If you’re looking for a fun, laid-back survival game filled with colorful environments, multiple planets, and 4-player co-op support, you don’t have to look any further than Astroneer. The game begins with players dropping down from orbit to a procedurally generated planet filled with plant life and resources.
From there, players have to build up their base, research technology, and work to explore the solar system and discover what else is out there. So, if that sounds like a great time, this Astroneer getting started guide is for you, as it lays out everything you need to know.
Bottom line up front: Getting started in Astroneer is largely a process of experimentation. There are no hostile enemies to worry about or needs to satisfy, other than making sure you have oxygen available at all times.
Your progress through the game can also be helped by using the Research Core to see what objectives the game wants you to work toward next.
Before You Begin
Before you jump into Astroneer, there are a few things that you should know. First, if you want to bring some friends along, Astroneer can be played entirely in co-op and even has cross-platform support.
So, whether you and your friends are on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, or Xbox One, you can all jump in and play together.
Second, you should know that Astroneer takes a more laid-back approach to its survival. You don’t have to manage your hunger, thirst, or energy, and there aren’t any hostile creatures in the game. You do have to manage your oxygen, and some plants can damage players, but they are easy to get around.
Astroneer also does not have base-building mechanics that some survival-game enthusiasts may expect. You do build a base, but it is an interconnected web of platforms and machinery rather than walls, floors, and windows with an interior to walk around in.
The First Week
When you first start a new game of Astroneer, you will have to pick your character before being shot down toward the first planet. The look of your character doesn’t have any impact on the gameplay, but I had a lot of fun customizing mine when first starting the game.
Once you get out of your landing pod, it will turn into a Habitat building, creating an attached Research Core nearby. These two buildings are the foundation of your base on the new planet and are everything you need to get started.
You’ll notice that there is a blue line extending from you to your base right off the bat. That is an oxygen line, which means that you don’t have to worry about running out of oxygen while you are next to your habitat.
However, when you get too far away, that line will disappear, and you’ll have to watch the oxygen meter on the back of your character. It took me a few deaths from suffocation to completely understand this when I first started, so figuring it out early will help prevent a few headaches for you.
The first thing you should do is head to the Research Core and interact with the terminal to call in a Medium Platform and a Medium Fabricator.
Both of these pieces will be sent down to the planet in boxes from the above space station and serve as an introduction to expanding your base with new pieces and utilities. You first need to unpack the Medium Platform, so do so and place it near your Habitat.
When you place it I recommend leaving enough space to walk between the two, otherwise navigating around your base can get cumbersome. Then, you can put the box for the Medium Fabricator on top of one of the nodes on the platform and unpack it there so that it is connected to the Medium Platform.
Finally, it needs power to get the Medium Fabricator up and running. Your Habitat can provide some power, so grab the nearest red plug from the side of the Habitat and plug it into the connector on the side of the Medium Platform to get it powered.
This will allow the Medium Fabricator to run and allow the Medium Platform to give you oxygen when you are near it. This is another reason I recommend spacing your base out as much as possible, as it will allow you to explore even further out while maintaining your free oxygen supply.
With that done, your starting base is founded, so it’s time to start venturing out to explore the planet for resources. To start, you’ll want to keep an eye out for Compound and Resin.
Both can be found in the soil of the first planet, with Compound looking like large clumps of grey bubbles and Resin resembling clusters of yellow tubes.
You can collect these by sucking them up with your Terrain Manipulator, which will add them to the inventory slots on your backpack. As you explore, you’ll likely find other materials, and you should try sucking all of them up as well because they will come in handy eventually.
While you go out and start finding Compound and Resin you should take as much of them as you can. I can’t emphasize enough just how much Compound and Resin you’ll need as you play through the game.
I made the mistake of not collecting enough from the get-go, and having to trek back to half-depleted veins was always annoying, so make sure to just take it all right away.
Once you have some of each, you can start completing research to unlock new tools and items for your base. You’ll first have to use the Medium Fabricator to make another platform with two Resin.
Once the platform of your desired size is built, place it by your Habitat and then go back to the Fabricator to make a Research Chamber with two Compound. Place the Research Chamber on your platform and get power to it.
Before you can start earning the Bytes, the currency used to unlock new technologies, you must find unknown specimens to research. This will take you further away from your base than you have ever been before, so you’ll need some Tethers to avoid suffocating.
However, you have to unlock Tethers with just a few Bytes. I think the easiest way to do this is to gather some organic research materials from colored grass near your base and use them at your Research Chamber.
But, if you’ve found something else that you can put in there to analyze, feel free to use that. Once you get some Bytes, use them to unlock the ability to craft Tethers.
Tethers can then be made in the crafting menu on your backpack for just one Compound. Once you have them, you can place them with the press of a button, allowing you to extend oxygen lines out into the planet’s wilderness.
Just make sure to place them close enough to the Habitat and together to maintain the connection, as they have a limited range. I’ve always found it easier to place the Tether first and then move it to find the maximum distance it can be placed from the one before to be as efficient as possible.
Objects that can be researched are usually found in the cave systems under the planet’s surface, so be ready to go pretty far to find them. As you find the caves, you may have to create pathways down and up with your Terrain Manipulator to create bridges and walkways as you go.
Once you find one, you’ll have to pick it up and carry it back to your base to put them in the Research Chamber to analyze them, giving you a certain number of Bytes every minute.
You can then continue to spend those Bytes on whichever technologies seem the most useful or fun to you. I usually go for items to make myself more efficient first, but feel free to go any route that looks good to you.
As you continue to progress through Astroneer, you’ll have to understand the game’s core mechanics to keep advancing and making discoveries.
Good oxygen management is imperative to your survival in Astroneer. It is the only need that characters have in the game, so you’ll have to keep an eye on your supply and ensure that you’re never without it for too long.
I’ve found the easiest way to do this is by expanding your network of Tethers across the planet’s surface, but there are also a few other methods.
One is to create Oxygen Tanks that you can connect to your backpack. This will allow you to store more oxygen at once to go longer without being near a source. You can also find oxygen sources that will spawn on the planet’s surface, which you can harvest to replenish your stored oxygen.
However, these can be rare, so I would say don’t ever rely on using one to stay alive. You can also explore with vehicles, which are explained below, as those also give you oxygen when you are in them.
Researchable technologies are split into four trees: Wrench, Compass, Fire, and Erlenmeyer Flask. The technologies in the Wrench category are for new base pieces and tools to help you manipulate the terrain. The Compass holds technologies that aid you in transportation and exploring your environment.
The Fire tree revolves around your survivability through energy management and technologies like the Tether. Finally, the Erlenmeyer Flask holds plans that help you better process new technologies and extract resources.
As you continue through the game, you can progress through these technologies.
Every technology is useful, but they do have different price points as far as how many Bytes to unlock them, so you shouldn’t hold off on getting the cheaper ones for too long, as you’ll need them to continue exploring the planet and eventually venture out to the other bodies in the solar system.
I tend to get each of the lower-cost items out of the way before moving on, since having more options is good and you’ll never know when you may want one of them or how it can help your base.
As you unlock new technologies, you’ll want to keep developing your base as well. You can also approach this however you want, but you’ll have to be mindful of the power requirements for doing so, which we’ll talk about below.
However, developing your base will make things much more efficient as you go on, so make sure to keep upgrading things and don’t be afraid to move around machines or different elements to keep things running smoothly.
Reorganizing the entire layout of your base can be frustrating, but doing it will make everything else operate much more smoothly, making it definitely worthwhile.
When I first started Astroneer I tried to avoid rearranging my base as much as possible, which made getting around harder than it needed to be. It was a lesson I’ll never forget, and one that you should avoid having to learn from experience.
Power in Astroneer is the second-most valuable resource, next to oxygen. Nearly everything in the game requires power, so you’ll have to create a robust power network as you expand your base to keep things up and running when you need them.
Power can be generated through a few different means, with each one having multiple tiers of unlockable technologies to make them more efficient. This system took me the longest to figure out, so if you can understand it early on in your playthrough, you’ll be better off.
The first method of power generation is Solar Panels. These will generate power whenever they receive natural light, which means they do get less effective at nighttime and you shouldn’t solely rely on them.
The second is Wind Turbines, which will generate power for as long as they are being spun by windy weather. The effectiveness of these will depend highly on where you base is that they are connected to, as different locations and planets will have different weather.
The final method of power generation is with Generators. These can provide a constant stream of power regardless of the surrounding conditions, but they require a steady supply of resources.
Once you start generating excess power, you can also store it in Batteries. This allows you to place them on other machinery that may need power but won’t be able to stay by your base, like vehicles or other items when colonizing a new planet.
Batteries can also be very useful to boost energy if you ever go over your supply but need to have a machine do something for you real quick.
With all of these pieces, I recommend using Solar Power to generate some of your power, but definitely not all of it. Solar Panels can also be useful to put on vehicles and top off their power. I would also only use Wind Turbines if your placement calls for it.
Some planets and locations will let you get a lot more out of them, so they are very situational. I typically use generators to get the majority of my energy, and they can be a great way to put resources you don’t need to use. Then, you can just always keep a Battery or two around just in case you need some extra power.
As you continue through Astroneer, gathering various resources will continue to be an integral part of your experience.
You will constantly need more Compound and Resin, but you will also have to locate much rarer materials, some of which will only spawn on other planets in the solar system. You’ll also have to refine resources to produce other materials like Glass.
Luckily, your ability to quickly gather and process materials will steadily increase as you research new technologies.
Upgrades to your Terrain Manipulator will make it more efficient, vehicles will allow you to gather more before carting it back to your base, and storage modules will help you keep it all organized once you get it there.
These will all help you gather the rare resources you need while also helping you gather and transport more research objects to continue advancing your technologies.
If you really want to expedite your resource gathering, you can also put a drill onto your vehicle, allowing you to dig through the ground and gather deposits that you find en masse, as long as you can keep it all powered.
However, I usually don’t do this until later on in the game, as it removes a lot of the natural cave formations and is easy to find yourself trapped underground with.
At your Research Core, you will also get directives and objectives that you can complete. These act as a sort of tutorial early on in the game while also helping give players guidance on what they should be working toward next.
I cannot stress enough how frequently you should check and reference these objectives. Since they give you rewards like base pieces and resources they will cut down on how much you need to produce for yourself. Checking in will also keep you from ending up with duplicates of base pieces.
Take my word that ending up with one base that has two or three Packagers when you only need one, that even just finding where to put extra-base pieces is worth avoiding.
Vehicles are an integral part of playing Astroneer. As you unlock them, you will be able to research larger vehicles like trucks and tractors, connect trailers to them, and even zip across the landscape on a hoverboard.
Getting vehicles is a huge part of Astroneer, so you’ll need to understand them to make your playthrough smoothly.
One of the biggest challenges with vehicles is keeping them charged. This can be done with either Batteries or by connecting a Solar Panel or Wind Turbine to them.
My typical approach is to charge the vehicle with a Battery and then replace it with a Solar Panel so that as you drive around, the vehicle will continue to charge when it can. Just make sure to keep a spare Battery on hand just in case.
You’ll also eventually need to build spacecraft to venture off your starting planet into the rest of the solar system.
To do this, you’ll first need to build a landing pad and then rockets with boosters and the seats you also have to build for land vehicles.
Space vehicles are very modular, so make sure to put as many seats on them as you need to bring everyone with you to a new planet and put structures and machinery on its nodes for storage so that you can survive on the new planet when you get there.
However, spacecraft require specific fuel rather than just energy, so you’ll also need to make sure you’re well-stocked on Hydrazine before you go anywhere, as not all planets have some to help you get back.
I’ve been stranded on enough planets to tell you that having a working ship with no fuel on a planet is not an envious situation.
- Become familiar with hazardous plants as soon as possible. They aren’t difficult to deal with, but getting killed by one and having to run back to your body can get annoying and is a general waste of time.
- Learn what each planet has on it before you go there to figure out what materials and base objects you need to bring with you. This can be found in-game in the encyclopedia. It took me a while to find it, but once you do it can make your life easier.
- Place Tethers everywhere, and then don’t pick them up. Tethers are a vital source of oxygen when exploring the planet, and having connected lines sprawling in every location is a great way to travel comfortably. You never know when you’ll get lost, and an old Tether line could save your life when you stumble on it.
- Learn the Gateway Fast Travel Network. These are structures that can be found across the solar system that allow you to instantaneously travel between them once they’re powered, which is usually the cheapest way of interstellar travel.
- Return to the area where you die to collect the resources and items stored in your corpse’s backpack. They don’t despawn, so it doesn’t matter how long it takes.
- Use a Trade Platform and Soil Centrifuge to cut down on the time you have to spend gathering more common resources to devote your time to running machines or getting rarer materials.
- Understand the Tier system for nodes and slots to ensure you’re getting the most out of your equipment and machinery.
- One of my favorite strategies is to make a train of vehicles by connecting them to one another. This will allow you to transport vastly more resources in a single trip, just make sure to smooth out your route so your convoy doesn’t fall apart on the way.
- Place storages on vehicles and spacecraft so that you can carry more with you.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Don’t ignore holes and crevices around your base. Falling into them can be deadly, and they can be a big nightmare when driving a vehicle. Instead, fill them in using a soil canister and your Terrain Manipulator.
- Don’t push large objects in front of you while carrying them, as it is much slower than dragging them behind you.
- Don’t ignore the mods for your Terrain Manipulator. They are early upgrades that will make the game much easier for you in the long run.
- Don’t launch your spacecraft without having enough fuel to get back. Otherwise, you will become stranded and eventually die.
- Don’t place Tethers in planet cores, as they are full of oxygen, and it is a waste of resources. I’ve wasted enough Tethers in them to tell you to use your Compound elsewhere.
- Don’t forget to use Beacons to help you locate resources and remember where buildings are. It is very easy to get lost due to the size of planets in Astroneer, and Beacons are a cheap remedy.
- Don’t forget to package your materials and machines before trying to store them on your spacecraft. If they aren’t packaged, many of them become too big to fit or will take up extra space you could have used for other items.
- Don’t avoid automating your processes just because it can be complicated. Doing so is one of my favorite parts of Astroneer and will make everything so much more efficient and less grindy for you moving forward.
Now that you’re established, you can continue to freely expand and progress through the remainder of Astroneer. Your long-term goals should be to enjoy exploring the solar system and trying to complete the technology trees.
There is no definitive end or conclusion to the game, so you’ll have to set your own goals and decide when you are ready to move on from the game.
Whether it is to learn everything there is in the game, thoroughly explore all of the planets, or terraform an idyllic base, you get to decide what you’re working toward at every stage of the game.
Question: How Long of a Game is Astroneer?
Answer: The length of time it takes to beat the game largely depends on the player and what they want to get out of it. It is possible to spend anywhere from 20 to 100 hours on a single save in the game.
Question: How Many Players Can Play Astroneer at Once?
Answer: The game supports 4-player co-op with full cross-platform play as well.
Question: Is There Combat in Astroneer?
Answer: No, there are no enemies or combat in Astroneer. There are hostile plants that can kill the player, but they are easily avoided by digging them out from the ground.
Astroneer is a unique sandbox that offers survival fans a lot of great spaces to explore, mechanics to learn, and elements to customize to their liking.
Its lack of needs like hunger and thirst also makes it a much more relaxing survival experience than many other titles in the genre and a great jumping-on point for newcomers.
So, if you’ve ever dreamt of a sprawling space adventure, you don’t have to look any further than Astroneer, and the hoverboards alone make it well worth your time.
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