Stardew Valley has given more than a million players the chance to trade guns and explosives for crops and livestock, and a glance at its Steam reviews show players with dozen (and often hundreds) of hours invested. But farm life isn't all idyllic, and after those dozens or hundreds of hours, most players hit the same roadblock: a lack of endgame.
Like its sword & sorcery RPG counterparts, much of the joy of Stardew Valley is in the journey, not the destination. And just as over-leveling your characters to mow through enemies can take the fun out of RPG combat, there reaches a point—a relatively easy one to reach, at that—in Stardew Valley where money is no longer an objective, and many players have found reaching that point makes the game no longer enjoyable.
Even the Community Center bundles, one of the game's only clear "objectives," can be completed in the first game year with a little planning. Once that task is done and the money is flowing regularly, you might start to feel like there's nothing more to do in Stardew Valley. Developer Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone says he has ideas for future content that will keep players interested well into years three, four, five, and beyond, but Barone is a one-man operation, which means that content is probably a long ways off.
While we wait for Stardew Valley's planned updates, including more endgame content and online co-op, we've come up with a few ideas for "arbitrary goals" to set for yourself to keep the game interesting for seasons to come.
Beautify your farm
Many Stardew Valley farmers don't do much planning when they first start reclaiming their farm from the wilds. Well, I didn't, anyway. But that's okay, because beautifying your farm into something with a little organization can be extremely rewarding (not to mention time-consuming—perfect for endgame!) Check out our gallery of farms for some inspiration. And don't forget that mods can be used to further overhaul your farm's visual appeal.
Rebuild your farm with a single purpose
If simply getting things organized isn't enough, another thing you can do is rebuild your farm with a single purpose. You could pretend you're a rancher and focus only on raising livestock. Or burn everything down and turn your farm into a winery. We've got a handy guide for that one.
Don't forget about your house!
With such a focus on turning your farm into a well-organized, finely-tuned operation, it's easy to forget that your farmhouse can also be customized. Hit up Robin's shop to buy new wallpaper, floor patterns, and furniture.
You can also put non-furniture items like produce, gemstones, and pretty much anything else on tables and other flat surfaces, further expanding your decorating options.
Get as deep in the Skull Cave as you can without any items
The Skull Cave found in Calico Desert is home to Stardew Valley's most fearsome enemies, but its depths promise the riches of iridium ore and super-rare gemstones.
It can also be used as a sort of battle arena challenge. Instead of stocking up on food to restore your health and energy, see how deep you can get without bringing any restorative items. You can use a mod to slow down or turn off the passage of time, then set limited-item challenges for yourself, seeing how deep you can reach with minimal resources.
Start a new game and limit your time
Pretend you only have a limited timeframe to rebuild your farm. Set challenges for yourself and see if you can complete the community center, reach a certain gold threshold, or successfully build out a pre-planned farm layout before your time is up.
Grow a variety of crops
Instead of min/maxing by only growing the most profitable crops each season, pretend you're working toward a community center bundle that requires 50, 100, or more of each crop to complete—gold quality only if you're up for it.
Bonus points if you limit your use of sprinklers and do all the watering by hand.
Catch all the fish, cook all the meals, collect all the minerals
Sure, collection pages for every item already exist in game. But let's be honest, have you really caught them all? I didn't think so. Now get to it.
Maximize your relationships with everyone in town
The denizens of Stardew Valley can take quite a while to woo into your good graces. For an added challenge, restrict yourself to only giving one gift a week.
Farm life is what you make of it
If all else fails, pick a really, really, ridiculously large arbitrary number and try to earn that much gold. Imagine you're trying to pay off some sort of exorbitant, Tom Nookian life-debt and the only way free is to hand over hundreds of millions of Bells—I mean gold. What game are we playing again?
In all seriousness, Stardew Valley is what you make of it. Set for yourself whatever challenges you like. As has been seen by Pokemon players undertaking the "Nuzlocke Challenge," adhering to self-imposed rules can be extremely rewarding, so set whatever challenges you like and keep the farm dream alive.
As the former head of PC Gamer's hardware coverage, Bo was in charge of helping readers better understand and use PC hardware. He also headed up the buying guides, picking the best peripherals and components to spend your hard-earned money on. He can usually be found playing Overwatch, Apex Legends, or more likely, with his cats. He is now IGN's resident tech editor and PC hardware expert.