Some tips about how to use the various machines, and a basic plan of attack for which resources to mine in early and middle parts of the game.
Table of Contents
Basic Game Mechanics
Planet Crafter is a game about terraforming a dead world for future colonization. It is still in early access so they might change things up later, but at this point the basic story is: you’re a convicted felon, and you’ve made a deal with a mega-corporation to go prepare a far-off planet for colonization. If you succeed, you go free. If not, then you died far from home – because nobody is coming to your rescue.
You start out with NOTHING. Just a landing pod with a little crafting station. You’ll have to venture out of the pod to collect minerals with which to start building the equipment you’ll use to develop the planet into something people can live on. Eventually you’ll want to find a good location to build a permanent base where you’ll do most of your planning and workshop activities. You’ll also need to build several outposts around the world where you’ll be able to take care of your survival needs without needing to run all the way back to your base every time. The further out you go, the more minerals you’ll find. And as your terraforming progresses, you’ll unlock more blueprints to make better equipment. You’ll focus on increasing four things: heat, oxygen levels, and atmospheric pressure. Those three things will then add into your total T.I. which stands for “terraforming index.” Eventually you’ll also unlock access to a fifth parameter: biomass. As your T.I. increases past certain thresholds, you’ll see the face of the planet change in response to your efforts.
At the same time, you are on a LIFELESS LUMP OF ROCK IN OUTER SPACE, so there is no air or water when you start, and there is no McDonald’s so there are no cheeseburgers here. The gases are all trapped below the surface, and the water is all frozen. So while you’re working on building terraforming equipment, you’ll also need to SURVIVE the elements. Watch out for your “food,” “water,” and “oxygen” meters, if any of them drops to zero, you die. You can refill oxygen by consuming an O2 Packet, or by simply walking into a SEALED ROOM which you have built. All “living compartment” rooms automatically generate oxygen for you. Water can be refilled from water bottles, which you can make by melting ice at your crafting station.
Or you can build water collectors (which are unlocked MUCH later into the game) to generate water bottles automatically. To refill your health, you’ll have to eat. You start out with only a few packets of “space food” – basically the dehydrated stuff that astronauts eat. Before you run out of those, you’ll have to find some seeds and build some farming equipment to collect vegetables that you can eat. Seeds are found primarily in loot chests, or scattered around INSIDE shipwrecks that you’ll find scattered around. And by that I mean “space ships” not “sailing ships.”
Basic Tips – But Worth Reading Before You Start
- SAVE OFTEN. There are points on the map where you can “get stuck” between a couple of rocks. Then you run out of air and die.
- ONLY save while indoors, so when you load your game later you won’t need to worry about your oxygen dropping while you take a minute to remember where you are.
- The map for this game is ROTATED by 90 degrees. This means that East is AT THE TOP, instead of North being at the top. North is TO THE LEFT. Bear this in mind, especially after you get the Compass mod for your multi-tool.
- If your backpack is full, you can either put stuff into a chest to store it properly, or there is a small arrow at the lower right corner of each item – that arrow lets you drop the item on the ground in front of you. Then you can either leave it there, or pick it up again later.
- Drink more water. If you run out, you die. Always carry TWO water bottles with you.
- Water bottles refill the ENTIRE water gauge, so don’t waste it if your water bar is still half full.
- You need to BREATHE, so pay close attention to your O2 gauge. Always carry two oxygen capsules with you.
- Oxygen capsules refill the ENTIRE O2 gauge, so don’t waste it if your O2 bar is still half full.
- Your food gauge has approximately 80 HP by my estimation. So eat something when the bar gets down to 1/4 full. Always carry one or two foods with you.
- Your food gauge drains more slowly than your oxygen and water.
- Food will restore different amounts of health depending what you’re eating. Read the item description to see how much. Beans are the best, squash and space food are about the same, and eggplants & mushrooms are not as good for eating
- Eggplants, mushrooms, and squash can be used in crafting recipes once you unlock the Biolab.
- FALL DAMAGE IS REAL – AND VERY PAINFUL. So don’t fall down a cliff.
- After you get the jetpack, you can use it to save yourself from getting hurt during a fall.
- You’ll always want to have the construction and deconstruction tools equipped. One lets you BUILD things, the other lets you REMOVE things that you’ve built (and also various debris inside shipwrecks).
- Deconstructing an item will refund to you ALL the ingredients that you spent to build the item.
- When you take the loot from inside a storage chest, you can then deconstruct the chest, too.
- Regular (blue) chests give you ONE IRON. Gold chests give you ONE ALUMINUM and ONE SUPER ALLOY when deconstructed.
- Meteor storms drop meteorites, which scatter minerals near their impact site which you can collect.
- If you get hit by a meteorite, it is VERY PAINFUL. So learn to dodge them, or stay indoors until the storm passes.
- Meteorites can hit your buildings, but will not damage or destroy them. So as long as you have a roof over your head, you’re safe from a meteorite strike.
- Once the lakes and rivers show up, you can swim. Try steering up and down while you’re underwater.
- You can still gather minerals while underwater.
- You cannot drown – you are wearing an airtight space suit. Your O2 meter will drop like usual even while underwater.
- After you build a living compartment, you’ll need to also build at least one door on it before you can use it. You can put more than one door on it though.
- Living compartments generate O2 for you, but only the compartments that YOU BUILD. If you find an old compartment out in the desert, it doesn’t produce oxygen for you.
- If you try to deconstruct the door or a window on a living compartment, you’ll deconstruct the WHOLE COMPARTMENT – but you get ALL the ingredients back.
- If you’re going to explore pretty far from your main base, bring enough materials to build a small outpost where you’ll be able to refill your O2, and maybe also your food and water, without needing to return all the way home.
- The “ideal” outpost includes a living compartment with a door, a food grower with a bean seed installed, an atmospheric water collector, and maybe also one or two storage lockers (or chests if you haven’t unlocked that blueprint yet).
- Keep an eye on your ENERGY. If you build too many machines, your power supply will SHUT DOWN and none of your mining or farming equipment will work. You can still use your crafting stations though. You’ll have to either build more power generators or else remove a machine or two to restart the power generation.
- Minerals stuck in the ground since the beginning of the game never de-spawn so you can collect them ANYTIME. But they also never re-spawn after you collect them. Eventually you will need to build some ore extractors to get minerals “automatically.”
- Items inside chests or lockers never de-spawn, things you stick into storage are “safe” until you come back to retrieve them.
- Items sitting on top of the ground – seed pods inside shipwrecks, minerals dropped by meteorites, etc. WILL DE-SPAWN after about an hour or so, and they will also de-spawn if you exit the game before picking them up.
- De-spawning items inside of shipwrecks WILL NOT APPEAR until you approach close to the shipwreck… but once you get close then the item de-spawn timer starts. So don’t get close to a wreck unless you are equipped to clear the whole thing out within the next 45 minutes or so.
- When you grow a veggie and harvest it, you get the vegetable AND you get one seed to re-plant it.
- Seeds cannot just go in the ground; they need to be planted in a farming machine in order to grow.
- Items with LIMITED QUANTITIES (you can’t make them yourself, can’t mine for them, and they don’t re-spawn): Fabric, Zeolite, all the Flower Seeds, all the Veggie Seeds, Effigies, Lirma Seeds.
Some of the items in this game are not explained very well, you’re just expected to immediately know how to use it but they are a little bit complicated sometimes. Here are some tips to help you figure things out.
Open it up and check the blueprints for various items. Most of these are meant to be equipped to your multi-tool: backpack increases your cargo slots; jetpack lets you hover and move faster; agility boots let you run faster; and there are various other tools for you to try. Some items like the iridium rods, are meant to be used in further crafting.
Put any item into the small blue chest at the back, then hit the red button. The item will be disassembled – you get 100% refund of all the ingredients that went into that item. Example: recycling an Iridium Rod gives you 9 pieces of Iridium ore.
It’s a small box with a door on one side and a red button on the other side. Open the door and place up to 10 items inside, then press the red button to DESTROY all of those items permanently.
Open it up and put a veggie seed (mushroom, eggplant, squash, or beans) inside. Wait until the veggie grows. Aim at the veggie, not the machine, in order to harvest it AFTER it reaches 100% growth. When you harvest it, you get one veggie AND another seed to replant it.
It automatically generates water bottles over time. Open it up and take the water bottles out when they’re ready. Pretty simple, really.
Build this thing ON A PLATFORM. Then build a comm screen NEAR THE ANTENNA. If you’re too far from the antenna the screen will display an error message saying so. It lets you read some emails – which is how the STORY is told in this game.
Must be placed OUTDOORS. Releases, then bottles, methane gas and sometimes oxygen automatically. Open the device to collect the products.
This does NOT actually generate power like the solar cells; you take it into a shipwreck that has a Fusion Generator Core, insert it into that thing to open up some doors that were previously locked. Explore the rest of the ship. When finished, come back and you can remove the energy cell and take it with you to the next shipwreck.
Biomass & Oxygen Machines
Open it up and put a flower seed inside, it will generate oxygen. Different seeds give different bonuses to oxygen generation.
These must be placed on OPEN WATER, if you put it near the shore you lose HALF of the opportunities for it to produce algae because the solid land gets in the way. Once you build it, swim underwater and pluck the algae roots that hang down from the plants that grow around it.
These must be placed on solid ground. Grass will grow in a circular area around the machine.
Like grass generators, but flowers grow instead of grass. You must “open” the flower generator and insert a flower seed in order for it to work. Each type of seed grows a different kind of flower, as well as giving a different bonus to oxygen generated.
First you need to make a tree seed in the DNA Manipulator machine. Then you need to put a tree generator IN THE WATER but make sure it is right against the shore line and there is plenty of DIRT (not rocks) around it. Open it up and put the tree seed inside. Then watch it grow trees on the shore nearby.
T1 only has a screen for keeping track of your biomass progress, to unlock more blueprints along that line. T2 produces tree bark automatically every few minutes, collect it by opening the black panel on the wall near the door inside the dome. Bark is used to make tree seeds, and also to build a couple types of rockets.
Has a crafting station where you build fertilizer, explosive powder, bacteria, mutagen, and pulsar quartz.
The top screen shows a list of recipes you can use. The bottom screen is how you access the device. Insert all three ingredients. then hit “research” for a preview of what you’ll get. Then hit the button AGAIN to start the process. It takes some time (roughly 5 minutes) to produce a single tree seed.
- Secret Recipe: Golden Seed + Mutagen + Tree Bark = Tree Seed Pleom (+200% Oxygen).
Heat & Pressure Machines
Build it, let it generate heat. Must be placed INDOORS or else on a platform you build outside.
Build it, let it generate pressure (and a bit of heat). Must be placed OUTDOORS.
Build it, let it generate a bit of heat and pressure. Then it generates MINERALS automatically every so often. Open the storage chest (or locker) that is pre-installed on the machine to collect the products. The main ore that will be produced is shown at the bottom right of the menu when you open the machine’s storage. ALL extractors will also produce iron, titanium, silicon, cobalt, and magnesium as well as the main ore. The main ore will be determined by the type of soil you put it on.
It doesn’t matter what type it is (wind, solar, nuclear) they all work the same – just build it and let it generate energy for your other machines to use. It’s “wireless power” covering the entire planet. If your machines require more power than you’re generating, everything shuts down until you correct the problem.
Build the launch platform first. At the top of it is a computer screen where you can build ONE rocket at a time. It takes just a few seconds to build it, then hit the red button to launch it. READ the description of the rocket before you build it; each one has an effect on your terraforming progression – except the GPS rockets which allow you to use MAP SCREENS to display a map of the local area near the screen.
You can build a screen at each of your outposts to display each local area when you get there, or you can carry materials to build one whenever you want to check the map, then disassemble it to get the parts back. GPS rocket T2 just increases the size of the area shown on the screen – zooms out the map.
The Ideal Outpost
As you explore away from your home base, you’ll need to make sure you are able to refill your OXYGEN, get a DRINK OF WATER, and EAT SOMETHING so you don’t die of exposure. As such, the ideal outpost is a place where you can take care of these needs while away from home – think of it as a “vacation home.” Of course you’re free to build these up as much as you’d like – even to the point of building multiple COMPLETE home bases. But I’m just going to assume you want a little survival shack or way-station to keep you alive and not much else.
You can build little “oxygen shelters” every few hundred yards that are just a living compartment with a door, where you can just refill your oxygen and be on your merry way. But when I say “outpost” I really mean a small station that you’ll be returning to pretty often – like where you mine some of the advanced minerals, or in front of a shipwreck that you’re getting ready to explore.
If you want a fully functioning outpost, you’ll want all of these things at the location. But some of them won’t be unlocked near the beginning of the game, so you early on you’ll only be able to build a partial outpost. And to carry enough materials to build all of these things at once you’ll need a Backpack T5… if you have a smaller backpack it will take more than one trip to carry it all there. Just do what you can. You can always come back and improve it, or tear it down, later.
- Living Compartment + Door – so you can BREATHE
- 2 or 3 storage chests (2 storage lockers are better though) – to stash some loot
- T2 crafting station – for melting ice into water so you can drink, or making O2 pellets
- Atmospheric Water Collector – better than relying on melted ice
- Food Grower T1 + Bean Seed – so you can EAT
- Small table + Map Screen – if you like to look at the map
- Beacon – to help you find your way back there later
If it is a mining outpost (for getting iridium, sulfur, iron, aluminum, uranium, osmium, or super alloy) you’ll also want these things on site:
- Ore Extractors (T1 or T2 depends what materials you want)
- Shredder OR extra storage – for destroying or storing any unwanted items your extractor finds
Early Game Strategy
Early on, your oxygen tank is VERY SMALL so you’ll frequently need to run back indoors to refill your O2. This means at first your expeditions outside will be quite short. Don’t worry, this will change soon – eventually you’ll unlock a few bigger versions of the oxygen tank.
You’ll also start out with a TINY backpack so you can only carry a few things at a time. Like the O2 tank, you’ll eventually unlock a series of upgrades for this so you will gradually earn the ability to carry more stuff. More stuff is good. Bigger pockets means fewer trips back and forth to empty out those shipwrecks.
You’ll never increase your food meter, or some people call it your “HP” or just “health.” But you’ll eventually unlock the blueprints to build some machines for growing vegetables to replace the packets of space food that you start out with. Also, be advised that FALL DAMAGE IS A THING in this game. It is DEADLY, too. And there are frequent meteor showers – get hit by a meteorite and you could very easily die. They hurt. But they also scatter a bunch of minerals near their landing sites, which can be used for building more stuff.
So in the beginning, you want to make trips outside the landing pod to grab the minerals nearby, drop them off in the blue chest inside the pod. Keep this up until you can build the Oxygen Tank T1. (Anytime you see an item with a T# after its name, the T number tells you what “tier” it is. Bigger numbers indicate better equipment. And each tier requires you to use the prior tier as an ingredient when you build the upgraded version. So T2 needs a T1, and then T3 needs a T2 item, etc.)
If you look up the mountain to the northwest (remember the map is rotated 90 degrees so EAST IS AT THE TOP OF THE MAP!!), there is a HUGE shipwreck. You might be tempted to go explore it. BUT DO NOT GO THERE YET. You’re not ready for that. In fact, stay away from all the shipwrecks for a little bit longer. There are two reasons why I say that. First, they contain TONS OF LOOT and your backpack is still too small to carry it effectively. Wait until you have a bigger backpack. Also, many of the shipwrecks have SEEDS inside, just sitting on the floor. Items that are sitting on the floor will DE-SPAWN if you leave them there for too long. For items inside shipwrecks, the timer for that starts when you get close to the shipwreck site. If you keep your distance, it won’t be an issue, and you can come back with a bigger backpack so you’ll be able to grab them all before they de-spawn. If you have to run back to base too many times after entering the wreck but before grabbing the seeds, then they will be gone when you finally come back for them. SEEDS ARE YOUR LIFELINE – LITERALLY – and you cannot craft your own seeds.
So instead of going up the big mountain, go east (directly behind your landing pod) and up the small hill there. You’ll find a wide open plain. This is a nice place to setup your starter base. Lots of room to build, centrally located between all of the advanced minerals, and there are a lot of basic minerals stuck in the ground nearby. But you can build ANYWHERE you want to. In ANY WAY you want to. Part of the fun is trying to build the “perfect” or “most beautiful” base or whatever suits your own personal style. BUT… I warn you now, you should build your base someplace on “high ground.” Because part of the terraforming process involves melting the ice and making it rain, and eventually all the low areas will fill with water and become lakes and rivers. The low pit where your landing pod is will eventually end up underwater. ANY room that is underwater WILL NOT PRODUCE OXYGEN FOR YOU. Which makes underwater a horrible place to build a main base… much better to build your base on top of the water or farther up the hill. However, for the time being it’s fine, you can start building your base wherever you want. You can always move it later.
At first, stay near the base. Gather the minerals that are just sticking out of the ground. Build some heaters, veggie tubes, and drills. But make sure to keep up with building more power generators, too. You’ll start with only the wind turbine blueprints, and those look nice but wow they suck. Solar power will be your main source of energy for a pretty long time.
Your primary goal right now is to IGNORE what the game says about your terraforming progress, so you can focus on unlocking the blueprint for the FOOD GROWER (stupid name, I know). You will run out of space food packets pretty soon, and without another way to feed yourself YOU WILL STARVE. As you start exploring farther from home, you should find some chests that contain random loot. The loot in chests gets “better” the longer you wait to open it – right now it’s mostly just more magnesium and titanium in them but later in the game you’ll start to see iridium and uranium in there, too. Anyway… you need to open some chests NOW because that’s the only way to find VEGETABLE SEEDS. You need those to grow crops to feed yourself. Eggplant < Mushroom < Squash < Beans in terms of which foods are the best to eat. However, the beans are the only vegetable that isn’t part of a crafting recipe later which means you can eat them all day without feeling guilty LOL. The Food Grower blueprint is unlocked by raising OXYGEN.
To build the food grower, you will need ALUMINUM. This stuff is found SOUTH of your starting location, you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see shiny, gray, mis-shapen, metallic boulders all over the ground. Aluminum is very useful in the middle part of the game, but its use tapers off later. You’ll also need some iridium for various things, it’s found in a cave to the northeast of the starting location, in a cave that has sand falling off the top of the cliffs. You’ll know you’re there when you see glowing red pieces of ore scattered around. Your next goal is unlocking the Ore Extractor T1 so you can start making your own aluminum and iridium. This is unlocked by raising PRESSURE.
Mid Game Strategy (After You can Mine Aluminum)
Now you have the Ore Extractor T1 unlocked. This thing will mine for one of the following minerals, depending what kind of soil you put it on: Aluminum (on the grey aluminum sands), Iridium (inside the iridium cave on the dark soil there), Sulfur (in the sandy field near the northwest side of the map, with all the yellow fog low to the ground), or Iron (ANYWHERE ELSE). It needs TWO pieces of Osmium (found in caves with blue glowing rocks) and one Iridium Rod (made at the advanced crafting station using NINE Iridium ore)… and in the beginning these resources are VERY LIMITED so don’t waste your osmium or iridium too much! You might need to deconstruct a machine or two if you’ve already used all those minerals up.
Note: Osmium needs a T2 extractor to be mined. If you put a T1 extractor in an osmium cave, it will dig up iron instead.
To start with, put two extractors in the iridium area and two in the aluminum area. Eventually you’ll need sulfur and iron, too, but those can wait a little longer. After you’ve got those extractors up and running (you’ll likely need to build more solar panels to make them work) you can start building T3 versions of the heaters, drills, and vegetubes. Once you have the T3 stuff up and running, feel free to disassemble the T2 stuff – sometimes you’ll have to do that anyway to get the T2 ingredients back so you can afford the T3 upgrades.
Work on expanding your TI rating for a while. Keep working on your heat, oxygen, and pressure stats. A good way to do that now that you’ve got T3 equipment built everywhere and it hits a point where your progress slows down… fire off some rockets. They each give 1000% global bonus to one of your stats. That’s 10x the base value. Plus a couple of them will drop a special mineral from outer space, too! One rocket causes a uranium meteor storm, another causes an iridium meteor storm!! You’ll unlock more rockets later, too. You will probably need to fire off a few of the uranium rockets, since you can’t get more uranium without a T2 extractor and you’ll need uranium to build nuclear power stations (along the PRESSURE pathway). Nuclear power is much more effective than solar.
Meanwhile, it’s a good time to go exploring. There are 11 GOLDEN CHESTS scattered around the world. These contain SUPER EFFECTIVE seeds, as well as some advanced crafting resources. You could go search for a few of these. Or start exploring the shipwrecks that are scattered around the map. The small crates inside shipwrecks contain blueprint microchips – use those in your computer system to unlock special blueprints that you can’t get just by following the TI score. Bring some of that tasty loot home.
Eventually… it will start to rain. Then it will flood, and you’ll get rivers and lakes in the canyons, ditches, and pits all over the map.
At some point (along the OXYGEN path) you’ll unlock the Grass Spreader. This will be your first introduction to BIOMASS generation. Anywhere you think grass would look nice, put one of these bad boys down. Grass will grow in a circle within a short distance from the device. Biomass is monitored in the BIODOME T1, which you should unlock right about now, too. That building only serves one purpose: to show you how much total biomass you have, while unlocking new blueprints along the BIOMASS pathway. This will also add into your TI score, just like OXYGEN, PRESSURE, and HEAT. you don’t need to build it immediately, but eventually you’ll need one.
The biodome should unlock the Biolab after you collect enough BIOMASS. This is where you get to play “mad scientist” and create various concoctions using biology and chemistry. you won’t need this for a little while yet, but it needs 2 Osmium, 1 Aluminum, and several Super Alloy nuggets to build it. Super Alloy is found on the narrow ledges east of the starting zone (people generally call it the “labyrinth”) or in a cave far to the north (where you can mine it but it requires a T2 extractor). You can also make it yourself by combining one of each Iron, Titanium, Silicon, Cobalt, Magnesium, and Aluminum at your Advanced Crafting Station. Pretty expensive stuff. And it’s used in almost everything from this point on. Eventually, in the later part of the game, you’ll start seeing meteors fall that drop some Super Alloy (or Iridium, or Uranium, or Osmium) in addition to the usual basic minerals. Those are nice.
Late Game Strategies
Your next major goals are:
- Work on increasing your BIOMASS.
- Work on increasing your PRESSURE and unlock the Ore Extractor T2.
You need that T2 extractor to start mining Osmium and Uranium, both of which you probably already ran out of, as well as the possibility to setup a mine for Super Alloy. It is all the way at the end of the PRESSURE pathway though… so it will take some time (and a lot of drills) to get there. From this point on, Osmium is a requirement for most of the blueprints.
As you work on that, also start building some Flower Spreaders. These work like the Grass Spreaders, except they spread flowers – each different flower seed has a different flower that will grow around the device BUT you can only use one seed at a time. Removing the seed will also remove all the flowers. Coincidentally, these AND the nuclear reactors are also on the PRESSURE pathway. But the Drill T4 (best thing for increasing PRESSURE) is on the HEAT pathway, so you’ll have to work on both of them consecutively. Meanwhile, the Heater T4 is on the OXYGEN pathway.
Soon you’ll also unlock the Algae Generators and the Gas Extractors. One gives you algae, the other gives you methane gas (hopefully it’s obvious to you which one does what). With these, and some eggplants and mushrooms, you can start using your shiny new Biolab! Feel free to check out what you can build in there. The mutagen is only used for making tree seeds (and one of the rockets). The bacteria is used in a couple of things (including mutagen production). You’ll want a ton of the fertilizer and another ton of the explosive powder… well, maybe just half a ton of each. And the Pulsar Quartz are for MUCH LATER near the end of the game so ignore them for now. By the time you can afford to build those, you should already know what you’re supposed to use them for. They require Zeolite, which is FINITE RESOURCE so you only get a certain amount and that’s all there is. The Fertilizer T2 is also meant for very late-game uses so you won’t need that for quite a while yet.
I’m intentionally leaving this section open-ended because by now you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. Or at least what you want to build or explore next. Once you have that T2 Ore Extractor blueprint unlocked, you can essentially do as you please for the rest of the game. Just remember: this is in EARLY ACCESS and some things might change between now and official retail release. If you have suggestions, complaint, or compliments for the developers, use the “Feedback” option from the ESC menu in-game.