Released back in February, Astroneer is a tremendously fun sandbox game—if the genre already suits you well. You’ll need great organization skills to achieve the many goals you will naturally develop across the various planets and moons to explore. Unlike Minecraft, there are no armed Skeletons or mischievous Creepers here. Only toxic plants, perilous drops, and your own foolish oversight. Nonetheless, survival is a constant worry, and even experienced players can end up suffocating or falling to their death in the name of science. For those who are still alive, here are 10 mistakes to avoid so that you’re better prepared for your trek towards the infinite and beyond. Oh, and this game is all about discovery—so, fair warning, this article contains spoilers!
10 Drag, Don’t Push
The cursor is a constant reminder that Astroneer is a PC game first and foremost. It also isn’t much for altruism. It’s very unwieldy, and you’ll find yourself accidentally picking up the incorrect object throughout the entire duration of the game. No, it doesn’t get better. Yes, you just have to get used to accidentally chucking massive machines around like twigs. You can’t easily push anything ahead of you, ever. If you’re on a walkabout, get ahead of the desired target, turn around, then grab it and pull it towards you. This is great for debris that wouldn’t fit in a packager.
9 Don’t Ignore The Mods
All you need is Zinc, and all of a sudden the game is completely different. If you’re feeling frustrated about digging for elements, it’s probably because you haven’t taken a second look at some of the mods available for your Terrain Tool. With various drills and boosts, tougher terrain doesn’t stand a chance against a regular Dig Dug like you. This can be easy to overlook early on when your main concern is mere survival at the onset. But most importantly, use the Alignment Mod. The flattening tool is one of the most maddening things in the entire game, but the Alignment Mod will keep your Terrain Tool geographically parallel with the planet’s natural grid.
8 Solve The Surface Gateway First
There’s no question that Astroneer’s Gateways are the most fascinating, exciting feature in the game. They’re right out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and share a similar function to TMA-1. With the promise of interplanetary travel and their aura of mystery, they are highly desirable, particularly earlier on in the game when the resources for better shuttles and thrusters seem hopelessly out of reach. However, if you’re hurriedly burying yourself everywhere for resources, you may accidentally discover the core’s Gateway first. It’s going to be a long trip back if you didn’t solve something on the surface to connect to beforehand.
7 The Core Doesn’t Need Tethers
This feature certainly does no favors for the neurotic. In a game where suffocation is your primary agent of death, it’s deceitful that the mysterious Gateways don’t all behave the same way. Those on the surface could care less about you, while the low gravity cores of any planet or moon will supply you with all the oxygen you could need. Sort of like Jodie Foster in Contact. Ultimately, it’s just a waste of all your tethers—unless you plan on using them like breadcrumbs in order to backtrack on your way out. Still, you won’t need that if you followed the previous tip.
6 Prepare Before You Launch
It’s always a good idea to gather the materials necessary to return home when you’re going to launch to a new planet or moon. What if you accidentally ignite it after landing? This game is no stranger to glitches and lag. Print that second Solid-Fuel Thruster in advance. But that’s not all. Be sure to carry along all the necessities that might not be available on your destination. Each new planet and moon has a distinguishable environment, which will supply different gases and resources. You don’t want to get caught in an unknown setting without the ability to get your basic setup started—that being reliable power, a Medium Printer, a Soil Centrifuge, and its accompanying Smelting Furnace. Oh, and Platforms to put everything on, of course.
5 Don’t Land Blindly
To facilitate a speedy exploration, don’t just drop down to the first bubble you see when you launch to a new locale. The Gateways are the keys to the end of the game, and if you feel like getting there anytime soon, it’ll save you an awful hike or two if you just wait in orbit a minute. The blue beam of the Gateway is easy to see from orbit, so just find the nearest bubble for landing, and bear in mind what direction you will need after you drop in. Otherwise, you may be in for a fight—dragging your shuttle around for oxygen, and fighting vegetation that rivals Swamp Thing.
4 Use Your Beacons For Everything
Seriously, these things are color coded. It’s rather self-evident, but they can also be easy to forget. Even for advanced players. Every time you find a new resource deposit, make sure to mark it with a beacon. If you’re in multiplayer, this is especially handy during any moments of peril. If your friend is lost and suffocating without a canister of soil to their name, you know to hunt down their beacon to save the day. Once you begin launching between planets, multiple beacons also make it easier to find your landing pad. Most importantly, if you die in the wild, you can find your backpack or vehicle again.
3 Don’t Forget Your Printing Slot
In order to print, craft, or carry anything, your trusty backpack is probably going to remain full throughout the entirety of the game. With a worklight, battery, Terrain Tool mods, and more, you're packing more than Batman's utility belt. Do not forget to scroll through your backpack’s printer until one of the elements drops down to the printing slot. You usually figure this out early on, but it’s easily forgettable given the little hologram that’s always nestled in place. This will help to mine more resources at a time. During long trips, this is also an easy way to carry an extra compound for contingency tethers.
2 Bring Extra Oxygen
Use your printing slot to carry a backup Resin, which can then be used to print emergency Oxygen Filters. If you’ve strayed too far from your tethers without realizing it, a few extra seconds can make all the difference. If the fall damage doesn’t kill you, any mining accidents will probably result in a panicked attempt to make a ramp back to your mining tunnel—and we all know how great that flattening tool is. Oh, and I’m sure you have enough dirt on hand to get all the way back up there. Unless you have Chell’s Portal gun, always carry a Small Oxygen Tank with you underground.
1 Just Leave It Packaged
Sure, you thought ahead before launching someplace new, and you’ve stored all the resources necessary to print what you’re going to need... but now it won’t fit. It’s always best to maximize storage for any kind of trip by leaving the necessities printed before you head out. Packagers cost one graphite apiece, and, although they aren’t as troublesome as Ammonium in the Soil Centrifuge, there’s no need to waste time and resources. Medium items will fit in your backpack immediately after a print, similar to packaged Research Items. Make the most of those Medium Storages you’re lugging around.