Planets are the primary location of gameplay in Starbound. Almost every element of a planet is procedurally assembled by the game's engine. These elements include a planet's terrain, biomes, sub-biomes, weather, gravity, difficulty, plants, trees, and the appearance and behavior of its fauna.
When on the surface of a planet, nearby planets within the currently occupied star system can occasionally be seen. These planets' appearances are determined by their biome, size, and current distance from the player. The player can continue in one direction on a planet and appear in the position that they began in, implying that these planets are spherical. How far one would have to travel is dependent upon the planet's size. The size of a Planet not only effects their circumference, but also the distance to and thickness of the magma core. Planets come in 3 sizes, and their Moons come in 4, smaller, sizes. The smallest moon has a 2048 block circumference and the sizes of moons linearly increase up to 8192.
Every planet has unique coordinates in the navigation console. These coordinates act as seeds to the game's internal random number generator, and as such, will always produce an identical planet when used. There are 12.667 quadrillion planets able to be generated within the game currently, with 422.22 quadrillion planned.
Environmenttemperature are called the biome of the planet. While these biomes have similarity between planets (for instance Forest Biomes all have a large number of trees), they are unique in their combination of smaller elements through procedural generation.
A planet's temperature might be too cold for the player to survive. Such planets require special equipment to navigate. Similarly, there are other conditions that may make a planet dangerous, such as lack of atmosphere or a gaseous surface, which also require special tools or equipment.
The color of light on planets is determined by the color of the closest star(s). Its intensity is determined by the distance and size of the neighboring stars. The star pattern in the night sky around a planet is unique and slowly rotates in the sky. If the player returns to the same planet, the stars will be the same.
Difficulty is related to the damage that enemies do as well as their health. It may also relate to environmental conditions which require advanced tools. Planet difficulty is assigned to each sector as a number between 1 and 10. Alpha sector, where the character begins is level 1, and difficulty increases per sector. This new system replaced the previous 1-100 level system which was separated into 10 level tiers per sector, after the overhaul of the damage and armor system . In the previous system it had been stated that level 100 planets will "always be hard" no matter what gear the player has acquired, and it is unknown how this will translate to current gameplay.
Sectors are unlocked by quests, allowing free exploration of all planets in the player's current sector, but preventing them from stumbling onto any difficulty higher than they've prepared.
Monsters are uniquely generated for each biome within a planet. Monsters have levels of difficulty that correspond to the planet's location sector wise. Monsters can also have special abilities like Body Slam, Charge, etc.
- The developers stated planning to add a number of homeworld control features post release.
Players in Starbound have the ability to claim a planet as their new homeworld. Once selecting a homeworld, there are a variety of new options available. Tools to mass terraform terrain and control the weather elements are planned features. NPCs encountered in the game will populate the player's homeworld, acting as quest givers and vendors.