A helpful guide to exploring Caves you find on the planets of Approaching Infinity.
Why Explore Caves?
As you zip through space in Approaching Infinity, the one thing you really want to find are caves on distant world. No matter how much time you spend among the stars, caves are where it’s at.
So why do you care about caves, beyond a few missions that might take you there? Here’s why:
- Caves have levels stuffed with resources you can sell.
- Caves sometimes have levels chock-full of artifacts, blueprints, and alien data.
- Mercenaries REALLY like setting up bases in caves, which let you get your hands on bounty, use teleporters, fight them – and eventually befriend them.
A good set of caves can make you money, give you blueprints, and make friends (after you kill a bunch of them, Mercenaries are weird).
Here are the things you need to know to spelunk among the stars.
CHANGING LEVELS: As you go deeper, you might worry about how to get back to the surface – or all the way back to where you were. Fortunately as long as your health and oxygen are high enough, you can immediately return to the surface, or go to the lowest level you explored from the surface. Even if you can’t go as far as you want, you can hopefully get close (or get better equipment).
OXYGEN: Getting into caves is difficult as you need Oxygen! Fortunately as you wander around you’ll find Oxy-Alge (blue icons) and Mercenary bases have oxygen tanks. Oxy-Algae respawns so you can keep diving deeper and deeper. If you can find a cave on a planet with breathable atmosphere, then score – dive deep.
DIGGING: You can dig into some walls without equipment, but sometimes you’ll find (or uncover) piles of rocks that you need an Excavator or the Spelunker skill to get through them. Always keep an Excavator on hand.
DANGERS: There are areas prone to cave-ins, acid pools, lava, and more to be found. Learn the dangers and be careful – unless you have Self-Sealing Suits its hard to heal. You might want to use various Away Team equipment to protect yourself, but remember you can only have one at a time, and you’ll probably want an Excavator or something else.
ENEMIES: There will be enemies. You knew that, but you have more unique terrain to take advantage of.
Your goal in entering caves is to get as much loot, and go as deep as possible so you can get loot. Here are some approaches to get started:
MARK FOR LATER: If a Cave is too hard to explore, use the “N” to mark the planet for later exploration. It’s probably worth it.
MARK EXPLORED: After you get to the bottom of the cave, mark the planet as explored so you don’t return and waste time.
GATHER ALL THE ALGAE: If you are on a world that needs oxygen, grab all the Oxy-Algae you can. Your tanks can store an unlimited amount of “ambient” oxygen.
SKIP BORING LEVELS: If a level doesn’t seem to have good loot, skip it. There are some levels that are filled with loot, so don’t waste time! If you’re in a breathable atmosphere, you can meander more.
WHEN SUSPICIOUS, DIG: Remember you can dig through some walls, so if you think there are hidden areas or you can make a shortcut, walk into the wall and dig! This costs oxygen, but if you’re in a breathable atmosphere, why worry?
RETURN TO THE SURFACE OFTEN: Remember how you can shortcut back to the surface or dive deep without going through all the levels? Use that. When you’re unsure, as soon as you get to a lower level (especially if you passed a few) return to the surface! Now you can drop your stuff off at the shuttle and dive right back in!
ALWAYS GO TO THE BOTTOM: When at all possible, even if you have to revisit, try to get to the bottom of any cave. There’s loot to be had, data to gather, bases to explore, and of course the occasional achievement.
LOOK FOR SPECIAL LEVELS: Special levels are ones with unique features and of course, plenty of loot! Those are your big targets.
What Are Special Levels?
Some caves have special levels – levels that are different from the usual. Though still randomly generated, they have extra loot, unique features, and so on. These are your goal in spelunking, because they can really pay off.
Not all Caves have special levels. Not every cave has all of them. However because of the payoff, they’re worth searching for.
Special Level – Mercenary Bases
Mercenary Bases are places where Mercenaries hang out, high tech hideouts instead of stone walls. These are tough, so if you’re not ready for them, you might loose your away team. Here’s the benefits to look for.
- Fight mercenaries. It helps if you kill a lot of them as they’ll become your friends and then send you on missions. Plus once you’re friends, you can go through bases without opposition.
- Loot. There’s usually loot and lockers, as well as oxygen tanks and sometimes medical kits.
- Teleports. Look for a circle with a “T” in it – that’s a teleport that takes you right back to the surface. Invaluable for exploration, and sometimes if you’re trapped in a cave, going deeper to find a Mercenary Base is worth it.
STRATEGY: Be well armed, explore carefully, use cover, and don’t be afraid to retreat (possibly using the teleport). There’s no shame in running away and coming back with a better suit and a bigger gun.
Special Level – Mines
These are levels filled with piles of rocks that require an Excavator and piles of resources you can pick up and sell! You’ll know these when you see them! Here’s the benefits:
- Tons of loot!
- With an Excavator or even some digging, pretty easy to navigate.
- If enemies are about, the crowded environment makes them manageable.
STRATEGIES: If you can bring an Excavator use it, but digging can usually work around most problems. Gather easy-to-take loot first, which helps you explore. If you can return to the ship to drop off loot often, do it.
Special Level – Geodes
If you find a level that seems to be awful small, it may mean that behind those thick walls are geodes? If you dig through and quickly find crystal structures, then you’re in one. Poke around enough and you can find an entrance into the Geode and find credits within. Sometimes the levels may have other treasures. Here’s the benefits:
- Well, there’s loot.
- They look cool.
STRATEGIES: Look for massive areas that seem to just be rock. Dig often. Watch your oxygen as this may be time consuming. Though there’s loot, these levels are skippable if you’re in a hurry.
Special Level – Alien Ruins
Ah, now here’s the stuff. You may not known you’re at a Ruins level until you start spotting resources and blueprints all over. But soon you’ll realize you’re in a place with lots of stuff to pick up. These seem to be only on the lowest level of a cave. What will you find?
- Alien monoliths and artifacts that give you data to sell!
- Blueprints to use in crafting!
- Lots of loot!
STRATEGIES: If you can, return to your ship often to drop of valuables, especially equipment. Explore everything if at all possible.