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Video Game / Astroneer

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Astroneer (stylized as "ASTRONEER") is a Survival Sandbox exploration game from System Era Softworks, currently available for Windows PCs, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. 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.

A Graphic Novel set in the game's universe called Astroneer Countdown was published by Titan Comics in 2023.

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 Gravity Is the Same: All planets have the same gravity, even though they all are different sizes (and Desolo and Novus are moons).
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Partially averted. While all planets are suitable for their own distinct flora, as well as having terrain similar to parts of Earth (with Vesania's floating islands and the mantle and core being the exception), none of them have a breathable atmosphere or a notable water supply.
  • 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.
    • Every planet has the resources necessary to build a base, a basic shuttle and a thruster for it, so even if you lose your regular shuttle or run out of fuel, you aren't stranded. It may be quite hard to pull off on some planets with tougher terrain types, but it's still entirely possible.
    • The verbosely-named "Mission, Power, and Compass Update" added an improved version of the compass that will show the direction to your base or any beacons, from anywhere on the planet. Previously, the only way to find your base after exploring was to look for the 'flag' over the horizon.
    • Any of the one-of-a-kind items like the Galastropods or C.O.L.E. can be retrieved at a launchpad, making it impossible to lose them.
    • If a rover ends up wrong-end-up after a tumble, such as down the side of a mountain, after 2-3 seconds the "Exit Vehicle" key will switch to "Flip Vehicle".
  • 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, multi-layer 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: Downplayed after release. The pre-release versions had windstorms hurling rocks and spiky balls, lamprey-like plants on cavern ceilings dangling lures to eat anything hitting them, and indestructible worms lying in wait in pits. The Old Solar System from Early Access was not a nice place. Version 1.0 removed most of the Death World elements, but even the new game's Solar System still has plants digging pits and lying in wait, plants that explode or impale you on spikes, and even aggressive plants that will attack you on sight with poison clouds or time-delayed explosives.
  • Fast Tunneling: The Terrain Tool is very fast by realistic standards, but since 1.0 it's now possible to build a full Drill Tank.
  • Factory-Building Game: Astroneer has evolved into a mild version of one, with later updates adding new modules allowing Astroneers to fully automate processes like extracting resources or transferring them between platforms, along with some quality of life interface options allowing some modules to continue manufacturing as long as they had either source materials or a free output space.
  • 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. Thankfully, this is mostly averted through the help menu found by pressing Escape.
  • Impossibly-Compact Folding: Pretty much all objects built by an Astroneer can 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: The inventory space is very limited. Your backpack has eight normal slots for you to fill with stuff, two "active" shoulder spots where you usually put a worklight, a generator or a jetpack, and three slots on your multitool which you usually fill with functional mods for said tool. But even if you run full empty, 13 slots is not enough to empty out a half of a resource node. Thus the main resource shuffling happens via Medium Storage - craftable objects that hold 8 items, and can be placed on base platforms so that structures can pull resources from them automatically. Later the game expands with offer of Large and Extra Large storages that can house multitudes of Medium Storages upon them, as well as Resource Canisters that can store up to 32 (medium) or 400 (large) portions of a given resource at a time.
  • Matter Replicator: Available in multiple tiers. One in your backpack can print items taking up 1 inventory slot, including a Small Printer. Small Printers then can print items that take 2 connected slots and platforms to put them on, including a Medium Printer. Medium Printers cover 4-slot items, including most of the base structures. Large Printers go for Extra Large items, most of which can't even be put on platforms after being unpacked as they are the biggest vehicles and platforms in themselves.
  • 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!
  • Portal Crossroad World: The Gateway Portal is a satellite with portals to every planet.
  • Portal Network: Alien portals can be found on the equator and poles of each planet. Plus one more at the core of each, and a nexus that ties them together.
  • 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 entirely averted after release.
  • 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. The larger ones contain broken platforms with only 1 cable port, and have a higher chance of containing other fully fuctional items such as power generators.
  • 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.
  • 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. If it spins faster, it works faster.