Beginning with the Pathfinder Update, there are four modes available for game play, one of which is new. Each provides a different experience, different opportunities, and different restrictions.
Normal mode[edit | edit source]
This is the original mode of play in the initial release of the game in August 2016. It is labeled as a "chill exploration experience". Original gameplay style with regular difficulty, standard technology and building costs.
Death in normal mode involves returning to the location of death to retrieve lost inventory items. If the player dies in space, they must retrieve it with their ship, and one or more parts of the ship might need to be repaired. If the player dies on foot, they must return to the planetside location to retrieve their items.
Survival mode[edit | edit source]
This new mode of play provides a "more challenging survival experience", and was added as part of the Foundation Update. The player is expected to survive with limited resources, increased hazards, and stronger, more aggressive enemies.
Death in Survival mode results in loss of your current inventory, whether in-ship, or on foot. If you die in your ship, you respawn on the nearest planet, a brief distance from your crashed ship. All inventory items on the ship are lost, and one or more components must be repaired.
Permadeath mode[edit | edit source]
All Progress wiped upon death. Face the risk of permanent character death with the increased hazards and dangers of Survival Mode gameplay. This game mode was added as part of the PathFinder Update.
Creative mode[edit | edit source]
This mode of play is a more relaxed version with the ability to "explore and create freely," and was added as part of the Foundation Update. The player is allowed to indulge their creativity and construction skills, with unlimited health and resources, and zero building costs. It is important to note that trophies will NOT unlock in Creative Mode. Story elements like the Atlas Path and Black Holes are not available in this mode.
Comparison[edit | edit source]
|Starting Position||Near Habitable Base||At ship||Away from ship||Away from ship|
|Fauna and Sentinel Threat Level||Default||Default||More aggressive||More aggressive|
|Death||Impossible||Inventory retrievable||Inventory is lost, tech breaks||Permanent|
|Starship Destruction||Impossible||Inventory retrievable||Ship crashes on planet||Permanent|
|Trophies/Acheivements||Not available||Available||Available, one exclusive.||Available, one exclusive.|
Additional information[edit | edit source]
- Each mode provides a separate save structure.
- As of Atlas Rises, the universe seed is identical across all modes.
- Base building is included under creative mode, as are all Exocraft, and Freighters.
- Game language files contain hints at a future mode titled "Ambient Mode". It appears to be a free exploration experience with the player controlling a disembodied camera.
- It is possible to return to the game mode select screen from the options menu.