Starbound Beta Impressions

Starbound is an indie game being produced by the UK-based independent game studio Chucklefish Ltd. Starbound takes place in a two-dimensional, procedurally generated universe which the player will explore in order to obtain new weapons, armor, and miscellaneous items. – Wikipedia

There are two types of people in this world – ones that love Sandbox RPGs, and ones that don’t. I personally am a huge fan of sandbox RPGs. Since its inception in 2011, I have played through Terraria countless times, and am still not tired of it. While Starbound is not by the same developer as Terraria, it is definitiely the game’s spiritual successor. It only makes sense that, when I heard about a Sci-Fi sandbox RPG with eerie similarities to Terraria, I had to check it out.

Starbound features procedural generation of… pretty much everything. Every planet you visit is located at a set of coordinates that generate the world. Every planet is inhabited by randomized monsters that have randomized abilities and hostility. What this means is you will never go to the same planet twice (unless you save the coordinates). The coordinate system also allows for you to share your discoveries with other players by giving them the coordinates of the planet. Each planet also is “circular”, meaning if you go in one direction long enough, you will eventually get back where you started. This is a definite improvement over Terraria maps. I have played a few characters through the existing content, and am loving the game overall.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really really like Starbound, but there are a few qualms I have with its current beta build. Like Terraria, there is an element of “What the heck do I do next?” in Starbound. The game does start off by giving you some tutorial missions, but they do not offer quite enough direction; I ended up spending much longer than I would have liked trying to figure out how to cook Alien Meat. There is also no way to safely store Pixels (the game’s currency), without losing a large percentage of it. This was of course intentional, but is more annoying than anything. Speaking of annoying, Starbound also has a hunger system. I understand it is a survival game, but the hunger system adds nothing to the game at all. If you die, you lose some pixels and respawn. There is not a large enough consequence to make a hunger system anything but annoying. Minor issues aside, the biggest thing that needs improvement in Starbound is the ship. There is no way to customize the size of your ship, and there is not enough room to use it as a home base. I don’t know if Chucklefish plans on adding ship customization or different ship sizes to the game, but I really think that would be a great addition to the game.

Starbound is a massively ambitious, massively entertaining, and endlessly replayable. You will literally never run out of new planets to explore. I look forward to seeing more content in the way of itemization and difficulty as the game progresses, and hopefully some ship customization options.

Author: Ben

Ben is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PCGR. He writes much of the content, manages the site, and does other editorial things that would bore you to tears.