After nearly three years in Early Access, indie space-faring gem Starbound finally blasted off into its official release access on July 22, 2016. If you've never tried Starbound, it's a space-faring Terraria with aliens, spacecraft, colonization, a coherent storyline, more direction and focus, and oh, it doesn't suck. 🙂 If this trailer doesn’t reel you in, then you’re hopeless:
A side-scrolling builder with a crafting and progression system as layered and intricate as Minecraft, with charming characters, a procedurally-generated galaxy to explore, and a remarkably gripping storyline that oozes the wonder of A Wrinkle in Time and that cozy doesn't-take-itself-too-seriously charm of Hitchhiker's Guide...
It should come as no surprise that Starbound's been the one Steam game that I haven't been able to stop playing lately. If you're thinking about donning your Protectorate blues and settling into the pilot's seat of your own Starship, read on for some tips about Starbound I wish I knew when I started.
1. It's Hard to Believe, But You Don't Always Have to Dig
If you're following the main story arc, you'll be tasked with securing Core Fragments to power up a mysterious device shortly after arriving on your first planet. Your sassy ship AI dryly informs you that Core Fragments can be found deep within the planet, so Minecraft and Terraria veterans might be inclined at this point to do what they do best: dig straight down until they hit Core Fragments.
But cool that Matter Manipulator, Protector! Sure, digging straight down will eventually lead you to Core Fragments (and probably the planet's volcanic core itself, which means lava. And lava, in the parlance of sandbox builders, unequivocally means death). You don't have to dig!
Explore the planet topside a little bit and you'll inevitably run into a small campsite, complete with expedition tents, supply crates, fold-out chairs, and a cozy campfire. There should be another fellow explorer hanging around this camp, and he'll inform you that there's an old mineshaft nearby where you could find the Core Fragments you seek.
Right next door to this campsite is likely an obvious opening to a mine (look for support beams and lanterns). Get out your weapons, 'cause the mine's a bit infested, but should you make the trek, be sure to loot every container you come across.
You should find all the Core Fragments you need and then some, and might be lucky enough to score a few Enhancement Chips or shiny new gear, to boot. If you don't mind swatting some ravenous bats and cave-dwelling alien monsters, the payoff from the mine is far more lucrative.
2. Loot Everything That Isn't Nailed Down
...and use your Matter Manipulator to loot the rest.
Remember that campsite I mentioned in the previous tip? It's a good idea to use your Matter Manipulator to swipe those tents. And while you're at it, swipe the campfire too. Having the Tent with you means you're able to deploy it for a quick nap, regenerating health without needing to rely on medical supplies, and the Campfire allows you to cook food wherever you go. And as for all those crates that you'll come across in the mine? Yeah, loot them too. If you don't need extra storage compartments, you can sell them to a merchant for some spare pixels. At the early game, pixels don't come easy, so every little bit counts.
3. Open Those Quest Rewards
Upon completing quests and side-quests, you'll often be rewarded with innocuous-looking little gift bags that have a habit of sitting in your inventory while you completely forget about them. Get in the habit of opening these gift bags as soon as you get them. They may contain valuable supplies, Enhancement Chips or other items needed for upgrading either yourself or your Matter Manipulator, and sometimes even a piece of Legendary gear.
Just be prepared to be trolled by the sound of a loud and obnoxious birthday kazoo every time you open a gift bag. The pain will pass soon, and the rewards will be worth it.
4. Mods Make A Stellar Game Even Better
One of the best things about Starbound is that its developers worked hard to guarantee Steam Workshop compatibility upon launch, and boy have they delivered! The game's been out for a very short time, and already the Workshop's filled with an astronomical number of amazing fan-created mods that tweak and modify nearly every aspect of the game.
Want your character to ride around in a hulking, lovingly hand-pixel-drawn mech? There's a mod for that. Want Hunger in your Casual-mode playthrough? There's a mod for that, too. Wish you could stack your food like every other resource? Someone's made a mod that lets you do just that.
Before you start cruisin' the galaxy, be sure you make a pit stop at the Workshop, but be sure to read the instructions carefully, as some mods may not play well with others.