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Turn Astroneer's chill spacefaring into a hardcore survival nightmare with its custom game mode

Make the chill space game not-so-chill, if you want

Helmeted astronaut reacts toward a cute green alien pet in a screenshot from Astroneer
Image credit: System Era Softworks

Space survival explorathons can usually be pretty stressful affairs since, y’know, breathable air can be a finite resource in these environments, and being chomped up by an indescribable horror is never off the table. That’s why Astroneer won me over with its more chilled take on the not-so-chill genre. But for those who enjoy the scary parts of space, Astroneer can now be turned into that hardcore survival experience. Or anything else you want. That’s thanks to the expansive Custom Games Mode update which launched last week - I've been working in Interstellar's timezone, sorry!

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“This update cracks open Astroneer in a way that allows players to do all sorts of really fun things,” read the patch notes from developers System Era. “From creating new saves with unique characteristics like hardcore permadeath, to setting up exact scenarios and speedruns, the custom games tools added will allow you to make the experience your own and then share them with others.”

Astroneer’s Custom Games update does what the name says, letting us mess with the game’s settings in big and small ways. That freedom extends to modding planet generation across the entire system with settings for gravity, wind rates, resource frequency and more. The patch notes detail everything else you can now tweak including adjustable settings for respawns, oxygen, research, and power. You can now also choose which planet to start on and make things extra tough by disabling the starting shelter.

“We have always wanted to add new game modes,” explains System Era, “but we felt that might be too prescriptive.” Their compromise was to let the community play with all these options instead. Once you have a configuration that you’re happy with, you can share it with friends on every platform. System Era note that there are “bound to be some interesting results based on how many changes we have made,” so things may get a little weird and/or broken up in space.

The RPS Treehouse reckons Astroneer is among the best survival games on PC, as we said: “Even without the struggle, Astroneer has plenty of momentum.” More ways to play and customise the game can only be a good thing, especially if you’re craving more “struggle.” I haven’t been back to the colourful craft ‘em up for a few years, but I’ll certainly be making a return visit for this, especially when other recent updates have added railways and a kickass hoverboard.

Astroneer is usually available on Steam for £24/€28/$30, but there’s currently a big 60% discount. You can also play the game through Game Pass.

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