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Survival Mode is a play mode introduced in Update 01.021.024. Unlike Creative Mode, Survival requires investment of resources and introduces elements of real risk. Resources, both natural and artificial, need to be managed and death and loss of materials is a very real possibility. It might be easier to grasp if one remembers that the original name of this mode was "Realistic Mode", which describes many aspect of the mode more clearly, but this name was not selected due to gamer's familiarity with the general idea of "Survival". Major differences between this and Creative are discussed below.

Life and Death

First and foremost, Survival introduces health, which when reduced to 0%, will result in death. This means that more complicated setups need to be made while aware of anything that might go wrong. There are several ways one can be damaged, including:

  • Explosions
  • High-speed collisions
  • Falling (up or down; beware of Gravity Generators set too strong!)
  • Gunfire
  • Asphyxiating (see Energy below)
  • Suffocation

Not all damage is lethal. If the Auto-Healing setting is toggled on, then damage will automatically start to (slowly) regenerate up to 70%. In either case, health can be renewed by visiting and using a Medical Room, which will also act as your respawn point should you perish.

Update 01.039.010 introduced the Permadeath option, which, when enabled, resets the ownership of all ships and other items owned by an Engineer if that Engineer has no Medical Room to respawn at. Before this version (or when it is turned off), Engineers have the option of respawning in or out of a rescue ship a good distance away from the point of death and travelling back to reclaim their things. When dying and respawning in a Medical Room, there are no repercussions (except for the loss of any items in that Engineer's inventory, which can be retrieved by finding the body and looting it).

Meteor Showers

Meteor showers are an optional element that vary from annoying to catastrophic. The frequency, size, and speed of meteor showers can be changed in the World Settings. Left unchecked, meteors will do a pretty good job of knocking chunks off of things if one does not prepare well enough for them. Options are to build a latticework shield, build underground, setting up a manned or automatic Gatling Turret or Missile Turret nest, or all of the above.

Suit Power

Another new introduction in Survival is the concept of suit energy. This represents the limited-capacity battery included in every space suit, and is drained in a variety of ways, including:

  • Grinding with the hand-held Grinder
  • Welding with the hand-held Welder
  • Mining with the hand-held Hand Drill
  • Utilizing the built-in jetpack to move
  • Breathing

That last item isn't a joke. Your suit's life support system slowly drains the suit's energy, and if your energy is ever depleted, your character will slowly asphyxiate, resulting in death if energy is not replenished immediately. The energy indicator will turn red at 20% or lower, and an audio/text warning will remind you at 5%. Energy can also be replenished at a Medical Room, and will also be filled while sitting in a Cockpit, Fighter Cockpit, or Control Station, a Flight Seat or Passenger Seat, if it is powered.

Suit Oxygen

In game version 01.074 ("Oxygen update") the suit has now an internal Oxygen tank to supply the player with breathable O2.
The player now not only needs suit energy, but also O2 to breath in order to survive.
While the player wears his helmet, the suits oxygen tank provides O2 to the player.
The remaining oxygen capacity is displayed in the left status panel of the players HUD in [%]. As is the current status of the helmet (if worn or not). For more information about the Oxygen system, follow this link.

Jetpack Fuel (Hydrogen)

Introduced in Update 01.105 the players jetpack now requires Hydrogen in order to fly around. The remaining hydrogen supply is displayed in the left status panel. The player can regain hydrogen supply by either using a medical bay that is attached to a Hydrogen Tank, or with a Hydrogen Bottle in their inventory. The effectiveness of the jetpack changes depending if the player flies in space or on a planet/moon with natural gravity. While in natural gravity, the lifespan of the hydrogen is heavily reduced.

Station Power

Energy is not limited to just being managed within an Engineer's suit in Survival. All Blocks with any sort of active function, including the Refinery, Assembler, and others, require power to operate. The most reliable source of power is from Small Reactors or Large Reactors powered by Uranium Ingots, which requires a strong mining backbone for any large build to be able to power itself.

A less scalable but easier (in the long term) option is the use of Solar Panels, which can passively charge Batteries and generate a limited amount of charge, at least enough for less demanding modules such as the Medical Room.

An important mechanic to note is that many blocks will scale their performance based on the available power; e.g. a Refinery will operate, albeit slowly, if less than its maximum consumption is provided. This can allow for emergency operation with a poor power setup in a pinch.


Another departure from Creative is the need to manage the space in one's inventory. On default realistic settings, Engineers have 400L of space, which when working on large builds can quickly become a nuisance. This makes ships designed for mining and construction very important, as a dedicated ship with enough containers can have an inventory many hundreds or thousands of times larger than what an Engineer can carry himself.

It also underlines the importance of proper Conveyor systems connecting all the parts of a well-oiled base. No need to be trucking things back and forth when you can make the machines do it!

Disposal of worthless materials (mostly Stone) also becomes an issue. When one is working with finite space and mining a large amount of ore to power the industrial complex, an alarming amount of Stone will be produced regardless of the care put into avoiding it. Stone intake can be minimized by using the secondary function of Drills and Hand Drills, which destroys rock without harvesting. Excess stone can be released through the use of Ejectors, though since Ejectors are limited to Small Ships, specialized setups that allow Small Ships to be connected to your Station through the use of Connectors must be utilized to take advantage of this functionality.

Block Construction

Perhaps the most involved change from Creative to Survival is the way that blocks are placed and arranged. In Creative Mode, Engineers simply select their block of choice and click in the world, and the block is placed, fully formed and fully functioning. In Survival, blocks are made up of Components, which are themselves made of Raw Materials, which are refined from Ores. Thusly, the general workflow when constructing is as follows:

  • Harvest Ores, either by hand or by a ship-based Drill
  • Use a Refinery to process the ores into the various Raw Materials needed for assembly
  • Use an Assembler to construct the various Components making up your Block of choice
  • With the Components in your Engineer's (or construction ship's) inventory, place a framework of the block in the world
  • Using either a handheld or ship-based Welder, add and weld on the remaining Components to maximize the Block's integrity.

For example, let's say you want to build a Medical Room from scratch. First view that block's linked page to see the Components required for such a device (or view it within the game on the Toolbar Config screen). You'll see that a couple hundred Interior Plate are required, as well as 15 Medical Components and several other Components. If you check the build recipes for these components, you'll see that a large amount of Iron Ore will need to be mined, followed by a small amount of Nickel Ore, Silver Ore, and Silicon Ore, as well as a tiny handful of Gold Ore. Once these have been refined, an Assembler would need to be told to produce the items, and then it would only take a few minutes to produce each item on the list in the number required.

The bottommost Component on the listing is usually the bulk of the structure of the block we are constructing, and at least 1 of that Component is required just to place the block for further building. In the case of our Medical Room, we would first need at least 1 Interior Plate, at which point we could put the Medical Room on our Toolbar from the Toolbar Config screen, select it, and then place our framework with the mouse. A hollow metal framework is now where our Medical Room will be, and all that remains is to flesh it out. Using a Welder while the remaining Components are in your inventory, simply click and hold on the block and the parts will each be welded as they are needed. Once the bar showing integrity has filled past the red line, your block is now up and ready to use! Any Components used beyond the red line will be to reinforce the structural integrity of the block, preventing or mitigating damage from the more fragile and expensive inner Components.

As you can see, this process is significantly more complex than the equivalent process in Creative, and the bulk of one's time while in Survival will be tied up in one step or another of this build process. See Building for more information.

Further Reading

Mark Rosa's original Survival announcement on his development blog.