Astra Nova is an open world role-playing metaRPG using third person perspective. The player controls the Envoy, tasked with saving the world of Astra Nova and uniting the fifteen species.
The player may roam freely and immerse themselves over the expansive Wildlands of Astra Nova, exploring a vast network of forests, caves, mountains, cities, towns, dungeons, settlements, and exotic hybrid worlds that have been teleported into Astra Nova. Players may also follow a more tightly regimented main questline, hosting various chapters that advance the storyline.
Players can navigate the world of Astra Nova faster as the game develops, by taming some of the more elaborate beasts that stalk the Wildlands or by using the fast-travel option to shift more quickly into a previously explored area. Choices regarding the style of play employed are available to the player: either to play key chapters from the game in a more tightly regimented scenario, with fewer quests and tighter adherence to the story, or to immerse themselves in the sprawling landscapes, rich history, and diverse species of the Astra Nova landscape.
Different views are available to provide various options for managing gameplay. The Envoy walks, sprints, jumps, climbs, rides, sneaks, employs various combat skills, uses magic, enhanced perception, and advanced fighting techniques. As the game progresses, and the Envoy harnesses their skills, they develop these actions further with faster bursts of speed, higher and longer jumps, and the use of heightened senses to get them out of danger or to alert them of incoming attacks. The Envoy will also harness the ability to slow down time at certain points to give them a greater strategic edge in gameplay.
As the game develops, other more refined skills are also available to develop during the course of the game through experience, learning from experts, and enhancements provided by the Deviants that can be accessed in the Triad (see below). These include Perception, Alchemy, Forging, Building, Trading, Stealth, and Charisma. Such skills progress through the accumulation of Starstrewn points. Further, every choice the player makes will have lingering effects on the game, the Envoy’s relationships, and how the character is perceived on Astra Nova.
The player builds Starstrewn Points in a range of ways, including completing main quests, side quests, vanquishing enemies, and by employing advanced skills. These can be used to level up the character and be employed in the class Triad system. The Envoy has three primary attributes that they can access at any point during the game called the Triad, which takes shape as a Trius: a triangle of skills that the player can build on throughout the game as they earn Starstrewn Points, defeat enemies, and complete quests. Each player uses an element of either body, mind, or soul as an anchor point for their Triad, and from this point they develop into their chosen class:
Depending on their class system, players enhance their skills in areas that are more tailored to that experience. Once the player progresses in these aspects of their class system, they are able to employ advanced and hybrid skills, especially in combat. For example, a player who chooses a Phantom class will have higher levels of sneaking and ranged attacks than a Valiant.
The player’s combat and magic develops as the game progresses, allowing a variety of chained attacks for each. Weapons, armor, and artifacts may enhance various areas, including strength, defense, recovery, and accuracy. However, some may also impair or detract from ability, either in specific circumstances or until the player meets the requirements to discard their skill barrier.
Astra Nova offers additional gameplay features designed to enhance the user ’s overall experience of the world, including the ability to slow down time or to use time travel to explore the history of the universe. In addition, the game uses a heightened sense ability (Perception) to either alert the Envoy of incoming danger, or to guide them out of complex dungeon systems. The time enhancement feature also impacts various types of combat, such as slowing down ranged shots, or can be used when the Envoy’s energy levels are peaked, and to assist with fighting multiple opponents.
Players will also have to solve a series of puzzles to unlock special vaults, rooms, and quest items. In addition, they will have the option to play various mini-games as part of their immersion into the world of Astra Nova.
During Season 1, The Envoy will have to traverse their way across many wild and inhospitable environments, home to a myriad of apex predators, before they come across Fulcrum, a ragtag settlement of the most desperate survivors. Barely clinging to survival, they pitch their last stand against the nightmares that lurk outside their sanctuary, including a rival settlement of scavenging marauders who seek to wipe them off the face of Astra Nova.
But there is a glimmer of hope: a leader who rallies them, offering the best hope of prevailing. Despite politics and inner conflicts, she will call upon the Envoy to reforge their new existence and put an end to the brewing civil war. The Envoy will also embark on a series of quest and side quest missions, as well as assisting to rebuild the populace. Part of their rebuilding will include the development of an Entertainment Hub (much like an inn) where they will engage in a number of activities, including slice of life stories, main quests, side quests, mini-games, short plays, songs, and with further development, a place to meet other players.
In Season 1, much of the gameplay revolves around exploring the closed region known as the Wildlands on Astra Nova. Various Gates, each with a different function, will provide gameplay options for teleporting to various places, including one that leads to the Seam, where the Weavers reside. Upon entering Season 2, the Envoy has access to the entire open world of Astra Nova.