Starbound: Universal Exploration

I’m a huge fan of Minecraft. I’ve been playing since the Enderman/Mellon update fiasco, and I have gotten other people interested in it, including my own daughter. I like exploration and creation. I’m salivating on the chance to get ahold of Fallout 4 JUST to build settlements, but that’s another post.

This one is about Chucklefish’s Starbound.

I found this game after putting 50+ hours into another 2D side scrolling adventure building game, Terraria. The idea’s are the same but the scale of it is so different. While Terraria had it’s final update with 1.3, Starbound continues to be considered the normal “early access” game where the developers are putting out content. Chucklefish ups this notion with nightly beta builds you can access outside your normal game.

That’s right. You can have nightly updates. Nightly.

So, what makes Starbound a good 2D builder, you ask? The controls, even on a laptop touchpad, are easy to use. Mouse moves the cursor, left click either attacks or places a block in the foreground while right click does a secondary attack or places a block in the background – with the same block. That’s right: the same wood block that you use to build the right and left sides of the house also can be used to build the background wall.

Then, what makes Starbound a good 2D exploration game, you also ask? You start a new game by selecting your character’s race, starting clothes, and sex. While this does nothing for the quests, it does ad how NPCs react to you and how you interact with items. As of this post, there isn’t any differences between the character races other than looks and your ship. Your ship’s look (and starting pet) is based on the race you choose. It’s superficial but if you wan’t to rollplay as a certain kind of character, this is a huge decision.

Next, while I have played 12 hours (6+ the past two days), a large amount of that time was exploring the planets and moons in my starting solar system. You’re ‘limited’ to a handful of planets until you complete a main quest/boss battle but after that, the rest of the universe is unlocked. I put air quotes around limited because in the 12 hours I have played, I built the house in the above image. The water in the basement? It came from a swamp planet where the surface is mud, tar and these toucan looking birds but if you dig deep enough into the cave system you’ll find springs of healing water which you can bottle up and use elsewhere. That’s right, my basement hot tub heals you. That contraption in my study? Oh, that old thing? It’s a teleporter.

The few flaws I have found in the game are the normal NPC quest interactions which I have only found at an outpost. Planet side NPCs are either moot to your existence or extremely hostile. I remember a time where some planet’s wildlife would just nuzzle up to you and not with death hugs. Also, crafting and interacting with crafting benches/stoves feels weird. Want to cook that raw meat, you’ll need a campfire or stove. No, the stone furnace is for smelting, not cooking. You have a basic crafting menu, which you get by hitting ‘C’ which my brain tries to hit every time I want to craft at a higher bench – which causes me to get angry at my brains inability to adapt to simple instructions and upgrades.

At the time of this writing I had just only unlocked the FTL (Faster Than Light) upgrade to my ship, which allows inter-sector travel so I can get out of the starting universe. I’m excited at how my house will look after I raid a few more planets and kill find new creatures. The game has never looked better, thanks to my new computer monitor, after many hours reading gaming monitor reviews I finally committed and no regrets!

Side note: The character in the screenshot above is a Novakid named Vakail. The Novakid race is based on westerns, and her relaxing outfit (shown above) is her old sheriff gear. She had to move on from that old job after a disagreement with the local council and customs. Vakail was shunned from her dust bowl of a home world and set off to find herself in the stars. She now lives in a house she’s been building by hand on a moon known more for it’s storms than sunny days. She recalls her first night on the planet in her diary:

I ‘ported down to Lacrecille Majoris III’s only moon. The ship’s computer mentioned the grass and rain but what I wasn’t expecting was the amount of rain. Moments after landing it began to rain – heavily. The wind kicked up, trees bent sideways and the moon came out. So, here I am, standing in the middle of it all – soaked clothes, rain sizzling against my skin, and all I can do is smile and say to myself: I’m finally home.

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