Starbound is a scifi sandbox adventure game in which players find themselves marooned on a strange planet after fleeing their own. From that point on it is a game of exploration, discovery, fighting, crafting, building, and decisions to be made in an infinite universe.
With a procedurally generated universe that literally never ends, players are left with absolute freedom to do whatever they want and shape their own story of space exploration. Depending on your ambition though it can be a massive undertaking, so we're here to help you get started with a Starbound Beginner's Guide to get you on your feet.
Starbound offers six playable species to choose from, with each offering the choice of both male and female. It also allows you to choose between three game modes.
Human: Originating from Earth, you should be familiar with this species.
Avian: Humanoids with bird-like features. They are highly religious.
Apex: Ape-like humanoids with limited intelligence.
Floran: A hostile plant-based species frequently waging war.
Hylotl: A peaceful fish-based species inspired by Asian culture.
Glitch: Humanoid robots created by an unknown intelligent race as an experiment.
Normal: Regular difficulty, lose 30% of current pixels each death.
Hardcore: Drop all items in inventory and lose pixels each death.
Permadeath: Character deleted permanently upon death.
Each species has its own different ship in which the player starts off in, however their functionality does not differ. Your species is currently purely a personal choice of preference, with each species having its own style of clothing and customizations.
The different game modes are also up to the player and how they want to experience Starbound. If you are a Minecraft player then Hardcore will seem pretty standard to you, but most will play normal where the biggest challenge is the monsters you fight.
Game controls can be found in your Starbound Codex in-game (discussed next) under Control Yourself. The screenshot above also shows all of the default game controls.
Health: Your life, if this runs out - you die.
Energy: Certain tech upgrades and weapons require energy to use.
Hotbar: Place items for quick access, select with keys 1-9 or scroll wheel.
Held Items: Items held in your hands such as weapons or shields go here. Bound to Left Click or Right Click.
Pixels: A form of currency gained from killing monsters or refining ores, used to craft advanced items or to buy things from NPCs.
Backpack: Your inventory.
Crafting: A crafting menu for creating basic items such as torches.
Identify: Use the magnifying tool to identify objects in the game.
Codex: All information about the game and lore you discover through books is stored here.
Teleport: Teleport either to your ship or down to the planet it is orbiting.
Quests: A log of your current, complete, and failed quests.
Alerts: Pop up alerts to notify when you pick up an item, are getting hungry or suffering from other effects.
Teleport Pad: Teleport to either your home planet or the planet your ship is currently orbiting.
Shiplocker: Store valuable items here for safe keeping.
Tech: Upgrade your character with new Tech Upgrades or print pixels.
Fuel: Fill your ship with coal to travel to other planets.
Navigation: Travel to other planets (requires fuel) and set your home planet.
Upon first starting a new character players will find themselves on board a ship above a random planet in the first system, Alpha. The first quest will be issued called "Time For An Upgrade" which requires players to equip their matter manipulator from their shiplocker.
The matter manipulator is the most basic tool for gathering resources but will only be used very briefly. Grab the matter manipulator from the shiplocker along with any of the other items in there you feel you may need, which include the following:
Flashlight: Provides light at night or in dark places.
Torches (10): Place on the ground or walls to provide light in the surrounding area.
Seeds: Plant in the ground to grow food and plants.
Sword: A beginner's sword to fight low level monsters with.
The second quest players receive will be "Shop Class" which requires players to make a crafting table. To do so, players need to gather some wood - which can be found on the planet below. Use the teleport pad (or button) to beam down to the planet surface.
Before you go:
Equip your matter manipulator by placing it in your hotbar
Equip your weapon by placing it in your held items
Upon arriving on the planet surface begin searching left or right for any nearby trees. Select your matter manipulator and use it by holding down left click at the base of a tree. It will begin to chop it down, once it is done the tree will fall over and break in to wood.
Once you have collected some unrefined wood, open your crafting window (C by default). In order to make a wooden crafting table you need 35 wood planks, wood planks require 1 unrefined wood per 3 wood planks. This menas you will need at least 12 unrefined wood.
Craft the wood planks and then finally craft your wooden crafting table to complete the quest. Once you have made your table, beam up to your ship (if you haven't already).
Chances are you probably won't settle a home on your first planet, so you might want to keep your first few crafting items and machines in your ship. Go to your inventory and place your new crafting table on your hotbar. Select it and it place it anywhere in your ship.
Foraging & Hunting
The next quest is "Food Fight", which requires the player to kill a monster with a hunting bow and cook its meat on a camp fire. To complete this quest you need to craft a camp fire and a hunting bow before you can obtain and cook the meat from the monsters below.
A camp fire requires a torch and 5 unrefined wood, you should have both of these unless you ran out of wood or used up all your torches. A hunting bow requires 10 unrefined wood and 1 plant fibre, so head back down to the planet and gather these resources.
If you ran out of torches, you will need to mine some coal - a black rock looking ore quite often found close to the surface - in order to make more. Collect some more wood from trees, and look for vines hanging down in caves along the surface for plant fibre.
Once you have gathered the wood and plant fibre required (coal if torches are needed), beam back up to your ship. Use the crafting table (Press E in front of it) and craft a camp fire and a hunting bow. The bow doesn't require any ammo, equip it on your hotbar.
Once you have equipped your hunting bow, beam back down to the planet and begin searching the surface of the planet for monsters. Once you find them kill them with your hunting bow (not your sword) until one drops some alien meat, collect it and beam up.
Back on your ship put your new camp fire somewhere in the ship and then use it, a cooking window will open. In this window place your raw alien meat on the left slot and then press cook. The meat will cook, you can retrieve it and eat it. To eat the meat place it in your hotbar, select it with the corresponding hotkey and then left click to eat one portion.
Now that you have learned how to feed yourself, the next quest is "Out of the frying pan.." which involves crafting a furnace. The furnace is used to smelt raw ores in to bars, and can also convert 10 pieces of unrefined wood in to 1 piece of coal; a very useful feature.
In order to create a stone furnace you need a camp fire (not the one you just made, another one) and 25 cobblestone. Cobblestone is a grey block and the most common you will come across, head down to the surface and collect the resources you need for the furnace.
Once you have the wood for your camp fire and the cobblestone for your furnace beam back up to your ship and use your crafting table to craft both (camp fire first as it will be used for the furnace). Place the furnace on the ground in your ship and you're ready!
After crafting your furnace the next quest called "Forging Ahead" will teach you how to use it. In order to complete this quest you need to gather some iron ore to smelt in the furnace. Iron ore is silver with brownish dots on it, head to the planet and gather some of it.
Once you have found iron return to your ship and use the furnace (press E in front of it). Place the iron ore you collected in to the left slot and hit smelt to turn it in to iron bars. Collect your bars from the furnace when they are done smelting to finish the quest.
By this point your matter manipulator seems so slow you may want start considering just bashing the rocks with it, well don't, there's tools for that. To begin with there are Pickaxes for mining resources, axes for chopping down trees, and hoes for farming.
You can craft each of these with some cobblestone and wood at your crafting table. It is highly recommended you do this as it is much faster than a matter manipulator. With each tool made, they can then be upgraded in a similar fashion to Minecraft's system.
Reaching the Stars
By this point you have learned the basics of crafting, gathering food, and collecting resources. From this point forward it is completely up to you what you do and the pace at which you do it. Before completing this last step, feel free to take your time to explore the surrounding planets, gather a small stockpile of resources, and play around with crafting.
The next mission is called "First Contact" and requires players to craft a distress beacon. The distress beacon requires 150 pixels, 2 silver bars, 10 iron bars, and 100 wood planks to craft. Head down to your planet and gather whatever resources you don't already have.
When you have the resources needed, craft the distress beacon at your crafting table and then head down to the planet. Find a safe place and then place the distress beacon on the ground somewhere where there isn't anything above it blocking the signal.
This beacon will summon a boss which will drop items needed to make an upgrade for your ship which will allow it to travel to more difficult systems. When you are ready use the distress beacon and defeat the boss. Once you defeat the boss they will drop a molten core.
Once you have obtained the molten core from the boss you can craft a Metalwork Station at your crafting table. This metalwork station will unlock new things to craft as well as your Starmap Upgrade MKIII which is required to leave the system for more dangerous planets.
Reach this point and you're ready to continue, essentially repeating most of these steps as you advance through crafting and reach more difficult systems. Each system requires players to defeat a boss in order to upgrade their ship and move on to the next system.
Good luck, and fly safe! For more about Starbound don't forget to visit the game page.