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.

Note: This guide is updated up to the beta version Upbeat Giraffe.

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, but 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.

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 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 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)
  • 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)

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 Beginning

An Example Quest Window

The player starts on their spaceship, and is shown a quest window explaining their plight. To complete the quest, the player must repair their spaceship's thrusters and hull. In order to do that, we must collect Core Fragment Ore.png Core Fragment Ore from the core of the planet below. This section will just shortly explain the immediate tasks at hand to get ready, further info on the actual pursuit is below.

Tutorial I: Race-Specific 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 is 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 eathbound 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!

Part II: Planetside

Tutorial II: Shop Class

Upon arriving on the planet, it is suggested that the player place a Torch.png Torch at their starting location. Torches are your primary source of non-mobile light, early on.

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 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 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, 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. Death itself has only one penalty: 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 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 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.

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   x4 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   x10 Plant Fibre.png Plant Fibre x30 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 allow the Cooking of food.
  • Hunting Bow.png Hunting Bow: The Hunting Bow is the first ranged weapon a player will obtain, unless they start out as a Novakid. 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 in later stars.

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.


Tutorial 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.

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 Alien 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 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.

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


Tutorial IV: Out of the frying pan..

The next quest required the creation of a Stone Furnace.png Stone Furnace. The Manipulator has served an important role in learning how to play the game, but the player has other options if they wish.

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.

The first tool that should be acquired is the Copper Pickaxe.png Copper Pickaxe, which costs x2 Copper Bar.png Copper Bars to craft. With it, mining tougher blocks like Cobblestone and ore is much quicker.

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.


Tutorial 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 Matter Manipulator Icon.png Matter Manipulator or Copper Pickaxe.png Copper 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, especially since Copper Ore and above are only found deeper underground and not on the surface. 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. 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 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: Collecting Core Fragment Ore

The main quest at hand asks for Core Fragment Ore.png Core Fragment Ore in order to repair the ship's thrusters and hull. Doing so will allow the player to jump from planet to planet within their own local star system. Core Fragment Ore is located deep beneath a planet's surface, so care must be taken in order to successfully retrieve it.

Preparation is highly suggested in order to make this trip fruitful without having multiple trips required downward due to repeat deaths. Many caves below are more than just spacious enough, and therefore can contain sudden and steep drops, so enemies and dimly lit caves are not the only present threats here.

Having a steady supply of Torch.png Torches (+50) is useful, as caves are naturally dark without any direct access to sunlight. One checklist thing are Bandage.png Bandage, which are needed to heal, both from enemy attacks and potential fall damage if that doesn't kill the player right away. Speaking of such, Wood Platform.png Wood Platform are also a key thing, allowing a player to slowly control their descent below into the caves.

Once a player gets deep enough, lava is also a major hazard so be sure to watch one's step around the dangerous liquid, as collection of it using one's Matter Manipulator is likely not available yet. Blocking bodies of lava off with a cheap block material like Dirt Block.png Dirt also works.

The player can then mine the 20 Core Fragment Ores as required by the quest, and the player is then done. Once the player has gathered the crucial ore, they can climb back up to the surface to beam back up and finally repair their ship using the ore.

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.

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 cost between planets in a local star system is absolutely free, so no concern for fuel is needed until you decide you are ready to move onto a new star. As Coal is no longer a fuel, the player's primary source of fuel early on will be Liquid Erchius Fuel, which is primarily found abundantly and only deep beneath the surface of moons.

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.

Further information for planets includes day length, planet size, gravity strength, and local weather/hazards.

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)

Travel between planets in a local star system is completely free, however travel to neighboring star systems (whether close or several screens away) will cost fuel, and the exact cost will depend on the distance between your local star system and your destination.

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.

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.

Part IV: FTL Drive Repair

Quest VII: Erchius Mining Facility

This section and guide is a work in progress. This will be fully filled out, once some other basic pages are updated.


  • 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