Starbound is a scifi sandbox adventure game currently under development by indie development studio, Chucklefish. Available through Steam’s Early Access program, Starbound is currently in Beta. After a series of patches and wipes, players can now keep their progress, so therefore we feel the game is ready for a Starbound Beta Preview.
Players find themselves marooned on a strange planet after their home planet has been destroyed. With nothing more than a basic spaceship and a few supplies, players set out to gather resources that will let them once again return to the stars and find a new home.
Utilizing old school pixel graphics and 2D sidescrolling gameplay, Starbound features six playable species to choose from as a starting character, including:
- Humans: Your standard homo sapiens
- Avian: A bird species with limbs
- Apex: An ape species which has evolved to walk on two legs
- Floran: A plant species with limbs, often have flowers for hair
- Hylotl: An alien species with three eyes
- Glitch: Robots using state of the art artificial intelligence
Players can enjoy Starbound solo, co-op, or online with up to 50 players per server in a procedurally generated universe. The universe is infinite, meaning as you explore it will just keep creating new worlds to explore – forever. With no limits, players are free to explore, fight, build, and conquer as they see fit without ever running out of places to discover.
Starbound is a sandbox, and as such it offers players freedom of choice over a strict path to follow. However Chucklefish are trying to implement a story for players to follow and a progression system that does lead players in a specific direction for a while at the start.
Starting out on their first planet, players are taken through a series of quests that will teach them how the various mechanics of the game work. At it’s core Starbound features four different gameplay components; exploring, fighting, crafting, and building.
With an infinite universe of procedurally generated planets, each world is created with random traits and tell a different story. Some planets may be covered in jungle populated by a species who has built a town there, or the dusty remains of an extinct civilization of past.
Planets can be generated with threats also, from acid rain to regular meteor showers. Players will always have new and interesting places to explore, with familiar types of planets often holding unique dangers or locations – never judge a book by its cover.
Tied in to the progression system, planets are split up into separate systems – each system featuring planets with increased danger. Much like a level system, every system features planets with a specific threat level. This threat level determines the strength of the monsters on those planets. Each new system requires players to be a stronger fighter.
Much like the procedurally generated planets, the monsters found on each planet is also randomly generated. Their look, abilities, and stats are all randomized – meaning players will always come across new unknown enemies. From fire attacks to throwing players around with telekinesis, monsters can pose a dangerous threat to the unprepared fighter.
In order to face the dangers of the universe players can equip themselves with different armor sets and weapons. Weapons range from the more medieval such as broadswords, axes, and polearms to more modern weapons like guns. Each of these needs to be crafted, found on planets, or bought from one of the many NPC towns populating the universe.
The higher the threat of a systems planets, the better armor and weapons a player will need to survive. By themselves players are always weak, it’s their equipment alone that makes them strong. In order to make better equipment players must explore higher threat systems to find them or gather the higher quality materials required to craft the items required.
At the very heart of Starbound is the crafting system, it keeps the universe moving and allows players to shape the universe around them. Tying in to the other systems, players unlock new things to craft by building crafting machines using resources from the various systems in the game. Starting with things like a crafting table and furnace to smelt ores.
Crafting machines and tools are built to allow players to craft better items and machines, much like moving through a technology tree. As players craft better items they will unlock more items to craft, however at certain points they will be required to venture to a higher threat system to gather the resources needed, which can’t be found on lower level planets.
In order to travel to these higher threat systems, players must craft upgrades for their ships navigation system and fill it with fossil fuels such as coal. The ship upgrades come with a catch when crafting though, in order to obtain the materials needed to craft the upgrade players must fight and kill a boss. These bosses are tough and will require players to be a good fighter or bring friends. Upon killing the boss players will receive a few rare rewards.
What would be the point of exploring the universe, fighting dangerous monsters, and crafting awesome gear if you couldn’t call anywhere home? Starbound’s crafting system unlocks huge amounts of opportunity for players to build their own home or base anywhere they can survive. With over 100 materials and more than 1000 objects to craft, the possibilities are endless as to what a player can do and build on any habitable planet.
It’s completely up to each players imagination and ambition as to what they want to build and where. Whether you want to be a lone hermit out on a remote planet or build an expansive city filled with NPC citizens and everything in between. You can do it all.
Using materials and objects discovered in the universe or crafted, players can not only create buildings but fully decorate them as well. With objects like doors, turrets, tables, storage, and hundreds more players can abide by various themes or just show off trophies.
All of this is backed by an amazing soundtrack and audio. Normally for many gamers like myself, turning off the music is the first step in any game. However with Starbound I think many will enjoy the melodic tunes in the background as they explore, hunt, and gather.
Starbound is still in early Beta so there is definitely much more that the developers plan to add to the game. In its current state however the game offers enough to keep most players helplessly addicted for a few hundred hours at least – especially those with ambitious plans.
People are obviously going to make many comparisons due to the nature of the game, primarily Terraria. This is generally due to one of the team members being a former developer of Terraria and the 2D style of Starbound. That is about as far as the comparisons can go however as Starbound is already a much more fleshed out, open sandbox in ways that Terraria could never compare. That’s not to say Terraria isn’t an enjoyable game though.
If you are a fan of sandbox building games but always felt restricted by a single world, Starbound is most likely going to be right up your alley. It’s a brilliant game filled with endless opportunities that will keep players up to the late hours of the morning with excuses such as, “Just one more stack of ore…” Starbound is the best of its kind, don’t miss out.Beta, Preview, Review, Sandbox, Starbound