Indie Spotlight: Starbound

Starbound[1]


I first decided to give Starbound a try when a friend of mine sold a rare DOTA 2 item to get it for himself. I decided that it looked kind of interesting so I got a copy of my own and proceeded to give it a try.

Space: The Final Frontier…. These are the voyages of the Glitch ship Dented Prize…

There is a good variety of races to select from but other than looks, they are all pretty much the same for now. Ships hold to the same basic design but have a few racial flares tossed in to make them stand out from each other. For fun, you can decorate the inside of your ship with various things you steal….err… borrow from the inhabitants of the planets you beam down to, or with items you make yourself. I feel now is a good time to mention Starbound is in Early Access and isn’t really a finished game yet. Reading the Chucklefish forums and the Starbound Wiki, one learns there are plans to give each race their own special ability. My Glitch for example would be able to mine faster, a rather handy skill. There are a few other things that would make sense for racial skills as well. Glitch, being a robot type character should function better in a cold, snowy biome due to better cooling. In contrast, it should work poorly in a hot magma/volcanic biome but that is just my two pixels (game currency) worth. Right now it is the same for all characters. If it is cold you freeze to death if you don’t keep a heat source in range. Nothing much happens in a too hot environment other than you melt pretty fast if you touch lava.
Speaking of environments there are plenty to choose from. Take a http://starbound.wikia.com/wiki/Biomes]look here[/url] at all the ones that are implemented. Some of them you need special equipment just to survive on… learned that the hard way since I was running on fumes when I arrived at the moon. Probably the most annoying and most fun biome I have been to so far is the Asteroid Biome, basically leap of faith around to the next asteroid, mining what you need and move on. Using special abilities such as dashing or double jumping before impact, you can help mitigate the damage, but otherwise gravity is just as much your enemy here as it is in any biome. Fall too far and you die on impact. During your exploration of each biome (other than asteroid field) you have a choice to either explore the surface or dig your way down hunting hidden chambers. Exploring the surface leads to learning about the day/night cycle of the planet. During the day there are monsters that generally want to kill you, but at night there are even more monsters that are even more determined you will die. Enemies increase with strength at night. On the surface there also tends to be at least one settlement for one of the game’s races. They can sometimes be friendly assuming you are not holding a weapon, although sometimes they just want you gone. Looting these settlements yields random items and pixels which can be useful, but you can also make your ship and base look pretty cool if you decide to steal the decorations while you are at it.

Now that I have decent armor, a cool looking ship, a really good weapon, it is time to really explore the Galaxy. Let me just input the co-ordinates and…..

-Character Wipe-

Goodbye my friend Glitch 1.0, you will be missed. As with any games that are in Early Access things happen that wouldn’t happen in a full retail release. I actually knew it was coming since the people at Chucklefish were nice enough to tell us the end is nigh, but still it hurt a little to see my original character die… however Character Wipes are supposed to be a thing of the past now. Every cloud has a silver lining, losing my single player character led me to invite my friend to join me in my journey among the stars. Enter Glitch 2.0!

Multiplayer

To start a multiplayer game you have to do one of two things. Have one person host a server, or to join one of the preexisting servers. If you need help, here is a rather useful guide.  Having experienced a public Minecraft server before, I decided to run my own server, and invited my friend to join via IP. Once invited to my group he was able to beam to my ship and join me on my adventure. One thing to note is that even though each player has a ship, you really only need one. You can save a lot of fuel by sharing the ship at the start of the game. You can always beam to the other ship at any given time even if it is parked in a galaxy far, far away…. which would be useful if you foolishly ran yourself out of fuel above an inhospitable world…. but I digress.

Mutliplayer unsurprisingly plays the same as single player. You are able to share all crafting equipment so it saves you time in that regard, however, you both need resources to fabricate your upgrades. It might take a bit longer to find all the ore needed for that but the extra exploration for resources often leads to the discovery of hidden things. Secret underground lairs, random junk chests that often include weapons with special abilities and the all coveted tech chests that give you special abilities such as Energy Dash…. it’s a bit of a free-for-all for those.

Since the game is still Early Access, the quest system isn’t finished yet. Once you complete the tutorial quests, the game leaves you to your own devices. I created everything I could think of during my single player game and visited several planets as I worked towards making the distress beacon (last step of the tutorial) but never actually got that far before the wipe. With my friend’s help I quickly caught up to where I was and learned a few new tricks and shortcuts. Time to build and activate the Distress Beacon… enter the first boss fight.

Boss fights in the game are currently a bit difficult. The first boss I was able to defeat without using much strategy, just shoot it until it dies, but that lulled me in to the false sense that bosses are just large high HP monsters. After upgrading all our gear my friend made a rather weird looking structure before we fought the next boss. The structure offered shelter from the boss for the most part, which was incredibly useful since it hit hard. We used this same strategy for each of the remaining bosses, reformatting the structure as needed until we ran out of bosses. It actually felt kind of ignoble to hide inside but setting foot outside of it meant taking heavy damage.

We eventually made it to X Sector where the game rules change a little. Before I go into detail I will go back and explain the Starmap. You start out in the Alpha sector. After beating each boss you get an item necessary to craft whatever you need to travel to the next sector. You can either choose to remain in the same sector and explore, or move on to the next sector to get better ores. I find it sad that you really only need to visit one planet per sector to move on… so many interesting worlds left unvisited. Sector X fixes this issue however. Now each planet has a difficulty level. Accidentally visiting a level 10 planet without the proper armor and weapons will lead to a very short stay… so hopefully you have the fuel to get out of there. Right now the game lacks any kind of end-game content other than the aforementioned planet difficulty levels. While I am sure some gamers will really enjoy visiting each level of planet and making their gear a little stronger so they can ascend to the next level, I am starting to feel this as bit of a grind. My attention is waning and I am losing motivation to continue my Glitch’s adventure for now. I feel that way about most MMOs too so don’t let that sway you, I am actually much more inclined to roll a new character of a different race just to see the racial weapons and armors for it first-hand. I’m sure in time end-game will be expanded and I am also sure the quest system will add a lot of extra fun to the game once it is implemented.

In summary, if you like games that let you shape the world around you, that you can make everything you need by hand and enjoy looking for adventures, you should definitely check out Starbound. I’d buy it from their Humble Store rather than through Steam itself because that way you give better support to the games development and you get the bonus of a sound track download to go along with it.

Quote from: the Steam Store page about the game:

In Starbound, you take on the role of a character who’s just fled from their home planet, only to crash-land on another. From there you’ll embark on a quest to survive, discover, explore and fight your way across an infinite universe.

You’ll encounter procedurally generated creatures and weapons, discover populated villages and abandoned temples. Explore planets dotted with dungeons, eyeball trees and treasure. Make use of over a hundred materials and over one thousand in-game objects to build a sprawling modern metropolis or a sleepy secluded cabin in the woods, and do all of it alone or with friends!

Starbound lets you live out your own story of space exploration, discovery and adventure. Settle down and farm the land, hop from planet to planet claiming resources, or make regular visits to populated settlements, taking on jobs and earning a living. NPCs are scattered about the worlds, offering quests and challenges for those looking for a little extra excitement in their lives.

Key Features:
6 playable races
A procedurally generated universe with unlimited procedurally generated planets
All content available in online drop in/drop out co-op
Generated dungeons full of unique enemies
Randomly generated monsters
Thousands of items
A deep crafting system
PVP gameplay
Own and decorate your own Starship
Develop your own home planet
Menacing boss battles
Procedurally generated guns and melee weapons
Farming, hunting and survival mechanics
Built from the ground up to support modding
Ongoing free updates
Multi-platform multiplayer

What will you find?