Astroneer is a Survival Sandbox exploration game from System Era Softworks, currently available for Windows PCs and Xbox One. The player (or players) takes on the role of an "astroneer" in the 25th century, hired by a mining conglomerate to explore and exploit various planets.
This concludes the plot summary. Players are turned loose on the surface with a habitat capsule, space suit and terraforming tool; it is up to them to hunt down resources and research data to develop and expand their base of operations.
The game went on sale on Steam and Xbox One in January of 2019 with a radically overhauled interplanetary flight system and a bare-bones plot progression mechanic, although there is still no dialogue or narration in the game.
This game provides examples of:
- After the End: And also an aversion of Absent Aliens. The entire Astroneer system is based around a network of buried teleporters. Every planet is secretly artificial, with all of them connected by derelict alien teleporters to a satellite far off in space. The planets are all abandoned by their alien builders.
- All Planets Are Earthlike: Partially averted; none of the planets have a breathable atmosphere, though gravity tends to be close to Earth's.
- Almost Out of Oxygen: A common occurrence when you stray too far from a supply source. Your backpack contains around 70 seconds of air on its own, and visual cues will warn you when you reach 50%, 25%, and near empty. Once the suffocation warning pops up, you have around ten more seconds to reach a source before you expire.
- Anti-Frustration Features: The gateway at the center of each planet happens to refill your oxygen, which is good because bringing a vehicle or a line of oxygen tethers down to that place would be a nightmare.
- Base on Wheels: One of the updates made it possible to place building modules on rovers. A train of 2-3 large rovers can carry a medium-sized, fully functioning base.
- Beneath the Earth: All planets have extensive, multilayer cave networks, full of dangerous plants and resources.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: There's no real penalty for dying other than having to track down your corpse (which is conveniently marked) and retrieve any materials you had on your backpack.
- Design-It-Yourself Equipment: The building system is modular in nature, allowing you to build bases and rovers in any shape and purpose you want. Rovers can range from mobile generators, excavators, Drill Tanks, material and/or personnel transports, salvage shredders, tow trucks, high speed rocket cars or even massive Base on Wheels land-trains.
- Diegetic Interface: Aside from the main menu, escape menu, tutorial tasks and the item labels, meters and indicators are diegetic and any interactions with Astroneer backpacks or base devices float directly in front of your camera.
- Disintegrator Ray: The terraforming tool's apparent effect on loose soil (though not rocks, certain plants or useful materials)
- This can also be reversed with "raise mode", essentially spraying matter from any soil canisters the player is carrying to fill in holes or build platforms.
- Drives Like Crazy: Not entirely by choice; the rover physics are a bit...loose.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Windstorms hurling rocks and spiky balls, giant worms digging pits and lying in wait, mushrooms that explode or impale you on spikes, carnivorous plants...the galaxy is not a nice place.
- Fast Tunneling: Terrain Tool is very fast by realistic standarts, but since 1.0 it's now possible to build a full Drill Tank.
- Gravity Screw: The Gateway Engine found in the core of each planet.
- Guide Dang It!: Compared to most other games that simply use "[X] ore" for metals, this game uses the scientific names of a given ore so it can be confusing if you've not read much about geology.
- Impossibly Compact Folding: Pretty much all objects built by user unfold from a noticeably smaller packages - and can be folded right back with a one-use Packager.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Both the half-buried spaceship wreckage found on planet surfaces (or in underground caverns) that yield rare materials and rover seats, and the "Research Objects" that originally contained entire Tech Tree technologies until the Research Update changed that game mechanic.
- Inventory Management Puzzle: You will find yourself doing this over and over.
- Matter Replicator: Of the spiced up 3D printer variety. The shelter will even print a new you if you die.
- No Recycling: Averted. Most objects (and some of the found debris) can be shredded into scrap and exchanged for resources.
- Oxygen Meter: Prominently displayed on the backpack.
- Plug 'n' Play Technology: A majority of base modules can work both on a regular base and on a vehicle. Small ones can also work when plugged into your backpack. And somehow, giant alien teleporters use compatible sockets as well!
- Power Glows: Soft yellow for powered platforms, bright pink for alien structures. And blue for anything connected to an oxygen network.
- Resources Management Gameplay: The player will die after running out of oxygen, but bases and vehicles contain an infinite supply that extends to the range of a tether network. All base modules and vehicles require both a variety of materials to be built, and a steady supply of power or fuel to operate. (There are modules that can be used to more easily obtain or replace materials not easily available.)
- Secondary Fire: In addition to its default "vaporize landscape/hoover up useful bits" setting, the terraforming tool can raise ground level or create a flat plane.
- Single-Biome Planet: Used to be the case, but mostly averted after release. Only aptly named Desolo moon remains a barren wasteland.
- Tech Tree: Players need to research a variety of technologies in order to build vehicles, base modules, or addons for the player's backpack and terraforming tool. Several technologies depend on each other to be effectively used — for example, shuttles are useless unless players research a thruster, and a module to manufacture fuel.
- Techno Wreckage: It is possible to find a destroyed base, much like yours. As disheartening as it is, it always contained something useful. Later patches added wrecked vehicles, and also the remains of satellites vastly larger than anything you could ever build. You can attach their solar panels to your power grid for a colossal power boost.
- Teleporters and Transporters and Portal Network: Alien portals can be found on equator and poles of each planet. Plus one more at the core of each, and a nexus that ties them together.
- Weapons That Suck: While not a weapon per se, the terraforming tool essentially functions as a phlebotinized vacuum.
- When Things Spin, Science Happens: If it spins, it's working.