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Boundless: 10 Tips on How to Get Started

Red Thomas Posted:
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Thanks to the advice of a few members of our community, I decided to give Boundless a go a few weeks ago.  I’d been looking for a good game to play with some of the youth in my family, and while I’d seen Boundless on Steam, I hadn’t given it much thought.  I’m glad someone suggested it, because it turns out to have been a far more interesting game than I’d expected.   That said, it’s also turned out to be one of the more difficult games to get started in that I’ve played.

Today, I’m going to give you a handful of tips for getting started in Boundless that I wish I’d have known when I first installed the game.

Picking Where to Start

After character creation, you’re given the option of warping to a location on whatever starting planet you ended up with.  Several landmarks are obvious, such as players and beacons, and as easily spotted by mousing over them.  What is less obvious is general population/building density.   By hitting “B” on your keyboard, you can see a yellow overlay showing claimed areas, which causes player-towns and population centers to pop out.

I can’t really give much guidance on whether you should stay clear of other players or not, that’s totally up to you.  On one hand, player vendors can be a great way of getting some of the more rare resources early in the game.  On the other, my personal preference is usually to build up on my own while learning the game, and then to look towards some form of community involvement later.

Lit areas designate claimed space. The brighter the overlay, the more populated that area is.

Explore Before Placing

Another key point in getting off on the right foot is to do a little exploring before you build and place that initial camp fire.  You can always pick everything up and move later, but it’s a lot easier to find a good spot from the start.  If you’re lucky enough to have a starting location with near-by cliffs, explore them to look for metal (probably copper) and coal deposits.   Metal is a lot less common in Boundless, than in Minecraft.  Don’t expect to sink a shaft in the ground and find loads of the stuff (I’ve heard that can work, but it hasn’t been my experience by a long-shot).

In the absence of cliffs, look for caves.   I started in an area with a lot of these sinkhole-like pits, but they weren’t worth much for resources.  I found coal, but copper was a lot harder until much later.  Eventually, I found large cage systems that I could explore for copper.  If I’d have explored for the caves before setting up base, I’d have started in a flatter area and had easier access to copper.

The Terrain Respawns

I didn’t know this early on, but terrain outside your claimed area respawns over time.  I’ve seen a few different descriptions of the process, but my understanding is generally that as long as a player is not in a given chunk for some amount of time, then the terrain respawns/regenerates using some algorithm.  I actually think this is really cool because terrain in an area you explored yesterday is slightly different today.

This also means that resources respawn, but in an area and not always in the same location.  You’ll find copper where you didn’t see it before and not where you did, but this also means that cave entrances can close off or reopen randomly.

The first world or two you can reach from your sanctum won’t be great for resources, but you’ll be able to advance to another world soon (assuming you don’t just find a portal hub and warp straight to one).

Effectively, the world is constantly changing outside the area you claim, which I think adds a cool dynamic note that Minecraft is missing.   It also allows you to establish a base of operations that continues to be effective because you’ll never totally harvest everything.

Use the Compass

The compass is super handy for knowing where you are on these round and populated planets.  The compass shows nearby players, communities, and portals.  Portals are particularly handy for finding player-owned vending areas for those rare resources, or other planets.

The Compass will also how you where various mobs are (grey for benign and red for hostile), and they’ll even show you mobs that are getting ready to attack you (flashing yellow).  On easier planets with wimp mobs, this isn’t as critical.  Exploring on planets with more deadly mobs is another story, though.

Go West, Young Man

Okay, so maybe it’s not so much West, but pushing forward into the unknown is a core part of the game.  The beginning worlds are very resource limited, and you need to push on to more dangerous environs for later-stage goals.  That means developing the ability to create portals.

Some of my early frustration in the game was trying to complete journey objectives that required resources I couldn’t find.  Buying from the bazar is one option, but I could have also created a warp augment and setup a new base of operations on a Tier 2 planet.

To get there, you create a warp augment to power your totem, allowing you to pick designate a landing site on another planet.   Then, drop two warp conduits (one stacked on the other) and using “E” to select the new landing site, break the conduits for the portal.  To get home, you can always warp back to the sanctum and from their back to your original base.

Storage Wars

One of the really interesting aspects of Boundless is storage.  It seems kind of simple, but it was one of those odd things that really stood out to me.  Storage shelves display what’s stored in them, making for a very handy way of tracking resources.

Build storage shelves out of stone and glue, and then you’ll be able to tell at a glance whether you’re out of a given material or not.  It seems obvious, but I walked by the pictured shelves so many times before I realized I could actually see what I’d put in them.  Sometimes tunnel vision causes you to miss the obvious…

I don’t know any other game that does storage the same way, but it’s a very handy way of knowing what you have available at a glance.

I am the Light

Smash small boulders to build up your stock of flint, which you need for creating torches.  Early on, you can equip a torch and your tool at the same time for light.  I set my torches to match with my hammer, since that’s what I most often use under ground.

If you get tired of lugging your torch around, you can also purchase the 5-point ability to glow softly in the dark.  If you plan to spend much time underground, this can be a very handy skill to pick up.

Skill Judiciously

There are too many skills to be good at everything, so pick a focus for your toon and skill accordingly.  It’s one of the neater aspects of Boundless, I think.  I like the idea that no one player can do everything, and thus some form of community involvement is needed.

It does mean that you need to spend a little time looking at the skills and deciding how you’ll want to spend your eventual 100 skill points.  Focusing a little more broad early on your main toon is fine since you’ll have access to skill resets and buy-backs, which will let you respect and specialize later.

Complete Journey Objectives

Hitting tab and selecting your journal will let you explore objectives.  These update as you complete portions of them, and are also replaced with higher-tier versions as their completed.  You don’t have to set them as one of your three tracked objectives in order to complete them, but that does help to keep track of what you need to do next.

You’ll complete a lot of objectives without realizing it, so it’s a good idea to hit tab and collect your crates periodically.

Completing objectives will reward you with in-game currency, experience, and help guide you towards what you should be doing next.  Because the in-game tutorial only scratches the surface, it’s a good way to know what you should be working on next.

Beyond just acting as an extended tutorial, journal objectives are generally great ways to get experience (leading to more skills at a faster pace) and unlock the credits needed for additional plots.

Alternate Characters

Using in-game credits, you should have enough that you can purchase a second character by level 8, or soon after.  I don’t recommend you do it quite that quickly because it’s better to focus on learning the game with your first toon.

Eventually, you will need to pick up multiple other toons to use for other stuff, though.  You may not want to waste points buying up the brewing skills on your main, but those beverages will be very handy as you move on to more advanced planets with more aggressive environments and critters.  Alternate characters can be a great way of being more self-sufficient, though I don’t know that it’s a totally achievable goal in the long-run.  

Additional character slots can be purchased for in-game credits, earned through completing objectives and leveling.  You can also spend real money on them, but I like that Wonderstruck ensured there was a free route to get the same time.

Finding some of those early tech components can be a pain. Look for long cave complexes or explore cliffs.

Hopefully these small tips help you get started in the game.  I struggled a bit early on with a poor starting location and with not knowing exactly how to progress.  I enjoyed playing with my nephew, so it wasn’t much of an issue until I looked up and realized I had no idea what I needed to be doing next.

The objectives helped me a lot in figuring that out, and then finally figuring out how the terrain regeneration and resource system worked made an even bigger difference.  I found that while Boundless is a great game in many respects, it’s not quite as intuitive as I would have liked once I got into the slightly more intermediate crafting stages.

In any case, if this guide helps a few folks get through that odd early period of trying to figure the game out with a little less effort than I had to put into it, then I’ll consider this a success.  Don’t let my early frustrations keep you from the game, though.  As I’ve played more, I’ve found more and more and more to like about Boundless.  Maybe you will too.  Good luck!


Red Thomas

A veteran of the US Army, raging geek, and avid gamer, Red Thomas is that cool uncle all the kids in the family like to spend their summers with. Red lives in San Antonio with his wife where he runs his company and works with the city government to promote geek culture.