Guide:Getting Started

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Note: Also check out our awesome Beginner's Guide

First Things, First: Basic Controls

The controls in Starbound are pretty straightforward for the most part.

  • Movement uses the standard W A S D keys, with the mouse cursor for aiming/targeting.
  • Spacebar to jump.
  • S to crouch, also used to jump down platforms.
  • E (or middle mouse click) makes you interact with the object under the mouse cursor - it will work on everything from activating crafting stations to talking with NPCs.
  • Q to drop the currently selected item.
  • F, G, and H for tech actions (respectively corresponding to tech slot 1, tech slot 2, and tech slot 3)
  • Rightclick a stack to divide it in half.
  • Shift-click to move an item from chests or hotbar to your inventory quickly.​
  • Ctrl+Mouse allows you to look around the map.
  • Hold shift to switch to single block building.

Menu Hotkeys

  • C opens the Crafting menu.
  • I opens your Inventory.
  • Z swaps hands.
  • R quick-selects the Matter Manipulator.
  • T quick-selects the Wire Tool.
  • Y quick-selects the Paint Tool.
  • N activates "look at" mode - the cursor will change to a magnifying glass, use it to click on an item to get the description and revert the cursor back to normal
  • X swaps the items in the L/R slots located at the middle of the hotbar. (When no hotbar item is selected, left clicking activates item in the L slot and right clicking activates the R slot, so you can swing two one-handed weapons at the same time, for example).
  • Left Alt + Z hides the hud.

Character Creation

Let's Get Started!

New characters spawn aboard their spaceship, which starts out in disrepair and will need repairs to the ship's thrusters, hull, and FTL drive in order to fully function. To your right, is a prompt icon above the tech station. The prompt icon looks like a big flashing grey E.

The S.A.I.L. (Ship-based Artificial Intelligence Lattice) interface for your ship will then be brought up. To reboot your ship's S.A.I.L., select Reboot ship AI and then Issue Command. You will next need to enable your Matter Manipulator and your ship's teleporter function, the latter which will beam you down to the planet below you.

You will then be prompted to open your ship locker. Get out your flashlight, weapon(s), and torches from the locker. Without fuel, you can't travel anywhere outside of your spawn star system, and even then, the captain's room door will not open until you repair your ship's thrusters and hull. You're stuck eathbound for now.

In order to repair said thrusters and hull, your S.A.I.L. AI will tell you need to collect 20 Core Fragment Ores from the core of the planet below. You can look at the Beginner's Guide (which has a link at the very top of this guide) for further information and strategy on collecting the Core Fragment Ores.

When you're ready to go, walk over to the telepad in the rear of your spaceship, aim the mouse cursor at it and press "E" or click the middle mouse button to activate it. Choose to warp down to the planet.

Congratulations, now that you're on the surface of a world it's time to put that Matter Manipulator to use. It is a multipurpose tool allowing you to chop and dig, although as expected for a beginning item it is rather slow and only affects a 2x2 area. You will want to upgrade it multiple times later on (provided with commands from your S.A.I.L. AI), but you also have the option of using pickaxes and drills for now. Be warned however, that pickaxes and drills, while having faster mining speed, cannot be repaired and have meager durability.


There is only one immediate threat you have to worry about in terms of survival, which is:

  • Health: Plant Fibre are your health bar's best friend. Harvest as many as you can and turn them into bandages, which can be turned into a prolonged life. You can also rest in a basic tent or bed to slowly replenish missing health. NOTE: There are several items that heal you, such as Red Stim Packs, Doping Kits, and almost all consumable food items.


  • Penalty: Currently there is a 30% pixel penalty for death on the lowest difficulty. This means if you have 100 Pixels and you die, you will respawn with 66 Pixels. On further difficulties, this includes dropping all ore in your inventory, and on the hardest difficulty, permanent death.
  • Spawning: There is currently no way to "set spawn-point" on a planet. When you die, you will spawn back in your spaceship and when you beam down to the planet, it will be the exact same place you beamed down to the first time.
  • Benefits: Dying will reset you fast travel you to your spaceship, allow you to experience first-hand what regeneration feels like, and keep the monsters gainfully employed.

Interacting With the World

  • Primary Interactions: Almost EVERYTHING in Starbound is done with the "E" key. Opening doors, harvesting your farm, and talking with the natives all include examples of what the "E" key does. NOTE: The middle mouse button functions EXACTLY like the "E" Key. NOTE: You can see exactly what you can and cannot interact with by pressing and holding the ALT key.
  • Gathering: You can literally gather ANYTHING you see with your Matter Manipulator. However, Pickaxes are better for digging and Axes are better for chopping. NOTE: You can chop with a pickaxe but it isn't nearly as effective as an axe.

NOTE: Vines should be harvested with an axe.

  • Aliens (Monsters): There are three types of aliens that are native fauna on any given planet.

Passive, hostile, and mini-boss aliens. Passive aliens will leave you alone unless you attack them or one of their kin. (although not always, sometimes they act independently) Hostile mobs will chase and attack you on sight, making a plethora of loud insulting noises. Mini-bosses should be self explanatory, but are much larger, have red dot particles floating off of them, have large amounts of health, hit hard and/or have special attacks, and drop an uncommon or better weapon upon defeat. The average planet will have one to two mini-bosses, rarely three or four if large enough.

  • NPCs: Unlike other games of this genre, there are tons' of NPCs in Starbound. Guards, Airship Captains, Kings and Queens, Merchants, random Hermits, and many more. Depending on the situation, these NPCs may be aggressive or passive. Some may even be excited to see you. To interact with an NPC, press the "E" key.


  • Cooking: There are two ways to cook food. Simple food like raw meat can be cooked on a campfire while more complex recipes require the ever elusive cooking table. The cooking table is called Wooden Cooking Table and can be crafted from the crafting table.
  • Clothing and Weapons: Most clothing and weapon schematics must be found throughout the universe but some can be purchased from Merchants. Clothing schematics typically require the spinning wheel and weapons schematics typically require an iron anvil or Metalworking Station.


  • Pixels: Many of you have asked: "What is a Pixel, and why is it important?"

Here is the answer: the pixel is your currency. Anything that has a cost or value in Starbound has to do with pixels. Crafting recipes, schematics, materials, or anything else a merchant sells will cost pixels. There are several ways of obtaining pixels. You can kill monsters, find them in Chests, break open "pixel cells", and "synthesize" ore into pixels via 'Refinery' (obtainable after unlocking Beta sectors). Currently you can only sell ores through the refinery. There is no way to store or trade pixels between characters.

  • Item Value and the 3D Printer: On several items you will notice a value at the bottom of the tooltip. This is the cost in pixels that is required to reproduce this item in the 3D printer. The 3D printer lets you replicate items with no resources other than pixels. However, to be able to reproduce an item, you must first destroy it (In the 3D Printer) and learn the schematic.


  • Fuel: Once you repair your ship's thrusters and hull, take note that before you can even hope to go anywhere, your spaceship requires fuel. As of the latest update, coal is no longer a ship fuel. This means your options of fuel are Liquid Erchius Fuel (which is primarily found deep inside of Moon planets), Uranium, Plutonium, and Solarium.
  • Local Planetary System Travel: Once you are fueled up and ready to go, take a seat in your captain's chair. You will be presented with a map of your local planet and any moons and other planets it has. You can travel among these using no fuel at all for a planet in your current solar system.
  • Local Star System Travel: If you want to travel outside of your local planetary system, simply right click your map. This will take you to the local star system map and show you all available planets that you can visit in your home system. As before, traveling interplanetary wise in your local star system will cost you no fuel at all.
  • Interstellar Travel: If you right click your map once more, you will be presented with the Galaxy Star Map.

You can click on any star and investigate available planets and moons in that star system. Keep in mind that the farther away a star is from you, the more fuel it will take to get there.


  • Hosting and Joining: To host a game launch the server application and make sure port 21025 TCP is forwarded to your local IP. When trying to give your IP to your friends, don't give them your local IP instead use the IP from To join a game, launch the game application, go to multiplayer, and type in the server address. (for people connecting to their local server, you may use
  • Playing Together: When your friend spawns, they will be in their spaceship, simply click on the plus sign under your avatar in the top left of your screen, type in your friend's name and invite them to your party. Your friend can now click on your avatar in the group window and instantly teleport to your spaceship! Although, it gets annoying every time you die, you beam up to their spaceship...


The base of this handy Newbies Guide to Starbound has been brought to you with permission from _Prexus_ over at reddit.

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