A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Disney Dreamlight Valley

Disney Dreamlight Valley is the newest life sim to take the world, and my IRL life, by storm.

But don’t worry. Storms are good. They water our massive gardens of pumpkins and (if there’s lightening) are the only time to catch the ever elusive fugu. With DDV’s instant popularity and unique aesthetic  (even within the Disney franchise), it’s easy to forget that this game is still technically in Beta.

Which means now’s you’re chance to get in at ground (or founder if you want to throw some money at pixelated goodies) level.

Quick income and “beginner’s guides” all provide the same basic information. So I’ve taken the liberty of creating a comprehensive guide of everything I wished I knew before embarking into Dreamlight Valley.   This article started off as a “top ten,” but quickly turned into a “top thirty+.” Since it’s somebody’s Unbirthday somewhere, I’ve added extra, but related, advice to some of them.

To make the guide approachable, I’ve broken it down into the following need-to-know categories:

If you think I’ve missed something or have your own pointers, I’d love to read about them in the comment section. For now, though, let’s jump right in so you can go live your Valley dreams ASAP!

General Advice

  • Don’t let the genre “open world” scare you. The map is pleasantly confined for children and people like me who get overwhelmed by popular sandboxes.
  • That being said, there is more than enough content to discover and unlock that the game doesn’t feel unpleasantly limiting.
  • Your tools will get upgraded. Achieving these goals quickly will take planning and no shortage of in-depth online walkthroughs. If you’re content to simply experience the game like me, there are ways to mitigate the more frustrating obstacles the game has literally put in your way (shakes fist at Dazzle Beach bridge).
  • Nothing is useless… except the critters. To date, their just there for the feels.  
  • Dreamlight’s economy is self-contained and easy to take advantage of. Unlike other games that make you endlessly grind or pay actual money; the most coveted items and merch are affordable.
  • You can make up for your limited clothing options with customized pieces almost IMMEDIATELY.
  • Money is easy come, easy go. As a game written for adults but designed mechanically for kids, Dreamlight excels at creating an income stream simple. 
  • Thorny Vines generate Star Coins, XP, and seeds (they will NOT always generate gems like they do at first) .This makes upgrading Goofy’s shop quickly a useless money sink in the very beginning as it’s true benefit is the ability to buy seeds once you’ve cleared all the Vines.  
  • New Realms, Characters, and content are coming (just like the Frozen Winter they shoe horned in to promote the game). While the wide variety of Motifs (aka designs for clothes), clothing, and furniture was an interesting workaround less attention grabbing franchises, all the Star Coins I’ve sunk into Beauty and the Beast and Tangled items is starting to feel pretty hollow (especially with the inclusion of Mother Gothel). 
  • Scrooge’s shop repeats items more often than the Dreamlight marketing team, or Scrooge himself, cares to admit. Now that I’ve said that, however, I’ll never see the Ariel inspired table or spaceship porthole I’ve had my eye on ever again.
  • There is no Co-op or Multiplayer functionalityyet. So far, that sort of thing doesn’t fit into the narrative but I’m sure with enough prodding the writers and devs might collab something. 
  • Every questline is completed eventually without feeling punished for doing things “out of order.” The game has a built-in quest flexibility that allows you to wander and frolic OR strategize and design as you wish.
  • Every character plays a vital part in the overall storyline (and other characters’ questlines), so you can’t skirt around the ones you’re disinterested in. Unfortunately, this means interacting with Mother Gothel (my biggest complaint about the game overall). The designers make up for this with some pretty sweet merch, but I can’t help but think there were better, non-triggering villains to utilize (Madam Mim perhaps?). Extra Tip: No you didn’t miss something, neither Minnie nor Wall-E currently (Oct. 2022) have a Level 10 quest to complete.

Friendship

  • Friendship role assignments can accelerate or slow your early game. They CANNOT be changed and are definitely not all created equal. For quick money assign a Digging and Mining friend ASAP then follow that up with a Fishing and Gardening friend to rapidly increase your ingredient and meal production. Here’s a quick explanation of them all in order of my personal perceived early game worth:
    • Digging- This one’s pretty clear. Digging applies to digging new holes for planting and digging into the specially marked locations. A digging friend can double your money and location specific terrain income (i.e. sand, mud, and soil).Mining – Mining has two iterations: Randomly scattered rocky spots and reliable positioned mineral deposits. Rocky spots spawn low rarity, location-specific building materials (sand, rocks, etc.). Mineral deposits are reliably positioned and have a high chance to give location-specific gems (topaz, aquamarine, etc.) as well as always supply location-specific building resources (iron ingot, gold ingot, rocks, pebbles, etc.). Gems are rare but well worth the work in effort because they are worth the big bucks. When generating extras, characters will always provide the rarest resource you’ve mined. Extra Tip: Sometimes gem spawns are easy to spot, but sometimes they lay under the surface. Always mine the spawn locations no matter what.Fishing- Every waterway has circular fish spawning locations. Instead of thinking of these as “rarity” markers, it’s important to think of them as creature-specific locations. Such as, the blue beach locations supplying shrimp. Additionally, fishing near the markers will most likely spawn common fish while spawning away from them will most likely spawn seaweed.Gardening – While restricted purely to the action of harvesting your crops, a gardening friend is worth their weight in pixelated gold ingot. Extra resources and quick loot rewards? Yes please!
    • Harvesting – Pick multiple of a resource from a tree or bush. This action will also take a single spice or mushroom from where it has spawned. Extra Tip: Harvesting is the only action you will regret not doing with a friend assigned to its role. Why? Because everything else spawns pretty reliably over time but harvesting (especially where mushrooms and spices are concerned) can be time consuming and aggravating.
  • Building an expansive garden will quickly level up your Digging and Gardening friends while also providing you with a comfy resource buffer between quest fulfillment and crafting.  
  • Characters move… a lot. There is no surefire way to locate or summon a character. This is doubly true of Ursula and Ariel who bounce around the Valley’s waterways. I’ve found that marking them on my map kind of “let’s them know” that I need them.
  • When you absolutely NEED to find a character because of a quest (if they are not already your hang out buddy) they will either come towards your location OR can be found in their home.  
  • When providing extra resources, characters will make movements similar to the player character’s gardening motion. They will throw their gift on the ground in your vicinity and it will glow blue for awhile.  
  • When speeding through harvesting, mining, etc. characters may seem like they’re not keeping up. However, they will often spawn separate extra resources simultaneously.
  • How you approach the initial three character realms will decide the speed of your game. If you’re the efficient, min-maxing type you’ll want to visit Wall-E then Remy then Moana. If you’re like me and followed your heart to doing the opposite order, you’ll run into the following experiences:
    • Moana: There’s little advantage to visiting Moana’s realm before opening Dazzle Beach (1,000 Dreamlight). Plus, her questline stops short without Maui in the Valley (which requires a 3-star meal for the quest and paying 5,000 Star Coins to build his house). Surprising no one, Moana’s primary contribution comes in the form of her boat where she will collect fish. However, this easy income and meal resource is not unlocked simply by building Moana’s house (2,000 Star Coins). Instead, you’ll have to follow Moana’s questline to the quest “Fixing the Boat” (this requires a ton of Seaweed and Soft Wood). Once established, however, it is well worth investing tons of money quickly into upgrading for both the increased slots and rarer fish at a quicker pace.Remy: Wondering if you’ll have to awkwardly milk a cow or coop chickens for those elusive dairy ingredients? Worry no more. Remy’s got your back. Once in the village, he’ll boost your recipe knowledge, sell you expensive ingredients, and accelerate your overall Friendship XP.  All for the low, low price of 180+ ingredients. Without an income stream, you can’t really harness Chez Remy’s true benefits until mid-game. Filling orders there, however, is a great way to boost Friendship XP in addition to your daily chat and their favorite gifts.  Extra Tip: Can’t find the character you need? They might be at the restaurant. Thankfully, the character portraits there will cycle through rather quickly. Plus, each character has a specific time of day they will visit.
    • Wall-E: Before the latest update, Wall-E was perfect for a quick cash influx as his character rewards came primarily in Star Coins rather than motifs or items. That has since changed. What Wall-E is great for in early game is providing more expensive crops than you can get your hands on before unlocking biomes like the Sunlit Plateau and Frosted Heights (that’s as long as you’re upgrading his garden). This is only “powerful” in early game as generating your own farming system is a key element to quick cash and friendship XP.

Need-To-Hoard Resources

  • All gems have a “shiny” variety that will earn you lots of money BUT are not interchangeable as quest items. 
  • Friendship role assignments exclude resources attained through the “Pick Up” prompt such as wood, flowers, or crustaceans (with the caveat of crustaceans being spawned through digging on Dazzle Beach). There are tons of hacks to optimizing your wood gathering, but these limit the overall aesthetic of your valley.
  • Pick up all wood and mushrooms whenever you see them. You’ll thank me later. Mushrooms are the only “harvesting” resource I make sure to have a harvesting buddy around for as they account for a generous portion of Merlin’s quest items.
  • Hoard your dark shards, wood, mushrooms, and seaweed UNTIL they are used as quest ingredients.
  • Dropped items DO NOT expire. 
  • Leave harvesting a ton of flowers for your late game. In the beginning they will take up precious inventory slots.

Building an Income Stream

  • There are two randomly generated resource related events besides your “hang out” buddy of that activity type that will release more of a resource than usual:
    • Glowing yellow crops or harvesting spots require you to rapidly press the action button. Extra tip: This can be tricky in a large garden make sure to take an extra step towards the crop or you’ll miss out by being prompted to either harvest another crop or plant a seed.
    • Timed extra resource spawns (dubbed “critical hits” by the devs) provide the opportunity for a chest. These can be anxiety inducing, especially considering that the associated music will often last longer than the event itself. Simply walking over the red sparkly resources will pick them up. If a resource is missed it will vanish. Extra Tip: When this happens while mining or fishing focus more on the high value resources rather than collecting all of them.
  • Many important actions can be done in quick succession by holding down the gathering button. Aiming a digging or gardening expedition correctly will send your character in a straight line.
  • Pick up Character produced items quickly to avoid leaving them laying around. This is especially true when gardening in bulk.

Accomplishing Questline Quickly

  • Don’t be a Scrooge, everything is easily replenished eventually. While having a mining or fishing buddy is optimal for most needs, doing separate rounds with them can be time consuming. If you’re only missing one resource and see it available, just take it right away.
  • Malicious compliance will boost your early game. Everything you place can be moved later, so speed through the meticulous-seeming placement quests (I’m looking at you Scrooge’s Rebuild the Valley Questline) then hem and haw in your late game. Extra Tip: Every time you unlock a location Scrooge will ask you to place 10 furniture in it. Hangout with him to complete the quest, place 10 random pieces of furniture, finish the quest immediately, then delete everything you just placed.

Crafting

  • Craft tables and cooking stations will ALWAYS have access to the ingredients that are contained in any of your chests. They will NOT have access to resources you’ve collected but dropped in your home.  
  • Seaweed has a dual purpose (making it perhaps the most important resource of the game). It is used in cooking AND crafting recipes, namely sushi varieties and fiber respectively. Thankfully, a little seaweed goes a long way when making fiber; which is worth making a substantial amount of and hoarding for a while as it is a primary crafting ingredient for multiple structures.
  • Recipe stars are a guideline, not a rule. A meal’s rank only determines its potential price or energy supplementation. Using rarer ingredients in the flexible ingredient slots will boost your meal’s overall worth.
  • Eating meals will boost your energy meter over your max cap
  • While cooking you can auto fill your pot by choosing a recipe then pressing the button prompted next to it. This will fill your pot with the necessary ingredients (if you have them of course) and the cheapest version of flexible ingredients (ex. lettuce for vegetables). Extra tip: To make more expensive or energy replenishing versions of recipes, fill in flexible ingredients with rarer resources (i.e. replacing lettuce with a pumpkin) and/or add herbs to the mix. 

Hot Tips and Tricks

  • The furniture placement screen is much more than cosmetic! Its most useful functions are actually:
    • Getting a bird’s eye view of rare harvesting locations and quest itemsMoving buildings to more preferable locations. I suggest moving cheaper wishing wells (aka teleport spots) close to the more expensive neighborhoods (ex. The Forest of Valor well next to a Frosted Heights entrance). Similarly, I’ve placed all Goofy stalls immediately next to my Wells to make buying their specific goods quick and easy.Yoinking harvestable materials from locked locations. Want to make a cherry pie but don’t have access to the Frosted Heights? No problem. Simply move cherry bushes and gooseberry bushes to the Plaza. Extra Tip: While you’re at it build a whole orchard of harvestable materials. This will cut down on your storage needs by making them accessible for when you need them most.
    • Creating clearings in tree dense locations where Harvesting and wood collecting is a must.
  • Always have a grouping of bulk items in your backpack. Reserving these slots will prevent the inevitable moment where you must drop a single expensive item to gather quest ingredients. Once an item has reached its max, split it into a stack of 1 before offloading it into a chest for safekeeping.
  • Not all storage chests are created equal. The antique/fancy looking chests you can buy from Scrooge ALL have the SAME inventory. The simple, craftable chests have SEPARATE inventories.

I hope this helps! Have fun and don’t forget to let us know what you think!

Published by JenngaD

Educator. Gamer. Writer.

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