Revisit – Starbound


Since questions were being asked about Starbound recently, I thought I would stop and do a quick overview for those that are unfamiliar with it. In the most general sense, it is yet another 2D pixel-graphics-based survival/crafting sandbox game. I have, and others have, often compared it to Terraria. It does have a lot of base gameplay in common with it’s “block-based” harvesting and building style. Starbound, however, does have something resembling a proper narrative, and a world that has more… soul.


The art style isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it has its moments.


The character creation screen has a variety of different options. In the “base game” these choices are mostly cosmetic. I’ve always been a fan of the Floran sprites.

As for difficulty, I generally play on survival. I really wish there was a midway point between casual and survival though. I like the eating requirements and the gameplay that drives, but don’t care so much for the drop items on death part. That can be frustrating.

For those more familiar with Terraria, I should point out that unlike Terraria, you don’t drop all items on death. You keep your equipment and some other seemingly random categories, like seeds. You do drop some things that can be critical though, like crafting materials and healing items.


Each race also has a visually distinct ship. It looks less beat down and gets larger as the game progresses, and as I recall tends to have the same basic layout? At the very least, this first stage is identical, other than outward appearance. Don’t forget to get the canned food out of the storage near the back of the ship. I usually forget and have to come back halfway through my first trip to get more food.


When you visit your starting planet, you’ll basically have two major goals, outside of general survival. Find the large ominous portal thing, and locate this base camp/mine. The first is needed to progress the story, and the second will be needed to activate the first. Also handy is the fact that the campfire can be used to cook some simple food, and you can sleep in the tents to heal yourself.


Something I recommend doing while you search for these two locations is harvesting any and all plants you come across. While the “business end” can be collected through interaction, you should get the seeds using the matter manipulator too. If you’re in survival you will need to build a farm, and having those seeds is pretty critical.


Most of the crafting is fairly straightforward. Basic items are in the basic menu (C), and all the more complicated items branch off of the Inventor’s Table. To be fair, the table itself is used to craft the different crafting stations, each of which has its own purpose and function. In addition to that, each station can be upgraded to a higher tier once you’ve gathered the right materials. These are largely tied to the progression through more difficult planets and environments.

I didn’t really get far enough here to get a good picture of it, but once your ship is operational there’s a secondary gameplay loop that involves mining fuel from moons so you can travel between solar systems. At this point, the story picks up a bit of a cycle. Find X type of star, with Y type of planet, and search for Z type architecture. Typically followed by some manner of instanced dungeon related to that alien culture.

He’s dead Jim!

I’ve never actually finished the entire story. At best I think I’ve managed to do the first half or two thirds maybe? Still, in terms of world and aesthetic, I like it a lot more than Terraria, but Starbound has a slower pace and is more exploration focused. Terraria tends to feel busier and more action-oriented, with a heavy focus on equipment and boss progression. Starbound is very much about environment, exploration, and gathering, with bosses being limited to the instanced story dungeons.

There are a lot of features I didn’t get into here. Mechs and space mining, ship crews, player-built towns, that sort of thing. But I’m already well past my work-count goal. In addition to all that, there is a very healthy mod community that range from minor tweaks and bug fixes to full-blown universe changes that basically require you to delete all the stored character and world data for compatibility. In fact, I’d bet there’s a mod that deals with the difficulty-related complaint I made earlier.

Y’all take care, and remember, watch out for the almighty Cthulhu and Erchius Ghosts. Those things are creepy.

blapril-2020-200Hey, it’s Blapril time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

4 thoughts on “Revisit – Starbound

  1. “Starbound [has] … a world that has more… soul.”


    That’s really interesting. With the huge caveat that I haven’t touched Starbound in any serious way since it’s early beta phases: I found the complete opposite to be true.

    I think I felt that way mostly because the worlds you generated in Terraria were your ‘home’. They had a sense of permanence that just didn’t exist in Starbound, due to the frequent planet hopping that occurred.

    I know things moved a lot with Starbound since the days I played it though; it has been raised in my backlog priority list of late with all the discussions under way, so perhaps before too long I’ll get to revisit and reassess. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Either way works, really. Yes, Terraria is very much about establishing a presence on a world that is very much yours This is partially because there isn’t really any evidence of sapient life other than what you create. It’s a blank slate to which you provide meaning.

      With Starbound I was commenting on, well, yeah, the oppositee of that. It’s a world that feels like it has other beings and life in it. Of course, I also take a page from Terraria and usually establish a “home base” of sorts when I find a planet I’m fairly fond of, so I’m kinda splitting the difference in my playstyle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also quite liked it when they added in the ability to start building in your ship.

        From playing again (very briefly) recently; it looks like the starting ship is *much* smaller now though, perhaps a 1/3rd the size.

        I might be making this up, but I think at some point along the line they added in ways of more fully customising your ship though? So possibly that space will come back through further play.

        Actually, a quick google shows that might be only a modded ability. Ah well!


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