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Michael Bitton: Excited for Starbound

Column By Michael Bitton on December 04, 2013

I know, it’s not an MMO, but Chucklefish’s Starbound has had my interest piqued for some time now. I’ve never been into Minecraft or Terraria or other similar games, but I think Starbound may have the hook I’m looking for. I do love sandboxes, but the building focus of Minecraft and Terraria’s lack of depth made neither game a hit in my book. Heck, I didn’t even bother with Minecraft and you got the feeling with Terraria that there was an idea there that just wasn’t ever fully realized.

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I get that the comparisons aren’t popular, but I feel as if Starbound takes the obvious potential  in a game like Terraria and really runs with it. An actual plot, multiple races to choose from, procedurally generated worlds and creatures, randomized weapons, space, the list goes on. On paper, Starbound is everything Terraria could have hoped to be.

I wanted to talk about Starbound today because I know many of you are sandbox fans here at MMORPG.com, but like me, you may have been indifferent to most of these sorts of games in the past. I think Starbound has a bit more meat on the bones and so I can see potential for the game to hit the spot for sandbox lovers out there who can put aside the fact the game isn’t massively multiplayer and enjoy its smaller scale multiplayer possibilities.

Truthfully, I don’t know if after following Starbound on-and-off (the daily updates got annoying, honestly) for about a year that I will even end up playing the game for more than an hour once I get my hands on the beta later today, but I’m hoping I do finally get the bug for one of these games. My friends have a long history of playing similar ones   obsessively, and if Starbound ends up being as awesome as it looks, I’d like to be in on the fun instead of rolling my eyes at every mention as they play the game nonstop for months on end.

For me, the promise of vast exploration and the technology requirements to survive harsher environments stand out as a compelling hook. Sure, you can sit there on the first planet you land on and probably just build up a grand fortress and do nothing else, but if you embrace what Starbound is really about, then you may have a much deeper experience layered on top of that (provided the developers execute properly, of course). Ideally, you’ll want to explore, build outposts, and accrue resources in order to advance your technology well enough to survive on tougher planets. Coupled with the fact that everything is procedurally generated, there could be some real replay value in striving to explore increasingly dangerous planets and moons.

The plot can end up being a pro or a con depending on your point of view. If you want a completely uninhibited sandbox experience, it’s hard to say at this point whether or not Starbound will allow for it right out of the gate. I feel like having a plot would be an interesting twist on the genre, but it may cramp your sandbox experience depending on how it’s implemented.

The music and art of Starbound are two areas I’m confident will indeed be awesome. The soundtrack has been available for some time now and the folks at Chucklefish did a great job creating some amazing tracks. Visually, I’d say Starbound stands out on its own with great pixel art and is, at least to me, a clear upgrade from Terraria.

Starbound’s beta should be available on the official site and Steam by the time this goes live. Be sure to check it out if it sounds at all interesting to you!

Are you planning on picking up Starbound?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB

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