As Surviving Mars—Paradox Interactive and Haemimont Games’ clever twist on the city-building game—celebrates its three-year anniversary today, it’s getting a new lease on life in the form of a new developer (Abstraction Games), a new expansion coming later this year, and two new updates dropping today (a free tourism update and a paid buildings pack). And did I mention the game itself is free?
Head over to the Epic Games store, where you’ll be able to purchase the basic version of Surviving Mars for the low price of nothing. You have until 8 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 18 to take advantage of the deal, at which point the price will likely bump back up to its regular $30. You don’t want to miss out—I’ve put 44 hours of my life toward transforming Mars into a habitable environment, and I feel I haven’t even scratched the surface of what the game as to offer.
And if you really sink some time into the game between now and then, you’ll be able to pick up its expansion packs on a discount, too:
You don’t need them to get started, though. You’ll spend plenty of time figuring out how Mars infrastructure works in your few few playthroughs. Consider grabbing the expansions once you’ve optimized a plan and are ready to tackle more twists and challenges; otherwise, if you give up because Mars is a pretty hostile environment, you won’t be out any cash.
The first mods you’ll want for Mars
Speaking of, Surviving Mars supports modding, and there are a few you might want to consider picking up even for your first playthrough. This is super-easy to do if you buy the game on Steam; otherwise, you’ll want to use the in-game mod manager or grab Nexus’ Vortex mod manager to keep track of everything, since the Epic Games store doesn’t natively support mods for the game.
Were I playing again—and I probably will, once the new expansion drops / if I ever get tired of Dyson Sphere Program—here are the mods I’d use on Mars:
Most of ChoGGi’s QoL mods: ChoGGi has released a ton of different mods for Surviving Mars, and a number of them won’t make any sense to you unless you’ve played the game a little bit. Once you’re ready to get started modding, I’d check out the quality-of-life collection first; mods that will improve your gameplay experience without allowing you to cheat. You still want some kind of Martian challenge, right?
However, you can get started with this one, which disables the annoying “Welcome to Mars!” voiceover when you’re starting a new game. And this one, which gives you a little drone flying near you to keep you company. Mars can get lonely (at least, at first).
The Pause on Load mod is great, too, in case you want to launch the game and step away to get a coffee or take a bio break while it loads. I also like the Better Zoom Distance mod, which lets you, well, zoom out a lot more than the game allows you to by default. It’s great for base planning or if you just want to sit back and admire your work. While you’re at it, grab the NASA Logo mod, so you can pretty up your rockets with a brand-safe image.
If you really want to transform your game, check out Silva’s mod collection. Some of these new buildings and tweaks feel a little cheat-y, so I recommend going for them after you’ve had a few “hard” playthroughs—otherwise known as, “suffering through your first few attempts to survive Mars when you have no idea what you’re doing.” Once you’re past that point and you’re really starting to care about your stats, a mod like Infobar More Info can help you really optimize your spartan Martian life.
Drone Load Rebalancing is a great way to automatically assign your mechanical helpers to areas that need more help and away from those that don’t. (You’ll get what I mean once you’ve played the game a little bit and found yourself dealing with tedious busywork like this manually.) And while you’re at it, grab Less Clicking for Mass Resupply, too, and live the easy life on Mars. Which reminds me, you’ll want better Martian radio stations to listen to, too.