple foundations, so you must ensure all foundations underneath it are fortified or inside.

6. Don’t Pick Flowers in The Early Days

Flowers are quite useless in the early game unless you want to paint your raft early on.

Each flower takes up up to two slots in your inventory, so try to ignore them if possible.

7. How to See Farther

To see farther, adjust your camera angle to approximately 45 degrees from your original viewpoint.

Increasing your FOV in the settings also helps expand the above distance.

That’s how to play and progress in Raft!

Have any suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

Binh Tran

As a game writer, my goal is to craft engaging, informative, and concise articles. Whether it's diving into the latest gaming trends or writing game guides, I'm always excited to share my insights with others.

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