Do you like the voxel building aspects of Minecraft? Do you like the endlessness of space? Do you like to play great games for free? Well then, I may have just found the perfect game for you!
There is no way to explain Starmade without at least saying ‘mining’ once. This game is basically Minecraft in space. You start off next to a shop with basic supplies and a little bit of money then you have to build yourself a space ship. From then on you have to go out and find yourself ways of making money. This can ether be through mining different planets with different biomes or asteroids suspended in space, scavenging unused and randomly spawned space stations or through fighting off hordes of space pirates and taking their loot.
Your spaceship can look however you want it to look. There will be some of you out there making your sci-fi dreams come true by building and piloting the Millenium Falcon or the USS Enterprise or there will always be the strange community of people who want other dreams to come true by building and piloting a giant penis. I’m not here to judge so when I say you can build anything, I mean you can literally build anything! Your concern is supplies and credit. Most shops will have less then 100 of each colour of hull which is the main component for building your ship. This is to make you explore the universe and find other shops which is actually quite fun to do. This first thing you are given is a ship component which is a blue cube. When you place this you will be aloud to name your ship and then it will place a block which is the main component of your ship.
…when i say you can build anything, i mean you can literally build anything.
If this gets too damaged or it overheats you die so its important to protect it. It is also the block your see out of and you drive from, so if you click on it you will start up flight mode in your ship and see out the front of the ship component. An important thing to remember is that the ship faces a certain direction indicated by an arrow. If, like me, you don’t notice your arrow and build the whole ship backwards only to enter your ship and be facing a wall you will have to take it all down and start again, which, to say the least is extremely annoying. You need thrusters to move your ship, the more you have the faster you will go. You also need lasers to defend yourself and mining lasers to dig up material to help you earn money. There are missile launchers, power sapping lasers, power giving lasers, repair lasers, shield generators and loads of different machines and pieces of equipment that make your ship feel alive and buzzing. But these will also deplete your energy supply fast there for you need energy generators and tanks. The more energy generators you have the faster your energy will increase. The more energy tanks you have means you will have energy reserved for a hardcore pirate fight or if you need to quickly retreat.
When you start a new game the game universe will randomly generate.
There will be thousands of sectors containing randomly generated asteroids, planets, space stations and pirates all across the universe. At first it was a little intimidating having the freedom to do anything you like. It reminded me of the first time I got to the space era in the game Spore. With such an expansive universe in front of me how was I supposed to navigate to anything or remember where I parked my space ship? Well ladies and gentlemen, this would be the perfect time to invest in a pen and paper.
When people have so much room but not much stuff we tend to try and find a way to fill it, which is exactly how I would describe this game. You generally tend to start off with a small spaceship, followed by a larger one, then a hanger for your space ship, then eventually a whole space station.
but if you wanted to go further a field its quite easy to lose, lets say, your giant mining super ship that you speant all night building…
But what if you want to park your space ship on an asteroid and drive your new larger space ship to a new planet? What if you want to go to the shop to get that new sexy red hardened hull you’ve been saving up for but you can’t remember where you left your space station? In Starmade you have a number of windows to buy things or check your inventory or to navigate to areas within about 3000 metres of your position.When you go on this navigation window you will see asteroids, planets, shops, space stations pirates and your own ship, as long as its within around 3000 metres. This is a great way to navigate the local area as you can click on any of these locations and it will have a big white marker to take you there. But if you wanted to go further a field its quite easy to lose, lets say, your giant mining super ship that you spent a whole night building… believe me, its painful. So that’s where your pen and paper comes in. Each sector is around 1000 meters squared and has its own area code. For example one sector could be in 4,2,-2 and the one adjacent to it could be 4,2,-3. These sectors could be connected to about 10 or more other sectors above, below or beside them as there is no orientation in space. So if you have your space station in sector 8,2,9 then write down 8,2,9! This will save you a lot of time… again, believe me.
If you want a better ship with more high tech equipment your going to have to find a way to make ends meet. The shops are automated so they don’t take on new staff and attempting to talk to the pirates to see if they have any vacancies normally ends in them turning you into space dust.
…attempting to talk to pirates to see if they have any vacancies normally ends in them turning you into space dust.
So what is there to do? The best option for you is mining. One of the first pieces of equipment I bought was a mining laser and a mining computer. The way lasers or weapons work in this game is as follows. When you build a laser/weapon you connect it to a computer which means that it works. when you place a laser/weapon orientate it facing the front of the ship so you don’t end up wrecking your own ship. By placing the laser/weapon blocks in a straight line, all touching each other you make a more powerful laser/weapon. The more blocks that are connected, the faster the laser works and the more damage it does, but it also uses a lot more power. So when I built my second super mining ship and had 4 mining guns, all which had 40 blocks making up each gun. Because there were so many mining laser blocks attached to each laser, I could mine specific mineral deposits on planets to nothing in a mater of seconds. I also had to have about 200 power generators on my ship to keep a constant flow of energy to the lasers. This was expensive to make, in both credits and time but payed both back within one mining trip. You will soon learn whats worth the most on each of the planet biomes.
Scrap for cash
A great way to get ship parts and money is to find/make scrap. By scrap I mean scavenged parts from an abandoned space station or from that space pirate you just ‘totally owned’.
The scavenging of space stations is easy. Because these randomly generated space stations are so huge you could spend a good 20 minutes harvesting parts off them and you would hardly make a dent. The only problem is finding them. Because they are so rich in resources that you would in other circumstances, have to buy from the shops they are generally few and far between. To completely contradict that previous statement, on my second game I found 3 within a sector of each other, which was great for me. Normally the space stations are all abandoned so you can just use the mining laser to pull them apart but sometimes you will come across pirate space stations which are covered in turrets, head to toe. I don’t think I’ve managed to get within 100 metres of one of this as they just unleash hell on you as soon as you are within range. If you are some how a master in space combat and managed to defeat a group of pirates (I have died every time I have accidentally found them) then if you are quick enough you can not only steal all their parts, but also their ship core! Once you have killed the pilot or done enough damage to the ship the core will start to overheat. I think you normally have around a couple of minutes to pull the ship apart, grabbing all the bits off it before the ships core explodes. The pirates normally have some good equipment on board as well a chest which is filled with all sorts of goodies! This scrap collection technique is not only risky but also expensive. The fights normally end with your ship being destroyed or them breaking a lot of the components on board. I would definitely suggest the first method to build up your ship, above the second.
The game allows you to create your own dedicated servers for free meaning you and your friends could man and crew a huge super ship or your own fleet of ships! By creating lots of different weapons or mining computers on one ship you and your mates can control different guns allowing for space combat or mining to become 10x easier. I am yet to try this aspect of the game but it is a brilliant idea and completely original.
Overall the game is absolutely brilliant. It can be frustrating at times as I lost one ship that was flying to fast and I jumped out of it, one I couldn’t remember where I parked it, one was destroyed by pirates and one was stolen by pirates. But these are down to bad luck or human error so I don’t entirely blame the game for my absolute devastation. The building is brilliant, the mining and scavenging is fun and the huge expanse of space that you are given is just incredible. The game is only in Alpha so when it finally comes out I’m sure there will be a host of new items and parts to add to your ship but I have to say that I am extremely existed for its future!
If you haven’t tried this game out yet you can download the Beta for free!