Void Bastards asks you to juggle a lot. You need food so you don’t starve, fuel so you can find the next widget you “need,” bullets to defend yourself, and a vast array of other bits and pieces that you’ll use to make your journey easier. It’s a simple enough premise — collect Item 1 and Item 2 — but the roguelike nature of Void Bastards means your goals are always evolving.
We put in a lot of hours figuring out how to succeed — or at least die slightly less often — in Void Bastards. Below, you’ll find our advice for navigating the deadly void and deadlier bureaucracy.
Dying in Void Bastards doesn’t completely reset your progress. The tools you’ve constructed and most of the items you’ve collected will carry over to the next prisoner that gets rehydrated. It’s an iterative process. You might die on this jaunt into to nebula, but you might also end up with an invaluable new weapon that your next incarnation can use.
Progress in Void Bastards, however small and incremental, is still progress. Use each prisoner you get for as long as you can, gather everything that isn’t nailed down, build new stuff, and leave the following prisoner that much better off.
The other way to say this is: Expect it all to go wrong. Your favorite prisoner with his eagle eyes and short stature is going to get surprised by a Screw and die. Your carefully mapped route through the nebula is going to get short-circuited when you run out of fuel. Just like your prisoners, don’t be precious about your carefully laid plans. You can just start over again, slightly better off than you were last time.
Part of the roguelike conceit of Void Bastards is that you never know what you’ll encounter next. This mainly applies to ship layouts, but it also shows up a lot more subtly.
Chester Stevens is a smoker.
Blue Manchu/Humble Bundle via Polygon
Every prisoner you control has a chance of having an inherent benefit or detriment. They’re listed on the left side of your menu under the Bio tab. Some of them are short statured and harder to hit. Some of them are smokers who cough and alert enemies. These attributes don’t have to change how you play, but playing into them (or at least being aware of them) will make the game more manageable.
Your smoker, for example, isn’t going to be able to sneak around enemies, so you’ll know to prepare for a fight. Or, if your prisoner is eagle-eyed, loose items will appear on your map, so you’ll know you don’t have to waste time and oxygen looking around every corner for stuff to loot.
Your Star Map has lots of information about your prisoner’s current status and the ships available to board.
Blue Manchu/Humble Bundle via Polygon
Similarly, each ship has a variety of, er, variables. You’ll see these listed on the right side of your Star Map screen. At the top, you’ll see the kind of ship it is and its features — resources you can collect there, or special locations on the ship like a healing station. Below that are the useful items you might find there. Next, you’ll see the types of enemies you’ll encounter. Those three things are usually enough to determine if you should visit: You’ll know if it’ll have what you’re currently looking for, and if you’re likely to survive the bad guys you meet.
Below the enemies, you’ll see the ship’s (random) attributes. These work like your prisoners’ attributes — some are beneficial and some are harmful. In the image above, you can see that there’s a Warp Key (a useful item that lets you skip over ships on your Star Map) hidden somewhere on the ship, and that one kind of enemy is actually an ally. Other ships will have minimal oxygen meaning you have less time to explore there, or faulty generators and, therefore, power outages.
Pay attention to all of the information the game gives you so you know what you’re getting into. Even if it is mostly randomly generated.
Beyond the information you can get before even boarding a ship, Void Bastards will tell you a lot about what’s going on around you with visual clues.
Green means loot.
Blue Manchu/Humble Bundle via Polygon
Cabinets, drawers, drones, and anything else you can loot will be highlighted green. Loose items will have a cloud of sparkles rising off of them. Enemies that are just out of sight will generate floating onomatopoetic sound effect text — a floating TAP TAP TAP over a closed door, for example — to warn you.
The Sargasso Nebula is always deadly, but there are plenty of clues to make it (slightly) more survivable.
Both in the nebula and on a ship, use your map to plan farther ahead than your next stop.
On the Star Map, look at the nodes that open up after you hit your next stop. You might pick up some much-needed ammo right now, but the next three ships you’ll have to stop at are full of enemies and you’ll expend it all just trying to survive. Always look (at least) one stop beyond where you’re heading right now.
Every ship is different, but you can usually plan a loop-like loop through them.
Blue Manchu/Humble Bundle
The same applies to your route through a ship. On board, you’re balancing your health (specifically, how much damage you can take from enemies), your ammo (how many enemies you can handle), and your oxygen (how long you can explore).
Most ships will have an Atmo room where you can refill your tanks, so plan ahead for that. It’s not the first room you should visit (you won’t need it yet), so map out a rough route that will bring you to the Atmo room toward the end (or the middle) instead.
Especially early on, it’s tempting to explore every corner of every ship you visit. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But as your resources get thinner and the enemies get harder, that becomes a dangerous proposition.
Instead, like our advice above about navigating the nebula, have a plan when you board a ship. If the only thing you need is fuel, head to the FTL room, grab the fuel, and leave — don’t go to the helm to map out the entire ship, and don’t wander off course. There’s nothing wrong with just getting what you need and moving on.
There’s also nothing wrong with skipping over a ship — provided you have the fuel and food to survive the next jump. Some ships just won’t have what you need. Others will be full of difficult enemies. Remember that there’s always another ship, or, if worst comes to worst, another prisoner.
Ammo isn’t exactly scarce, but it’s not abundant either, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with enemies. Luckily, Void Bastards gives you options.
Tourists are a pretty common, low-level enemy. They’re not overly aggressive or fast, so they’re mostly harmless on their own. However, Tourists blow up when you get too close. This makes them dangerous when they surprise you, but it also means you can clear them out without firing a shot. Similarly, they blow up when you shoot them — and damage anything else nearby. You can use Tourists to take out (or at least damage) other enemies and save your ammo like we did in the video above.
Bushwackers are proximity mines that damage an area around them. This makes them good for patrolling enemies in groups. More importantly, though, you can place them, then shoot them to make them explode on command. Our favorite use of this is to hide around a corner from a Gunpoint, toss a Bushwacker nearby, then shoot it. This takes out the Gunpoint at the cost of one mine and one bullet, instead of several bullets and a lot of health.
You also have the ability to lock doors, and citizens can’t open locked doors. This means you can trap and effectively neutralize tough enemies without actually engaging them.
One relatively early weapon you’ll build is the Zapper. This gun fires a short-range blast of electricity. On a normal citizen, they’ll be stunned and frozen for a few seconds. On a robotic enemy like a Gunpoint, it’ll be shut down for quite a while, giving you plenty of time to avoid or destroy it.
It’s not your primary weapon, so it’s easy to forget you have it. Use it. And use it in conjunction with your other weapons to make taking down tough citizens easier.