Guide:Beginner's Guide

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Welcome to Starbound!

The world of Starbound: by its nature of being a space-themed sandbox, is a vast and imposing place of planets, solar systems, galaxies, and infinite possibility. For any one person, this would be a massive undertaking. This guide is made with that in mind to alleviate the pressures that come from starting off. When a player does not have to worry about where their next meal comes from can they finally begin the terrifying but exhilarating experience of galactic exploration.

From beginning to end, this guide will walk through the steps of survival, combat, and finally exploration. While the guide itself is meant to be read as a whole each section is able to stand alone, and this allows any reader to skip to parts that interest them. From the newest player to the oldest veteran, please enjoy this guide.

Starting Off

After the Chucklefish loading screen, the player is presented with the menu. As with most games there are a few options to affect gameplay.

The Menu Options.

  • Single Player: This starts Single Player mode, where the player ventures into their worlds by themselves.
  • Multiplayer: This starts Multiplayer mode, where the player can venture into their worlds, or play with other people.
  • Options: This is where a player can change their settings.
  • Quit: Exits the program.

For the purpose of this guide, it is assumed you have selected Single Player.

Character Creation

Character Creation.png

When the character creation screen opens, the layout of each character is presented in a single drop down list. This list is shared across both Single Player and Multiplayer mode; so there is no fear of wasting time playing a character in Single Player. Select one of the empty boxes to begin creating your character and use the trash can on existing characters can be used to permanently remove them.

In Starbound, the player can choose from seven different races:

  • Human Icon.png Human: Humans are simple space explorers, and come from Earth.
  • Avian Icon.png Avian: Avians are bird-like humanoids who worship their deity, Kluex, the Winged God of the Aether.
  • Apex Icon.png Apex: Apex are ape-like humanoids that traded their physical appearance for the sake of intelligence.
  • Floran Icon.png Floran: Floran are plant-based humanoids and are known for their aggressive nature.
  • Hylotl Icon.png Hylotl: Hylotl are fish-like humanoids who value peace and prosperity.
  • Glitch Icon.png Glitch: Glitch are robotic humanoids created by an unknown race, long ago.
  • Novakid Icon.png Novakid: Novakid are an ancient race, and are interstellar gasbag space cowboys. However, instead of starting with a melee weapon, the Novakid start with guns, linking back to the cowboy theme.

Your choice of race has no bearing on gameplay, with the aforementioned exception of novakids, who are able to start crafting guns from the get go. The differences are primarily aesthetic, affecting the appearance of the spaceship, racial gear, and lore. Bear in mind that any object can be crafted by any character with enough effort.

After you're done selecting the appearance of your character and selecting the name (the dice icon will select a random race-specific name), it's time to choose the difficulty. There are three different difficulties:

  • Casual is the easiest mode, where death is a trivial matter (save for the loss of 10% of pixels).
  • Survival is the basic, normal mode, where death will cause you to drop all your items, except for weapons and tools. To cap it all off, you lose 30% of your pixels.
  • Hardcore is permadeath: Your character is deleted upon death.

Difficulty cannot be changed after starting the game and has no impact on gameplay beyond the consequences of death.


When playing Starbound for the first time, it is a good idea to play with the controls for a bit. The most important aspect is using the mouse to aim. The mouse cursor is also where the character is facing; which means that nearly any interaction in the world is dependent on where the cursor is located.

Item Management
Other Controls
A Moves the character
to the left
Use Tools and Weapons
and places/destroys Background Blocks
Pans the screen in the
direction of the mouse
D Moves the character
to the right
Use Tools and Weapons
and places/destroys Foreground Blocks
C Opens the Crafting menu
S Makes the character crouch E Interacts with objects like Doors,
Crafting Stations, and Crops
I Opens the Inventory menu
Mouse Controls the character's aim Mouse
Cycles through the Hotbar N Switches to Inspect Function
Space Makes the character jump 1-9 Quick shortcuts for Item Usage ALT Highlights all Interactive Objects
Drop through Platforms Q Throws the currently held item Esc Opens the Main Menu
Z Cycles between Left
and Right Hand Items
X Default slots
R Matter Manipulator

The button you will use most commonly during play is E. While the mouse cursor is hovering over a nearby object, it will begin to gently pulse white, signifying that this object can be interacted with. Besides interact-able furniture (such as doors), the player can also interact with Crafting Stations, bringing up a crafting window showing what that particular station can craft. The player can also farm their crops using the E key. When hovering over a NPC, the player may interact with them, and in the case of merchants, purchase their wares.


Example Interface

The interface is where the player can see the various objects, items, and scenery that make up the game. It is further divided into five sections:

1: The Status Bar

The Status Bar shows the player important information.

  • Name: Shows the name of the character.
  • Health: This red bar depletes as the character takes damage, and does not regenerate naturally. When it hits zero, the character dies.
  • Energy: This green bar depletes as energy consuming tools and abilities are used. This regenerates at a moderate rate.
  • Status Effects: These appear at the bottom of the Status Bar when the character has a Status Effect on them. Status Effects can be buffs or debuffs. (not shown)
  • Invite Steam Friend: You can click on the "+" symbol below your character's face icon to type in a steam friend's name in order to invite them to your single player game.

2: The Toolbar

The Toolbar is where items can be placed for quick usage.

  • Hotkeys: Numbered 1-9, they correspond to the top number key on the keyboard. Any item placed in them can be selected by pressed the desired key, or by scrolling the mouse wheel.
  • Held Items: The blue one is for the left hand, and the red one is for the right hand. Items placed here can be easily wielded by using the X key. They can also be selected by hitting any Hotkey twice.
  • Matter Manipulator, Wiring Tool, and Paint Tool Icons: Icons for the aforementioned three tools, which each have key shortcuts to quick-select to. Respectively, the key shortcuts for each are the R, T, and Y keys.
  • Enemy Status Bar: When engaged with an enemy, their health bar will show up. It not only displays how much damage they have taken, but also informs the player of imminent attacks. (not shown)
  • Quests: See what quests you currently have. You'll also be able to see the direction you'll need to go to do the next part of the quest.

3: The Menu Bar

The Menu bar shows the various menus a player can open.

  • Pixel: The yellow square is Starbound's currency, and is used for buying items, as well as creating and upgrading items.
  • Inventory Menu: The bag icon opens the character's Inventory, which shows not only their current gear, but any items the player has collected.
  • Crafting Menu: The wrench icon opens the Crafting Menu, where the player can craft various items.
  • Search Function: The magnifying glass icon toggles the Search Function, which allows the player to click on objects to see a description.
  • Starbound Codex: The book icon opens the Starbound Codex, which shows lore, both general and exclusive to your race.
  • Teleporter: The circle and arrow icon is the Teleporter, and takes the player from their spaceship down to the surface of their current planet. This works both ways, and the player may return to their spaceship by click on the icon again.
  • Quest Log: The yellow exclamation mark is the Quest Log, and shows all the quests the player is currently on, as well as any ones they have completed or failed.

4: Alerts Alerts are information windows the inform the player of events happening in game. (not shown)

  • Loot Window: These windows are shown when the player has picked up an item.

5: Chat Window (Not shown) This window is where the player may communicate with other players. This only applies to Multiplayer games, although the window is open-able in Singleplayer, and words may be typed in.

Part I: The Protectorate

An Example Quest Window

The player begins at the sleeping deck on planet Earth. You'll need to "Attend your graduation ceremony." You'll need to grab your uniform out of your personal locker once you've gotten out of bed and made you way out of the room. Once you've put on your uniform (Accessible through the inventory) continue your way to the right and you'll find yourself and upwards and on to the stage. Unfortunately due to the invaders in the cut scene you'll find out that it's not safe to remain, and you'll need to quickly grab the Matter Manipulator Icon.png Matter Manipulator and escape to the shuttle pad.

Navigate through the destroyed building where you'll need to remove some of the dirt that has fallen through the roof. Equip the Matter Manipulator by pressing R, and then click and hold on the dirt to dig through it. Continuing to the right and you'll find yourself being transported to the stars by the shuttle, which has now become your Spaceship.

Post credits you'll find that a quest window explaining our plight. To complete the quest, the player must repair their spaceship. You'll need to find and collect Supplies and Core Fragment Ore.png Core Fragment Ore from the core of the planet below as a means for fixing the ship. This section will just shortly explain the immediate tasks at hand to get ready, further info on the actual pursuit is below.

Orbiting Starting Quest

Note: This quest has a different name for each race, but the objectives are exactly the same.

To your right, is a prompt icon above the tech station. The prompt icon looks like a big flashing grey E. Walk over there and press the E key to interact with your ship's tech station.

The S.A.I.L. (Ship-based Artificial Intelligence Lattice) interface for the player's ship will then be brought up. The ship's AI program has crashed, and the player must reboot it. In order to do so, select ShipAIRebootIcon.png Reboot ship AI and then Issue Command. The player will next need to enable their Matter Manipulator Icon.png Matter Manipulator and their ship's Teleportation Pad.png Teleportation Pad, the latter which will beam them down to the planet below them.

The player will then be prompted to open the Ship Locker.gif Ship Locker. Get out the Flashlight.png Flashlight, Broken Riot Sword Icon.png Weapon(s), and Torch.png Torches from the locker. Now that the player is prepared, take note that the pre-existing planetary tutorial quests still are in-game, but the immediate below points are important for progress.

Take a moment to explore the rest of what little the player can explore of their broken ship. Without fuel, they can't travel anywhere outside of their spawn star system, and even then, the CaptainsRoomDoor.pngPilot Room door will not open until they repair their ship's thrusters and hull. The player is stuck earthbound for now.

In order to repair said thrusters and hull, the player's S.A.I.L. AI will tell them they need to collect 20 Core Fragment Ores from the core of the planet below. Getting deep down there to find and mine the Core Fragment Ores can be a long and dangerous journey, so be sure that proper preparations are taken before attempting it. A section below will be a more in depth guide on how to gather them while staying in one piece.

In order to continue, you obviously need to beam down to the below planet to begin. To do that, either step onto the Teleportation Pad and press E, or simply click on the Teleporter icon in the Menu Bar.

To places unexplored!


Upon arriving planetside, you'll be notified from the ship's AI that there is an Archaic Energy Source on the planet and that's it's worth visiting and investigating. However the following are a few tips to help you survive verses the creatures which inhabit the planet and might be aggressive towards you. The first thing you'll want to do is to place a Torch.png Torch at their starting location on the planet. Torches are your primary source of non-mobile light, early on, and will be helpful to note where you will arrive on the planet.

The second urgent task is learning how to defend one's self from attacks and understanding combat.


Top: Enemy Health Bar.
Bottom: Damaging an Enemy.

In Starbound, combat is simple to learn. By equipping a weapon (such as a Broken Riot Sword Icon.png Starter Weapon) it will be in the character's hands. When within range of an enemy, simple click or hold the mouse button down to swing with it. Some weapons have knockback: when an enemy is hit, they will be flung back away from the player. This creates some breathing room for before they jump at you. As health does not regenerate naturally, any damage prevented will be important in the long run.

As an enemy come into closer contact, a health bar will appear. This health bar contains some important information:

  • Name: The name of the creature
  • Attack: Some creatures can use abilities, and these will show up in the bar. It is advantageous to pay attention to these as they are tells to the enemies intentions.

Keep in mind that all weapons have a Weapon Speed: It controls how fast a weapon may be used. An incredibly slow but powerful weapon will hamper the character's ability to handle multiple targets; while a fast weapon is sometimes more capable of pushing a squad of enemies back and to their graves than the time it will take time to kill a more powerful enemy.

Enemies who are killed with weapons will drop Pixel.png Pixels and rarely items like Raw Alien Meat.png Raw Meat.

Note that enemies killed with a Hunting Bow.png Hunting Bow as opposed to another weapon do not drop Pixel, but will drop meat and/or leather, but the latter only drops in Eccentric Stars and further.

There will be times that even with the best intentions and practice, the player will take damage. It is unavoidable, and failing to pay attention to the slowly diminishing health bar will lead to death. Depending on the game mode, death itself has various penalties: A 30% loss to total Pixel.png Pixels at the lowest difficulty, which is unrecoverable. In order to prevent this, the player must actively refill their health bar.

There are two simple and easy ways to accomplish character healing:

  • A Salve: The salve will heal the character over a period of time, showing a small red cross in the top left under the health bar.
  • A Bandage.png Bandage: When used, the character will regain a small portion of health over a few seconds.
  • Wooden Bed.png Wooden Bed or a Tent: A place-able piece of furniture that will allow the character to sleep, regenerating health a a slow pace.

It is advisable to create quite a few Salves, and to keep a tent or a bed handy somewhere that is easily accessible. The spaceship is an excellent location for a bed. Tents can be found to the left of where you spawn on the planet, but the bed and other items are rarely found in the world, but are rare and far between locations. A much better way is to craft them.


Once you're able to defend yourself, it is time to begin harvesting materials. The Matter Manipulator Icon.png Matter Manipulator does everything: In a 2x2 square, it will harvest trees, blocks, and furniture. It does not do this fast, however, and much time will be spent felling one simple tree. It is in the player's best interest to later upgrade their Matter Manipulator.

After successfully downing a few trees, it is time to craft some items. Simply press C and the Crafting Menu will open. Additionally, it can be opened by the Crafting Menu icon. Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood is a material, but the recipe instead asks for Wood Planks.png x35 Wood Planks. Each piece of Unrefined Wood creates x3 Wood Planks.

Basic Crafting Recipes without need for Crafting Stations
Created Item Material Material
Camp Fire.png Camp Fire   x1 Torch.png Torch   x5 Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood
Inventor's Table x35 Wood Planks.png Wood Planks
Your Race Flag
Climbing Rope.png Rope   x4 Plant Fibre.png Plant Fibre
Salve   x4 Plant Fibre.png Plant Fibre
Timber (x5) 15px Wooden Log
Torch (x4) Coal.png Coal 15px Wooden Log
Wood Platform.png Wood Platform   x1 Wood Planks.png Wood Planks

Every item craftable up to this point is pretty useful. Some notables:

  • Wood Platform.png Wood Platform: These are placeable objects that offer solid ground as well as the ability to "drop" through them by crouching and pressing Space.
  • Salve: At this point, these are the most reliable way to regain health. When used, they place a regeneration effect that lasts a few seconds.
  • Camp Fire.png Camp Fire: Camp Fires allow the Cooking of food.

At this point you've probably adventured to the left or to the right and perhaps have found the mining area and the adventurer NPC to the left, who will encourage you to have some adventures down below. Equip your weapon and get started, there's glory to be had. Check through the boxes and storage places and you'll find all sorts of items, and things you'll need in future Quests.

If you manage to find and mine the materials, you can begin with the Inventor's Table and begin with the Crafting Stations and Blueprints to help you get thing done a bit easier. The Anvil will give you options with weapons and armor and some handy tools (you'll probably want to explore the mine before you waste any of your minerals building at this point since they're pretty low level attacks and defenses.), the Foraging Table will help you make some recipes for cooking, the Primitive Furnace will be able to smelt Ore that you mine throughout the planet, The Spinning Wheel will open up options for String as well as materials for Crafting Armor. Lastly the Wooden Workbench opens up various simple tools to help you on the overworld.


With a Wooden Crafting Table.png at the player's disposal, extra resources can now be used to create a Hunting Bow.png Hunting Bow. A major component required to create one is Plant Fibre.png Plant Fibre. These fibres can be found rarely from harvested crops, and always from vines within caves. Having a good supply of these will make combat less dangerous as they can be used to create valuable Bandage.png bandages and Salves. Overcoming a monster with a bow significantly increases your chances of getting Meat and rare crafting ingredients.

An arrow in flight.

Once a few have been found, combine them with x30 Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood to create the bow.

Arrows are automatically generated by the weapon itself, and does not need ammunition. To aim the bow, simply move the cursor to the location to aim the bow, and hold down the mouse button. The longer the button is held, the farther the arrow will travel. When the weapon is charging at some point it will slightly pulse. This signifies that an arrow released at this time will deal more damage. It is advised to practice aiming as to get this perfect arrow as often as possible.

Gravity is a harsh mistress, and will always attempt to pull the arrow downwards. As such, it is a good idea to practice arcing the arrow as a person would in real life.

Each enemy killed with an arrow has a high chance of dropping either Leather.png Leather (when in Eccentric Stars or later) and/or Raw Alien Meat.png Raw Meat.


After obtaining as much meat as deemed necessary by the player, it is time to cook the meat.

The Cooking Interface. Food is being cooked

In order to cook the Raw Alien Meat.png Raw Meat, a Camp Fire.png Camp Fire is needed. It is also considered a crafting station, and can be interacted by pressing E. Combine a Torch.png Torch with five pieces of Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood and place the campfire.

When using a campfire and other refining stations (like a Stone Furnace.png Primitive Furnace) items are automatically processed as soon as it is started. The player can leave the station unattended and it will continue to process the materials as long as they are available. Once the meat is placed into the crafting slot and cooked, it will wait in the crafted slot until removed. Drag the Cooked Alien Meat.png Cooked Meat to a spot on the Hotbar, and use it.


If you're able to find one, Both the Pickaxe and the Axe are not only faster than the Manipulator, but also affect an area of 3x3 versus the latter's 2x2. Take note that pickaxes (and later drills) are not repairable at all, and have greatly reduced durability. The Hoe is used to till the dirt to plant on, and is a reliable source of food that can be safely harvested.


For more information on raising and harvesting crops, see Farming.

Ancient Gate Console

The Ancient Gateway, and the Teleportation Device to an otherworldly location

Once you feel like you've mined for quite a bit of things and you've found 20x Core Fragment Ore.png Core Fragment Ore, you'll want to continue your journey to the right, and activate the Ancient Gate Console, completing the "Archaic Energy Source on the planet and that's it's worth visiting and investigating" and which will open up the Ancient Gateway and allow for transportation to an otherworldly location, to continue on your journey with the next part of the quest to find the source of the mysterious messages.

Tech Town Quests

Tech Console Station.png

Once you've teleported you'll find a bit of an interesting town that has some side quests. The first is up a bit near the Tech Console Station: Lets Get Technical - You'll need to Mine and Smelt (or just provide) 10x Copper Ore.png Copper Bars and then you can begin the mission for the Dash Tech. If you chose to begin the mission you'll need to test and use the Dash Tech running through various doors before they close and dodging the slow effect that some of the areas light up. Once you complete the mission, he'll give you the Tech, and provide you with a Manipulator Module Upgrade Component as a reward.


  • Bandages and Stim Packs will help keep you alive in a fight; bandages can be made from plant fiber, which is easily gotten from hanging vines and even more easily from small plants growing on the ground, particularly in jungle biomes. Stim Packs can be found in chests, or purchased from a vendor.
  • To a certain depth, holes can be punched in walls underground to allow in light and drain water by right-clicking with a matter manipulator, pick, or drill.
  • Have a refinery? You can leave any converted pixels in the refinery until you're ready to spend them; this helps circumvent the 30% pixel loss upon death.
  • Some pieces of back armor are for more than show; Items such as the Toxic Flower Backpack and the Spacesuit Backpack provide in game benefits, such as improved energy regeneration and a larger supply of oxygen, respectively.

Additional Guides

  • Farming: Learn how to farm and grow crops for food and cooking.
General: Getting Started • Beginner's Guide • Inventory Management • Bosses

Bosses: Bone Dragon strategies • Dreadwing the Penguin strategies • Erchius Horror strategies • Fatal Circuit strategies • Jelly strategies