The Erchius Mining Facility is the first complete questing mission available, not counting the series of retrieval quests for most characters at the Outpost. The mission is accessed through the ship's S.A.I.L. under the "Missions" tab, but only after the player crafts a set of steel armor as requested by the penguin at the Outpost. They player has the option to "Deploy" the quest and, once activated, the player will be teleported to the mining facility. The mission will terminate and reset if the player dies in single player but will not do so in multiplayer as long as at least one party member remains in the mission area.
The purpose of this mission is to obtain 20 Erchius Crystals which are needed to repair the player's ship's FTL Drive. In order to obtain the crystals, one must first navigate the many levels of the Erchius Mining Facility while fighting off mutant flesh creatures and mutant miners. The mutated miners have more health and strength than the mutant flesh creatures. There are many crates, lockers, and mining chests within the tunnels of the mines. The crates and lockers contain randomized loot and schematics while the mining chests are slightly hidden and contain Codex Erchius Records as well as Space Helmet, Spacesuit Chest, Spacesuit Pants, and Spacesuit Backpack components.
After navigating the facility to its lowest level, the player will have to face the Erchius Horror, a giant crystal with a red eye which fires streams of "searing" plasma and spawns mutant "lackeys," in order to complete the quest. There are four switches on the surrounding platforms of a circular chamber and each must be activated in order to use the laser cannon at the bottom of the chamber which damages the Erchius Horror. This sequence must be completed three times in order to defeat the creature and is the only current way to damage it.
Once defeated, the Erchius Horror will shatter and release a miner who claims he was captured inside it. A door is also opened on the side of the chamber opposite of the entry and the player will have the option to beam back to their ship. Beyond the exit door, the player can find a mining chest containing some loot and an Erchius Horror Codex. There is a mining machine at the far end of the room which, upon the player's initial completion of the quest, will give the player 20 Erchius Crystals when activated.
There are two hidden levers which can be found using the Morphball Tech and the Rocket Boots Tech (or precise skill with Climbing Ropes). Activating the levers will unlock a small chamber beneath two small symbols/glyphs where the player can find a message in runes.