Venturing onto an unexplored foreign planet is a bit like emigrating, but instead of immediately setting up a bank account, renting a flat, and/or hiring a car your primary is concern is, well, staying alive. In interstellar sandbox adventure Starbound [official site] there are plenty of moon-bound monsters out to get you from the off - be that of the biome, procedurally-generated or unique variety - so it’s absolutely essential your house/ship/pithy gathering of dirt and mud is in order quick snap.
Luckily, Starbound packs quite the selection of mods to help that along. The following should give you an extra leg-up before the extra-terrestrials get you.
By Tatsu and Tripod respectively
Inventory Interface Redone is a handy mod to install early on which reconfigures how your inventory interface is displayed. As can be seen in the header image above, by rotating the items pane and running it vertically on one side allows enough space for text identifiers to fit alongside the five main criteria. With that slight adjustment, everything else suddenly feels like it’s in the right place, and what at first may seem like a pretty insignificant tweak makes juggling your inventory so much easier over time.
Once the critters come calling, you’ll want your finest weapons at hand too. Weapons Stats displays item level, the damage per second (DPS) and the damage per energy (DPE) for swords and guns. This is based on raw damage only - therefore abilities and combo attacks aren’t factored in - however this is a neat quality of life mod that should help you organise your offensive.
By By Lunchghost and v6 respectively
The Monica Geller-level of clerical organisation continues with both Container UI Tweak and Improved Containers.
First the former, which is another superficial display tweak that separates your inventory and containers windows with a much wider margin offered by the game’s v1.1. “This mod changes four pixels (as standard in v1.1) to 160 pixels, which means you must manually move the inventory window to the left once,” reads the creator’s blurb. It’s worth noting that, unfortunately, the Container UI tweak isn’t compatible with the aforementioned Inventory Interface mod. While I personally prefer the one listed above, I like this one enough to recommend it here on the off-chance you lean this way instead.
Improved Containers simply allows containers to be renamed, sorted and quick stacked which should boost your organisational needs to no end.
By Kave Johnson, Neo and zecra respectively
Right, now all of that boring secretarial stuff is out of the way let’s get onto the fun stuff. Like gardening. Hey, you guys and gals gotta eat. And if you wanna survive… look, we spoke about this already. Anyway, Compact Crops halves the required space for large horizontal-lying crops that in essence makes for more crops on less land.
Following this, Craftable Seeds allows you to create all seeds and certain saplings - not to mention new Mushroom Seeds and Thorny Plant Seeds; and new saplings from Alienfruit, Mushrooms, Coconuts, Red Apples, and Plant Fibre - directly from crops and fruits. Simply open the new ‘Seed Maker’, craftable via your Inventor’s Table, and create away to your heart’s content.
Then of course you have Efficient Watering. There’s perhaps not another Starbound mod out there that is so simple yet so satisfying. It lets you water your crops without those pesky cool-down times. It decreases the overall time it takes to water crops. And, crucially, it lets you water while walking. Perfect.
By Mickyan and v6 respectively
Okay, so it’s finally time to seek some help out in the celestial wilderness, but everyone you’ve happened upon so far is completely handless. Enter Earth’s Finest, a mod that improves the crew system by greatly increasing the strength and services of your entourage. With balance in mind, each class gets treated to their own unique stats making crew choice top priority.
Outlaws, for example, receive reduced health and regeneration capabilities, however can deal greater damage, have increased invulnerability time after being struck, and can run faster than before. Likewise, Soldiers are afforded higher damage rates, and increased health. “Additionally, your tailor will now consider your head slot items for your crew's uniform,” says the mod’s creator, which is a nice touch.
With Instant Crafting, you can put your newly-formed motley crew to work. Much similar to how crafting functioned in Starbound’s earliest days, Instant Crafting disables the more recently introduced timer on crafting tables so that everything you turn your hand to is created instantaneously.
By Lukky, lophatkao and ZimaZang respectively
Now, onto the real fun stuff.
Once you’ve settled on your once foreign planet, how are do you plan to further explore? You could use the hoverbikes Starbound offers as standard. But you’re BETTER using Lukky’s Explorerpod mod which adds a host of two-seater Explorerpod vehicles that can be claimed via Penguin Pete’s Vehicle Lot in exchange for a healthy sum of pixels. Oh, and not only can these hovercrafts skoot from surface-to-air-to-space - they can also dive deep as fully-submersible ships.
But then again, is this the best way to get around? I mean, what if you get attacked while flying around in the pod? Wouldn’t it be nice to ensure your safety too? Of course it would, which is where both XS Mechs and ZZ Mech Mods come in. The former adds a suite of ultra-cool mechs which boast lasers and turrets and cannons and skull heads and rail guns and whole range of other artillery and neat designs. ZZ Mech Mods then asks: “Love using XS Mechs? Ever wish your mech could stand out from the stock mechs? Then look no further,” before adding even more mechs to the mix.
To gain access to this, you’ll first need to have completed Floran boss mission, before visiting Penguin Pete who’ll offer a new quest. Ultimately, he points you in the direction of an illegal mech dealer - who deals in special weapons, mech, and a mech recolouring scheme. Be warned, though, the dealer ain’t cheap.
Similar to Fluffy’s RimWorld mods, Sayter’s Starbound Steam Workshop page is worth visiting in its entirety. Frackin’ Universe is essentially a total conversion that adds new biomes, expands the crafting system, adds science, micro-dungeons, custom crew members, armours, weapons, new monsters, tiles and loads of other incremental and superficial adjustments to the base game. Separate mods Starbooze and Bees are also slotted in there which add, funnily enough, alcohol and bees to the sandbox.
Frackin’ Races and Frackin’ Races Foods are good complimentary mods to the above (although can be used on their own) which introduce more idiosyncratic options and ability alterations to race and foods. It’s worth noting that given these mods alter so much of the original game, they’re probably best suited to those who’ve spent a long time playing, or are perhaps fed up with playing, the vanilla game.
Sayter has attached the following disclaimer to the Universe mod’s page:
“Installing FU is a one-way trip. FU will affect your game universe *and* *ALL* characters. If you uninstall the mod, your game will inevitably crash, unless you wipe your universe and player folders. THIS CANNOT BE AVOIDED, so please do not request that we 'fix' this. It is not avoidable. If you are not sure you want to keep this mod, be sure to back up your universe and player folders before installing.”
By Magnus, Cookie the Ice-Cream Kookaburra and SwolarPug respectively
Of course a list of best Starbound mods wouldn’t be complete without mention of crossovers. There are plenty of them out there (I’ve inevitably missed your personal favourites - sorry!), however these ones are probably the most fun and/or sophisticated of the lot. Erring towards the former, I just can’t get over how cute Smough of Ornstein and Smough of Dark Souls is shrunk, pixelated and forced into Starbound.
If Overwatch is your thing (it’s not mine), then the Overwatch mod looks pretty nifty. In the style of Blizzard’s team-based multiplayer FPS, you can craft weapons, items and costumes, and make use of other miscellaneous items such as the Roadhog Gas Cannister and Legendary Panel.
The stand out crossover for me, though, is Cookie the Ice-Cream Kookaburra’s Castlevania which borrows loads of items, objects and backdrops from the renowned Akumajō Dracula series. There’s genuinely hours of fun to be had in this mod alone.
By Peasly Wellbott
Um… yeah, this one is pretty terrifying. Creator Peasly Wellbott describes Mecharachnid as “the pinnacle of ill-advised Penguin research” with which you can “gain a vehicle of uncompromising might.” Only problem is, it’s tooled up with a rather uncompromising AI that’s not for the faint of heart. “Speak with the Barkeep after dealing with Dreadwing, and come equipped for a hard fight.”
Look at that thing. Best assemble the mechs.
By Doctor Ragnarok
Here’s what to do with all those spare gnomes.
Enemies Aren’t Stupid!
Add some intelligence to your adversaries.
A handy item that guides you back to the site of your last death.
Add a splash of the Wasterland to Starbound.
Which brings us to the end of our best Starbound mods. But space is a pretty big place to explore. Have we missed some mods along the way? Probably - tell us which ones in the comments below.