As happens with all the best sandbox game, a huge and creative community has attached itself to Starbound. While the game's still in Early Access, through the use of mods you can expand it into something more varied, more vibrant, and specifically tailored to what you want it to be. Here are ten of the best mods, chosen from the many now available in Starbound's growing mod directory .
Before we get to the mods, first download the Starbound Mod Manager. The game doesn't yet offer official mod support, but this third-party application does a great job of installing the files for you. It doesn't matter where you install it, as long as you tell it the location of your Starbound install. You'll most likely find that in your Steam directory, by default in "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Starbound".
Once it's set up, you can install new mods by dragging and dropping their zip files into the main window of the Mod Manager. If compatible, it'll automatically unpack the files, and let you install or remove them with a single click.
Or, to give this mod the alternative title I just made up, "hello, I'm a massive cheating cheat" mode. Ostensibly, Creative Mode allows you to spawn building materials for the purpose of terraforming a chosen planet into a paradise of your own design. But in addition, it puts complete god-like power into a selection of handy workstations. The mod's 'Ultimate Box' is available for free inside the crafting menu, and inside you'll find an item spawner, Tech unlocker, Super Manipulator, and more. It's great for its stated purpose, and also for turning you into an instant badass of unstoppable power.
Due to the type of mods popular in Starbound, some of the most useful downloads are almost entirely administrative in their design. This, admittedly, is not very exciting, but—like filing your taxes or regularly checking your oil—opens up the potential for hassle-free future excitement.
Tabula Rasa is both administrative and essential. It adds a giant obsidian tablet to the crafting menu that gives instant access to items added by other mods. It's a great way to cut down on the confusion that can be caused by multiple installations. If there's an extra you need, you'll almost certainly find it here.
There are many different race mods for Starbound, and I'm not going to tell you which to download. Maybe you want to be a fluffy space raptor , or an Argonian , or a pony . It's really down to your own personal preference. Whichever race choose, you'll need this mod to select them. It adds additional slots to character creation that fill up as you install new species.
Personally, I'm a fan of the clean look provided by Simple Extended Character Creation's “Modded Species” box. But if you run out of slots,
Kawa's Xbawks-mode Character Creator offers a functional and expanded alternative.
The fourth mod in this list and we're only just getting to the giant mechs? I know, I'm sorry. Hopefully the massive firepower offered by XS Corporation Mechs will make up for the delay. It bolsters Starbounds limited mech selection with an additional six hulking power-suits. As well as looking brilliant, each has a unique set of abilities and weapons. The Sigma Mech, for instance, offers a huge cluster-bomb attack, while the Rho Mech features a “Graviton” beam that pulls enemies into range of its powerful plasma lathe. The materials required for each Tech schematic ensures they aren't (too) overpowered.
If Animal Crossing, Wildstar and the entire concept Ikea prove anything, it's that people will happily spend hours painstakingly choosing, buying and arranging furniture. The Pixel Goods Store brings that philosophy into Starbound, with a special store that contains a variety of furnishings and decor to compliment your constructions.
With it you can buy items ranging from beds, chairs, appliances and electronics, as well as a selection of things themed around each race. In all, there are over 300 new items included. Many of them are completely non-functional, but they nevertheless expand your potential to add personality to your home.
Starbound's instruments can be a powerful tool in the right hands, but they take some effort to get working. For one thing, you need the ABC notation of your chosen song. And even then, you have to actually find an instrument out in the universe. Alternatively, you can install Mighty Music, and gain access to hundreds of notations and a selection of new instantly-available instruments.
The pack contains over 2,000 song covers, taken from a variety of games, movies, TV shows and anime. As for instruments, you'll find new synths, drums and, for some reason, a can of beans.
Starbound already has a nice selection of dungeons—randomly generated structures containing hostile creatures and the promise of loot. Still, a bit more variety can't hurt; or, more accurately, it can hurt, but will nonetheless offer some enjoyable challenges along the way. That's what Dungeoneer Dungeons aims to provide. It adds a series of possible dungeon spawns, both large and small. With it, you can find everything from a single caged mini-boss, to a sprawling and extremely difficult military base. It also adds a volcano, which in the creators own words is, "not actually a dungeon, just a giant fucking volcano".
Vanilla Starbound has basic NPC spawners, but if you really want your ship to feel alive, download this. It adds a full crew to your space voyage, each with a different role and offering a different set of services. More than that, though, each crew member must first be rescued through a custom-made dungeon quest. These quests begin after defeating Dreadwing in the basic tutorial, and so provide a compelling reason to continue on your adventure.
NB: due to the new 'universe' files added by this mod, it is incompatible with the Starbound Mod Manager and must be manually installed.
The clue is in the title: while Starbound has a decent number of biomes by default, Variety is the spice of the Universe adds many, many more. In all there are more than 50 new planet types, along with new weather effects and even new songs in each biome. It also vastly increases the number of airless planets—meaning you'll need to craft a Survival System to fully appreciate its worlds.
NB: due to the nature of its biome changes, this mod has many potential conflicts. Check this compatibility list for a rough guide as to what will and won't work.
Finally, you can bring some more colour into your worlds with the Dye Pack. Through a new Dye Station terminal, you can customise the colour of nearly any item or material in the game. The mod supports not only the base game's armour, clothing, weapons, objects and blocks, but also that of a wide variety of other mods—including many of the items from the Pixel Goods Store.
In addition, the mod is multiplayer friendly. There's even a special Vanilla Compatible Server Edition, allowing server owners to implement the Dye Pack's functionality without the need for visitors to download it themselves.