A COMPLETE PRIMER ON NO MAN’S SKY, THE PROCEDURAL DISAPPOINTMENT GENERATOR:
This is an overly exhaustive, point-based primer on the current state of No Man’s Sky and what you can do in it. It includes, as part of it, all of the “I wish I had known this” information I have collected or learned from play.
It is highly recommended, if you don’t own this game yet, that you should not buy it. Wait and buy it later when it is either (1) said to be significantly improved, (2) on sale for 15 U.S. buck-o-dollars or less, or … ideally (3) both.
Also remember refunds are a thing now, you can just tell the game seller that it crashes your computer and you are dissatisfied. You’ll probably get a refund because many game sellers are presently deluged with too many refund requests right now to challenge refund requests stringently.
It is highly recommended, if you already own the game and have already joined the ranks of people already frustrated with it, that you read this whole article while nodding and going “YUP. YEAH. YEAHP THAT’S TRUE”
Still want to go on? Okay. Here we go.
Game is not very good and will bore/frustrate most people out of playing it pretty fast. Consider it the equivalent of a tech demo or an early access alpha at this point. The constant theme of No Man’s Sky is that as a game it is ‘a million miles wide but never more than an inch deep.’ It is a collection of several very poorly implemented mechanics mashed together over a Colorful Random Planet Generator.
Most of the ‘gameplay’ is a set of vacuous survival resource gathering mechanics slapped on top of the procedural universe generation engine. Many promised or frequently alluded to features are nonexistent. The game does not resemble the fiction of the E3 and live play demos that were shown to us pre-release. The mechanics that are left in the game are surprisingly shallow and appear to have been scaled way, way back and had all their corners filed off just to get the game out the door in a functional state.
What’s left just keeps you busy with banal harvesting. Most players report really enjoying the first part of the game and then growing quickly fatigued when the gameplay does not evolve beyond constant resource farming.
While hype cashout is hardly a new phenomenon, it’s stinging people pretty hard right now, because this game in particular had ludicrous quantities of pre-release hype promoting an almost impossible vision of a game that we were not going to get. Most importantly, this was hype the developers seemed complicit in disingenuously fostering. That’s its own chapter of terrible game drama that I’ll mostly ignore, but I think it’s pretty assured that No Man’s Sky will always be remembered as a ‘debacle.’ The toothpaste isn’t going back in that tube. The game will be remembered in infamy. Oh well?
Pretty much everyone also hates the interface and menus and the whole ‘hold to activate’ they cribbed directly from Destiny and put on EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION FUNCTION. It’s just gonna be slow no matter what you do. They did not change it in any way from console to PC, so PC users will be additionally infuriated by having to struggle with a (bad) consolitis interface. This is the universal explanation I can just summarize for you involving literally every interface in the game: “It is bad.” If you are using an interface and you have a question like “wait, I can’t craft unless I have a spare slot to put the finished project in?” the answer is yes because the interface is bad. Or a question like “do I have to hold to activate this too” the answer is probably yes because the interface is bad.
It is important to reiterate that you need to IGNORE any sort of endgame goals. Just wander around and find planets you think are neat, and chill. Stop when you are bored of looking at new planets and exploring them. Don’t press forward expecting any sort of payout past that. Trust me.
Do the atlas path if you want to but don’t stress about it. An atlas pass is useful but the atlas storyline goes nowhere and terminates abruptly so who cares.
Do not travel to the center of the galaxy unless you want to experience disappointment in a new and novel way. I will cover this more in the section entitled “We’ll patch the ending in later”
Be forewarned that there’s not really a galaxy map, no effective way to bookmark locations that I know of, and intergalactic travel is operated through the use of an excruciatingly bad interface. If you leave a system, you may never be able to find it again. You cannot search by name or go back to it from your system records. If you like a planet a lot, know in advance that to leave the system it is in might mean never being able to go back to it again. Sometimes this can be alleviated with the X button on PC, but I mean I don’t know it’s so confusing.
Not really joking
Like Spore before it, this game is accidentally great for children. Ultimately simplistic, hand-holdey and straightforward enough that it will be a very enjoyable and accessible ‘wow cooool!’ experience for bright-eyed youths. And people who are really high. Like Spore before it, that wasn’t really the … intent.
Outside of spontaneous brutal murder at the hands of space pirates, the game is not very challenging. Outside of space tourism, you harvest things to jam in your suit, gun, and ship, and grow tired of the constant chiming reminder that you have yet again run out of inventory space.
Mostly you go through a familiar repetitious resource collection grind, with the promise that if you grind for a very long time, you can grind more things. But faster. This has never been a very promising underlying gameplay premise, and No Man’s Sky doesn’t do it very well. A lot of things you have to do for inventory progression will make you lose things you had to grind a long time for, so opportunities for grind burnout are high and come within hours of gameplay.
To travel anywhere on foot, hit your jetpack and your melee attack button at the same time. It’s a perfect exploit, because the normal foot travel speed is painfully sclerotic for when you are really trying to just get stuff done as opposed to have a gander. If you melee and jetpack simultaneously, you will fly forward at very high speeds while your multitool jiggles. I guess they really just didn’t have much in the way of QA testing to catch something like this, but that’s a good thing! Abuse this till the day they strip it out.
Systems have star types and this is IMPORTANT.
The system’s star type determines how tame or resource rich the generated worlds are, in general.
The basic stars you can reach with basic hyperdrive have mostly basic, tamer planets with less resources.
Get to the more complex stars ASAP. You can wrest some more interesting experiences out of them.
The more advanced stars are the ones with most of the rarer resources and the much higher incidence of extremophile environments, shit like irridated planets covered in gravitino balls and berserk perma-aggro sentinels. Some conditions may be limited exclusively to advanced stars, but that’s unclear.
The star progression is as follows:
BASIC AS CRAP: Yellow class G or F stars. Training wheels on. Tame biomes. Lots of barren planets. Need basic hyperdrive.
LESS BASIC: Red K and M stars. More variety and environmental lethality. Better resource availability. Need warp Reactor SIGMA and above.
PRETTY COMPLEX: Green class E stars. Even more biome variety and potential environmental lethality. Even more resources. Need warp reactor TAU and above.
MOST COMPLEX: Blue class O and B stars. More general variety, craziest potential environments. Most resources. Most lush/paradise worlds. Need warp reactor THETA.
Each system is fully occupied by one of the game’s three major races (Klingons, Ferengi, or Daft Punk). They’re always settled all over the planets and there’s always a space station. Nowhere is actually unexplored and unoccupied. All the knowledge stones/shrines/whatever will teach you words in the language of this associated race exclusively (plus atlas words where applicable).
Space is soaked in thamium rocks. Every star system is an endless asteroid field of thamium rocks everywhere, apparently because the developer wanted the easiest and weirdest solution to that players could otherwise potentially run out of pulse engine fuel in space. It genuinely appears to me to be a gameplay design decision of incalculable laziness. At any rate, never worry about space rocket fuel, it’s literally everywhere.
Each system has only a small selection of procedurally generated personal spaceships in it, something like eight or so models. Literally every ship you encounter in that system will be one of that handful of models, and every shipwreck will be from the same selection as well. If you want to see/buy/discover different ships, you gotta leave the system.
Curiously unscaled pirate encounters infest the galaxy. If you are caught by a pack of pirates inbetween worlds you will probably die. This is literally the only significantly lethal threat in the entire game and will be covered more in the section entitled ‘Your Ship Sucks’
Yeah, most of the planets are pretty much the same after a short time.
Every planet is made from a very short list of basic biomes – hot, cold, barren, toxic, radioactive, lush. This is like 80% of what actually differentiates any planets from each other and they all pretty much fall into these categories.
No environmental hazard creates any sort of different gameplay consideration from any other. Heat, cold, radioactivity, toxicity, literally all the same. The only difference is the color of the bar indicating how much longer you have before your environmental protection disappears.
Every environmental hazard is escaped by standing underneath something. Too hot? Stand underneath something. Too cold? Stand underneath something. Planet is a festering mess of radioactive decay? Planet too toxic? Stand .. underneath something. Does that make any sense no it does not okay moving on.
Every planet is the same all over. There are no poles or equatorial region or anything like that.
Slap a randomized color palate on the planet. Usually a primary color, secondary color, cave light color, cloud color, vegetation color, water tint, etc. Here’s where the the rest of most of the planetary variety actually happens. Most color selections are biome regulated, unsurprisingly, so each world biome will start looking sameish in short order. Example: toxic planets? green. Cold planets? blue. Quelle surprise. Though the difference between the primary and secondary color can be a grab bag of funkiness.
Sometimes there’s small chunks of ‘sand,’ probably a remnant from earlier builds, but I don’t yet know why sand has otherwise just disappeared from the game.
Everything else is rocks.
Depending on the applicability of the biome, planet is either generated with constantly distributed small bodies of ‘water,’ (a clear liquid that never freezes) or no water at all. There are no seas. All planets with water have basically the same aquasphere and they all pretty much look the same across every planet with only very minor differentiation, sometimes a bit more lethal than the surrounding environment (high water radiation, etc). There are not any different liquids, or lava, or anything like that. There are never any rivers or waterfalls.
Determine the ‘severity’ of the biome, usually on a scale of 1 to 3. More severe environments mostly happen in advanced star types. Environmental severity is never really that challenging. Super extreme environments just require a plasma grenade launcher so that if you get stuck out too far from something you can stand under, you can blow a hole in a wall and sit in it for ten seconds to refresh your environmental protection.
A flora and fauna prevalence is picked from what is applicable to that biome.
A selection of pregenerated plant and rock designs are semi-randomly assigned from a relatively small database of plant models and are dotted across the world at a rate based on the flora prominence.
If there’s fauna, the game creates some random Spore creatures for the planets. They are procedurally generated, and half the time they’re just goofy as fuck.
A weather type is picked from a small list of the three or four weather types applicable to that biome (usually the baseline severity of the planet’s associated weather effect).
A sentinel status is picked, mostly based on the complexity of the star type. This ranges from passive to berserk KOS. Even when on berserk KOS mode they are not very challenging (more on this later).
A minor to moderate variation in terrain jaggedness / geological protrusion type appears to be applied to the planet.
A randomly applied terrain ‘flair’ piece is selected and dotted all over the world (exa: square stone columns on one world, snaking land-tendrils on another). Some are more noticeable. Others don’t really stand out and/or just create weirder negative land spaces than usual.
All or nearly all planets have a cave ‘sub-biome’ which looks basically the same on every world. It seems to be negative space overlaid over terrain, creating both actual caves and patches of ”cave’ ground under open sky which have the standard cave plants and flair.
Cheap low-fi cloud effect in every atmosphere, no variation, just different colors.
Cheap low-fi weather effects. Sometimes really curiously low-fi. The rain effects in this game would be considered humble ten years ago.
Some planets still manage to stand out, especially the really iconic biome types and the lush paradise worlds full of life and grass and stuff. Hunting for a paradise planet is a good spaceship n’ chill goal.
PROGRESSION 101 – MONEY MAKES THE WORLDS GO AROUND:
The game’s most significant gameplay obstacles are limited inventory space, which will drive you to madness, and harvesting time. Your #1 goals in this game besides ‘chill, check out planet’ should always be to expand your inventory and multitool capacity.
Your secondary gameplay objective is to eventually add a bunch of upgrades to yourself and your ship, but inventory constraints force you to do this after you’ve expanded your inventory A LOT. This is a game whose gameplay is primarily and principally defined by inventory limitations, so it’s a delicate balancing act between exosuit/ship upgrades and room to carry resources.
Understand that pretty much any resource that you will ever use for anything is easy to find if you hop between space stations / planetary trade stations. Between a handful of systems it’s relatively trivial to collect any resource through the Galactic Trade robot eye things and the pilots who dock at space stations. The only exception as far as I know is warp food for your hyperdrive, but even that’s pretty easy when you can collect antimatter directly from pilots.
So, you’ll want to get a decent stash of units on you.
First, learn a few ways to earn a lot of Unit$. If you are ever short on units, use one of these abilities to farm millions of credits in a short time so that you will always have spare cash for multitool and exosuit upgrades. Since you’ll only need about 3-5 million credits in general for most requirements, that won’t take long. There’s a few great ways to harvest credits. I’ll list two here, but the economy in this game is easy to break in half so there will probably be others:
OPTION ONE: Find one of those resource bonanza worlds covered in rare artifacts. These are places where you can scoop up and sell hundreds upon hundreds of vortex cubes or graviton spheres you find sitting all around the world. Grab loot, run from sentinels, repeat over and over again, sell at trade depots.
OPTION TWO: Be a GHOST PIRATE. Find freighters, blow up their cargo pods and hoover up all their loot before other spaceships come along and kill you. Anything that kills you in this game is nice enough to leave your corpse there with all the loot you got before you died. So you just blast open a freighter, suck up all its loot, die, collect your corpse, sell stuff for big moolah, repeat. You don’t have to do this for long to have. Ghost piracy is as far as I know as of writing this the best way to gather units. Properly done you will hammer out tens of millions of credits an hour.
WARNING! LATERAL PROGRESS:
Primary problem with this game, mechanics-wise, is that you can’t craft an upgrade and then take that upgrade to a new, larger-inventory ship or multitool. So it’s not worth putting anything into a multitool that’s less than the maximum number of slots. Same with ships. You’ll probably end up having to stick with some very un-upgraded gear for a while.
This means the game’s progress ‘curve’ is actually a see-saw wonky-as-crap grind where you mostly just melt down existing tools. Then at the end when you have a large enough ship and multitool you can abuse the game’s adjacency bonus system to become an unstoppable god, for whatever that’s worth in a game already mostly devoid of significant challenges on your life.
WHAT DO I CARRY:
This is a game primarily defined by inventory space. It’s hard to know what to keep and what to sell, because it’s all fairly nonintuitive, yet it is vital to staving off inventory madness syndrome (IMS). So here’s your guide to What Crap Is What And What To Carry:
Carbon and Iron are garbage elements available pretty much everywhere. You don’t need to keep any with you most of the time. Harvest a bunch when you need it, sell the remnants. You will need a lot of iron when you are exchanging and repairing shipwrecks, so just blast a bunch of rocks at the crash site.
Plutonium is your most used resource, and it’s just flat out everywhere. It used to be harder to collect, but before the game released it they threw in a quick lazy change to increase mining output from ubiquitous plutonium crystal formations. So now it just pours out of those red crystals five to ten times as fast. Alpha players probably had to bother with opening crates with teensy scraps of plutonium in them. You don’t. Just shoot red crystals until you have a couple of stacks whenever you need it. It’s not bad money, either, because you can farm so much of it so fast early on. It just pours out of caves. Use it to power your suit, your multitool, and your (ugh) launch thruster. Keeping a couple stacks in your ship is good policy. Throw the rest at the markets for Unit$.
Thamium is also hyperabundant the second you have a working ship. It’s always right above your head. Launch to space. You’ll immediately be in the middle of the endless sea of thamium rocks that explode violently and feed you thamium when you sneeze on them or bump them. Don’t ever worry about running out of thamium. You generally don’t need more than a stack.
If you ever need Titanium, go murder some sentinels.
Zinc and Platinum are consistently useful resources. Always collect it from plants. Hoover up any you find for trade at stations or from pilots. Carry one ship stack of each. As you move on to kitting yourself out, expand to keeping a couple stacks of each in your ship.
Heridium is going to be fairly important to you until you max out your ship at 48 inventory slots. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to spot the giant blue columns of it that you can farm. Keep a stack on your ship, or THREE stacks when your ship upgrade jumping.
Nickel, Iridium, Aluminum, Emeril, Gold, Chrysonite: Useful. “Library” them, ensuring you have at least one ship stack of each. When you have a lot of inventory space and you’re getting ready to do lots of endgame upgrading, move to having two stacks of each. Your primary expenditure of each resource will be with the warp upgrades. Most notably, you will need a thousand aluminum and a thousand gold for the highest level warp engine. Carry these with you between worlds and restock as necessary when the resource shows up plentifully on a given world.
The purple ‘precious’ elements, Omegon, Radnox, Murrine, Calium — for 99% of the game you have no need of them, so don’t allot them any space. You’ll eventually need them for some specific upgrades to your multitool, but when you do need them it’s so much easier to just spot-harvest them by buying from space station markets/pilots. When you aren’t building your final multitool, you don’t need them, so sell them.
The special alloys, Aronium, Crolium, Grantine, Herox, Lemmium, Magmox and Terumin, are almost entirely useless. Maybe they did something once upon a time before the game was released. They do nothing now and are glorified vendor trash. Just sell them for Units.
Unstackable expensive shinies, like Atlas stones, graviton spheres, vortex cubes, aquaspheres, etc, should be sold for money always, don’t lug them around with you. Spot purchase them at space stations when they are needed for upgrades. You’re supposed to keep your atlas stones (10 of them) for the end of the atlas storyline but the atlas storyline ends abruptly and does nothing either way, so it really doesn’t matter enough to warrant clogging up 10 of your inventory spaces, so you should probably just sell them for cash. I used ghost piracy to buy 10 atlas stones from space pilots right before jumping into the end of the atlas storyline, but, again, it doesn’t really seem to matter.
Craft materials as you need them, sell or discard the rest. Anything specific you need will be found in space stations or from murdering sentinels.
YOUR SHIP SUCKS:
Your ship sucks.
Don’t worry about it. Every ship in the game sucks. Spaceflight sucks. The only real difference between them is inventory size and hitpoints.
Hitpoints? Yeah. Some ships are inexplicably still categorized as ‘heavy’ craft and have more hitpoints than the others, and other craft are ‘light’ craft and have fewer hitpoints. It’s weird that this was left in the game, because all of these ships maneuver identically no matter what they look like or how large or small they are.
Yeah, any ship you get will handle identical to your first ship, and the game’s flight model is very terrible. I have played a lot of Elite: Dangerous, another game with the ‘bazillions of lightyears wide, inch deep’ problem wearing away at it, but Elite was built around the spaceflight sim experience and it does it very, very well. After spending so much time with a great flight model, No Man’s Sky was torture.
Your ship will pitch weirdly and when flying at different atmospheric levels, your nose will suddenly get forced up or down clumsily because the game’s flight system likes to awkwardly railroad you into specific altitudes, especially when boosting. You’ll always sort of feel like you are wrestling with a ship that doesn’t quite want to do what you want it to do. You’ll also have to get used to landing mostly blind.
Occasionally, when you take off, your ship inexplicably jets up into high orbit. Whee! Larger ships tend to clip into the terrain and do this more, could be related. If it annoys you long enough try to get a smaller ship model.
There are upgrades that make your ship handle better, but you want to hold off on that until later because otherwise you just end up wasting them each time you bunt yourself up an inventory slot.
For reasons unknown (jk, it’s because the shipflight sucks so the developers had to avoid any potential terrain interaction) your ship will never be able to touch the ground unless it is taking off or landing automatically. It will always hover a significant distance above the ground far enough away that you can’t hit anything ever. At this distance, the terrain will do some really weird things and morph constantly as the draw distance decreases, and it looks super ugly. But it’s all you can do. You have to look carefully for points of interest, which will also appear only as you get close to them.
Pirate encounters in the game are not scaled to any appropriate degree. Even early in the game, as you travel between planets, packs of pirates will appear out of nowhere, scan you, shut off your pulse drive, and murder you. They will be mechanically impossible to defeat, as you can’t really consistently dodge their photon blasts.
Space combat is worthless and should be avoided entirely unless you are engaging in GHOST PIRACY. If you are ambushed by pirates, just fly back to the surface, or die just to get them out of the way.
If you actually want to try your hand at space combat after you beef up your ship some, recognize that it’s a battle of attrition. You’ll always be getting hit, and the only way to beat groups of enemy fighters is to learn how to open up your inventory in combat and jam iron or titanium into the shields to recharge them. While fighting. You do this until you run out of oxide elements to jam in your shields and die, or all the enemies die. You don’t get much in return for this
It is not recommended that you spend any resources upgrading your ship (except for better warp engines, to search for a high grade starsystem to skim to grind out upgrades) because you have to melt down every single upgrade when you switch ships, which you will do a lot. Unlike the relatively manageable cost progression of adding inventory slots to your exosuit, the price of PURCHASING ships skyrockets upwards to tens of millions of units per ship upgrade, and you still have to do it kind of incrementally (it appears the availability of larger ship inventories is dependent upon the size of your current ship). Instead, you’ll swap and repair shipwrecks until you have a lot of inventory space.
Eventually when you have a large enough ship (40+ inventory slots, maximum 48), you should settle on your permanent ship.
Once you are okay with your current ship being your forever ship (usually you want to do this once you hit the magic 48 inventory slots), then you will begin filling it up with tech.
Hooray! Your ship handles better now, but if you’re going to take on pirates or shoot innocent traders for funsies, you still need oxides to jam in your shields over and over until everyone else dies. Space combat in this game is … really bad.
Space is a neon candyfest of bright colors, endless thamium asteroids that warp weirdly into view at a ridiculously short draw distance, random piratemurder, and not much else.
Large ships jump about and do nothing. There are no epic space battles.
Aside from random piratemurder, you occasionally have bounty opportunities and distress signals. The game’s bad space combat makes either … unappealing. Also if you so much as graze a large ship while you are trying to help it and fight off pirates and save the day, sentinels will warp in as all the ships murder you. Great job, hero.
Interstellar travel is awful. The interstellar universe navigation menu honestly, and I do mean this sincerely, deserves recognition as one of the worst navigation interfaces of all time. Trying to find and move between systems you have already seen, or just jump to a specific star type, is brutally obnoxious. This is one of the two things in this game I feel is criminally under-done.
Realize that when you leave a system, you may never find your way back. You have to be prepared to lose systems entirely to travel even relatively small distances across systems. You can’t really leave any strings in the maze, using the game’s interface. You have to leave your own breadcrumbs to effectively find your way back. I do this by naming systems and keeping a paper track log.
YOU DON’T SUCK BUT YOU’RE SLOW:
You are a tank.
The only thing that truly threatens your safety is the aforementioned spontaneous space piracy. On foot, you are a robust tank with a default speed of ‘idly mosey about’ which will survive nearly any laziness or carelessness. The universe is tame.
Hostile critters will tease your shields lightly. You can bludgeon them to death easily.
Sometimes a plant will spank you as you pass it.
Your life support will not run out except through abject neglect. It can be refilled with trivial amounts of isotope materials. On literally any world it’s practically impossible to find a single place where you could run your scanner and not find isotopes a few steps away.
Your environmental resistance will last quite a while, even when you’re experiencing 100 degree celsius storms or 10.0 rad deathblast apocalypses. But what if it runs out? Well, then a significant amount of time will pass and then your shields will start being very. slowly. damaged. Stepping under any sort of cover shields you from any environmental hazard and allows your environmental shields to recharge. Which means that you can blast a hole in the wall with grenades and just chill in there for a minute and keep walking.
Assuming you literally can’t find or make any cover for ten minutes, you can just put some zinc in it. But it’s so trivially easy to avoid it any other way, so why waste the zinc?
If you’re having fun on super, super extreme planets, multiple hundreds of degrees or minus degrees celsius, then just carry lots of zinc just in case.
But what about SENTINELS, the everpresent force of anti-defacement cops? No big deal. They act like nearsighted geriatric robot grandpas. You can murder plants and animals and turn rocks into indecent statues with wild abandon, as long as you know the master-level elite sentinel mitigation strategy.
The master-level elite sentinel mitigation strategy is to … not hold still when you made the sentinels angry, which only makes them come to the site of the carnage and start trying to scan you. If they can’t spend five seconds scanning a mostly motionless you, they go “we will never know the culprit of this unsolvable mystery” and give up trying to find you once you walk a short distance away. Your past misdeeds are forgotten. You may resume landmurdering.
The only times you are assured to end up fighting a sentinel is if you pick up a valuable shiny from the surface on a world with non-passive sentinels. Stuff like Gravitinos. If you pick it up, you immediately get a three-alarm event. A sentinel dog mech and three hoverbots will appear and begin attacking.
If you are a young adventurer without upgraded weaponry, they may prove a bit difficult to murder in retaliation. Instead, walk away. Moving a short distance away from where you triggered them will cause them to forget what they were doing and deactivate.
Even on worlds where sentinels are in “frenzied” constant murder mode, all that means is that they will attack you if you are courteous enough to stay in the same spot for five seconds. Zzz.
All of this is somewhat irrelevant once you get some decent boltcaster or grenade options, at which point you can simply murder them with wild abandon. Well, I mean, you can always murder them, but it takes some time with a basic boltcaster or a mining laser.
Falling great distances will tickle your shields.
Staying underwater too long will eventually slowly kill you. You have to kind of be really trying. Maybe you could wander into an underwater cave and get lost for a long time. Anywhere else you can just jetpack indefinitely up to the surface.
Okay, so to make a long story short, there are only really trivial survival challenges anywhere in the game as long as you are intelligent enough literally to just dump plutonium and carbon in your life support once every ten minutes or so.
Surface wandering benefits from a handful of quick tricks:
NUMBER ONE: Jetpacks only charge while you are on the ground (or instantly if you go underwater). As long as you keep just a percent or two of your jetpack charge, you can fall as far as you want and use that fraction of a charge to decelerate right before you hit the ground, and you’ll land safely.
NUMBER TWO: Jetpacks can ‘climb’ you up steep walls. Just run at them and hold down the jetpack button.
NUMBER THREE: Even when you have no sprint or jetpack upgrades, you can use jump-dashing to maintain indefinite forward sprinting speed. Sprint, then hop with your jetpack. Then sprint and hop again.
NUMBER FOUR: That’s mostly irrelevant though because you can actually use the melee attack to do a buggy-as-crap ‘jump dash,’ where you boost yourself forward at the highest attainable speed in game. Check it out on youtube to learn how if “pressing melee and jetpack button at same time” doesn’t work.
NUMBER FIVE: Your mining laser mines faster if you skate it across the surface of a hunk of minable rock at the right speed.
NUMBER SIX: If you stop firing your mining laser for one second, it resets the heat of the weapon down to nothing (as I said before, this game seems curiously light on qa for some of the most mundane things). Doing this every time the weapon is about to overheat allows you to fire your mining laser almost constantly without overheating wait times.
PROGRESSION 102 — BULKING UP with PLANET SKIMMING:
So now you know the general theme with money, you know how to make it, you got through the tutorial, you got your hyperdrive, you have a couple million saved up, and you are ignoring the Atlas path and the center of the galaxy.
Now it’s time to start building yourself up. You want to improve your exosuit, your ship, and your multitool. As long as you have credits, you can do all three at once using a strategy I call PLANET SKIMMING. Either do skimming as part of a dedicated grind if you’re one of those alpha grind A-type people, or do it while remembering to chill and enjoy planet sightseeing.
To engage in PLANET SKIMMING, have a system with a handful of planets. Mine had five. Between the five, you could jump between them whenever you wanted to mix things up and get at a different resource (one was rich in aluminum, another in chrysonite, etc)
You need to know about THREE SPECIFIC TYPES OF BUILDING. Learn to recognize them by sight. You need to stop at every TRANSMISSION TOWER (usually has a tall antenna-looking thing above it), every TRADE STATION (this is a building with a single ship landing pad attached to it), and every DROP POD. !these are the only ones that matter! ignore every other building including observatories.
Get in your craft and skim the world. just boost forward and coast along the world until you see one of these three specific types of building.
TRANSMISSION TOWERS: SHIP UPGRADES
Whenever you see a TRANSMISSION TOWER, land at it immediately.
Transmission towers are for UPGRADING YOUR SHIP.
Inside the transmission tower, If there is an ALIEN STARING AT THE WALL, which is all any alien in the game does ( ;_; ), talk to it once and guess at the right answer to get an upgrade.
If there is a MULTITOOL UPGRADE RECIPE on the wall, get it.
Now interface with the transmission tower computer, put in the correct answer to its logic progression, and it will give you the location of a CRASH SITE.
Go fly to the CRASH SITE. Stop at any of the THREE IMPORTANT BUILDINGS you see along the way but keep heading to crash sites.
If the crash site is more than like five minutes away in atmospheric flight, just jump up to orbit and boost over.
Once you are at the crash site, land next to the crashed ship.
There will be a MALFUNCTIONING EQUIPMENT. Salvage its tech.
There is a DISTRESS BEACON. Open it up and choose whichever answer you think won’t hurt you, but it doesn’t really matter because it will only hurt your shield so it doesn’t really endanger you at all like 99% of anything in this game. You will get some ship tech.
Now investigate the crashed ship. If the crashed ship has more inventory slots than your current ship, melt down all the upgrades on your current ship, move over all the inventory, and make the crashlanded ship your new ship. Fix the launcher, the pulse engine, and the shield (just to shut off that terrible, terrible alarm), and fly away in it to continue SKIMMING.
Do this something like 25-30 times and you’ll have a ship with the highest inventory capacity in the game. Hope it looks good!
Once you have a max inventory ship, you will have collected most or all of the ship upgrades. Build and put in the three shield upgrades (next to each other for the synergy bonus), the three pulse engine upgrades (also connected for synergy bonus), the three hyperdrive upgrades (connected) and as many of the photon cannon upgrades (connected) to damage, fire rate, and cooling you want to spend inventory slots on. Preference the +3 bonus upgrades, of course. Probably shouldn’t bother with phase beam upgrades, but that might just be my preference.
That preference is influenced by that phase beams overheat wicked fast and are bugged and will inexplicably shoot your own ship constantly. Don’t ask me how that works, it just does. You press the fire button and murder your own ship.
DROP PODS: EXOSUIT UPGRADES
Whenever you see a DROP POD, land by it, buy the exosuit upgrade, and leave.
As your exosuit upgrades give you a comfortable amount of inventory, start spending some of them on exosuit upgrades. I held off on this for a while because it spends your valuable inventory slot, but around inventory slot #30 I decided to put in the three sprint upgrades and the three jetpack upgrades. It is a massive, massive, quality of life upgrade. You’ll never go back. Remember to have all associated upgrades connected to each other for the synergy bonus.
Later, get the three shield upgrades.
Get 1 oxygen upgrade if you wanna go wet spelunking. Usually you don’t need it.
Don’t bother with any of the environmental protection upgrades. They deplete first and only regenerate by being fed materials, which is very annoying compared to your auto-regenerating nominal protection. Besides,even the most lethal planet is … not very lethal. I don’t even bother to waste resources on recharging my environmental shields in tremendous storms. All you have to do is stop inside a cave for a minute, or just make your own cave with a plasma grenade.
I also don’t bother with health upgrades. Shields are fine.
Life support upgrades are a quality of life upgrade but otherwise not very necessary since you can keep topped off with plutonium, anywhere.
TRADE CENTER: MULTITOOL UPGRADE
Whenever you see a TRADE CENTER, land and walk inside.
Inside the trade center, If there is an ALIEN STARING AT THE WALL, which is all any alien in the game does ( ;_; ), talk to it once and guess at the right answer to get an upgrade.
Open the multitool display on the wall. If the multitool has more slots than the one you have now, melt down every upgrade on your current multitool, and buy the new multitool.
When you have a decent looking 48 slot multitool, this is your Forever Multitool™.
Remove as many of its existing upgrades as you have to to make sure that you get the connection bonus for all upgrade types.
Decide whether or not you want a maxed boltcaster multitool or a maxed grenade multitool, but always have the basic plasma grenade on any multitool.
Put EVERY upgrade related to harvesting on the multitool. Every beam coolant, every beam intensity and focus. Ignore beam combat upgrades, just put on the ones that make you harvest faster. Connected, of course. You’ll harvest like crazy.
Put every scanner upgrade on the tool. Connected.
If yours is a boltcaster multitool, put literally as many boltcaster upgrades as you can fit on it. You’ll run completely out of room but you’ll have homing railgun shots that kill anything in seconds and you can run around on berserk high security worlds with ease. Make sure you leave one slot to have the plasma grenade upgrade on the multitool as well. You need it to make stairs or shelter.
If yours is a grenade multitool, jam every grenade upgrade on there. Make pretty explosions.
WE’LL PATCH THE ENDING IN LATER:
I mentioned earlier that there’s two problems with No Man’s Sky that ultimately I think are unforgivably undone, beyond even all the rest of the game’s mediocre or severely flawed implementation. The first is the absurdly bad interstellar navigation. Space combat being bad is one thing, but this doesn’t have to be a game about space combat. It IS supposed to be a game about interstellar exploration; when players effectively have no way to manage interstellar navigation other than just blindly moving in the direction of the core, this cuts at the game premise to the core. Even when I’m trying to do the whole ‘space explore and chill’ thing, I dislike profoundly having to leave planets that I want to be able to go back to, but probably won’t ever see again.
The other is that the game shipped without an ending.
What? Yeah. Like I mean that they built up this whole thing about “the goal is to get to the center of the galaxy! What’s at the center? Ooh, I wonder? What’s in there? You gotta go find out! Ooh!”
You travel all the way there. If you select the center of the galaxy and request to travel there, you don’t enter hyperdrive. Instead, the camera starts flying away from the galactic core while music plays. Then it dumps you in a “new game” reset. Nothing’s changed. It just says you’re in a new galaxy. Back at the edge. Nothing really happens except you find that when you pressed that button, you were getting a game reset without being asked first. You wake up and all your tech is broken.
My cynicism, however deep and abiding, was still not prepared for the developers to just literally not put in an ending. Reaching the center of the galaxy in No Man’s Sky may well go down as one of the most blatant middle fingers a game has ever shoved in people’s faces, ever. It’s a comically memorable letdown. People are right to be insulted and I guess I don’t ever expect it to be forgotten.
WE’LL PATCH THE ENDING IN LATER 2: MODS WILL LEGITIMATELY IMPROVE THIS GAME FASTER THAN THE DEVELOPER
Mods! Where the developer fails, expect the endless creativity of discouraged humans to prevail!
Already on PC there are some incredible quality of life improvements like a low flight mod that actually lets you fly wherever you want instead of being forced into floating above it. Highly recommend. Also a mod that makes things on planets actually large, so worlds with trees actually have ‘trees’ instead of little shrubby things.
There’s no shame in modding, and even less shame in modding this game to some semblance of cool. Keep your eye on the mods.
A lot of words to basically say ‘don’t buy this game, because it is an underwhelming disappointment dominated by a bad grind. boy is there sure a lot wrong with it. but if you bought the game, here’s how to grind!’
I have no life
game: no man’s sky
developer: hello games
publisher: hello games
release date: august 9, 2016
other games like it: “wondering if you should eat just one more donut” and “what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a life-altering car accident”