Starbound

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This is one of those games that I noticed MONTHS ago. There has been quite a bit of buzz around it. I first heard about it in PC Gamer a few issues ago, and then heard a little more about it on the Yogscast and generally just around the web. I didn't have to look far to find information about it, and the more I heard, the more excited I got.

I'm going to try get this out of the way immediately, because I'll be decapitated by the Starbound community for re-vomiting the same information as every other company out there by saying this, but this game is hugely reminiscent of Terraria, and, to some extent, Minecraft. But, why does this have to be a bad thing? Those are two of the titles that I have spent the longest playing. Once I heard there were some FTL aspects drizzled on top, I was sold. 

It's important to point out that this is just a Beta version, and anything I judge based on this, I will have to re-judge once they game is officially released. Honestly, I'm just too excited to wait that long. This game needs to be played. 

Everything in this game is procedurally generated. You can create your character, but all the monsters and creatures and worlds you encounter is pretty unique to your game. I was pretty boring and created a human class, but let me justify my actions. I clicked on each of the classes to see what they looked like, and the randomly generator character for the human looked almost identical to my Minecraft character (only he is wearing a leather jacket, which my minecraft character is not), which, to some extent, is based on myself. I couldn't turn that down. However, there are 6 other classes to choose from. There are seven playable races in the game's beta:

  • Apex are ape-like creatures with naturally humanoid features. Due to a process that Apex researchers discovered, they are able to upgrade their intellectual state while degrading their physical state. There is much dissent among them, as individuals chosen for researching a better process never return.
  • Avian are bird-like creatures without wings. They believe that their wings were lost upon entrance into the mortal world from the "Aether", or their "Plane of Gods". They believe that they will regain their wings upon entrance into the "Aether", which they believe is achieved only by complete theological devotion. Non-worshipers are called "The Grounded". Avian weaponry was gained when an unknown race bestowed it upon them.
  • Floran are plant-like cannibal creatures. They have a peaceful appearance but are highly violent, engaging in wars with other factions of their race. They are exceptional at reverse engineering technology. It is not known if this capability has an effect on gameplay.
  • Humans are ordinary Humans. Not much is known about this race at the moment.
  • Hylotl are an aquatic species with fins on their heads. Not much is known about them at the moment, although from available depictions of the race the Hylotl culture appears to resemble that of feudal Japan.
  • The Glitch are robotic creatures stuck in the Medieval Age. They reproduce by physically building their offspring.
  • The Novakid are beings made out of solar energy. As the Novakids have little to no desire to record their history, little is known about their origins and any groundbreaking research is forgotten within a few generations. This race was added to the game when the pre-order campaign raised $500,000.

I began my game in my ship, above a planet. I had very limited supplies, and I could do nothing but grab them and head to the nearest planet and begin excavating and exploring. You get several quests to start you off. Easy ones, at first, like hunt down some food and build a crafting table and furnace. *potential spoiler until end of paragraph* After a certain point you get a quest to build an expensive (extremely expensive for such an early game mission) distress beacon, which, for me, called in an enemy ship which absolutely PWNED me. 

The space station in Starbound is sprawling and full of potential. I have not figured out how to do a lot of this, so what can be done at this point in the Beta is still a mystery to me. Throughout your travels you'll find ways to upgrade and repair your ship, restoring it to its former glory. You'll need to find a crew, conduct research, catch rare creatures, and unlock its multitude of facilities. From a factory capable of producing mechs to labs where captured enemies can be studied and trained, the space station contains everything you need to explore the universe... except fuel.

So far, the best fuel I have found is coal. I mine it, dump it on the ship, and mine some more. Typically you need 250 fuel to go anywhere interesting, in my game, but that's fine. I would suggest you avoid Ice and Snow as you will just freeze to death. An interesting point to this game is that you can freeze to death at night, or on colder planets. You can warm yourself up with enough torches, or a camp fire, or even a furnace. You can also starve, so you should really find food. Right now, there are two easy ways to make food. (1.) Grow crops and (2.) hunt with your bow and arrow and hope monsters drop meat.

You can only get monsters to drop alien meat by killing them with the bow and arrow. You can get a huge selection of tools an weapons. You have your typical swords and pickaxes, but you can also get more throughout the game, like guns and explosives. You can upgrade your old tools by encasing them in a slightly harder materiel. You will always require the downgrade to upgrade. If, for example, you wanted to upgrade your bronze armour to iron, you would need to have the bronze in the inventory, then upgrade it with the anvil. It means you can't just skip steps, you really need to earn your gear. 

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I have encountered different races in the game, as well as monsters. Sometimes I stumble across homes that these other races have built on the planet. I have yet to meet another human, but they're probably out there, somewhere. I have encountered a giant Apex prison. I made the mistake of going in guns blazing, and underestimated how big it was. I got absolutely decimated. You can just go in unarmed and everything is fine, but I just didn't give up trying 3 or 4 times until I thought I'd give peace a chance. It worked. I then robbed everything they owned, to get revenge. They didn't seem to mind, but they are just gun wielding apes.

There is a lot more to discover. Once the game is ready to launch, I will do a full updated review, but I just figured that this game is so good, it needed to be recognised. I haven't found any bugs, yet. Well, not glitches, anyway. Plenty of space bugs, though. This game is certainly worth picking up. You can get it here, and you totally should. If this review helped you decide in any way, please let me know in the comments. 

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