As I anticipated at the time I wrote my Ten Thoughts piece on the Starbound Beta, Chucklefish wasn’t far from releasing a new update to the beta build. Dubbed “Furious Koala,” the build changes a fairly decent bit of the content in the game and patches a bunch of issues that existed in the game, and if you’re interested in a full log of the changes made (for those who are playing) you can check that out right here. For those who were generally interested in the game but didn’t want to jump into the beta just yet, due to the unstable nature of the product, here are the high points:
The beta has seen “Absolutely massive changes to disk serialization,” which means, for those who were waiting on this change, Chucklefish won’t need to wipe characters and ships when they update the game. Now, obviously there’s always the possibility that they may still encounter a situation where a wipe is required, and they aren’t certain they won’t need to wipe the planetary system from time to time, but for the most part this is a huge improvement that should give players who were on the fence about jumping into the game a big reason to consider getting into it now.
The game now offers multiple difficulty levels, including the “drop every freaking thing you have” feature and character permadeath; while the game can honestly be rough enough that I don’t know that I’d want to take advantage of this thing per say, it’s a nice addition for those who found the core game a little too easy at times, and should give players plenty of ways to challenge themselves.
The game now forces PVP when you jump into X Sector worlds, so for those who are on large servers you’ll need to watch out at higher tiers of play. On the other hand, people in parties can’t inflict team damage to one another, so for smaller servers or locally connected players, you can make a party if you want to explore Sector X worlds without fear of being smeared by your friends.
A bunch of new content has been added to the game, including a new planetary biome (Savannah), new chests and furniture, new techs, new monster attack types, new weapons, and lore drops when bosses are killed. Bosses now also drop multiple crafting items on defeat so you can now make multiple robotic crafting tables, for example, though the bosses that drop items that are only needed to make circuitry upgrades probably didn’t need this. For the most part, I’ve actually seen a bunch of new content, including crystal objects and crafting options, enemy attacks that push you back with wind gusts or levitate you, and more, though how much of that is “new” and how much might be stuff I missed the first time out is uncertain. I also took a trip to a Savannah planet, and for the most part it seems like a dirt-filled version of a desert planet, IE, minimal plant life, lots of dirt, that sort of thing. The biome doesn’t seem to have anything terribly unique to it, and is described on the Starbound wiki as being similar to the Arid biome, but it’s entirely likely that there are all sorts of novelties related to the biome that simply haven’t been seen yet, so we’ll see how that plays out.
There are also some mechanical and aesthetic changes to the game, including visual changes to existing armor types that make them look more interesting, persistent player drops (so items won’t disappear into the void when dropped), new animations for bandage usage and such, and drops for many of the enemies have been modified. Some combat mechanics have been changed, so that sword effects and cooldowns are a little more meaningful, and some weapons have been retuned a bit to change their damage output around. The most obvious change here is that sentient alien races drop their weapons on death more readily, meaning that raiding a USCM base or a pirate ship is likely to yield guns for you to collect, which is absolutely awesome from a “I want guns but don’t want to pay for them” perspective, and it makes guns a bit more readily available in general. Beyond that, most of these changes are purely aesthetic, and while they are nice (especially in the armor modifications) they don’t change anything mechanically so you don’t need to worry about that so much.
Finally, from personal observations, I’ve noticed a couple things while playing that bear mentioning. For one thing, while this may be observational bias and selective memory issues, it seems some of the expenses to create objects have been rebalanced a bit, as it came across as being more challenging to acquire some of the top tier gear in my second go-round, though, again, this may be on my end. For another (more important) thing, several people have noted a glitch when attempting to travel to volcanic/magma worlds where the ship basically gets stuck in FTL travel forever. What will be involved in repairing this and how it might affect the existing build remains to be seen, but hopefully that will be patched soon with minimal world deletion involved.
As of this point though, it looks like we may be coming to the end of the first phase of the beta process, given that we’re at the point where character and ship deletion should be minimal going forward, though how much longer it will be for the rest of the functional framework to be introduced is anyone’s guess. Still, if you were looking to try out Starbound but the whole “losing all your progress every time an update comes out” thing was putting you off, now might be a good time to check it out. We’ll keep an eye on the game as further developments progress and let you know how things are coming.