Astroneer gets new base building system in 'biggest update to date'

Astroneer has continually evolved since launching in Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview, but its latest update is its biggest yet. The planetary exploration game is adding some major new systems, along with a slew of smaller tweaks and bug fixes, all as part of what developer System Era calls its "biggest update to date."

The highlight of today's update is the rollout of a completely new base building system. Players will now be able to create bases however they wish with a set of movable platforms. Each platform can be placed and rotated on its own, allowing more granular customization in terms of platform configuration. Platforms can be locked into place by connecting them to power. Disconnecting the power will allow you to move them again.

In addition, this update introduces Fabricators, which are described as "portable printers that allow you to make printers." The small fabricator lets you create medium platforms and medium fabricators from your backpack. Medium fabricators can be used to print large platforms and base modules.

Players can also check out a new power system in this update. Essentially, power can now be pulled from all power generators on a single connected network. "All Modules, Rovers, and crashed solar arrays have been migrated to use this new power system," System Era explains. You can check a network's status by looks at the new power indicator on platforms.

Aside from the major system changes, System Era has rolled out a slew of other, smaller updates, including new interaction options and optimizations. Here's a look at some of the highlights:

  • A new interaction verb "Use" has been added to the game. Holding Use (by default E on keyboard and X on the Gamepad) triggers using an object. It is also used to get in and out of vehicles and the Habitat.
  • A new interaction verb "Examine" has been added to the game. Holding Examine (by default Q on keyboard and Y on the Gamepad) triggers examining an object or its control panel.
  • Holding Q on keyboard or Y on Gamepad will now open the Catalog whether or not the Backpack is open. This is a change from the double-Q / double-Y interaction from previous releases.
  • Shoulder buttons can now toggle items in the Backpack Auxiliary slots on and off.
  • Interactions that need to be held rather than tapped, like Use and Examine, now have a visual indicator ring around them.
  • Platforms and Modules can be rotated using Z / X keyboard and RB / LB on Gamepad by default.
  • When standing close enough to power slots, Gamepad users will auto-select slots that can pull connections.
  • The Backpack printer can now be used with the directional pad and A button, rather than having to use the Gamepad cursor.
  • Small Generators now auto-pull nearby Organic resources when actively generating power.
  • Small Generators will now automatically turn on when an Organic resource is added.
  • Firework rocket has been added to the Catalog as an unlockable object. Happy Lunar New Year!
  • Control Panel buttons, including the Research Platform, have been updated to change color and icon depending on whether pressing it will start, stop, or cancel a process, or if there is insufficient power.
  • Tutorial help menu carousel has been updated to include Basebuilding, Power, and Interaction changes.
  • Informational widgets that appear at the bottom of the screen have received updated visuals.
  • Optimized rendering of hovering info text that appears over holograms, along with other minor framerate optimizations.
  • Made several changes to the gravity system to improve stability of Rovers.
  • Medium Generators now provide about 30% more power

Moving forward, System Era says it plans to introduce weather and hazard, as well as a new terrain system and dedicated servers later in 2018. Further improvements will also be made to the base building and research systems as development continues. For now, you can pick up these latest updates with Astroneer version now. And if you're new to Astroneer, the game can be picked up in early access for $19.99 on Steam or Xbox One and Windows 10 with Xbox Play Anywhere.

Astroneer beginner's guide: how to play, crafting lists and more!

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl