Ad Astra!

Exploration is an important part of NorthStar. There is big-picture exploration (moving out further and further into the galaxy) and little picture exploration, where you get to scout out, map, and land on the surface — which I guess you could call itty-bitty picture exploration.

So part of it will be working to be able to get outwards into the different arms of the explored / colonized systems controlled by various Earth governments. As you move out you will find more and more unclaimed planets ( or at least, not officially claimed ), which you can scan and map. And if you happen to spot something interesting, you can land as best you can and go explore that — could be ruins, ghost towns, features of interest ( flora, fauna or mineral ), someone's unregistered landing field, etc.

Finish scouting a planet for a group — earns you deeper access to their territory. A decent deposit of minerals and a side-job delivering water to a neighboring colony allows you to upgrade your engine range and stock up on spare parts. So you go further out there. You deal with more colonies, you find more unexplored planets. Maybe you choose to not report one because you want to use it as a secret storage drop. And so on and so forth.

While you can set up your own bases in NorthStar, do not expect to grow them into a large multi-stellar conglomerate. This is not Sim-Starport and the tutorial does not cover escrow payments.

As also stated elsewhere, it is not a space fighting game either.
It is an exploration and trading game where you can get into some fights either in your ship in the black or on your feet on the ground.

Try to picture a cross between Star Control and Mass Effect when it comes to planetary exploration. You will close survey a world with your shuttle — seeking points of interest while trying to avoid hazards if any. The map will be divided into sections where you will be able to tell at a glance if you can set down the shuttle or the Northstar. Sometimes this will be nearly on top of the point of interest, sometimes it will require a bit of a slog. Once on the surface you will be greeted with an instanced piece of terrain suitable to the world and biome which will include the point of interest, the landing point of your ship or shuttle and any menaces or unique lifeforms required.

Somewhere between a mini game and full on sub component. It will also depend greatly on how much effort the player is putting into it. Are you just exploring to further whatever missions or plot line you are working on? Or are you trying to set up your own little trade route empire by finding spots for refueling bases or trade facilities?

Important sites are constant once generated — plots of terrain which you do not lay down a marker for are forgotten, and landing in the same quadrant later will generate another random terrain set. Thus simulating "I was here awhile back but I can't remember exactly where we landed that time"

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