Starbound beta patched with new combat balance system, slightly broken

10 Dec 2013  by   Tim McDonald
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Update: 11 December: Starbound beta hotfixed, weapons now less game-breaking.

The latest patch for the game that is mostly easily described as Terraria-In-Space – that is to say, Starbound – has been released, and as the first major post-Early Access patch, it’s a bit of a big one. It’s also a little bit broken, although that should probably be expected with a game that’s pretty much at the very beginning of its public beta.

This patch version has been given the marvellous version name of Annoyed Koala, and the big thing it does is totally revamp the combat/levelling/balance system. You can read the dev notes on that particular change over here, but the upshot is that the monsters no longer have “levels”, weapon DPS will be simplified to make it easier to compare and contrast items, items with a fixed amount of damage (like throwing knives) will have a static damage setting that will be balanced for the entirety of the sector, etc. This will also, according to the patch notes, make it easier to improve balance over time.

Reports on the forums, however, are that this doesn’t quite work – possibly due to bugs. The big issue right now seems to be that, while the levelling has been flattened so that planets are graded from 1-10, the weapons seem to still be linked to the previous 1-100 grading system. Which means that it doesn’t take too long to get weapons equivalent to level 15, while the most difficult planets will be level 10. Which means that your early-game weapons will actually be half a game above the absolute maximum you should be able to get. I’m going to assume that this is a bug, and you’re not meant to have weapons that do seven million billion squillion damage within the first few hours of play.

So, um, oops. I can’t imagine that’ll stick around for long. Beta, everyone! Interestingly, this was an issue touched on by Crate Entertainment’s Arthur Bruno in our interview yesterday, in terms of polishing in the middle of the development and having to keep the game “fun” rather than just uploading patches that horribly break the game.

This patch has changed enough that there has also been a full character wipe. Let’s hope that the hotfix to this problem won’t also require one.

The full patch notes follow. I’ve been playing a bit of Starbound, so if you haven’t bought into the beta, we’ll likely have some sort of preview piece up soonish so that you can get some first-hand impressions. I’ll probably wait until this balance issue is fixed, though.

- HUGE balance patch, every item, creature, armor and weapon rebalanced. Leveling system entirely rewritten. Although the balance is early the new leveling system is much better than the old one and we can now improve balance over time.
– Added early implementation of creature taming (more features coming soon)
– Added new mining items
– Added new weapons
– Added new throwable items
– Added grappling hook
– Added new boss and new sector of the galaxy
– Added a stance system to weaponry, not currently used but will allow us to add secondary attacks to weaponry very soon.
– Tons of new sounds
– Guns more common in tier 3
– Underground detached/rare biomes more common
– Underground random encounters more common
– Underground chests more common
– Ore rebalance (probably way way too much ore at the moment, will be fixed later, enjoy it)
– Baby monsters
– New monster palettes
– Added pixel compressor for high cost banking (idea from Ncrpts)
– Disable using the beamaxe to light caves underground
– Added new hats
– Some monsters now graze on grass (can look ugly, needs finishing)
– Small bipeds now socialise with eachother
– All the monsters behave smarter and are less likely to get stuck
– You can no longer attack through blocks
– Fix the game on XP (hopefully)
– Tons more fixes and smaller additions

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