There’s an awful lot to talk about when it comes to No Man’s Sky, but a lot of people are still right at the very start of the game, simply trying to find their feet in the impossibly vast and obtuse galaxy that lies before them.
Now, on the one hand, we couldn’t let a game like No Man’s Sky come and go without making some sort of list to go alongside it, so here’s ten hints and tips that might help point you in the right direction, or for those still unsure of the game, give you a few more ideas as to what it’s really like.
1. Do your own thing
Seriously, if you know you’re getting the game, you should probably stop reading this list and head off to explore in your own fashion. A big part of No Man’s Sky is about gradually learning all the things you need to know for yourself, and whether it’s small things like inventory management, or taking part in space combat, exploration or whatever, this is your journey and yours alone.
2. Don’t forget to explore your first planet
This one should be fairly obvious, but your first planet is going to be the most memorable and possibly the most special to you. I wandered off and got lost exploring the yellow grassed hills, the eerily lit caves, and finding the first facilities, totally ignoring the immediate goal of fixing my ship and heading off into space.
However, when I did eventually blast off into space to visit other planets in the solar system, my meandering meant I’d already got to grips with a lot of what the ground based exploration was all about.
3. Scan and submit your discoveries, whether you rename them or not
A big part of No Man’s Sky’s pitch is letting you scan in and name the creatures and plants you find on each planet. You have to fix the “Analysis Visor” of your multi-tool before you can use it to scan the local flora and fauna, but it’s not long before you can catalogue everything you encounter.
You get a little cash for each one you scan, but you’re rewarded a second time if you submit each planet, outpost and sliver of life that you’ve found. Just hit the Options button to pause the game and start sending everything up to Hello’s servers. It’s entirely optional, but you might as well name planets after your favourite Friends episodes while you’re at it.
4. Find monuments, learn languages, and talk to aliens
Many of my favourite parts in the game so far come from interacting with the monuments and aliens that are happily chilling out. They always present you with a few paragraphs of text to give you context and a particular scenario, while the aliens yammer away in their native tongue. It’s up to you to piece together what they want, how you should react.
A big help is in learning new words in these languages, giving you a few extra clues what they want. If the word for “rare” is translated and highlighted in their speech, you should probably choose the option to hand over 20 of the denoted rare isotope in order to be rewarded.
These rewards could be pretty much anything, from learning a new word to new formulas, earning a new upgrade for your equipment, and one time I was even handed a new multi-tool with more slots.
5. Learn to manage your inventory
Speaking of slots, inventory management and prioritisation is key. You only have so many slots in your Exosuit and ship, and each function takes up a space, each upgrade takes up another slot, each item takes a slot, and then elements are stackable up to 250 per slot in your suit and 500 per slot in your ship.
You can always transfer items back to the ship, but have to be within a small radius of the ship to access that particular inventory. In other words, it can be a bit of a pain and you’ll often have to make sacrifices, like binning the 30 Platinum you picked up, so you can gather up entire boulders made of gold to flog the next time you head to a galactic trading post.
Inventory constraints is one of the big reasons why you’ll want to trade your ship for something a bit roomier.
6. Get a new ship
Getting a new ship isn’t the most obvious of processes, but once you know how, you’ll be eyeing up every flying hunk of junk you see.
Simply head to a space station, land and then wait for other ships to appear – you’ll always be the first and only ship to dock, but you won’t have to wait long. Then just wander up to the ship’s front and start chatting to the pilot. You always have the option to negotiate to buy the ship from them and the opportunity to compare theirs against yours.
A modest upgrade might add three precious slots to your inventory for around 300,000 credits (though these ships will usually come with a few upgrades installed that you might like to then remove), while a bigger ship with over 20 slots might set you back a cool million. Just don’t forget to move you inventory across before you hit the buy button and make sure you get a really cool looking one like the beauty I bought!
Incidentally, while space stations are home to trading terminals, you can also buy and sell things to the pilots that dock, potentially making a quick buck from varying prices.
7. Look out for exosuit upgrade pods
I’ve only found a couple so far, as they’re actually quite tricky to spot, and even trickier if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but these egg-like pods actually house an exosuit upgrade that adds an extra inventory slot in exchange for a little cash.
I’ve talked a lot about inventory slots, but you’ll understand if you’re playing the game.
8. Be a trader or a miner
You’ve got a damn long journey ahead of you, and you’ll need cash and resources to get to the galaxy’s centre. The best way that I’ve found is to be a miner and a trader – piracy has a certain allure, but early space combat is tricky, and you’ll almost certainly be outnumbered, if not outclassed!
So head down to a planet’s surface and look for those huge boulders that turn into a mesh grid when you scan them. You can easily scoop up vast quantities of whatever it is you find (while also grabbing the Carbon, Plutonium, Heridium and Zinc you need for the four step creation of a warp cell), then take it to a trading post or space station to sell.
Money makes the galaxy go round, after all
8. Be a scavenger or: How to stop being afraid of the drones
Of course, not everything is a natural resource, and the drones that fly around are wary enough of your mining activities – to be fair, you don’t exactly sign up for a mining permit at the start of the game.
The beacons and points of interest you find can often lead to abandoned outposts, silos of materials and more, but as soon as you break out your gun and start yelling “finder’s keepers” while shooting up locked doors, the sentinels come at you.
Just don’t panic. The multi-tool lacks a bit of punch early on, but it does the trick and this is just the first wave in a system akin to GTA’s classic five stars of escalation. Spin around and gun down the drones as fast as you can, and you might save yourself the hassle of a second, more powerful wave, and as soon as you get indoors or break line of sight, the situation calms down very quickly.
Not only that, but drones are a great source of Titanium.
9. Don’t forget to reload
Everything in No Man’s Sky is manual. Your life support needs to be topped up with energy (and boy does the computer remind you a lot!), you have to manually fill your ship with plutonium in order to take off, and this can even bite you in the middle of a fight.
Your multi-tool’s boltcaster doesn’t reload until you hit the button to do so. Worse than that though, taking too much damage in a space dogfight will deplete your deflector’s energy, which then needs you to manually hop into the inventory, click on the deflector’s and pick the element or item you want to use.
While you’re doing that, don’t forget to offer up your prayers to Hello Games and hope that they see fit to ease your troubles in a future patch.
10. Choose your path, but feel free to change your mind
You might wish to roam freely around the galaxy or follow the path of least resistance that the galactic map presents to you, but there are other options available to you.
Atlas offers you help at the start of the game, and for first time players it’s wise to take it at this point. Thing is, you don’t really know much about Atlas – and it’s not like characters named Atlas have the best track record in games – and you’re presented other options as you progress, in a fashion that you pretty much can’t miss.
Nada is my favourite for how literal a name it is, while Polo I actually have yet to encounter. The thing is that I seem to be able to switch back and forth, taking advantage of what Nada offers, before returning to Atlas’ path or continuing on my own merry way.
There’s no right choice, as far as I can tell, and so we manage to bring this list full circle.
Do your own thing, and most importantly, have fun exploring.
Do feed the animals.