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Astroneer makes use of a variety of common survival game mechanics with a focus on creating a base from which the player can branch out and explore.
Astroneer's standard gamemode starts the player on a procedurally-generated Sylva following character creation and a landing sequence in the Dropship. Upon exiting the Dropship, a Shelter and a Landing Pad are spawned on top of a circle of Hardness 3 Terrain which requires at least Drill Mod 2 to mine.
Main article: Oxygen
Oxygen is a primary resource in Astroneer, and the most critical. Players require oxygen to live, and if they run out, they will eventually die. Fortunately, the early game provides two options to mitigate the risk posed by oxygen deprivation: Tethers and Oxygen Filters. Vehicles also provide oxygen, but will only send oxygen through Tethers if there is an Oxygenator mounted.
Tethers are a key exploration tool throughout the course of gameplay. When adjacent to a platform connected to an Oxygenator, they will provide Oxygen to any nearby players and create a connection with adjacent Tethers. They are especially useful earlier on as they significantly extend the player's exploration range, enabling the collection of resources required to advance the game.
Tethers are crafted in packs of eleven and are, by default, placed using T. One pack takes up one Tier-1 slot.
Oxygen Filters are a consumable item that can be crafted with 1 Resin in the player's Backpack Printer. They provide a temporary supply of oxygen whenever the player is not actively tethered to an oxygen source. A single set of Oxygen Filters takes up one Tier-1 slot.
Main article: Power
Power is distributed across a network using a system of cables that extend from, and snap into, red sockets on Platforms and Vehicles. Tethers will also distribute power when connected to oxygenated platforms, but only to nearby Players.
Power can be generated with a variety of items and modules. Astroneer offers a challenge by having players adapt to different Planets' environments; for example, Desolo, the moon of Sylva, has a very limited atmosphere, making it less than ideal for a Wind Turbine.
Renewable power includes Wind and Solar energy, and is the primary power source in the early- and mid-game. These forms of power are temperamental as they are dependent on environmental conditions.
An alternative in the lategame is the RTG, an infinite power source that produces a significant amount of energy. A low-power version can be found mounted on the starting Shelter that cannot be removed.
Non-renewable power requires fuel to run and is limited to the Small Generator and Medium Generator. When activated, a generator will produce a continuous flow of power until its fuel source runs out. This makes them ideal in the early-game where power is limited, and in the mid- and late-game as an emergency power source.
Power storage in Astroneer is done using Batteries. The Medium Battery is ideal for providing a consistent flow of power in a base when there is a shortfall in power generation, while the Small Battery is better used in the player's Backpack where it can provide power for their Terrain Tool's Augments.
Main article: Spaceflight
Players may construct Shuttles to travel to other planets in the system. Once a shuttle has been constructed and either a Solid-Fuel Thruster or a Hydrazine Thruster is attached, they can initiate liftoff and be launched into orbit of the planet they are on. When launching, the player may select either launching into orbit or to another planet in planet view.
Main article: Terrain Tool
The Terrain Tool allows deformation and construction of Terrain. By default, E toggles the tool between held and stowed. Left clicking with it will cause it to remove terrain near the cursor. Holding CTRL will activate flatten mode, which causes any nearby terrain to have the same orientation as the exact polygon clicked on. Holding ALT will activate build mode, which uses stored soil to add terrain.