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.

Note: This guide is updated up to beta version Offended Koala.

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.

In Starbound, the player can choose from six 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.

Each race comes with their own benefits; as well as stories, armor, and an unique aesthetically designed spaceship. Once the player has selected a race, they can customize their features and clothing. Select a race, and begin to customize the character's appearance. After customizing the character to a suitable point, it is time to name them. The dice at the end of the naming box will choose a random name for the character in relation to race or you can type in a completely custom name.

Finally, click OK. The player will be brought back to the character menu; from which the player can select to play.


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 Managment
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 Search Function
Space Makes the character jump 1-9 Quick shortcuts for Item Usage ALT Highlights all Interactive Objects
and shows Hunger
Drop through Platforms Q Throws the currently held item Esc Opens the Main Menu
Z Cycles between Left
and Right Hand Items
X Toggle held items

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)

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.
  • 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)

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.
  • Hunger Meter: This meter shows how hungry the character is. When close to empty, the player is recommended to feed the character with food. ALT will also show this window.
  • Temperature Meter: This meter shows when the temperature is too cold for the character. A light source such as a Campfire will 'fill' the meter, and being out too long in the cold will kill the character.

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 Beginning

An Example Quest Window

The player starts on their spaceship, and is shown a quest window explaining their plight. In order to complete the quest, the player must obtain their Matter Manipulator Icon.png Matter Manipulator. The Matter Manipulator is an essential tool for all beginners, and combines the utility of all tools. However, it is incredibly slow, and falls behind tools that have a specific purpose.

Quest I: Race-Specific Starting Quest

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

Move over to the Ship Locker.gif Ship Locker and press E. It will open the spaceship's own storage area. Inside will be a few essential items:

  • Matter Manipulator Icon.png Matter Manipulator: The goal of the current quest.
  • Flashlight.png Flashlight: Lights a small cone in the direction the player is facing. Slowly uses a minor amount of Energy.
  • Wheat Icon.png Seeds: Used to plant Crops. A Hoe is needed to plant these. There are two kinds: Wheat and a race-specific crop.
  • Torch.png Torch: Torches are a light source. They also provide warmth from the cold.
  • Broken Riot Sword Icon.png Weapon: A race-specific weapon. Since the Manipulator does not work as a weapon, this is the only way to defend and kill enemies.

Simply drag the item(s) to any open slot on the toolbar, and the player will have easy access to them. Optionally, they can be placed into your Inventory ("I" by default) for later use. It is a good idea to put the Manipulator into one of the Held Item slots as it will be used frequently, as well as the weapon.

After closing all open windows a new window will pop up, congratulating the player for completing the quest. After selecting "Accept", the player will receive 10 Pixel.png Pixels. While not a substantial amount, it will go a long way to helping improve the character.

Upon finishing the previous quest, a new quest window will open. In order to continue, the quest states that a Wooden Crafting Table.png Wooden Crafting Table is needed. However, the materials needed are nowhere to be found on the spaceship. In order to continue the player must beam down to the planet. To do that, either step onto the Teleportation Pad.png Teleportation Pad and press E, or simply click on the Teleporter icon in the Menu Bar.

To places unexplored!

Part II: Planetside

Quest II: Shop Class

Upon arriving on the planet, it is suggested that the player place a Torch.png Torch at their starting location. Torches not only provide light, but also give out warmth. In colder climates this will keep the character from freezing to death.

The quest that was given out requires a Wooden Crafting Table.png Wooden Crafting Table to be crafted and placed on the ground. However, a much more urgent task is learning how to defend one's self from attacks.


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 continuous damage. As health does not regenerate naturally, any damage prevented will be important in the long run.

As an enemy takes damage, 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 announce 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 capable of pushing a squad of enemies to their graves it will take time to kill a more powerful enemy.

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

Note that enemies killed with a Hunting Bow.png Hunting Bow do not drop Pixel. They will only drop meat and/or leather.

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. Death itself has only one penalty: A 20% loss to total Pixel.png Pixels, which is unrecoverable. In order to prevent this, the player must actively refill their health bar.

There are two easy ways to accomplish this:

  • Bandage.png Bandage: When used, the character will regain a small portion of health over a few seconds.
  • Wooden Bed.png Wooden Bed: A placeable piece of furniture that will allow the character to sleep, regenerating health a a slow pace.

It is advisable to create as many bandages as able, and to keep a bed handy somewhere that is easily accessible. The spaceship is an excellent location for a bed. These items are rarely found in the world, but are rare and far between locations. A much better way is to craft them.


Once the player can defend themselves, 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 gather as little material as needed to save up on time.

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.

Some Recipes craftable by hand
Created Item Material Material
x3 Wood Planks.png Wood Planks   x1 Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood
    Wooden Crafting Table.png Wooden Crafting Table   x35 Wood Planks.png Wood Planks
x2 Torch.png Torch   x1 Coal Ore.png Coal Ore   x1 Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood  
    Climbing Rope.png Climbing Rope   x1 Iron Bar.png Iron Bar   x1 Plant Fibre.png Plant Fibre
    Wood Platform.png Wood Platform   x1 Wood Planks.png Wood Planks
    Camp Fire.png Camp Fire   x1 Torch.png Torch   x5 Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood
    Hunting Bow.png Hunting Bow   x1 Plant Fibre.png Plant Fibre x10 Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood
    Bandage.png Bandage   x4 Plant Fibre.png Plant Fibre

Every item craftable at this point is incredibly 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.
  • Bandage.png Bandage: 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 provide warmth, and allow the Cooking of food.
  • Hunting Bow.png Hunting Bow: The Hunting Bow is the first ranged weapon a player will obtain. It fires an arcing arrow that deals damage, and when used to land the killing blow on a creature, it has a chance to drop cookable meat and/or leather.

Once created, simply click the Hotbar that now has the Wooden Crafting Table, and place it on the ground. Upon doing so, the player is once again congratulated for completing the quest. Again, the player will receive 10 Pixel.png Pixels. A new quest will begin as well.


Quest III: Food Fight

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.

An arrow in flight. Notice the flaming tip.

Once a few have been found, combine them with x1 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 become a white flaming arrow, dealing 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 and/or Raw Alien Meat.png Raw Alien Meat. As the Hunger Meter is always slowly depleting, a supply of cooked meat on hand will prevent starvation.


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 Alien 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 Stone 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 Alien Meat to a spot on the Hotbar, and use it. As the meat is eaten, the Hunger Meter fills up. If you are unsure about how hungry the character is, press Alt to bring up the bar.

Upon retrieving the cooked meat the quest will be completed, and 10 Pixel.png Pixels will be added to the player's count.


Quest IV: Out of the frying pan..

The next quest required the creation of a Stone Furnace.png Stone Furnace, but gathering the Cobblestone.png Cobblestone with the Matter Manipulator.png Matter Manipulator is a tedious affair. The Manipulator has served an important role in learning how to play the game. However the slow speeds at which it gathers materials has rendered it obsolete. It's time to make newer tools.

At the Wooden Crafting Table.png Wooden Crafting Table the player is able to create three different tools to quickly and easily complete tasks.

  • Stone Pickaxe.png Stone Pickaxe: This tool allows the gathering of blocks and furniture.
  • Stone Axe.png Stone Axe: This tool allows the gathering of trees, plants, and vines.
  • Stone Hoe.png Stone Hoe: This tool tills tiles of Dirt Block.png Dirt to plant farmable crops on.

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. 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.

The first tool that should be acquired is the Stone Pickaxe.png Stone Pickaxe, which costs x10 Cobblestone.png Cobblestone and x20 Wood Planks.png Wood Planks (x7 Unrefined Wood.png Unrefined Wood) to craft. With it, mining the required Cobblestone for the other two weapons and the Stone Furnace is a much easier task. After crafting it, head to the nearest quarry of Cobblestone, and begin to mine it.

With enough Cobblestone as you can manage, create your remaining two tools and the Stone Furnace.png Stone Furnace (x1 Camp Fire.png Camp Fire and x25 Cobblestone.png Cobblestone at the Wooden Crafting Table.png Wooden Crafting Table).

The quest completion window will appear, and 10 Pixel.png Pixels are given.


Quest V: Forging Ahead

A Coal and Iron Vein side-by-side.

The next quest requires the smelting of Iron Bar.png Iron Bar. At least x2 Iron Ore.png Iron Ore is required to craft an Iron Bar.png Iron Bar, and this goes for most other types of bars as well. With the power of a Stone Pickaxe.png Stone Pickaxe, gathering the ore itself poses no issue. However, if the player has put off exploring to focus on questing, chances are they have not found any Iron Ore.png Iron Ore yet. Due to the dangers posed from the various hostile inhabitants, it is advised to keep a weapon handy during exploration.

The biggest threat, however, is the oncoming night. During the day most creatures are irritating at worse, once combat has been practiced. At night, the difficulty level increases however, and even as the temperature quickly drops, powerful and extremely aggressive creatures begin to roam. In this case, it is better to create a shelter to survive the night or return to the ship. In a dire situation, a simple artificial structure can be created by enclosing the character with blocks on hand and placing a Torch.png Torch on the wall or a Camp Fire.png Camp Fire on the ground. This will prevent hypothermia and prevent enemies from attacking until dawn.

Once the new day begins it is time to continue the search for iron. Once found, bring the newly mined supply to the Forge. The smelting process works exactly like cooking with a Camp Fire.png Camp Fire, and any tasks created will continue without input.

Once the task of smelting bars has been finish and retrieved, the quest is finished with the usual reward of 10 Pixel.png Pixels. A new quest window also pops up, but strangely it seems to be on a different level than before.

Part III: Galactic Exploration

Quest VI: First Contact

The quest asks for the creation of a Distress Beacon.png Distress Beacon. The Distress Beacon is an item that summons a Boss. Bosses are special enemies that present the player with a difficult challenge, and are considered major milestones for completion progress.

 Distress Beacon.png Distress Beacon  x150   Pixel.png  Pixel
x2     Silver Bar.png Silver Bar
x10   Copper Bar.png Copper Bar
x10   Iron Bar.png Iron Bar
x100 Wood Planks.png Wood Planks 

The materials are much more complex than any other recipe that the player has seen, let alone crafted. This is because the summoned boss, Penguin UFO Small.png Dreadwing the Penguin, is hard! The boss is in constant motion above the player, summons multiple powerful allies on the ground, and deals lethal damage to characters without the best gear they can get at this point in the game.

It is at this point that continuing further requires interplanetary exploration, whether it is to find more elusive materials, or to expand out into the great unknown.


The Fuel Hatch. There are 212 units of fuel already in the tank

Once back at the spaceship, head to the front of the spaceship and into the cockpit. Inside are two more interactable objects:

  • Fuel Tank.gif Fuel Hatch: When fuel materials are placed and the Fuel button is clicked; it will add fuel to the spaceship's tank. Different materials add different levels of fuel.
  • Pilot Chair.png Pilot Control Chair: Controls the spaceship, and allows exploration of the universe.

The main form of fuel for the spaceship at this point is Coal Ore.png Coal Ore. Each piece of Coal will add two points of fuel to the tank. There are currently two ways of obtaining coal:

Use caution when filling up the tank: Coal is a valuable resource for making Torch.png Torches, which are extremely important on colder planets. The fuel tank only holds 1000 points of fuel, and any more added after this threshold is wasted. For the first trip across the solar system, getting as close as possible to 1000 is an excellent idea. Trips between planets and moons cost one point of fuel, while trips to other planets in a solar system cost 50 points of fuel.

All the preparations that have been done have finally paid off. The player has a grasp on combat, building structures, farming up crops, and exploration. It is finally time to hit the starry skies!


The Navigation Screen in the planet screen.

Head over to the Pilot Chair.png Pilot Control Chair and press E. This is the Navigation Screen.

The Screen is split into three sections:

  1. Satellite Travel: Allows travel between a planet and/or its moons.
  2. Interplanetary Travel: Allows travel between planets in a single planetary system. (not shown)
  3. Interstellar Travel: Allows travel between planetary systems in a single sector. Sectors are also selected here in ascending difficulty. (not shown)

In order to see each screen, simply Right Click the Navigation Panel and it will zoom outwards. Keep in mind that travel always consumes Fuel.

Travel Distance COST
Satellite Travel 1 Fuel
Interplanetary Travel 50 Fuel
Interstellar Travel 200 Fuel
Intersector Travel 200 Fuel

While the various planets each have their own quirks and differences, a player can find specific ones using Coordinates. The red numbers at the lower right hand side of the screen can be set to a specified place. Whether you're looking for items, NPC's, or dungeons, it is a great way to find all sorts of neat objects.


  • 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 prevent freezing to death, place and stand near any heat source (campfire, torches, etc) or create a small dwelling to weather the cold. Crafting Snow Infantry pieces of armor, such as the Snow Infantry Chest, will grant extra protection against the cold. High tier armor often has built in protection from the cold, as well as other benefits.
  • 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 20% 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.