Why I’m excited about Starbound

Starbound • PC • Release: Mid-Late 2013


After nearly a year of screenshots and development updates, this week Chucklefish unveiled their pre-orders for the upcoming Starbound. Following this year’s high-profile flops which have led to a wariness of pre-ordering titles throughout the gaming community, including from myself – will the title be as advertised? Will all features work or will they have to be trimmed down to allow the server to breathe or just ‘because’? Can it live up to the hype and price tag? So right now I feel a bit hypocritical given I’ve decided to pre-order Starbound – let me try to explain why:

1) This is probably as close as there’ll be to a Terraria 2
As you may be aware, us lot at GNS got quite into Terraria earlier this year – 56 hours appeared on my playtime out of pretty much nowhere – and while there’s a new update in the pipeline to breathe new life into the game due around May, it’s unlikely we’ll see a sequel any time soon. This is where Starbound comes in. The guy behind the game Finn “Tiy” Brice was a graphical designer for Terraria who left Re-Logic in order to create Chucklefish and gather a team to create Starbound. This is, in many ways, a spiritual successor to Terraria (as you can see from the art style – 2D sprites, mining in procedurally generated blocky worlds) but in space, but there is also a whole lot extra under the surface too.

This is (part of) the magnificent base we made

2) Massive universes
The scope for Starbound looks to be absolutely barnstorming. When you start a game, a whole universe will be created filled with hundreds of separate planets each with their own biomes and sub-biomes. Some will be large, some will be small but overall the whole thing is going to be absolutely massive. You travel to each of these worlds through spaceship, your main game hub, but you can do whatever you desire to these planets, including being able to excavate, terraform and even change their weather. Each of the procedurally generated planets has a 100-tiered level system relating to type of world and difficulty of inhabitants distributed randomly across the universe. Make no mistake, this game is huge. There’s also a story to the game which can be played solo or, as encouraged, through co-op, something that certainly has the potential to add to the experience but most importantly is completely optional.

3) Open development
I think this is one of the big swing factors for me. Being an indie developer, it’s obviously a lot easier to give the customer updates on how the game is going, whether it’s through twitter, reddit or other social media. However, it’s nice to see Chucklefish going even further than that, showing us all how far along they are in each sector of each major element of their game, updating regularly and including what works and doesn’t for each item. It’s quite an excellent way to see the game built.

The game really does look very nice, even in the rain

4) The score is amazing
One of the things that really ground down on all of us during Terraria was the music. It was lovely, but it was ridiculously repetitive, getting to a stage where the sound just had to be turned off. Starbound won’t have that problem it seems as the soundtrack is massive. Now, I did get this on the pre-order and through blind faith but I can happily say that any fears that may have rested within have been quashed. There are hours upon hours of sounds to accompany you through your adventure, whether exploring or just relaxing and vaied enough that you won’t want to strangle your headphones for playing you the same looped track 17 times in a row.

Of course, the game may not live up to the hype I’m pouring onto it (apart from the soundtrack, I’m 100% on that) and it may not be perfect, but in my mind it’s got enough going for it to warrant a pre-order. Having a kickstarter-style rewards system is certainly the way to go and if I had the money I’d probably opt to have my name among one of the thousands of NPCs – as it stands I’ll stick with the soundtrack, beta and game as standard – and I’m confident that this will be enough of a success to justify my investment.

Sometimes it’s worth taking a risk, just so long as you know what you’re getting yourself into.

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