Astroneer 1.0 will increase co-op beyond four players and add player customization

Astroneer, the open world survival and exploration sandbox from System Era, is now in its second year in Early Access and aiming for a 1.0 release at the end of 2018. Its trailer at E3 announced the December release for 1.0, and if you watch closely you can pick up some hints for a few things it plans to deliver. Astroneer currently supports up to 4-player co-op, but a scene near the end of the trailer shows more than four astronauts running around together.

"We want to push that player number as high as we can go," said Joe Tirado of System Era when we spoke at E3. "No specifics there, but we have a dedicated server running [in-house] and we've had as many as 10 people running around." A scene in the trailer shows nine co-op astronauts—not quite enough for a battle royale match, as System Era joked on April 1st, but it's still definitely more than four.

And while many players enjoy the self-guided sandbox experience of Astroneer, "We've also heard this call of people want stuff to do," Tirado said. "They want directed goals, they want exposition about the universe we built." These goals will be a part of version 1.0. These aren't quests, Tirado told me, and there won't be a proper campaign in Astroneer. But players interested in a more directed experience will have a path to follow if they're looking for one.

"High level goals of the game that you sort of aspire to once you've learned the mechanics of the game," Tirado said. "So, I'm really good at systems, I'm really good at deforming [terrain], so some of those goals might be using those skills to problem solve and figure out how to use deformation to circumnavigate some sort of problem that you encounter."

Those who are perfectly happy to follow their own bliss don't need to concern themselves with these goals if they don't want to, said Tirado. "The game will be telling you that those things are there, but not necessarily forcing you in their direction."

As a reward for completing some of these optional high-level goals, Astroneer also plans to introduce player customization. System Era isn't completely sure yet what the nature of the customization in 1.0 will be, though they're looking at a few different options. Above you can see some concept art of different color palates for spacesuits—some could be specific to the different planets and could be worn as a sign that you've visited them. The idea of adding mission patches is also being explored as a way to decorate your astronaut to show off where you've been and how much you've achieved.

Crossplay is currently supported between Windows Store and Xbox versions of Astroneer, but 1.0 also plans to include the Steam version in that crossplay as well. For more on what's coming in Astroneer in 1.0, you can visit its official site and take a peek at its development roadmap.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.