As I was getting ready to report to you on my latest play through of Starbound's Nightly Build, I visited the official website to see if there was any current news. Luckily, I found out that Chucklefish is finally updating the stable release of Starbound. That said, I'm going to continue with my "report," but please see the link above for more details about the new update.
First, I want to clear up something that you may not know about Starbound. The game has three different versions. If you've played Starbound before, you're definitely aware of the "stable" build. It is the stable version of the game, which means most (if not all) of the bugs have been worked out. Secondly, there is an "unstable" build. This version includes things not yet available in the stable build of the game and most likely has more bugs. Finally, there is the "nightly" build. This version of the game is the freshest version as it contains what the developers are currently working on. It is usually updated nightly, contains things not yet available in either other version of the game, and bugs are to be expected.
Months ago, I reported about the nightly build and gave some input as I decided to start playing it. In short, I'm happy to report that if you played the game before the newest update, then it's time to get back in-game! However, I intend this to be an in-depth report, so say goodbye to brevity!
When I first started playing the nightly build many months ago, I was a bit disappointed as I ran into frequent bugs and game crashes. I played through it for a while, but eventually decided to wait before playing again. I was looking forward to the new features, but decided the build was currently too buggy for pleasant game play. This time, however, has been much different. The nightly build still crashes from time to time, but I no longer run into the same serious bugs that were there before.
So, what's new? First of all, when you begin a new game and get to the character creation screen, you're going to see a new race called Novakid. This race is pretty much a space wild west kind of group. I'm not sure I've yet tried a Novakid character, but from a play through I saw on YouTube, they seem to specialize in ranged weapons, in other words guns.
Secondly, you will notice different levels of difficulty. "Casual" is probably what you're going to want to start out with. The death penalty in casual mode is 20-30% of your pixels. At one time the death penalty was a loss in pixels and you dropped the ore that you had in your current inventory. You were able to go back to the place where you died and collect your ore. That, however, seems to have changed and is most likely the death penalty for higher difficulty levels.
Once your character is created, you will spawn on your ship, but you will notice some significant changes if you've played the game before. Now, your ship is damaged and barely functional. You will have to access your ship's AI called "S.A.I.L." You will have to issue the command to reboot the ship's AI. You will also have to issue the command to enable the Matter Manipulater, and the teleporter. Once you do that, you will see you can also issue a command to repair the ship's FTL drive, but the AI will tell you that it is broken and can be repaired with 20 Core Fragments. These can be found deep down in your home planet you beam to. You're going to have to dig pretty deep to find these. *Quick note* I recently noticed that the planet you begin on does not have to be set as your home planet, it is automatically selected. If you wish to move your "home planet" to a different planet, you can do so on the star map.
At first, everything will likely look as you remember from playing the game before, if you've done so, until you dig deep enough to mine Core Fragments. You will see these red glowing ores quite easily once you've dug deep enough. Once you have these, your ship's AI will tell you that in order to travel, you're going to need fuel. It suggests going to the nearest Outpost to find Erchius Crystals. You will notice, on your local star map, an object that isn't a planet, which is an Outpost.
Once you travel to the Outpost, you will see a structure with a device. You need to stand on the platform and a bubble will show up above your head. Access the device by using the "E" button and you will then be able to select to warp to the Outpost. Outposts are a fundamental change with the game and you're going to be visiting them often. The reason for this is because there are NPCs at the Outpost, which will give you quests. You will noticed question marks or exclamation marks above the NPCs, which tell you that they have a quest for you. The first quest will be to visit a Erchius Mining Facility in order to find the crystals that you need to fuel your ship.
*Here is where the spoilers come in*
Once you start the first mission, you will be beamed to the location (via the "Missions" tab in your ship's AI) and you will not be able to beam back to your ship until you complete the mission or die. You also will not be able to use the Matter Manipulator on anything on the mission's planet. This means that you have to traverse the mission the way the developers intended. Once you arrive, you will see a metal station. It doesn't look obvious how to get in, but one of the slanted pieces of metal is a door that can be accessed by clicking on it and pressing the E key. It's a door!
Once you're inside, you'll notice it's a bit dark and some areas are inaccessible. You can activate some computer terminals (by using the E key) and turn lights on. You will have to figure out how to progress further. At one point, you're going to need to jump and climb up and over a door that won't open to get to the other side. You will then find switches that can be activated with the E key, but you'll notice that not only does this open a door, enemies will spawn in. These are "infected miners." The best way to combat these creatures is to use ranged weapons. Luckily, you may get fortunate to find some kind of gun in different storage containers. When I went through, I found some rocket and grenade launchers, which were very helpful.
Along the way, you will come across other people who will not attack you or take damage from you, but they will help you attack the new monsters. Help them out, or let them die, it's your choice. At one point, you will be in a corridor that contains closed doors and a switch. When you activate the switch, some doors will open and a new enemy will begin to attack you with a melee weapon. This new enemy is tougher than previous enemies and the best strategy for this is to keep going left, activating switches along the way that will open doors. Then you will be able to jump on some platforms and evade that enemy or attack it from a distance. You will see more people who will help you along with more storage containers and a bed that you're most likely going to need to rest in.
You will then proceed to the right, above the corridor you just came through. You will then get to a place where you will have to carefully jump down on platforms, trying not to fall to your death. Once there, you will see another switch, which will open a hatch below you, which takes you to the boss. This boss is difficult! The room that contains the boss also contains about six switches and some platforms. You have to activate all six switches and then active the final device which is below the boss. This will hit it and you will have to repeat this process two more times. In the mean time, the boss will summon "infected miners" and will use some electrical looking rays to hurt you. You will have to avoid these rays as they hurt! If you have a shield, you can try blocking the rays, but they will pretty much destroy your shield. The rays move about in a pattern, so you can avoid them. However, after activating the device a second time, the path of the rays will become more difficult to avoid.
I was not able to defeat this boss. I kept dying, so I cheated by using the /admin command, which made me invincible. Once you activate the device for the third time, the boss will die and drop something. Also, a door to the upper-right will open and you will see a large mining machine with a question mark over it. Activating it will give you the crystals you need and you will then be able to beam back to your ship.
Your ship will need fuel to visit another planetary system. Erchius liquid can be bought from a building at the Outpost that looks like a gas station. Coal is no longer a fuel source, Erchius liquid and radioactive ores are the only fuel source now. When you are able to look at your star map, you will see how the universe has changed. There are no longer sectors, but each star system has a description. These include "Eccentric," "Radioactive," "Frozen," and "Fiery." Each system contains planets with different threat levels such as "Harmless," "Mostly Harmless," and "Risky" among others. The different tiered ores you will need are contained in those various star systems with their various difficulties. This is the new universe progression. If you want some more details visit: http://www.reddit.com/r/starbound/comments/2q9h1h/how_to_nightly_tier_progression/
There are some new planet biomes, too. For instance, there are Ocean planets which are filled mostly with water and very little land. You can traverse these with a new "tech" ability, which gives you boat. In one quest from an NPC at the Outpost, you will have to go to the bottom of the ocean on one of these planets and collect some Kelp. You will be able to do this by using a new oxygen suit that you can equip at your ship's AI console. At this console, you will also see how the game's "tech" has changed. As a reward for completing some quests, NPCs will give you blank tech cards. Once you have at least one of these and access the tech via the ship's AI, you can unlock different "tech" abilities.
The game feels much more fun now with NPCs that give you quests at the Outpost. This gives you something to do and reason to explore, instead of just mining for ore to make higher-tiered armor. There are also many new items in the game.
Oh! I almost forgot one other really cool thing regarding NPC Outpost quests! After helping some NPCs, an NPC at the far right of the Outpost will give you a quest to give him something (diamonds usually) to obtain a license, which will upgrade your ship. I'm currently not sure how often you can upgrade your ship, but I've done it a few times already. Now, there is lots of space on your ship to store pretty much everything! It is cool and worth doing. While you can store items in your ship's inventory, it can get full after a while. You can use chests in your ship, but space is limited. I always put my crafting devices on my ship along with a bed. Since space was limited, I began storing items in crates on my home planet. After upgrading my ship, I moved all of that stuff back to my ship in various crates.
There are other bosses and there seems to be plenty to do. So, if you've played Starbound before, you should play it again very soon. You will notice the changes and I think you will agree with me that the game is much more fun now. I'm looking forward to new changes to the game.