Tier

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The Tier system is the fundamental order of player progression in Starbound.

Though it is never directly communicated to the player in-game, tiers dictate how difficult a play area's monsters and enemy NPCs are to deal with, what biomes and ores are available, the strength of found or crafted weapons and armor, merchant stock and treasure generation in an area, and much more.

In a nutshell, the player starts at tier 1 with precious little, and must acquire tier 1 gear in order to successfully survive the areas available to them. Eventually they will unlock access to the next tier and the process starts over again, exploring new areas and acquiring stronger gear to survive more difficult areas.

Tiers and NPCs

One important factor in the tier system is how it affects NPCs, both friendly and hostile. This is largely dictated by where the NPC is spawned, but there are a few exceptions.

For NPCs, the tier of the area they are spawned in dictates their health, damage output, and armor class. This holds true for any NPC, regardless of whether they are friendly or hostile toward the player. Basically, the higher the area's tier, the tougher its population is in a fight, just as with monsters. In a few cases, such as with outlaws and glitch evil fortress lords, the NPC may have a slightly higher tier than the planet on which they spawned. This is most pronounced with NPC village guards (those naturally occurring in initially-friendly villages, not guard tenants) which are three levels above the planet on which they spawned.

Merchant stock is dictated by the spawn location's tier, whether they be permanent residents, temporary merchants summoned by a quest, or summoned by the player as a tenant via colony deed. Any procedurally-generated weapons or armor the merchant carries will be at their location's tier.

Location tiers also affect tenant rents. The higher the tier, the larger the amount of pixels the tenant will pay out. If the tenant pays with a procedurally-generated weapon, it will be at the planet's tier.

Ally NPCs (crew, pets, and guard tenants) do not use spawn locations for their stats. Crew and pets have a baseline stat set (effectively tier 1) that is then multiplied by the player's currently-equipped armor tier, regardless of the tier of planet from which they were hired or captured. Because of this, the player can keep their preferred crew and pets as they proceed through the game and they will grow in strength with the player, though both will always be considerably weaker than the player.

Guard tenants have their stats dictated solely by the tags of the objects in their room when a colony deed is placed. "Generic" player-race tenant guards get their stats by having enough objects crafted from tiered ores in their room, from iron (tier 1) to durasteel (tier 4). "Themed" tenant guards, such as the fenerox or Rainbow Rogues, have a single permanently-set tier. No guard tenant can be stronger than tier 4. As with crew, their base stats are generally weaker than the player's.

Tier Levels

The game is currently split into nine tiers. The overwhelming majority of its content falls under the first six, with a small amount of "endgame" content at higher tiers.

Tier 1


The starting tier for any new player character. Starting with a broken broadsword and little else, the player must accomplish a large number of tasks to reach tier 2. Ironically, tier 1 has the largest number of hurdles that must be cleared in the entire game, but doing so introduces the player to most of the core gameplay systems, preparing them for most situations they will encounter going forward before vastly opening up their options for how to proceed.

Locations
Garden planets are only found orbiting gentle stars. Barren planets, asteroid fields, and moons can be found in any star system, but are always low-to-no-threat areas.
Moons are tier 1 environments theoretically, but not practically. Moons are airless environments that cannot be explored at length without an EPP or a mech, the former of which cannot be crafted without tungsten, a tier 2 ore, and the latter of which is only be obtained after the player has entered tier 2. Furthermore, the only enemy found on moons is "intractably deadly".
Like moons, asteroid fields are only theoretically tier 1 environments. The player cannot beam into an asteroid field at all without a mech. However, unlike moons, the only enemies found in asteroid fields are tier 1.
All player ships are considered tier 1 areas, regardless of upgrade status, thus merchant tenants there will only carry tier 1 gear. All friendly space encounters use this tier for food spawning purposes, regardless of the star they orbit.
Player Gear
Iron Bar Icon.png

Most tier 1 craftable player gear is created at any anvil, forge or replicator, and requires iron bars. Iron ore is only found on "Low" and "Moderate" threat level planets, and must be converted to bars at a furnace.

Tier 1 Weapons
Tier 1 Armor

Defector's Mask Icon.png Defector's Set
Hatchling's Circlet Icon.png Hatchling's Set

Sprout's Circlet Icon.png Sprout's Set
Knave's Helm Icon.png Knave's Set

Scouter's Visor Icon.png Scouter's Set
Puddle Hat Icon.png Puddle Set

Deputy's Hat Icon.png Deputy's Set
Mercenary's Helm Icon.png Mercenary's Set

The Zephyr Spark Launcher is a tier 1 weapon, but is not available for purchase until the player unlocks Treasured Trophies at the outpost later in the game.
Iron is also an ingredient in several objects, some of which are vital to progression, and some simply for making life easier.


Quests & Missions
Though the player must complete the Erchius Mining Facility mission to reach tier 2 proper, it is a tier 2 difficulty area that the player must survive with only tier 1 gear. There's little to be done to mitigate this other than to proceed with caution and carry a lot of healing items.


Tier 2


The Erchius Mining Facility mission marks the transition between tier 1 and tier 2. Completing that mission allows the player to complete the "Become Space-worthy" quest, which finally gets the player's ship capable of traveling between planets and the stars, starting tier 2 in earnest. At this point the game abandons the fairly linear progression and allows the player to advance at their own pace, and even take risky shortcuts to jump up a few tiers in a short amount of time.

This tier is also where the mech combat and exploration branch of the game starts once the player has acquired a functional mech from Dr. Akaggy. Once the player has acquired a mech, a career in the Peacekeepers becomes available.

Locations
Tier 2 planets are generally found around gentle and temperate stars, though they can also be found in radioactive and frozen systems.


Player Gear
Tungsten Bar Icon.png

Most common tier 2 player gear is crafted at any anvil, forge or replicator, and requires tungsten bars. Tungsten ore is only found on "Moderate" and "Risky" threat level planets, and must be converted to bars at a furnace. Other weapons are found as random treasure in storage objects, plus one very rare boss drop.

Tier 2 Weapons
Tier 2 Armor

Rebel's Hood Icon.pngRebel's Set
Sparrow Helm Icon.pngSparrow Set
Bonesmith's Skullhat Icon.pngBonesmith's Set

Soldier's Helm Icon.pngSoldier's Set
Scavenger's Helmet Icon.pngScavenger's Set
Pond Helm Icon.pngPond Set

Bandit Hat Icon.pngBandit Set
Combat Medic Helmet Icon.pngCombat Medic Set

Silver Helmet Icon.pngSilver Set
Tracker's Helm Icon.pngTracker's Set

Tungsten is also an ingredient in several objects, both vital to progression and simply for making life easier.


Quests & Missions
It is at this point that the search for the artifacts begins. Each of the ten quests in this hunt must be fulfilled in a specific order (starting with "Find Clues to Locate the Floran Artifact") and are at increasingly difficult tiers. It should be noted that beating these missions is not required to progress to higher-tier equipment and planets, which means they can be put off as long as the player chooses, and possibly handled with equipment that far exceeds each mission's difficulty. Alternatively, the player can choose to ignore the storyline altogether, as it is entirely optional and the majority of the game's content is still available outside of it. It is recommended to complete the storyline at least once, in order for the outpost to be fully unlocked for future characters.
Dr. Akaggy's mech quest line, starting with "Test Drive", opens up in tier 2, but the last two quests in that series are higher difficulty tiers best tackled with far better gear than what is available when they're first opened.

Tier 3


The jump from tier 2 to tier 3 is a very simple one, as it is mainly focused on the acquisition of titanium ore, found on a new set of planets without any unusual environmental hazards, and using it to upgrade gear and crafting stations.

Locations
Tier 3 planets are generally found around temperate and radioactive stars, though they can also be found around frozen and fiery stars. The low-threat enemy ships and space encounters can be found around gentle and temperate stars.
Player Gear
Titanium Bar Icon.png

Most common tier 3 player gear is crafted at a forge or replicator, and requires titanium bars. Titanium ore is only found on "Risky" and "Dangerous" threat level planets, and must be converted to bars at an industrial furnace or atomic furnace. Other weapons are found as random treasure in storage objects, plus one very rare boss drop. If you become a peacekeeper, you can also purchase Neo Magnums at this stage.

Tier 3 Weapons
Tier 3 Armor

Insurgent's Mask Icon.pngInsurgent's Set
Quail Crest Icon.pngQuail Set
Nomad's Crown Icon.pngNomad's Set

Knight's Helm Icon.pngKnight's Set
Pioneer's Helm Icon.pngPioneer's Set

River Helm Icon.pngRiver Set
Outlaw Hat Icon.pngOutlaw Set

Gold Helmet Icon.pngGold Set
Voyager's Helm Icon.pngVoyager's Set

Titanium is also an ingredient in several objects, both vital to progression and simply for making life easier.


Quests & Missions


Tier 4


The transition to tier 4 starts with the creation of a radiation EPP, allowing the player to survive the deadly radiation that covers tier 4 planets. This gives the player access to durasteel ore, which is used to create and upgrade a massive number of crafting stations and new tools, to the point where this can be considered the major turning point in progression.

This is also the strongest tier of tenant guard NPC that can be summoned with a colony deed.

Locations
Tier 4 planets are generally found around radioactive and frozen stars, though they are also rarely found around fiery stars. All of them require the player to wear a radiation EPP, or else the deadly radiation will limit the player's health. Mechs deployed on these planets will experience increased energy drain unless their bodies are made from durasteel or higher tier metals.
Moderate-threat enemy ships and space encounters can be found around radioactive stars, but do not require a radiation EPP for survival. These areas are the sources of salvaged proton limiters and advanced mech blueprints needed for crafting stronger mechs.
Player Gear
Durasteel Bar Icon.png

Craftable tier 4 player gear is made at a replicator, and requires durasteel bars. Durasteel ore is only found on "Dangerous" and "Extreme" threat level planets, and must be converted to bars at an industrial furnace or atomic furnace. The majority of unique weapons at this level are found as random treasure in storage objects. Also, from here on, the Neo Magnum can be upgraded every time your Peacekeeper rank increases. Rank 2 gets the Neo Magnum-E78.


Tier 4 Weapons
Tier 4 Armor

Revolutionary's Bandana Icon.pngRevolutionary's Set
Owl Helm Icon.pngOwl Set
Hunter's Hood Icon.pngHunter's Set

Dark Knight's Helm Icon.pngDark Knight's Set
Outrider's Helm Icon.pngOutrider's Set

Lake Helm Icon.pngLake Set
Sheriff's Hat Icon.pngSherrif's Set

Explorer's Chestpiece Icon.pngExplorer's Set
Pathfinder's Helm Icon.pngPathfinder's Set

Durasteel is also an ingredient in a large number of objects, both vital to progression and simply for making life easier. It is required to bring most crafting stations to their full potential.


Quests & Missions
Completing "Fetch the Hylotl Artifact" allows Ursa Miner to sell durasteel bars, plus brings Treasured Trophies to the outpost, allowing one to begin trading for perfectly generic items to use in crafting the Perfect Set. Completing "Koichi's Request" starts a string of object-fetch quests which both offer a reliable means of obtaining augments and culminate with the reward of Hokucide.

Tier 5


The transition to tier 5 starts with the creation of a heating EPP, allowing the player to survive the deadly chill that covers tier 5 planets. This gives the player access to three new ores: aegisalt ore, violium ore, and ferozium ore.

Locations
Tier 5 planets are found around frozen and fiery stars. All of them require the player to wear a heating EPP, or else the deadly chill will quickly begin to sap the player's energy and health. Mechs deployed on these planets will experience increased energy drain unless their bodies are made from violium or solarium.
Dangerous-threat enemy ships and space encounters can be found around frozen stars, but do not require a heating EPP for survival. These areas are the sources of salvaged nano receptacles and high tech mech blueprints needed for crafting stronger mechs.
Player Gear
Where the prior ores were a straightforward progression of stat increases across the board, the three new ores in tier 5 are used to create different sets of gear whose stats are specifically balanced to emphasize different strengths, emphasizing different play styles. All three ores are found in roughly equal amounts on "Dangerous" and "Extreme" threat level planets, and must be refined in an atomic furnace to be used in crafting. Despite their emphasis on particular play styles, there is nothing preventing the player from "mixing and matching", for example, using a violium shortsword and an aegisalt pistol while wearing ferozium armor for a high DPS build that balances both melee and ranged combat.
Refined Aegisalt Icon.png

Refined aegisalt is used to create and work at an accelerator's table, creating gear that boosts the player's maximum energy, making it ideal for users of energy-consuming ranged weapons.

Refined Ferozium Icon.png

Refined ferozium is used to create and work at a manipulator's table, creating gear that boosts the player's damage bonus, making it ideal for users of ranged weapons that have high DPS, such as wands, staves, and thrown weapons.

Refined Violium Icon.png

Refined violium is used to create and work at an separator's table, creating gear that boosts the player's maximum health, making it ideal for absorbing more damage in close-range melee combat.

The majority of unique weapons at this level are crafted by upgrading basic tier 2 unique weapons with blueprints found randomly in storage objects, or at Biggy's Reputable Weaponry at the outpost. A rank 3 peacekeeper gains access to the Neo Magnum-RX.
Tier 5 Weapons
Tier 5 Armor

Rogue's Hood Icon.pngRogue's Set
Spy's Hood Icon.pngSpy's Set
Assassin's Mask Icon.pngAssassin's Set
Peacock Headdress Icon.pngPeacock Set
Flamingo Headdress Icon.pngFlamingo Set
Phoenix Helm Icon.pngPhoenix Set

Wiseman's Thinking Hat Icon.pngWiseman's Set
Cannibal's Mask Icon.pngCannibal's Set
Gatherer's Helm Icon.pngGatherer's Set
Crusader's Helm Icon.pngCrusader's Set
Lancer's Helm Icon.pngLancer's Set
Paladin's Helm Icon.pngPaladin's Set

Vanguard's Helm Icon.pngVanguard's Set
Trailblazer's Helm Icon.pngTrailblazer's Set
Adventurer's Helm Icon.pngAdventurer's Set
Sea Hat Icon.pngSea Set
Reef Helm Icon.pngReef Set
Ocean Helm Icon.pngOcean Set

Bandito's Sombrero Icon.pngBandito's Set
Bonesaw's Hat Icon.pngBonesaw's Set
Varmint's Hat Icon.pngVarmint's Set
Camo Helmet Icon.pngCamo Set

Aegisalt, ferozium and violium are also ingredients in a number of objects, both vital to progression and simply for making life easier.


Quests & Missions
Completing the "Fetch the Avian Artifact" allows Ursa Miner to sell refined aegisalt, ferozium and violium. It also opens up the "Arena of Fire" quest, but that is a tier 6 fight.

Tier 6


The transition to tier 6 starts with the creation of a cooling EPP, allowing the player to survive the deadly heat that covers tier 6 planets. This gives the player access to the final tier of crafting ore, solarium ore. Player progression largely stops here, as no armor is stronger than tier 6, only a few locations and unique weapons fall under higher tiers, and procedurally-generated weapon drops at higher tiers are exceedingly rare.

Locations
Tier 6 Planets are found only around fiery stars. All of them require the player to wear a cooling EPP, or else the deadly heat will quickly begin to sap the player's health. Mechs deployed on these planets will experience increased energy drain unless their bodies are made from solarium.
Extreme-threat enemy ships and space encounters can be found around fiery stars, but do not require a cooling EPP for survival. These areas are the sources of experimental mech blueprints needed for crafting the strongest mechs.


Player Gear
Solarium Star Icon.png

Craftable tier 6 player gear is made at an accelerator's table, manipulator's table, or separator's table, and requires solarium stars. Solarium ore is only found on "Inconceivable" threat level planets, and must be converted to stars at an atomic furnace. The majority of unique weapons at this level are found as random treasure in storage objects. Top ranked peacekeepers can access the final Neo Magnum-ZZZ upgrade.

Weapon upgrade anvils found within ancient vaults have the ability to raise any legendary unique weapon up to tier 6 strength. (Tier 6 or stronger weapons cannot be upgraded).
Tier 6 Weapons
Tier 6 Armor

Infiltrator's Helm Icon.pngInfiltrator's Set
Usurper's Hood Icon.pngUsurper's Set
Frontliner's Helm Icon.pngFrontliner's Set
Macaw Headdress Icon.pngMacaw Set
Raven's Beak Icon.pngRaven's Set
Toucan Helm Icon.pngToucan Set

Sentinel's Helm Icon.pngSentinel's Set
Shaman's Mask Icon.pngShaman's Set
Synthesizer's Helm Icon.pngSynthesizer's Set
Legionnaire's Helm Icon.pngLegionnaire's Set
Templar's Helm Icon.pngTemplar's Set
Doom Lord's Helm Icon.pngDoom Lord's Set

Seeker's Helmet Icon.pngSeeker's Set
Wanderer's Helmet Icon.pngWanderer's Set
Universalist's Helm Icon.pngUniversalist's Set
Euphotic Helm Icon.pngEuphotic Set
Aphotic Fin Icon.pngAphotic Set
Disphotic Helm Icon.pngDisphotic Set

Gambler's Hat Icon.pngGambler's Set
Clockwork Hat Icon.pngClockwork Set
Wrangler's Hat Icon.pngWrangler's Set
Mysterious Helmet Icon.pngMysterious Set
Perfect Helm Icon.pngPerfect Set


Quests & Missions
Completing the "Fetch the Apex Artifact" allows Ursa Miner to sell solarium stars.


Tier 7


Currently, very few tier 7 assets exist.

Only two unique weapons are tier 7: the Protector's Broadsword and the Lazercaster. The Protector's Broadsword is endgame content, but the Lazercaster can be obtained at a rank 3 Peacekeeper Store in mid-to-late game.

Tier 7 Weapons

It is possible, although rare, to obtain procedurally-generated weapon drops at tier 7. Village guard NPCs (those that naturally occur in NPC villages, not tenant guards) are three levels higher than the world into which they spawn, and have a 1% chance of dropping a procedurally-generated weapon on their death, which means that on a tier 4 world, a village guard might drop a random tier 7 weapon. Glitch evil fortress lords are one level above the world on which they spawn, and have a 5% chance of dropping a procedurally-generated weapon on their death, which means that on a tier 6 world, they might drop random tier 7 weapon.

The ancient guardian boss of an ancient vault (and any minions it may summon) is a tier 7 enemy.

Tier 8


Only ancient vault encounters exist at tier 8, making the common monsters dwelling within them the most powerful non-boss enemies in the game. Note that the ancient guardian boss at the end of each vault is only a tier 7 enemy, but since nearly all gear maxes out at tier 6, this is a small consolation.

Village guard NPCs (those that naturally occur in NPC villages, not tenant guards) are three levels higher than the world into which they spawn, and have a 1% chance of dropping a procedurally-generated weapon on their death, which means that on a tier 5 world, a village guard might drop a random tier 8 weapon. This is currently the only way to obtain such a powerful weapon without resorting to admin commands or mods.

Tier 9


Village guard NPCs (those that naturally occur in NPC villages, not tenant guards) are three levels higher than the world into which they spawn, and have a 1% chance of dropping a procedurally-generated weapon on their death, which means that on a tier 6 world, a village guard might drop a random tier 9 weapon. This is currently the only way to obtain such a powerful weapon without resorting to admin commands or mods.

Beta development

In early builds of Starbound, there were 10 tiers of gear/difficulty in a straightforward progression.

The player would start the game orbiting a random planet in Sector Alpha, a tier 1 universe. Progression to the next tier involved assembling a specific item that summoned a boss (in Sector Alpha's case, Dreadwing) when activated. Defeating the boss opened up the next sector, a different universe with a higher difficulty tier, stronger ores, and, depending on the sector, new environments, where the process would repeat with a different boss and activation item. Players could jump from sector to sector without burning fuel once they were unlocked in order to re-stock lower-tier ores if needed.

This pattern followed for the first four tiers (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta), but with the defeat of the Delta boss (Jelly Boss), "Sector X" opened up, which was much closer to the way the universe is laid out in the final game. In this sector, planets could be from any of the last six tiers, with their respective ores. A quick player could jump from tier 4 to tier 10 gear simply by warping onto a tier 10 planet as soon as they entered Sector X, skimming some ore before the high-powered monsters could get to them, and warping back to the ship to craft the gear. Sector X had no boss to defeat.

Procedurally-generated weapons also appeared up through tier 10. Unique weapons could also appear at any tier, which made tier 10 versions of the weapons incredibly powerful.