Starbound’s Newest Update Is Pretty Much Amazing


This is an early access game, and is not in a complete state. Features described below may be subject to change.

Starbound, for the unfamiliar, is a game in the open world survive ’em up genre that takes ideas from Minecraft and Terraria. That sentence shouldn’t make you very excited though. What should, is that it does everything IN SPACE. I have been following Chucklefish’s development of the game since the very early alphas, and I’m nothing but pleased so far, barring that 8 month gap between stable versions in 2014.

In Starbound’s newest update, we’ve got ship upgrades, a much more interesting galaxy, liquid collection, a slew of new tilesets, dungeons, and weapons, as well as a number of general changes that make the game more accessible and less generally esoteric for the newly initiated. In short, they didn’t just slap on a new coat of paint, they rebuilt the car.

Starbound now feels more like it’s actually earned its selling point of Terraria in space (with some cool unique features) and less like a generic Terraria clone in space as it did in the earliest alphas. Even so, I put over 200 hours into it up to this point. I’m either crazy or I genuinely like this game, and I don’t think it’s the former. I do a pretty good job of keeping my sanity (mostly) in check.

Why is there a store room under a poison ocean planet? Why not.

Why is there a store room under a poison ocean planet? Why not.

Combat, the most problematic feature in the early builds, now feels about as advanced as one can get in a 2D game. Block mechanics have been refined, weapons feel different based on attack speed and special abilities and enemies genuinely have varied (and sometimes very surprising) attacks. Boss fights are actually difficult, even with good gear, and require skill that doesn’t just boil down to “pop all the buffs and wade into the fray.” That does, however, make for a number of interesting deaths and respawns.

The ship now serves as a useful quest hub, with your AI serving as an upgrade station, tech ability manager and mission dispatcher. Techs have been changed to occupy slots on the body, and more than one can be equipped at a time. This mechanic becomes key to the advancement of the game, with suit slot techs allowing you to visit different planet types and advance to more hostile environs.

NPC interaction and multiplayer still leaves something to be desired, but the game is getting there. I can now actually see the potential for something amazing in the later stages, but only time will tell how it all shakes out. Starbound is currently on Steam for about $15, and I highly recommend it if you haven’t given it a go.

About Whiskey Ginger

Whiskey Ginger is a scientist by day and comedy writer by night. Other than his passions for the nerdier things in life, he also writes for comedy sites dedicated to fraternity and postgrad humor. His parents just wish he'd write less dick jokes.

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