Terrain Manipulator & Base Computer
After you exit your starting planet’s atmosphere, having “taken to the stars,” you will receive a transmission. Press down on the d-pad (or the x key) and scroll to the symbol that looks like an audio wave consisting of vertical lines and select it to answer. Choose to listen or respond.
You will now receive a quest to go to a specific location on a new planet. It will appear on your HUD on the planet in question. Look around. Then aim at that HUD icon, and initiate your pulse drive to move at high speed toward it. If you looked right at it before initiating the pulse drive, a sort of “autopilot” will guide you toward it, down through the atmosphere of the new planet.
Once you are above it, press the button/key to initiate landing (see Options > Controls for a list of all controls, if in doubt.) Once there, approach the source of the transmission (the HUD icon you’ve been trying to reach) and interact. Continue through the prompts, and you will eventually receive the terrain manipulator.
You can now switch between the mining laser and terrain manipulator at will with the press of a button/key (see controls for specifics.) Quest log will tell you that you need to claim a base, and that to do this you need a base computer. For which, in turn, you require chromatic metal. And for that, you need copper.
Scan the area, and you should see that the planet contains copper deposits. You may have to use your visor to “tag” them (see prompts and Options > Controls for specifics on how to tag with your visor) but you should find some before long.
NOTE: If for some reason you don’t find any copper on the planet, you may need to exit this planet in your ship (return to space) and scan other nearby planets. You can always scan planets by aiming at them and doing planetary scans. This will reveal certain facts about planets, including resources.
The area immediately around where you landed, will contain a post with which you can interact to map the area, and manually save. These save points are how you manually save in the game, for future reference. Getting in and out of the ship is how you auto-save.
Once you reach a copper deposit, switch to your terrain manipulator, and use it to mine the copper.
Note that there are many substances in the world you will need to switch modes in this way to mine, or to equip your multitool with an Advanced Mining Laser (more on this in a future section) to mine. For now though, the terrain manipulator will get the job done. True to its name, you can also use the terrain manipulator simply to dig holes and caves in terrain. This can be helpful for avoiding environmental hazards like storms. You will need to dig very deep for this to work as well as natural caves, however.
Like the mining laser, the terrain manipulator requires recharging. If it runs out of charge, check your multitool inventory, mouse/cursor over the mining laser, and press the charge button/key prompt to see what exactly you need to charge it. This should be something you do for all your items and components – going into them and seeing what, if anything, they need. Everything in the game works similarly, as stated earlier, and these principles apply to almost everything in the game. Knowing how to navigate one menu, means knowing how to navigate most other things.
Once you have some copper, the game will give you further objectives. One of these is to refine the copper into chromatic metal. To do this, you need to deploy your portable refiner again (you already know how to do this from earlier.) Do so, put some carbon into the fuel inverter as before, but this time put copper into the input. Start it up, and start refining chromatic metal. Mine more carbon and copper as needed until you receive your next objective, which is to create the base computer.
You place the base computer – once you have the materials – just like everything else. Go into the Build interface, find the base computer, and place it wherever you want. Exit the Build interface, and interact with the base computer. You will go through a few steps, and eventually “claim” this area as your base. You can now build here. Time to learn how to build structures.