Buy a backpack upgrade and build chests as soon as possible
Speaking of inventory space, it starts off very limited. You can buy a backpack upgrade from the shop for 2,000 coins, and I’d recommend you make that your first big purchase. It’ll increase your inventory from 12 to 24, and it makes a big difference. The next upgrade will increase it to 36, but that will set you back 10,000G.
You can also buy chests to store items in that you don’t always need on your person – they’re ideal for storing crafting materials and your crops before you take them to shops. Don’t worry – nothing ‘expires’ in Stardew Valley so you can store crops as long as you’d like. Chests only cost 50 wood to craft, so chop down a few trees on your farm and you’ll soon have enough. Each chest can store 36 stacks of items. After a few seasons, you’ll probably find you need at least five dotted around your house to store everything in. You can build them anywhere, too – they don’t have to be on your property. You may find it useful to have a chest by the mines, another by the beach, and so on.
Make your way through the mines as soon as you can
The mines open up to the north of Pelican Town after about a week into Spring. Mining quickly became my favourite activity in Stardew Valley – there are a great number of resources to be found, as well as lots of cool items. There are 120 levels to explore in total, and every 20 levels you’ll be rewarded with a chest that contains a pretty cool item you won’t be able to get anywhere else.
You’ll find plenty of ore – copper ore in the earlier levels, and eventually iron and gold as you progress – which can be used in recipes and smelted to make more valuable bars. There are also many minerals and gems scattered about, most of which are very valuable and can either be donated to the library or sold to the blacksmith. The mines are the only place you’ll encounter enemies, and killing them will bag you “monster loot”, which can be sold at the Adventurer’s Guild for cash. You’ll also get rewarded for meeting combat milestones at the Guild.
Make the Old Community Centre a priority
Stardew Valley will automatically draw your attention to the Community Centre pretty early on. Initially I didn’t pay much attention to it, but I realised what an important part of the game it can be. The idea is to donate set bundles of items to the Centre in order to work towards repairing it. Every small bundle that you complete will grant you a small reward, and completing a larger set of bundles will unlock a big reward – i.e. one bundle repairs the broken-down bus, another puts the mine carts back in action, and so on.
Lots of the bundles are seasonal (i.e. a summer forage bundle that can only be completed with fruits found on the ground during summer), so try and focus on each of these before the relevant season is over.
Be sociable with the townsfolk
You’ll notice quickly that some of the people around Pelican Town are a bit rude when you first talk to them. Why should you waste your time talking to rude folk, you ask? Well, give them a chance – most of them are nice, deep down. Talking to them every day and occasionally giving gifts (you’re limited to two a week per person) will soon sweeten them up.
Building up friendships with people has its benefits – once you’ve made friends, you’ll occasionally receive gifts in the post from them, and some of the things you’ll receive are very useful. Of course, forging friendships is the only way you can start a relationship and eventually get married – if that’s what you want to do.
Be generous and donate to the library
If you find something unusual for the first time, you’ll notice the item description says that Gunther at the Library will be able to tell you more about it. What it actually means is “GIVE THIS ITEM TO THE LIBRARY”. While it may be a bit of a bummer to donate your first extra-valuable diamond to the library, it’s worthwhile; every few items you donate, Gunther will give you a reward of some sort – some items are useful, like packets of seeds, and others are rare – bits of furniture for your house, etc.
You can only ever donate one of each item, so you’ll never be too out of pocket by being generous. Plus, once you’ve donated a substantial amount, Gunther will also bestow upon you the key to Stardew Valley’s mysterious sewer. Oooh…