As a tiny teen running around the backyard you’ll encounter all sorts of dangerous situations that you need to adapt to. Performing certain activities will unlock mutations which improve your abilities to do certain things such as use tools, manage your stamina, and survive hazards.
One of my favourite things about Grounded is how you can change up your gameplay by unlocking and combining different mutations to better suit your playstyle and help you tackle the challenges ahead of you.
In this guide I’ll cover how to unlock the various mutations, tips for levelling them up, how strong they are, when to equip them, and just general tips on making the most of their powers.
ACTIVE MUTATION SLOTS
At the start of the game you only have two slots for active mutations, meaning you can only equip two at once. Once you start finding Milk Molars you can progressively unlock more slots, one by one up to a maximum of five slots.
It costs 3, 4, and 5 Milk Molars to unlock the third, fourth, and fifth slots, for a total of 12 Milk Molars. You’ll need at least a tier 2 Hammer (Insect Hammer) to harvest Milk Molars, and these upgrades can be purchased from any ASL terminal.
You can view and activate your mutations in the character menu under the Status tab.
A small number of mutations are acquired by spending Raw Science at BURG.L’s Science Shop. You can access the shop from any ASL terminal such as the ones in the Field Stations.
MEAT SHIELD ★★★★★
3,000 Raw Science at the Science Shop
Meat Shield increases your maximum Health by 30. This is a solid general-use mutation that will always give you extra safety no matter where you’re going or what you’re doing. You could be farming dangerous creatures, or taken by surprise by something you didn’t see, or even suffering some unexpected fall damage.
The extra Health makes an especially big impact in the early stages of the game before you get Health upgrades and strong armour. Late in the game Meat Shield won’t feel like as large of a boost comparatively, but you’ll be fighting tougher enemies so having that extra cushion of Health is always nice.
Because of the added safety and ease of use, the Meat Shield mutation is great to pick up near the beginning of the game. It has no prerequisite BURG.L Chips; you can immediately buy it from the Science Shop for 3,000 Raw Science and I recommend making this one of your early purchases.
BUFF LUNGS ★★★★★
3,000 Raw Science at the Science Shop (Red Anthill BURG.L Chip)
Buff Lungs increases your maximum Stamina by 50. This effectively translates to some extra time and distance sprinting before exhausting your Stamina, or an extra swing of your weapon in combat.
Similarly to Meat Shield, Buff Lungs is a good mutation due to its usefulness in most situations. However, the benefit it provides is a little low in my opinion. It definitely feels nice to have since running out of Stamina is a pain, but I can’t say for sure that it’s letting you do anything impressive or game-changing with it.
It can be purchased from BURG.L’s Science Shop for 3,000 Raw Science once you turn in the Red Anthill BURG.L Chip. This is a relatively simple prerequisite since the Red Anthill is easy to safely explore while wearing the Red Ant Armor. It’s not an essential mutation, but it’s not bad at all and will give you a little bit of value in pretty much any situation you find yourself in. Pick it up when you have the Raw Science to spare.
3,000 Raw Science at the Science Shop (Hedge BURG.L Chip)
Daredevil reduces fall damage by 50%, which is pretty significant. It also has an extra effect: If you’re at full Health, a fatal fall will instead leave you at 1 Health.
I don’t think Daredevil is a terrible mutation, but it’s certainly the most situational out of the three purchasable ones. Like Meat Shield it may safe your life, but it really comes down to the situations you typically find yourself in.
If you’re a bit clumsy with jumping and don’t have amazing reaction time to pull out a glider, or you prefer using a specific trinket instead of a dandelion tuft, then Daredevil will probably give you some decent value. If you’re out of combat and building some tall structures, as long as you’re at full Health equipping this mutation will also keep you alive if you happen to take a tumble.
You can buy Daredevil from the Science Shop after turning in the Hedge BURG.L Chip (ironically one of the expeditions you would’ve liked to have the mutation for). It costs 3,000 Raw Science, but I don’t think it’s a priority purchase unless you really adore climbing and building up high.
The majority of mutations in Grounded are unlocked by performing various feats in the game. Many of them have levels, or tiers, that are unlocked progressively with more activities and provide stronger bonuses at higher tiers.
LIL FIST ★☆☆☆☆
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with fists
With YOUR fists. Not like, creatures who have fists.
Lil Fist gives you a chance (25%/50%/75%) with every unarmed hit to increase your unarmed damage until the end of combat.
Lil Fist is kind of a joke mutation. Yeah it’s funny to punch a big enemy to death, but it’s just not going to be better than using your actual Weapons.
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with an Axe
The Chopper mutation causes your Axe swings to have a chance to Stagger the enemy. Staggering means that if they were in the middle of an attack or movement it will interrupt and stop that action.
Normally combat is a back and forth of attacking and defending from attacks. With Chopper, rather than having to sit through a flurry of bites or lunges with your guard up you may be able to keep on swinging while preventing the enemy’s next attack pattern.
You still need to get lucky to trigger the effect, so each time you go for a second attack instead of defending you are taking a small risk. At low tiers of the mutation I would think of it more as a second chance perk in case you mess up the attack pattern.
Once you level it up it becomes more reliable to just keep swinging with no fear, but you’re still risking some health for the sake of speeding up combat. Consider pairing this mutation with Buff Lungs to fuel your extra round of attacks, or Meat Shield in case you don’t proc the Stagger and take a hit.
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with a Hammer
Smasher gives your Hammer swings a chance to Daze the target. Dazed targets have their attack speed reduced. This means you’ll have more time between a creature’s wind up animation and when they strike you. It can be useful if you struggle to block in time, but will throw off your perfect block timing if you’re already very familiar with the usual patterns.
Hammers aren’t your usual Weapon of choice, but they do have a damage bonus on a handful of enemies including Ladybugs, Black Ox Beetles, Roly Polys, and the various Robots. If you don’t know their attack patterns yet this mutation is ok I suppose, but with enough experience the value of this mutation goes down.
Overall a pretty low impact mutation for how rarely you’ll use it and the relatively unnecessary effect it has.
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with a Spear
As a Javelineer your Spear attacks will have the chance to lower the target’s armor. Spears have a fast speed, can be held with a Shield or Torch, and can be used underwater, so they aren’t a bad weapon type at all, it’s just that Bows are a much easier and safer means of dealing Stabbing damage. Still, if you really enjoy the feel of using Spears you’ll get a lot out of this mutation.
Increasing the damage an enemy takes for the remainder of the combat has significant value especially in longer fights with high HP enemies and when playing multiplayer. Having this mutation available for fights against the Mant or the Termite King could make the job easier if you’re going in with a Spear.
Overall a solid mutation if you like Spears with extra value in specific situations.
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with a Dagger
The Assassin mutation lets your Dagger strikes have a chance to Bleed the target, causing damage over time. This is a mutation that works best with a particular hit and run fighting style, otherwise using a stronger weapon type like a Sword would probably be more effective.
Strike the enemy a number of times to proc the Bleed and then back off to a defensive position when it starts to attack or you run low on stamina. If your fights are normally short or if you’re confident standing your ground and trading blows efficiently then this mutation won’t do much for you.
Underwater combat against Diving Bell Spiders can also be stressful and tricky, so this mutation can help you if you’re not the most adept with swimming and fighting at the same time.
Levelling this mutation is a bit of a slow start since you kind of have to go out of your way to get your first Dagger. If you know you’re going to use this mutation with higher level Daggers, then you’ll want to jump in the Pond and grab some Lilypad Wax for an early Pebblet Dagger so you can get started.
Personally I never used to use Daggers much but after trying them out a bit more the fast swing rate and the Bleed plus the Poison of higher tier Daggers can be an extremely fun way to fight, even if it’s not the strongest.
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with a Bow or Crossbow
With Sharpshooter your Bow and Crossbow attacks have a chance to Root the target, stopping them from moving for a brief period of time. If the target was flying they will be forced to land.
Shooting an enemy with a Bow is often your first attack of a fight for a number of reasons. You have a slow moving or stationary target to shoot, you get damage off from a distance before you’re in danger of being hit, and you can draw their attention so they move towards you and fight at your desired location.
With a Root proc you get more damage off on an easy-to-hit target that remains out of range to threaten you. This is a very strong mutation that provides a clear benefit of faster, safer combat. Rooting a flier also gives you the option to switch to a melee Weapon to conserve arrows, since fliers must be in the air to attack.
If you need to level up this mutation Lawn Mites are an easy enemy to farm kills due to their high numbers and low health. You could kill a group each day to build up Sharpshooter’s level with relatively little effort and retrieve all your arrows.
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with a Club
The Barbarian mutation gives your Club strikes a chance to make you enter a rage, signified by a reddish-pink haze in the corners of your screen. While you’re in a rage your attack damage is increased at the cost of not being able to Perfect Block.
Remember you can still perform regular Blocks, so don’t entirely abandon all thoughts of defense while you have this equipped!
Also you should know that the +attack buff applies to any damage you deal, not just Club damage. If you switch to a different weapon type you can still take advantage of the rage, you just can’t reapply the buff.
There are many Clubs in the game and they deal Generic damage which is useful against any creature regardless of their Strengths and Weaknesses. As such Barbarian is a strong mutation for all players, especially for beginners who may struggle to time their Perfect Blocks anyway.
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with a Sword
Your Sword attacks with the Blademaster mutation have a chance to reduce the stamina cost of your next attack combo. If it procs you’ll receive a short duration attack stamina buff, and it still works for swords that don’t have an obvious combo pattern like rapiers.
Assuming you can’t kill a creature with a single combo you’ll need to go through the dance of attacking, defending, and attacking again. This takes a lot of Stamina and in some fights you might spend a significant amount of time near empty.
Blademaster makes combat more comfy and lets you spend less time in that phase of waiting to recover your Stamina gauge before performing a full combo.
It makes for more enjoyable and efficient combat if you favour a Sword as your weapon. However, the effect isn’t as impactful as some of the other weapon mutations, especially if you already have a good amount of Stamina from other sources.
WHITTLE WIZARD ★★★★☆
Kill 40/100/200 Creatures with a Staff
The newest weapon mutation, Whittle Wizard adds an extra effect to your attacks with Candy Staves. Mint attacks may slow the target, Sour attacks may have a stronger stun effect, and Spicy attacks may burn them for damage over time.
I love this mutation simply because it’s so fun and versatile on its own letting you enjoy three different playstyles with a single mutation slot.
Of note, for high health creatures weak to Spicy like the Hedge Broodmother or Roly Polys the burn effect will be very useful. The slow effect is especially handy on infected creatures which take extra damage from Fresh attacks and need to be kited enough to avoid explosions.
PARRY MASTER ★★★★★
Perfect Block 20/60/100 times
The Parry Master mutation will let you recover some Stamina when you execute a Perfect Block. Whether you’re on the offensive, defensive, or about to run away entirely, you need Stamina.
As long as you have the skill to perform Perfect Blocks, this mutation is fantastic and one of my favourites. Otherwise you might be better served by a passive mutation like Meat Shield or Buff Lungs.
A really easy way to obtain and level up this mutation is to fight Lawn Mites by the malfunctioning tripod or the fallen oak branch. Lawn Mites only have one attack pattern – a jump attack. This makes them the ideal practice partner for safely improving your skill at Perfect Blocking and working towards your Parry Master mutation.
Orb Weavers and Orb Weaver Jrs are another option since they have easy-to-read attack patterns, some of which are triple strikes which let help you level the mutation quicker.
GRASS MASTER ★★☆☆☆
Chop 50/200/500 Blades of Grass (Eelgrass and Weeds count too)
Grass Master increases your Chopping efficiency by 25/50/100% and also gives you stamina back when you finish cutting down a blade of grass. This will certainly speed up the task of collecting large amounts of grass, but the unlock requirements are very high, so you need to have already collected a ton of grass.
This mutation has limited applications. It’s pretty much only useful if you’re building a lot. So if whatever you’re building needs an absolute ton of grass or weeds then it will save you some time. Don’t forget your Red Ant Armor and Worker’s Comp Smoothie to haul the planks.
A niche tip for levelling up this mutation is to blow up tightly clumped grass with explosives since that still counts as you “chopping” down the blades of grass.
ROCK CRACKER ★★★☆☆
Bust 25/75/100 Rocks
Rock Cracker increases your Busting efficiency by 25/50/100%. It’s pretty much just like Grass Master but without the stamina refund, and it’s much easier to unlock and level up.
Busting is at least used to collect combat-related items like Quartzite and Elemental Shards. If you’re going to an area with lots of resource nodes to bust like the sandbox then equip this and speed up the task a little bit.
Kill 40/100/150 Ants
Ant-nihilator increases the damage you deal to Ants (and The Mant boss) by 5/15/25%. At phase 3 it also reduces the damage you take from these enemies by 10%.
This is one of those perks that is useful if you are doing a specific thing (fighting a bunch of Ants). If you are doing that thing, you should equip this mutation because it does very good things. If you are not doing that thing then you should not equip it because it does nothing.
COUP DE GRASS ★★★★☆
Discover the 4 Leaf Clover Landmark / Roll a 20 with the Die in the Minotaur Maze
Coup de Grass increases your critical hit chance by 2.5/5%. This means that on average you’ll do a bit more damage and kill enemies a little faster.
You’ll know you’ve landed a critical hit when you see an extra spark animation as your strike lands. If it weren’t for that you’d have to pay very close attention to enemy HP bars to notice it.
Overall it’s a strong mutation, even more so when paired with Trapper Peep.r to increase the damage of your critical strikes. Plus getting more crits just feels good so if you like that then there’s a bonus fun factor for you.
Discover all 5 Juice Boxes
Juicy slows the rate at which your thirst drains by 50%. If you’re playing on a multiplayer you don’t personally need to find all five juice boxes, as long as the players collectively have discovered them.
Juicy’s biggest strength is that it’s always working, always getting value. Your thirst drains constantly no matter where you are or what you’re doing, and it can come in especially useful in the Sandbox to counteract the environmental thirst debuff there.
However, by the time you’ve found all 5 juice boxes I would expect you’ve gotten a Canteen already to carry two drops of liquid around with you. Ideally you’ve even got the upgraded Canteen+ from BURG.L and you can hold four drops.
Personally I rarely touch the mutation and manage my thirst just fine with Canteens and knowing liquid locations. Yes it makes it easier to take care of thirst and you don’t have to pay as much attention to liquids, but if you don’t need the help you should use the mutation slot for something more useful to you.
NATURAL EXPLORER ★★★★★
Discover 20/40/60 Landmarks
Natural Explorer increases your sprint speed by 20/35/50%. This is a huge time saver when you’re running around the yard, which is most of the time.
According to the patch notes when this mutation got changed it does not work when you’re fighting creatures, so it got a slight nerf in combat, but the speed outside of combat is so much higher that I would consider it an overall buff.
Discover 3 Underwater Landmarks
Merteen slightly increases your swimming speed and also gives you about 12.5% more breathing time. Your base time is 40 seconds so this gives you an extra 5 seconds. If you’ve got a Gill Tube (80 seconds) then Merteen adds about 10 seconds.
If you’re playing multiplayer you don’t need to see them yourself, as long as the players collectively find three the mutation should unlock.
It’s another one of those on or off perks. Basically if you’re going diving you should equip this mutation, and if you’re not then don’t. Pretty straightforward, you should definitely unlock this mutation quickly before attempting some deep diving.
CARDIO FAN ★☆☆☆☆
Exhaust yourself 100/250/500 times
Cardio Fan decreases your exhaustion window and increases your stamina regeneration by 10/15/20%. Truth be told I don’t notice a huge difference whether this is on or off.
Normally being exhausted lasts about 3 seconds before you get your stamina back, and this mutation reduces that by about half a second. Stamina already regenerates relatively quickly, so the fraction of a second it saves there is rarely making a difference.
Personally I don’t find this very impactful compared to other options. Natural Explorer is stronger if you’re exhausting yourself running, and Parry master is stronger if you’re running out of stamina in combat.
RELIABLE FRIEND ★★☆☆☆
Revive a Friend 5/15/30 times
The Reliable Friend mutation increases the speed you revive other players by 25/50/75%. With a base speed of 5 seconds this means that at tier 3 you can revive someone in about 2.9 seconds.
If you’re out of combat the 2 seconds saved don’t matter, so this is really only useful for reviving players while still fighting. If you can’t finish the fight on your own you need to revive them and in these cases I’d say 2 seconds can absolutely make a difference, so this mutation might come in very handy and prevent you from being interrupted.
However the amount of times you’ll be in this situation will vary a lot. Are the people you’re playing with very competent and don’t go down that much? Maybe there are too many enemies and the faster revive still isn’t fast enough.
I think YMMV with this mutation, but it does have the potential to turn a fight around. Usually you’re aware beforehand that you’re heading into a tricky fight so you can decide if you need this based on the situation.
FRESH DEFENSE ★★★☆☆
Eat 1/5/10 Mint Shards
Fresh Defense is a strong mutation that increases your gas and burning resistances by 25/50/75%, as well as reducing your sizzle rate by 25/50/75%.
This is a very situational perk but it can be a lifesaver in those scenarios. Having this on makes traversing the Sandbox or the BBQ spill easier, though you’ll probably still want to combine it with other protection like the Antlion Armor to be even safer.
I definitely recommend levelling this up in advance of travelling through the Sandbox, and you can get some early Mint Shards from the Ice Caps container and the Red Anthill.
With dangerous gas damage this mutation isn’t quite as useful, since you’d probably rather have the full immunity provided by the Gas Mask or Gastro Goo.
SPICY SAFETY ★☆☆☆☆
Eat 1/4 Spicy Shards
The Spicy Safety mutation reduces the damage you take from Smashing, Stabbing, and Explosive attacks.
The problem is that unlike player weapon damage it’s less obvious what type of damage creatures are dealing, meaning Spicy Safety often has unclear applications.
The in-your-face explosions of the infected creatures in the haze seem like a reliable use, and probably the pointy strikes from Bees and Mosquitos.
Until it’s clear what category all the various creature bites, slams, and jumps fall under, I can’t say this mutation seems worth running over others.
MOM GENES ★☆☆☆☆
Kill the Hedge Broodmother
Mom Genes has a chance to spawn allied spiderlings when you attack.
This sounds like a Summoner type of playstyle but unfortunately the spiderlings can take damage from you, and can deal damage to you too.
While this is a fun way to approach combat, the extra caution you need to take and the risk it poses mean it’s just not the strongest combat strategy, especially with melee weapons.
Kill 1/5/10 Wolf Spiders
Mithridatism increases your poison resistance by 25/50/75%. It no longer gives you immunity to poison like it used to, but reducing the damage you take from venomous creatures like Wolf Spiders or Black Widows will still greatly increase your survivability.
Similarly to Ant-nihilator, just turn this on when you’re specifically out fighting the appropriate creatures, cause it’s really good for that but doesn’t do anything else.
TRUFFLE TUSSLE ★☆☆☆☆
Kill the Infected Ladybug in the Haze Lab
The Truffle Tussle mutation gives your unarmed attacks on creatures a chance to trigger a fungal explosion dealing AoE damage.
This is another silly mutation that isn’t meant to be great it’s just a fun way to play. It’s pretty much always going to be less reliable and effective than simply having an appropriate weapon equipped.
GUARD DOG ★★★☆☆
Complete 1/4/6 MIX.Rs
The Guard Dog mutation increase your damage dealt during raids and Mix.rs.
This is another in Grounded’s list of good but incredibly situational mutations. If you’re being raided or doing a MIX.R then yeah, turn this on cause it’s stronger than anything else you could pick. Otherwise it doesn’t do anything and obviously shouldn’t be used.
TRAPPER PEEP.R ★★★★☆
Obtain 20/40/59 Golden Cards
Trapper Peep.r increases the damage of your critical hits by 20/40/60%. This is a strong mutation as long as it’s paired with Coup de Grass or other critical hit buffs such as the one from specific meals. On its own I wouldn’t recommend it since your critical hit chance is very low.
The unlock requirements on this mutation are pretty brutal, being left up to chance to obtain the gold cards. When you eventually unlock it though you’ll have to consider if you have any active mutations you can drop for this to increase your offensive capability.
MANTSTERIOUS STRANGER ★★★☆☆
Kill the Mant
With Mantsterious Stranger your attacks have a chance to spawn a friendly Mant who will fight enemies for you.
The Mant lasts about 15 seconds, will attack creatures you’re in combat with and can draw their aggro away from you.
In terms of damage the Mant only has time for a handful of attacks so it doesn’t do too much, especially if the creature you’re fighting is quick and moves out of its range.
I consider this mutation’s biggest advantage that it can allow you an escape from a sticky situation, especially in solo play. While the enemies are focusing on the Mant you have time to reposition, recover stamina and health, or get some safe attacks in.
APEX PREDATOR ★★★★★
Kill the Mantis
The Apex Predator mutation gives you an extra effect when using two specific weapons in the game. The Club of the Mother Demon will have a chance to inflict venom damage over time on the target, while the Scythe of Blossoms will have increased attack speed.
These weapons can only be made after defeating the respective repeatable boss to obtain the materials, and they’re very strong options for you to use already. This mutation makes them even better, and this might be the most powerful you’ll feel in the game.
While you won’t see this mutation until very late into your journey, it’s one of the strongest mutations you can use.
CORPORATE KICKBACK ★★★☆☆
Kill Director Schmector
Corporate Kickback makes it so when you block (either regular block or perfect block) you have a chance to proc a lifesteal effect, making your next attack regain some of your health.
You’ll see the status buff pop up if it procs, and when you attack the buff is consumed, giving you a flat amount of health back. I wish there was a nice visual effect to go along with it too, because it certainly feels underwhelming when you do get to use it, which is not a lot because the proc chance is rare.
While the mutation description suggests you’re “converting” blocked attacks to lifesteal, the amount of stun gauge you currently have built up from blocking attacks doesn’t seem to make a difference in how much you heal.
It’s not a terrible mutation, but I wish it felt more impactful both in a visual sense and in the amount it heals.
SHOCKING DISMISSAL ★★★★☆
Kill the Assistant Manager
The Shocking Dismissal mutation makes it so that when you block (either a regular block or perfect block will work) there’s a chance your next attack does bonus area of effect electric damage.
If it procs you’ll gain a status buff and when you attack you’ll see arcs of electricity, deal the bonus damage, and the buff will be removed. Unlike Corporate Kickback it’s a fun effect to trigger and is very visually pleasing. However, while the bonus damage is good the chance to proc is still quite low.
Also if you use this mutation it’s important to know that executing a perfect block seems to count as an attack and removes the buff, but does NOT proc the bonus damage. This seems like an oversight to me, but that’s how it works right now so be careful not to waste the proc.
While one-on-one situations don’t make the most of this mutation, you could get some real use out of it if you’re swarmed by enemies like ants, termites, or ticks. Blocking multiple attacks helps ensure you get a proc, and the bonus AoE helps take them all out.
It’s a mutation that feels really good to use, and shines if you’re fighting multiple enemies.
In my opinion the strongest mutations are Meat Shield, Buff Lungs, Sharpshooter, Parry Master, Natural Explorer, and Apex Predator. These mutations are nearly always useful and provide meaningful advantages with their effects.
A large number of mutations are strong but situational, such as providing very specific benefits. Some examples are more time underwater with Merteen, more damage against Ants with Ant-nihilator, or protection from specific damage sources with Mithridatism (poison) or Fresh Defense (sizzling). It’s highly recommended these are unlocked and used when appropriate.
Finally there are many mutations that offer perks that are more tailored to how YOU specifically play the game, and these have a wide range of effectiveness. If you like the feel of a particular weapon they all have mutations to give you bonuses when using them. Daredevil and Reliable Friend won’t get consistent use but you may enjoy having them in those rare situations. If you have fun with mutations like that, then feel free to use them.
EXAMPLE MUTATION COMBINATIONS
Since you can swap your mutations at any time, you can mix and match the ones you’ve unlocked for whatever activity you’re doing.
Parry Master + Meat Shield is an easy early game combo that offers a mix of stamina management and survivability to help you in your earliest combat challenges. Meat Shield is the first mutation available for purchase with no chip requirements, and Parry Master can be easily levelled up fighting any creatures in the early areas of the yard.
Buff Lungs + Merteen + Assassin give you more time to breath underwater, increase the distance you can cover when swimming, and help you kill Diving Bell Spiders which can pose a significant threat.
Natural Explorer + Grass Master + Daredevil help you quickly harvest and retrieve resources and easily navigate bases that are wide or tall.
What’s your favourite mutation to use in Grounded? Do you think there were some underrated ones in this list that have some overlooked applications? Let me know in the comments.