Guide:Getting Started

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Work In Progress!
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This article or section is currently in the process of an expansion or major restructuring.
You are welcome to assist in its construction by editing it as well.

Last edited by Ajbloomie on 2016-08-24 05:17:25.
Starter Guide Banner.png

Welcome to Starbound! While some things may be familiar, not everything may be clear to new players. Here's a guide leading players through the first Tier, introducing the game systems and interface. Check out individual game system and interface pages for more detail on these.

Launch Menu

Steam Startup Menu.PNG

When you launch Starbound from Steam you will first get a startup menu. From here you can start up Starbound (at the default 64-bit or at 32-bit if you'd like), start a Dedicated Server or launch the Mod Uploader. So begin by launching the game version you'd like to play.

Game menu

Game mode

After opening, the game menu provides options for starting the game yourself or joining another game in progress. There's also a button to configure options, which can also be later accessed in-game. If you're looking to join a game you'll want to check options and make sure the method you want to use (Steam friends or direct IP) is activated.

  • NOTE: If using a direct IP connection it must first be configured.

Character creation

Character Creation new.png

At the select character screen, click create character to create a new character or an existing character to advance directly to the game.

The character creation window provides choice between race, gender and appearance.

  • Your race choice here will determine the appearance of the ship you'll start off with, the ship's pet and how your character will describe objects you inspect. However, any object can be acquired with enough gameplay.
  • Racial options are almost purely cosmetic. There's no impact on gameplay or limitation on acquiring other race items or objects. The exception are the Novakid who, unlike the other races, are able to craft guns and not close range weapons at the Anvil.
  • 'Personality' gives you some options for the pose your character will keep while standing still.
  • Your Shirt and Pants are given to you as items and are placed in your chest and legs item slots at the start of the game.
  • The difficulty will determine certain game altering mechanics such as Hunger and the consequences of death, and cannot be changed later in the game.

Beginning Gameplay

Welcome to your ship

After selecting a character (or completing the optional intro mission) players will appear on a ship floating over a planet. A quest window begins the game's story.

  • Your race choice will determine the appearance of your ship.
Race Ships
  • After rebooting S.A.I.L, you may beam down to the planet to begin your journey.

Ship stations

SAIL Console Blue.png
S.A.I.L., short for Ship-based Artificial Intelligence Lattice, is--unsurprisingly--the ship's artificial intelligence. The SAIL Console provides you with the opportunity to interact with this sophisticated assistant in your quest for adventure. This console will grant quests, manage missions, and provide many other capabilities to players.
  • At the beginning of the game, systems are down and require a reboot. Walk over to the SAIL console and press E to open up the console and reboot SAIL.
  • When you receive missions at other locations, the SAIL Console will hold them until you are ready to take part in them. Look for the missions tab to review all available missions.
  • When you are able to collect crew, you can manage them from the Crew tab in the SAIL console.
  • The SAIL Console becomes more useful as you progress through the game. Check back after completed story missions for access to more features!
Ship Locker.gif
The shiplocker is a storage container where players can store items on their ship. By default the shiplocker has 64 inventory slots. At the beginning of the game, it is malfunctioning and will not open. After re-initiating SAIL, you will be able to open your ship locker and retrieve some starting items, which include:

Leave the cans of food in the locker for now.

Fuel Hatch
Fuel Hatch.gif
The fuel hatch is how players can refuel their ships. It will break down raw fuel type ores to fuel which refills the ships fuel gauge and allows it to travel to other star systems. Traveling between planets in the same system does not use fuel.
  • Before being able to use this, players will have to follow the main quest line in order to unlock the Erchius Mining Facility mission.
  • Completing this mission will give the player 20 Erchius Crystals, allowing them to repair their ship's thrusters at SAIL.
  • Before you can travel to other planets, though, you must gather Liquid Erchius from a Moon and put it in your fuel tank.
  • Traveling to other star systems will deplete the fuel present in your fuel tank.
  • The fuel cost of traveling to another system increases the farther away the system is.
The teleportation pad is the way travel to and from a ship. You will beam down to the planet or object the ship is in orbit of, and when beaming back, or to another players ship, you will materialize on the teleportation pad.

From your teleportation pad, you can:

  • Teleport directly to party members (Even if they are underground).
  • Teleport to any Teleporters you have placed (two-way).
  • Teleport to any Flags you have crafted and placed (one-way to flag).

Make sure you've gotten your items out of your storage locker before beaming to the planet and that you have configured your hotbar to play.

Interface and controls

The user interface displays important information and useful buttons.

Move using the WAD keys. Crouch with the S key. Jump with the Space Bar. You can drop down through some platforms by holding crouch and then tapping jump, in that order. WARNING: Starbound uses an atypical implementation of the drop down feature. You must release both the Crouch and Jump buttons to land on a platform that allows drop-down below you. If you continue to hold Crouch, you will continue to fall through all platforms that allow drop down. This can be particularly nasty because falling damage can easily kill you. Be careful!


Item HUD.png

The hotbar is the player toolbar for weapons, tools, items, materials, and consumables. The hotbar is the primary HUD that will allow you quick access to these items in Starbound.

  • Each hotbar quickslot can be selected as active by clicking it or pressing a number 1-6.You can open a full second panel set of quickslots by pressing X, or clicking on the small white and grey squares in the upper left of the hotbar.
  • Each quickslot represents left and right hands, and some items can be assigned to individual hands, while others require both hands.
  • The center 4 slots are reserved for fixed item tools. At the beginning, the middle two slots are locked. The leftmost slot is your Matter Manipulator, and rightmost is the Scan Mode tool.
  • Items and objects can be dragged to and from the hotbar when your inventory is open.

Default Hotkeys

Hotkeys are actions and UI elements bound to keys on the players keyboard.

Hotkey Game Window Description Menu Icon
W A S D Movement Keys The A and D keys on the keyboard move the character left and right. The S key is used to crouch. While on ropes, the player can move up and down using W and S.
Space Jump The space bar allows the character to jump.
E Interact Key While cursoring over an object, the E key is to interact with it. This can be used to open chests, open doors, crafting table menus, cooking menus and other actions associated with objects.
C Crafting Screen Crafting Schematics are listed and allows access to crafting. Note that this only opens the basic crafting menu, and to craft anything else you will need to make an Inventor's Table.
Sidemenu Crafting.png
I Inventory Screen Inventory storage, armor equip screen, and character information.
Sidemenu Inventory.png
J Quest Journal List of active, completed, and failed quests and details.
Sidemenu Quests.png
L Starbound Codex List of available books, journals and documents. Sorted by race.
Sidemenu Codex.png
R Matter Manipulator Quick selects the Matter Manipulator.
T Wire Mode Quick selects Wire Mode (when unlocked). This can be used to view wires and wire together functional objects.
Y Paint Mode Quick selects Paint Mode (when unlocked). This can be used to paint placed blocks a variety of colors.
N Inspect Tool or Scan Mode Used to gain more information about an object in the world.
Alt Status Button Highlights objects the player can interact with.
X Switch hotbar Toggles the contents of the hotbar between two sets, but the currently selected slot remains unchanged.
Q Throws current item Pressing Q will throw the currently toggled item on the hotbar onto the ground. While in the inventory interface, if the player is in the process of moving an item, the item currently being moved will be thrown instead.
Z Empty hands Pressing Z will clear the current selection on the hotbar, un-equipping both hands.
Alt-Z Toggle HUD Toggles the visibility of the heads-up display.
F6 Streaming Options Brings up the options menu for configuration as well as starting/stopping Twitch streaming.
F11 Toggle Fullscreen Enables and disables fullscreen.
Arrow keys Facial emotes Changes users facial emotion for a short period of time.

First Quest

To start, head over to the SAIL Console to accept your first quest, Explore the Orbited Planet!

  • Before heading down, you will find you have the Broken Broadsword in your inventory. Open up the Shiplocker by moving near it and hovering your cursor over it and pressing E. Take out the Flashlight and the 10 Torches by dragging them to your inventory. Also inside the Shiplocker will be 4 cans of Canned Food, which you should save for now, so avoid using the "Take all" button in the Shiplocker window.
  • The Broken Broadsword is equipped in the first quickslot by default. You can change this if you wish by opening your inventory and dragging it to a different quickslot on your hotbar. Make sure that quickslot is selected, and give your weapon a couple test swings with the right and left mouse buttons!
  • Test out your Matter Manipulator by pressing R. Initially, the Matter Manipulator will act as a multi-tool, allowing you to dig, cut down trees, dislodge and collect objects (though not quite yet on your ship)! Also give the Scan Mode tool a try by pressing N. The Scan Tool will give you information about different objects, enemies, and materials in the game. Scan often, as it will help determine items for later fabrication. It also plays a major role in the main story quests!

Beam me down!

Take time to get familiar with the controls, especially toggling the sword just acquired. Once you beam down you're going to need it! When ready, head on over to the Ships's Teleporter and press E to bring up the transport window. Select "Beam Down (current orbited world), and press the "Transport" button to begin exploring your first planet!

The Planet Surface

Welcome to the surface!! Each planet in Starbound is unique, and the starting planet is randomly chosen for new characters. Let's assume that the your planet has basic resources like wood!

After beaming to the planet surface it's best to start by collecting some wood or stone to get a feel for the Matter Manipulator. Cut down trees using the Matter Manipulator to gather Wooden Logs and Saplings. If an enemy monster appears it can be dispatched by toggling to the sword and left clicking to swing at it. Make liberal use of jump. Your Broken Broadsword has a 3-strike basic attack, and a circle slash special attack. When using the special attack, keep an eye on your stamina meter--it will deplete as you swing wildly, and will need a moment to refill once exhausted. Get a feel for the refresh on both your basic and special attacks. You don't want to be caught next to an enemy with no way to strike back!

Now that you can defend yourself, explore a little of the surface, collecting materials from the surface. Be on the lookout for three different items: the campfire, crops, and plant fibre found from vines in caves. Each one will get you closer to self-sustaining existence!


Foraging for naturally growing crops will get you started on food, which is one of your primary needs depending on the Difficulty Mode you've chosen. Assuming you picked either Survival or Hardcore, you'll see a yellow bar under your heath will slowly decrease over time, and you'll need to eat to prevent starvation. If the bar ever completely empties, you will lose health every second until you die! Time to get self sufficient--let's find some food by foraging!

Take a look around for crops on the surface, like Tomatoes, Pearlpeas, or Rice:

Tomato Crop.gif

Harvest: 30 minutes

Pearlpeas Crop.gif

Harvest: 30 minutes

Rice Crop.gif

Harvest: 45 minutes

The crop will usually be fully grown and fruiting. You can collect the fruit by pressing E and leave the plant alone to grow more, or you can collect both the fruit and the plant itself by using your Matter Manipulator. If you choose the latter, you'll find the crop's product and seed in your inventory. Be warned, however! You won't be able to immediately replant the seeds just yet. Note that some plants like Wheat don't "fruit". When you press E, you'll get the whole plant and the seeds immediately in your inventory.

So what do you do when you're hungry? Eat! You can open your inventory and browse to the food section. Pick up a food item and either put it into your quick bar and use it. You can also click it in your inventory and then click once outside the inventory window. You'll eat and restore some of your hunger bar. If you fill up on food, you'll receive a short-term buff that slowly refills your health as long as you are full. You also won't be able to eat more food until the buff expires.


You can eat many veggies raw, but they don't taste very good! Once you find the campfire, you can use the Matter Manipulator to collect it. You can then place it down on the ground from your inventory. Once placed, walk near it, highlight by hovering your mouse over it, and press E. This will open a crafting menu. If you have uncooked food in your inventory, you may be able to cook up some new dishes! Rice and Pearlpeas can be cooked on the campfire to become Boiled Rice and Boiled Pearlpeas. Delicious!

Cooked food often has a larger impact on refilling your hunger meter. You can learn advanced recipes later in the game by combining multiple ingredients together. More advanced recipes also often bring varied buffs in addition to refilling your meter. Also note that each food will slowly degrade and eventually become rotten. Some foods keep longer than others, but eventually you'll want to need to find refrigeration. (Hint: Rice is a great food item to keep in your inventory. It is stackable, and keeps a long time in grain form, so only cook it when you are hungry. Take that campfire with you when you're done cooking, so you can save your stock of dried rice and cook it when you need it).

If you run out of foraged food, don't worry! You have some emergency cans in your ship locker. You can also explore the planet surface and look carefully for other plants that have edible food.

Plant Fibres

Plant Fibres are very important! As you explore the surface, you'll notice some hills and small caves. Don't go too deep, the first quest requires you to explore the surface and the dark caves can be dangerous starting out. But you should poke around in the hillsides just a little bit. Equip your Torches and place them in the caves. Torches can be mounted touching the ground, ceiling, walls, or anywhere with a material in the background. If you are in the wide outdoors or the cave shows through to a backdrop instead of background, you can place some of your collected materials in the background and then mount a torch to it. Remember to press the right mouse button when placing materials to put them in the background.

Now that you can see in the dark, take a look around and collect roots and vines that drop down from the cave roof. They will always give you much-needed plant fibers that you can use to craft your first basic item: Salves. Salves will help you heal when you are injured. Once you have collected some plant fibers, press C to bring up the crafting menu. Click "salve", set the number of salves you want to craft, and press "craft". You can equip salves just like weapons, or use them right from the inventory by clicking them and clicking outside the window. Salves will heal you a certain amount over a period of time, and you can only use one at a time, so try to be somewhere safe when you are healing. They aren't instant!

After gathering some materials it's time to make a basic structure and build your first crafting station.

A Place to Call Your Own

The next priority should be to start building some tools that will help you maintain a stable food supply. But it's hard to craft with monsters chasing you. Having a small structure will make things much easier! Before going on to build your own thing, take a quick look around from your spawn location. You never know, sometimes you get lucky and find a camp site. You'll beam back to the same starting point each time you die or come back to the planet from your ship teleporter, so it's probably easiest to build it near the place you spawn.

If you didn't immediately see a campsite near your spawn point, use the Matter Manipulator on some trees and collect a few Wooden Logs. Then press C to open the crafting menu, and craft a few pieces of Timber, a building block type.


You'll see a multiplier by the Timber menu item--x5--that's the number of Timber you will get with each single craft.

  • Hover over any menu item to see the prerequisites. It will be displayed with either a red fraction (0/2 for example) if you don't have enough, or a green fraction (150/2 for example) if you have more than enough. The first number in the fraction is your inventory count, and the second number is the required number needed to craft that menu item.

You can increase the number of crafted items in one go by changing the number dialogue to the left of the Craft button. The right arrow will increase the quantity of the material or tools your are crafting by 1 (multiplied by any multiplier listed in the menu). Pressing the left arrow will set the number to the total amount you can craft with your current inventory of prerequisite materials. You can also click in the box itself and enter a number directly.

  • After choosing the amount you want (about 100 total is a good amount to start, so complete 20 "craftings"), press the Craft button to craft the number of Timber you've selected. It will take a moment to craft them all.

Once complete, they will appear in your inventory. If your inventory is full, they will litter the ground around you. You can find them in the materials tab in your inventory. Drag these to a quickslot, activate it by pressing the quickslot's number.

  • When the desired building material is selected;
    • Left-click: Places the building block in the foreground (walls, ceilings)
    • Right-click: Places the building block in the background (background walls, windows)
  • The surface can be leveled using the Matter Manipulator if need be.

Feel free to seal yourself in and out as needed; you'll build a door very shortly!

If you'd like to build a two story building, second floors are very useful if you use the Wooden Platform block type. You can jump through wooden platforms, and drop down through them with the Crouch Jump command. Wooden Platforms do require both Timber and Plant Fibres, so take a quick delve into some surface mines if you need some more fibre. But don't go too deep yet!

  • Finish building your structure by nightfall, as monsters become more dangerous after dark!
Mining Hazard Sign.png
Work In Progress!
Mining Hazard Sign.png

This article or section is currently in the process of an expansion or major restructuring.
You are welcome to assist in its construction by editing it as well.

Last edited by Ajbloomie on 2016-08-24 05:17:25.

The crafting station

The objective of the current quest, Shop Class, is to craft a Wooden Crafting Table. This requires Wood Planks, which are crafted from the Wooden Log dropped by trees.

Materials Quantity Instructions Result
35 Click C to open the crafting menu. Then select Wooden Crafting Table.
Wooden Crafting Table.png

After crafting the table it will appear in the hotbar if there are empty spaces, and the player inventory if not. The inventory can be accessed by clicking I.


Immediately after crafting you should see a quest complete window for Shop Class, and get the window for Food Fight.

After placing the table, hover the cursor over it and click E. This will bring up a listing of recipes the station allows the player to craft. There are doors, furniture, blocks and tools that can only be crafted using the station.

Combat Basics

The current quest requires gathering Raw Steak which drops from monsters killed with a hunting style weapon. Since the only weapon available right now is a sword we'll go over some of the basics of melee combat.

As outlined above, the middle L & R buttons on the hotbar are 'quickslots' bound to X. Having a weapon there is useful, requiring only a single button click to ready your sword. Clicking X again will return to the hotbar slot previously toggled.

  • While your sword is selected, left-click your mouse to swing.
  • Your character will face the direction of the mouse cursor, allowing you to swing at enemies behind you while running
  • If you have one-handed weapons in both the L and R quickslots, you can attack using left mouse and right mouse buttons, this is especially useful for pistols.

Also, timing is critically important in combat. Timing swings and avoiding monsters attacks are the key components to surviving.

  • If you're finding combat difficult try taking on one monster at a time.

Give melee combat a little practice and then craft yourself a Hunting Bow. For this, you will need to find some Plant Fibre in addition to your Wood Planks. They are available from some trees and plants, especially Vine. If you are short of fibers, your next hunting weapon of choice is the Hunting Spear, requiring Wood planks and Cobblestone. Killing monsters with a non-hunting style weapon like a sword will not drop meat upon death, but instead will drop pixels.

  • You can use the bow by moving your mouse around the screen to aim.
  • If you are shooting at enemies far away, aim higher as the arrows drop as they do in real life.
  • You can also use CTRL + your mouse to change the camera view so that you can see further away.
  • Note that just as your Hunting Bow becomes charge, it will glow a quick instant. Releasing the arrow at this particular time will deal more damage to the target.

Practice wielding the bow and then go kill a few monsters until one drops some meat.

Monster drops

Monster drops are the items that monsters leave on the ground after they're killed. Very commonly it's pixels, the game's currency (which you'll need later for crafting). You will not receive pixels if the monster is killed with a hunting-style weapon, but instead will receive leather or meat usually. A non hunting-style weapon is able to get meat but at a lower drop rate.

Keeping Yourself Fed

After all that hard work building and fighting, you'll have probably worked up an appetite! Depending on the difficulty setting you chose at the start, you will have to eat to restore your fullness.

To gain back some of that precious yellow bar, you'll need to learn how to obtain and cook food.

Thankfully, killing monsters with Hunting weapons (like your Hunting Bow) provides an easy remedy for the problem. In all likelihood, monsters you've killed with these weapons have dropped an object that looks a bit like a pork chop. This is Raw Steak, and its an easily-acquired staple food source. You could eat it as-is, but you shouldn't! Cooking foods provides an upgraded food with additional properties:

Materials Quantity Instructions Result
With the Raw Steak in your inventory, press 'E' to interact with your Campfire, select the option in the crafting menu, and press the 'Cook' button.
Cooked Steak.png

Now you have a grilled steak carved from the body of some unspeakable extraterrestrial horror, which will refill about three hunger bars immediately. More importantly, it demonstrates your Campfire is your first, and most basic, Cooking station. Right now, cooking serves to prevent starvation only, but as you get newer and better cooking supplies, you will unlock more advanced recipes which will provide ongoing bonuses and buffs.

Keep yourself healthy

Your next quest is to create bandages.

For this you will need Plant Fibre only, which we should already have!

Materials Quantity Instructions Result
Press 'E' to interact with your Wooden Crafting Table. Then select Bandage.

Upgrading your tools

Next step is getting better tools. For this, we need a furnace.

Build a furnace

Stone tools are rather primitive and you don't have armor to protect from monsters. To craft better mining tools and equipment, the first step is to build a Stone Furnace. It requires Torches and a Campfire, you should already have torches and some Wooden Log.

Materials Quantity Instructions Result
Press 'E' to interact with your Wooden Crafting Table. Then select Campfire.

We can now craft the furnace.

Materials Quantity Instructions Result
Press 'E' to interact with your Wooden Crafting Table. Then select Stone Furnace.
Stone Furnace.gif

Crafting a Stone Furnace will complete the Out Of The Frying Pan... quest.


In Progress: More to come