I find myself warping through the stars, quickly consuming what little fuel my ship possessed before my home planet became a bittersweet memory. I have few possessions outside of basic crafting knowledge and the clothes on my back. This ship is my only hope for survival, and it is bare at best. A 3D printer, lacking blueprints of any kind; an empty storage locker; and now, an empty fuel tank I realize as the ship stabilizes in some unclassified, unknown planet’s orbit. Goal one, I think to myself, fuel.
Such begins the saga of “Starbound,” a galactic sandbox full of adventure, loot, alien civilizations and endless worlds to explore. “Starbound” (currently in beta) was created by indie game brand Chucklefish, who expanded on their previous game “Terraria” to create a universe-sized playground that doesn’t require universe-sized computing power. The basic goal of the game is simple: explore, harvest, conquer and colonize.
The game opens as I described in the first paragraph. The reasons for the flight and the personal backstory vary slightly for each set of interstellar travelers, but the basics are the same. In the current beta, the overall game quest is vague at best. There are bosses, but they are summoned at the player’s discretion. The bosses do unlock the next area of the universe for travel and exploration, with increasing difficulty and rewards in each consecutive class of stars.
There are many different biomes of planets to explore, all with their own resources, advantages and hardships. Planet size, the presence of alien civilizations, type of plant and appearance of alien animals also vary. I’ve personally seen planets lush with plants made of eyeballs, soil made up of entirely bones, flowers as tall as trees and endless other takes on the extraterrestrial.
[pullquote align=”right”]The basic goal of the game is simple: explore, harvest, conquer, and colonize.[/pullquote]
Starbound has multiplayer options too. There are many free servers that allow you to game online and create parties with other players. There’s also an option to host your own server when you launch the game so long as your wireless router packs some punch. I personally like the U.S. hosted servers on starbound-servers.net, as they tend to be well-rated and relatively glitch free. Currently, there are some issues with the semi-frequent updates of the game. Thankfully, character and ship wipes are uncommon at this point. The next patch is due to completely eliminate wipes, which makes now a great time to download the game.
Beta game versions tend to scare many off, which is completely understandable. There are some obvious gameplay features that need some improvement and the occasional bug can get very irritating. Overall, Starbound’s only major issue is the lack of a tutorial. The low price tag and minimum specs make it accessible for anyone. $15, this is an easy game for college students to afford and it runs easily on most laptops, whether they are Mac, PC or Linux based. The learning curve of gameplay is relatively easy, making it a great introduction to computer gaming without diminishing the fun for more experienced players.