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Early Access Xbox and PC title Astroneer is starting to take shape

Astroneer (Image credit: System Era Games)

Ever since it released to the public via Early Access in late 2016, the open world space exploration title Astroneer has been a title closely watched by gamers. With the simple but intriguing premise of exploring the reaches of the universe in search of treasure in the wake of a 25th-century gold rush, PC and Xbox players alike are excited about Astroneer.

According to the development roadmap, System Era Softworks plans to launch Astroneer shortly after the end of Q2 2018, and has steadily been updating the game with new content as that time approaches. Here's a detailed look at the content that has been released recently, as well as what the future (near and far) holds.

Where we're at

In the last few months, Astroneer has received several updates that have completely overhauled its progression system. The main way it did so was via the addition of Bytes, a type of currency you can use to unlock items. Bytes are earned by researching things at an all-new structure, the Research Center. In addition, players are now able to see a catalog of what is available to research/unlock, allowing for the opportunity to work towards specific items.

Other major things added recently include the ability to extract minerals from the terrain, a tweak to the amount of damage taken from falling, a crash reporting feature, and numerous bug fixes.

What's coming soon

Sometime soon, System Era plans to implement a variety of things into Astroneer. The most notable of these is a redesign of the base-building mechanics. Structures will be designed in a modular way, allowing for players to mix-and-match their constructions. They will also be able to be moved once placed, and you'll be able to expand your base right from your ship's landing zone when traveling to planets.

Vehicle physics and the game's user interface will be getting fixes and adjustments, too, and another big thing to look out for will be aggressive flora and other types of environmental hazards that will threaten your adventurous spirit with the kiss of death. Finally, performance will be getting a big improvement, and the entire engine is going to be upgraded.

What lies on the horizon

Closer to launch, Astroneer will be getting a significant amount of brand new features and content, such as a massive overhaul of terrain generation, puzzles scattered throughout worlds, an introductory planet, player trading, and more. One exciting feature will be the implementation of player customization, letting people choose how their character appears to both themselves and others.

Another interesting system being put into the game down the line will be dynamic weather. The types of weather encountered by the player will vary, and each type will alter gameplay in a different way. It's not entirely clear how just yet, but rest assured, things like snow will definitely freshen up the experience.

In addition to the above, Astroneer will also be getting a Linux version, and will have dedicated servers, complete with a server browser. This will allow the community to actualize the strong cooperative multiplayer potential of Astroneer thanks to the benefits of stable connection and the ability to search for specific servers.

On the performance side of things, System Era is going to prioritize loading times to keep the experience seamless. Lastly, numerous facets of Astroneer's mechanics are getting tweaked to better balance the overall experience. Specifically, damage and gravity both are going to be adjusted, as well as the distribution of minerals throughout planets and the way players manage their inventories.

Your thoughts

Are you excited to see if System Era Software can stay on track with their roadmap plans? What are some things you'd like to see from Astroneer moving forward? Let me know what you think.

Astroneer is available now via Early Access on both Xbox One and on PC with Steam for $19.99.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Already have the game, but havent played it for a while. Gonna pick it back up! :)
  • Same here. Was pretty raw when I first tried it. Now might be a good time to revisit.
  • I've played a lot of "building/survival/explore" type games, but I have not yet found one that I really like.   I wish there were a game that was a cross between Minecraft, Dragon Quest Builders, Sims and Animal Crossing.  Not as vanilla as Minecraft.  Not as structured as Dragon Quest Builders.  With npc interactions like the Sims and Animal Crossing. A game that allowed you to build anything you want and do anything to the environment and where things are procedurally generated (Minecraft).  But within that world there were npcs with some personality instead of mindless drones (Sims, AC).  If you build structures you could mark them for public use and npcs would settle in (DQB).  The npcs would make use of the stuff you build and live out their own lives.  They'd give out small "quests" (DQB).  Maybe npcs would do things like give you gifts from time to time as well (DQB,AC).  Perhaps there could be some special named NPCs with even more personality than others (AC) and they could give out more complex story based quests that unlock specific things (DQB). Basically a game where you start with nothing and then be able to build up an entire city with citizens doing their thing.  Or you could ignore all that and just explore the wilderness building small little settlements that traded with each other.  Or you could even ingnore that and explore without building and just roam the lanscape excavating and tackling monsters/dungeons. Plus multiplayer. Astroneer looks neat, but it looks like they are setting their sights on just being a Minecraft clone in a different shell.  Correct me if I'm wrong.
  • I don't think it's like that at all. It's less about being a blank canvas for creativity and more about the joys of exploration.
  • I see deconstructing the environment to get materials and find objects. I see adding to the environment and using the materials you collect for crafting. Are there aspects to exploration in this game that make it stand apart?  In Minecraft we can explore the world and find caverns, villages, chests, witch houses, temples, dungeons and the nether. There are environmental hazards and dangerous creatures to hinder exploration as well.  
  • I'm super confused with Astroneer. I don't know if I missed some sort of useful tip or tutorial, but i have no idea how to find specific materials and it seems just random whether i suck up what i need with that vacuum thingy. Basically I have no clue what I'm doing. Which wasn't much different from Minecraft. So, I dunno, maybe I'm just old.
  • I don't think they have a good tutorial for all features as some of it is changing. I've played it since day one and come back every couple of months for a fresh play with the kids (it's very family safe fun). Generally you need to collect resources - find resin and compound on the surface close to the base - then more limited resources in far off places or underground.  From those you can build all sorts of stuff and grow out the base and build vehicles etc. You don't need to suck up plain dirt other than to dig down, teraform or you can use some new mineral extractor but that's entirely optional.   Biggest starting hints: Resources have a label over them.  Dig them up to collect.  Find compound first to build tethers so you can explore deeper, resin for buildings.
  • Testing
  • Testing indeed. Astroneer is sadly drifting away from me even more now.  I liked the first version or idea being stranded with nothing but your vacuum thing and suffocating if you went out too far etc. Your still being dropped but now have a pancake thing that provides you with a first startup package?. It also seems to me the eye candy has become very  important for the devs and if you like Play mobile or the Lego look or any other baby safe rounded toys with screaming colors than you can eat your heart out. I’m  Just wondering when the first purple unicorn with green slowly pulsating manes is coming to run out of some cave. The game is going towards console players and not to PC players like myself. This "update" has removed clickable stuff and you now need to “press and hold” some letters down on your keyboard e.g. walking towards your home opens the door automatically but you can’t walk in, you need to press and hold E. (!?) I know it was TAB before but all the actions now have this time delayed "press and hold button" annoying!! Remember when you  were running from a storm and bolders flying around you and you make that leap of fate towards your space ship’s door you could hit TAB at the right moment and if you were lucky and close enough… your were safe… From now on you need to press and hold E and wait… TAB also won’t put selected things into your backpack any more :( But there is also good news: Performance is more stable!  I get 60- 100 fps on my old GTX770 depending on the amount of colorful happy fluffy marshmallow parts I see. Back to the game and trying to find out what the small fabricator is or does.