A beginner's guide to exploring the galaxy
Believe it or not, getting plonked into an effectively infinite universe with only a knackered spaceship for company and being told to find your way to the middle can be a little overwhelming.
But don’t worry. We’ve been there, and while we might not have seen all of its quintillion planets yet we’ve spent enough time zooming around No Man’s Sky’s galaxies to put together this list of tips for intergalactic explorers who are just setting out. Strap in and prepare for take-off...
All back to mine
A big part of NMS is about finding fuels to keep your suit and ship in good working order as they’re pummelled by the harsh environments of each planet you visit.
Mining resources can attract the attention of sentinels, which is fair enough really. How would you feel if someone broke into your house and started eating all your cereal?
The way around it is to do it sneakily when their backs are turned. Your mining laser will overheat with prolonged use anyway, so short bursts is the way to go. If the sentinels start snooping, turn your back and just pretend you’re smelling the flowers.
A scanner darkly
No Man’s Sky isn’t afraid to set you loose in the universe and let you discover things for yourself.
It’s not immediately obvious, for example, that holding L2 brings up your scanner, which is the device you use to discover new species. Peering through it will automatically tag any new species in the vicinity (you might need to zoom in or out a bit), while tiny white dots signify other yet-to-be-discovered creatures or plants just over the horizon.
It’s worth cataloguing any animals as soon as you see them, if only to find out whether they’re likely to try and eat you for brunch.
On the origin of species
All that scanning will be for nothing if you don’t share your discoveries with the world. Act like a 25th century Charles Darwin and upload any new finds from the Discovery page – it’s hidden away in the pause menu.
You’ll get a few Units for every plant, rock, animal, waypoint, planet and solar system you add to the global database, plus if you find everything a single planet has to offer, you’ll get a healthy wedge added to your bank balance.
These credits can be spent on resources you do need, or put towards upgrades of your ship and multi-tool. It’s capitalism, Jim, and, er, pretty much exactly as we know it.
Give me a boost
Walking everywhere is s-l-o-w. You can sprint (R3 on PS4), but not for long, and your jetpack (X) runs out of fuel pretty quickly too.
So it's a good job you can give yourself a boost to skate across the ground faster. Hit melee attack (L1) then tap X before you swing your multi-tool - you’ll get an extra burst of speed. You can throw these out faster than you can jetpack or sprint, so pretty soon you’ll be zooming all over those forbidden planets.
Locked and loaded
Your multi-tool will be your best friend for the first few hours. There are many like it, but this one is yours – at least until you find a better one with more upgrade slots.
They’re usually hidden in lockers, wall cabinets and instrument panels, so keep an eye out every time you head into a space station, abandoned outpost, or research platform.
You’ll have to pay to swap to a better tool in some places, but some upgrades are free. Keep your eyes peeled.
Many items you find don’t have any use to you (particularly the ones with the green background) so can be sold at the first opportunity.
You can travel around looking for the best price but chances are you’ll frequently need to make room for more swag because your inventory fills up quicker than you can say “tuis asgautenha asafntin” (that’s Gek language for, er, something or other) so you might as well get rid as soon as you can.
There are separate suit and ship inventories and you can easily shuffle things between them but you’ll need at least one spare slot to craft new items, add new technologies or even talk to some of the alien traders you meet, otherwise the words ‘INVENTORY FULL’ will become like a red rag to a flying space bull.
Every time you get to a new system go straight to the nearest space station and find out what its trade terminal is willing to buy for a hugely inflated price - they’ll be marked with a gold star, and you’ll regularly see mark-ups of 90-100%.
If it’s an easily mined resource, you can spend the next couple of hours doing mining runs to the nearest planet and your bank balance will be super-healthy. We once found a station offering +100% on Heridium, and within half an hour had made 500,000 units.
SAVE FUEL, SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT
Your spaceship guzzles fuel at an alarming rate - 25% every time you take off, in fact. Unless you’re clever with where you land it’s a major drain on your plutonium reserves.
Slow right down and keep an eye out for buildings with landing pads - put your ship down here and you won’t use any fuel getting back in the air. Even if you didn’t get your landing zone just right, the terminals nearby will summon your ship to a landing pad for a free lift-off - although they’ll set you back one Bypass Chip each (you'll need to craft these from plutonium and iron) to activate.
Key to the city
See those locked doors and crates dotted around crash sites and space stations? They need an AtlasPass to get inside.
These aren’t one-time use keys like Bypass Chips, though - once you learn how to make one it’ll stay in your inventory, so you can use it on as many locks as you like.
Got a cargo hold filled with precious metals? That’ll make you a prime target for space pirates.
When you’re hyper-jumping between planets, watch out for subspace scan warnings - that means you’ve been spotted, and are about to come under attack.
Try to aim for a nearby planet or space station, so if the going gets tough you can bail out of the fight. Once you’re in combat your hyperdrive will be offline, and you won’t be able to make a quick getaway.
Just felt the business end of a sentinel’s laser cannon? Death isn’t permanent in No Man’s Sky but your inventory gets emptied every time you kick the bucket.
Fortunately the whole lot gets left next to your gravestone, so make sure to head back to the point of your demise to reclaim it, otherwise you’re going to spend the next few hours mining for enough plutonium to get you back into space.
Words: Tom Morgan, Tom Parsons and Tom Wiggins.