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Starbound Tips & Tricks for New Players

Starbound’s beta is upon us and unless you’ve been living under a rock on a distant procedurally generated planet, you know that it’s the highly anticipated successor to Terraria. What you may not know is how to actually do anything once you’ve jumped in. Though Starbound shares many of the basic gameplay concepts and features of its predecessor and other sandbox games, it also offers a host of new mechanics not readily available as the community still builds the wiki page based on this brand new playable beta. Luckily we’re here to help. While exploring and figuring things out on your own is highly encouraged in a free form game such as this, these tips will help guide you on the right direction and hopefully answer some “How do I do that” common questions.

Please note that sandbox games are constantly being updated, and especially while in early beta Starbound is receiving major updates every few days. Any information here is subject to change as the game is patched, but we’ll try and stay on top of it!


Starbound Tips & Tricks (Beta Phase 1)

  • Completing the initial quest line helps guide you to crafting and gives you some nice monetary rewards. To see your current quest click the yellow exclamation on the right side.
  • To beam down to the planet you’re currently hovering over, interact with the portal on the left of your ship or click the teleport button the right side. You can use the button to return to your ship while on the surface of a planet as well.
  • Your ship also comes equipped with a storage locker, a 3D printer (for blueprints and copying some items), and your captain’s chair for exploring the universe.
  • While looking at the star map, right click to zoom out. Keep right clicking and maybe you can wrap your head around the vast universe around you.
  • Pressing E near most objects will allow you to interact with them. This includes any and all crafting objects such as an anvil but also chests and storage containers, harvesting plants, opening doors, etc. When in doubt, E.
  • Pressing C pulls up your limited crafting menu. When no crafting objects are present your only option is the crafting table to get you started on more advanced objects, as well as basic supplies like bandages, torches and wooden platforms.
  • You can craft healing bandages directly from plant fiber – harvest those hanging vines you see underground.
  • Pressing X switches between your Left and Right mouse button slots and your hotkeys, useful for dropping weapons, flashlight, shield, etc into your L/R slots to quickly become combat ready. Note that many items (including resource gatherers like the pickaxe) are two handed.
  • When equipped with a mining tool, left click will mine in the foreground while right click mines the background. The same is true for placing blocks and walls.
  • At nighttime you will probably notice a little temperature bar at the bottom of your screen – that’s your warmth! Stray too far away from light sources and it will slowly drain until the world grows hazy and a terrible alarm beings to sound – death by hypothermia is imminent!
  • Always craft and carry torches with you when exploring. Light and warmth are the key to survival (and carrying a big stick helps). Dropping a campfire is the quickest way to regain your warmth.

Starbound screenshot

  • The matter manipulator you start with may look cool but it’s terribly slow at harvesting everything. Craft yourself a pickaxe ASAP!
  • To farm you’ll first need to craft a stone hoe, then use it to create soil. Plant any seeds you find and harvest them with good ol’ E. Farming provides an additional source of food in addition to meat from alien creatures.
  • Hold shift to change your mining radius from to 1×1, useful if you’re just trying to grab a single object and allows more precision with your building.
  • Hold control to move the camera around – useful for checking ahead (or below) for hostile aliens. Tap ctrl to center back on your character.
  • Once you can craft a bed, it’s not a bad idea to carry one around with you to plop down in the middle of your excavating to heal from your inevitable battles against alien horrors. Simply use your pickaxe or matter manipulator on an object to collect it into your inventory. You may also find tents and other objects in the wild that work the same way.
  • You’ll find different colored stimpacks from defeated enemies and chests – Red gives you regeneration, Yellow makes you glow, and Blue gives you a temporary jump boost.
  • Even if a new melee weapon doesn’t look great on paper, try it out; you might find that fire spear generates a cone of fire at the tip, or an aqua sword shoots out a wave of deadly bubbles. You’ll see a small elemental icon in the lower right of the weapon when examining it if it can do something nifty.
  • When drawing your bow back you’ll notice a short blinking animation – that’s your clue to fire for a critical hit! Note that firing a bow (or gun) costs some energy.

Starbound screenshot

  • All of Alpha Sector contains level 1 planets, and once you begin wearing copper and your first tier of class-specific armor, you should feel confident to explore the stars! Probably avoid moons (no oxygen) and snow planets (temperature woes).
  • Snow Infantry armor can be crafted using leather dropped from defeated aliens at a yarn spinner. The armor rating is negligible but the increase in warmth is huge and will help you survive at night and on snowy planets much easier.
  • You have two columns of armor slots – the left side affects your armor rating while the right is purely aesthetic, allowing you to wear the best armor while still maintaining the look you want.
  • Initially only coal can be used to fuel your star ship, but it’s also used to make torches and later steel bars. Thankfully coal is one of the more plentiful ores you’ll find.
  • It takes significantly more fuel to travel outside your immediate cluster or galaxy – be efficient and explore your surrounding planets first.
  • Choose one planet you like and set it as your Home Planet via the captain’s chair in your ship. You can always beam freely back to your home planet no matter where your ship is parked. There’s no place like home!
  • Eventually the tutorial line of quests will prompt you to craft a distress beacon. Do not place this until you are ready for a major boss battle! Healing items, good weapons and armor, and a couple of friends will make a much easier time of it.
  • Penguins are sadistic and evil. You have been warned….


Have any good advice or discovered any neat tricks not mentioned here? Share the wealth in the comments!

Last Updated Jan 6, 2014

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