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'Starbound' is scheduled to blast off from Steam Early Access on July 22

Chucklefish Games has announced that Starbound will finally leave Steam Early Access on July 22, nearly three years after its initial beta release and almost five years since the game was first announced.

Starbound is something of a spiritual successor to indie hit Terraria, with Chucklefish CEO Finn “Tiyuri” Brice having worked on both games. Both are 2D adventures with a heavy focus on survival and crafting mechanics that take place in a procedurally generated game world.

However, Starbound sets itself apart from Terraria with a sci-fi setting and several gameplay elements that spring forth from it. The protagonist starts the game by fleeing their homeworld, and can freely travel around the universe pursuing whatever goals they see fit.

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Players have been enjoying the game’s sandbox mode, but when Starbound leaves Early Access it will be fleshed out significantly. Structured missions, non-player characters, and an overarching narrative are set to be added to the game with the upcoming update, according to a report from Engadget.

The last several years have been about perfecting the game’s gameplay mechanics so that the experience stands up to hours and hours of play. The version 1.0 update will bring things up to the standard expected of a retail release — but the team at Chucklefish doesn’t plan on stopping there.

Like many games of this kind, Starbound will continue to receive patches and updates that offer bug fixes, gameplay tweaks, and even new content. A blog post on the game’s official website confirmed that the development team still have plenty of “cool ideas” that are destined to find their way into the game via future updates.

With the PC version of the game leaving Early Access, we might see Starbound on other systems sooner rather than later — the game is also scheduled to hit the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in due course.