Starbound – Some Helpful Tips for Beginners

There are so many secrets to be found, don't let the small stuff bog you down.

Technically everyone’s a beginner at Starbound, right? With the game having only went into beta this week and a slew of changes coming on a daily basis, everyone is going to be learning new things about the game up until release.

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There are some questions brand new players always seem to have, and some things those more experienced may just not have noticed or used. Let’s get to it, and start with the most basic of questions and work our way up.

This list will be updated through the weeks as I think of more things to add (as well as images to spruce things up). I just wanted to get some info out there for those having some difficulty with the game.

How do I craft using the crafting table or cook?

The camp fire, crafting table, any other crafting furniture, and particular items you find on your travels can be activated or used by pressing ‘E’. Alternatively, you can also middle-click on items to interact with them.

You can hold ‘Alt’ to see everything you can interact with in your area, and it will also show your hunger at the bottom of the screen. You can hold ‘Ctrl’ and the arrow keys to have a look at your surroundings.

What’s the point of those two middle icons on my hotbar?

These are your main and off-hand items, which can be switched between using the ‘Z’ key. You can switch to whatever is in your main hand by using the ‘X’ key.

Hold shift to mine or place a single block and pick up half a stack of items using right-click.

Only want to smelt half your supply of iron? Pick up half of your stack using right-click. You can also drop items for other players to pick up using ‘Q’.

You can press F1 to hide your UI.

For those screenshot-inclined.

You can interact with the background using the right mouse button.

If you would like to dig out the back of a cavern for some free light underground or are trying to place a backdrop to your base, click using the right mouse button instead of the left.

More things give you heat than a campfire.

You may be surprised at the amount of items that put off heat. Always try to keep a camp fire on hand, but torches and even some furniture can warm you up.

Additionally, some armors provide protection from the cold. Leather armor is the earliest available option, which you can make using the yarn spinner.

Not all beds are equal.

Who would have thought, that prison bed I stole from a dungeon heals me much more slowly than an Avian sacrificial table? Use any bed you can at the start, but keep an eye out for other options that may heal you faster.

Beds are not your only healing option!

Beds are useful during downtime, but what about mid-combat? It’s time for you to make some bandages! Bandages can be made using the crafting table and 4 plant fibres. These items are your best friends, especially with the game’s difficulty having been ramped up this patch.

There are items you will find on your adventures to heal you as well. Medical kits, red stim packs, and other items can be found on the field to heal you.

Unrefined wood can be smelted into coal.

Finding coal difficult to come across? Unrefined wood can now be popped into the forge to produce coal. 10 pieces of unrefined wood = 1 piece of coal.

New item recipes can be found in a variety of ways.

Find yourself a bit disappointed over the small number of default recipes provided by crafting stations? You can find new recipes in chests, in select vendors, from unlocking new crafting stations, and by simply finding the primary materials for certain recipes.

Something interesting to note here is that if you are in a particular type of biome (tar, toxic, flesh stalks, etc.) you are likely to find blueprints for furniture that uses the surrounding materials.

Skip the respawn cutscene.

As much as I like watching my Hylotl go from a tadpole to a full-grown fishman, I like playing the game more. Press ‘Escape’ to skip the respawn cutscene.

Always rush a pickaxe on a new character.

The first step of this is making a stone pickaxe using the crafting table (check your table for the required materials since everything is being updated). This is much better than the matter manipulator, but you can make an even better one, the copper pickaxe, using the anvil and some copper. Further upgrades are available as you progress.

There is currently no way to sell items in Starbound, but the refinery can break ore down to pixels.

It’s a bummer that for now there is no way to sell the items you find, but the refinery (which becomes available sometime after you create the metalwork station) can be used to break ores down into pixels. Useful!

The hunting bow can be upgraded.

Everyone hates the default hunting bow, and for good reason. Did you know you can upgrade it using the anvil and 10 iron ore? The iron hunting bow is significantly stronger than the default and worth the upgrade. Further upgrades are similarly strong.

The 3D printer is the decorator’s best friend.

The 3D printer on your ship can be used to copy items, most of which being decorative. If you find a neat widget you’d like to use to decorate your base, pop it in the 3D printer and get as many as you need.

Two things to note about this are that the original item will be destroyed, and printing is not free. The number you see displayed at the bottom of an item’s description is how much it will cost to scan. It will cost more to print.

Guns can most easily be found on pirate ships.

Ever found an anchor on a world and wanted to climb up? The Avian pirate ship you find in the sky holds an NPC, the ship’s quartermaster, who sells an array of guns based on the world’s level. This is the quickest and easiest way to acquire guns, provided you can find this rare type of camp.

Matter blocks can be found by using the reactor within a particular dungeon.

There is a large high-tech underground facility-style dungeon in which there is a reactor. Use it, and it will spew out some matter blocks (but do a great deal of damage to you in the process). These are used for powerful armors.

You can farm vegetables if you don’t want to/can’t kill monsters for meat.

You can kill monsters using particular weapons in order to get leather or meat off of them, but what if RNG is not being kind to you? No vendors to be found selling meat either? I guess it’s time to farm!

Farming requires that you have a stone hoe, which can be made using the crafting table. Find yourself a plot of land, till it, and plant those seeds! In approximately 11 minutes you will have grown yourself some delicious food.

One thing to note is that you can place dirt blocks in your ship and farm your vegetables there for easy access.

Your character should have a few recipes learned by default for cooking, which can improve the usefulness of farmed foods.

Something else to note is that you can pick fruits and vegetables (and their seeds) using ‘E’/middle mouse button instead of beating your plants with a pickaxe and killing them.

Techs give you special abilities, but are rare.

The techs option found on the same console as 3D printing can be used to give yourself special abilities such as double jumping, gliding, equipping a mech, and turning into a morphball. This all said, you must find the techs before you can equip them using the console and they are incredibly difficult to find.

Racial armor allows you a special ability.

Racial armor is not what you start with in Starbound, but rather a special upgrade from the copper armor set. These can be crafted using the anvil and currently full sets of this armor provide the following bonuses:

  • Apex: Character can jump higher.
  • Avian: Character can glide.
  • Floran: Sunlight is converted into energy.
  • Glitch: Character can mine faster.
  • Human: Additional inventory space.
  • Hylotl: Character can swim faster and breathe underwater.

Do note these are subject to change. You can occasionally buy the blueprints for other races’ armors from racial vendors in towns. (After some testing, racial abilities have yet to be implemented!)

Repair your tools using ore!

Worried your tools will fall into disrepair? Left click a tool’s corresponding ore in your inventory, then left-click the tool you are trying to repair. You can use other types of ore than that the tool is made of, though the amount that is repaired varies. Not that you cannot use iron ore to repair tools.

You will uncover more types of planets.

After you have beaten the UFO, you will be able to unlock more types of planets. I won’t spoil the varieties or how to do so, because half the fun is the mystery.

Hopefully this helps you get your space adventure started off right! Check out the rest of our Starbound guides for more tips and tricks to help you through this galactic game:

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Ashley Shankle
Ashley's been with GameSkinny since the start, and is a certified loot goblin. Has a crippling Darktide problem, 500 hours on only Ogryn (hidden level over 300). Currently playing Darktide, GTFO, RoRR, Palworld, and Immortal Life.