One of the year’s most hyped (and most polarizing) games, No Man’s Sky is finally here, and it's absolutely staggering in terms of content, to the point of being overwhelming. With an unfathomably large amount of planets to discover, ships to buy, and weapons and tools to find and upgrade, starting the game can be overwhelming for new players--especially as the game doesn’t exactly do the best job of teaching you its finer mechanics. Here are The Top 20 Tips For Getting Started In No Man’s Sky.
20 The Path of the Atlas is a big deal
The first (and, arguably, one of the most important) offender in terms of No Man’s Sky not explaining itself, the Path of the Atlas is first encountered right when players start the game and are greeted with a mysterious red orb by their crashed ship. With very little in the way of context, players are asked whether or not they wish to follow the Path of the Atlas. You can still have fun whichever option you choose, but there are differences in the experience.
Choosing to follow the Path of the Atlas activates a (slightly) more in-depth tutorial, and also guides you more firmly to certain in-game locations, while forsaking the Path of the Atlas gives you a much more free-form experience, though you can still opt-in later at certain key points.
19 Move quickly!
No Man’s Sky’s movement speed seems fine at first, but the fact that each planet is, well, planet-sized makes traveling from one location to another feel more sluggish than it should. Whether it was placed in the game unintentionally or as a trick to reward curious players, Hello Games has a solution: by following a melee attack immediately with pressing and holding the jetpack button, you move much faster forward than normal, making waypoint-to-waypoint travel a comparative breeze.
The only wrinkle is that changing direction mid-air can take slow you down, but if you know where you’re going, that’s rarely a major problem.
18 Make sure to keep some basic materials around
Between chemical elements, natural materials, and crafted goods, there’s an overwhelming number of things to collect in No Man’s Sky--enough so that it can be confusing to know what to carry with you. You’ll want different goods depending on your situation, but it’s nearly always a good bet to have some standby materials around.
Plutonium, Iron, Carbon, Heredium, and Thanium9 are almost always useful for fueling your ship, keeping barriers on your shields up, and crafting basic components. The only downside is that, being incredibly common, none of these materials are particularly valuable when it comes to trading. That being said…
17 Keep an eye out for valuables
Almost every planet will offer spires of less useful, but very, very valuable materials, with some boasting enough to fill your entire inventory in just an hour of dedicated mining!
Aluminum spires are a good compromise between utility and value--a lot of ship and multitool upgrades require aluminum, but it also sells at a decent price--but if money is what you’re after, you’ll want to keep an eye out for spires of gold and emeril. Bright gold and pale yellow spires yield these incredibly valuable materials, with single stacks easily netting you tens of thousands of units.
16 Don’t neglect asteroids
Exploring for minerals on planets is pretty exciting--you get to stop at the occasional outpost to chat with the aliens, look for local wildlife, and enjoy the changing scenery. Flying through asteroid fields, on the other hand, can be monotonous, without many changes in scenery, and disorienting. Despite this, you should absolutely spend at least a little bit of time in space now and then. Asteroids are the single best source of Thanium9 in the game, a mineral that serves as a great fuel source for ship and multitool systems, and one that’s very much necessary for powering the pulse jets that enable quick space travel.
Larger meteors can contain rarer elements, like copper, aluminum, and nickel, that are absolutely vital to constructing various upgrades.
15 Talk to everyone, and find as many knowledge stones as you can
Most of the universe of No Man’s Sky is inhabited by three sentient races: the warlike Vykeen slugs, the beaked Gek traders, and the reclusive synthetic Korvax scientists. Every time you meet one on a space station or colonial outpost, you’ll be prompted to talk to them, and asked for a response. These interactions can yield great rewards, from schematics to entirely new multitools.
However, it can be hard to make the right choice when you have absolutely no idea what they want from you, which is why giving the aliens some carbon to learn a few new words is absolutely vital in No Man’s Sky. Likewise, knowledge stones scattered on alien worlds will teach you new words of alien languages for free, making seeking them out--and the ruins and monoliths nearby--very worthwhile.
14 Scan everything!
Your multitool is equipped with an analyzer, which lets you log plants, animals, and minerals that you find. It can sometimes be tedious to stop and scan everything, but it’s definitely worth it, especially early in the game.
Each creature, mineral, and plant that you scan can be named and uploaded for a small amount of units, which can add up quickly on densely populated planets. Best of all, each planet has a certain amount of animals that, once scanned, can be turned in for a reward, usually numbering in the hundreds of thousands of units! But really, no amount of money can compete with the satisfaction of naming a dinosaur with tentacles for a face “Squiggles”.
13 Upgrade your scanner
In addition to your analyzer, you’re also equipped with a scanner, which lets you send out a pulse to detect nearby materials. The scanner isn’t incredibly useful on planets covered in minerals and materials, but on barren, sparse planets, knowing which direction to walk in order to find some fuel for your ship is a lifesaver.
Upgrading your scanner will increase its range, making finding that oxide, silicate, or isotope you need to get your equipment up and running that much faster. It may not be noticeable most of the time, but when you desperately need some zinc to get your radiation deflector up and running during a nuclear storm, you’ll be grateful you took the time.
12 Don’t upgrade your first few ships
As exciting as it can be to slap a warp drive upgrade or new phase beam on your spaceship, upgrading isn’t always the right decision.
Like upgrades to your exosuit, ship upgrades can’t be moved, and unlike your exosuit, you’re not going to be rocking the same ship throughout the game. You’ll probably go through several ships (if not dozens, thanks to a tip later on in this guide) before finding one you’re ready to commit to, making any upgrades you applied to previous ships a massive waste of time and resources. It’s much better in the long run to save the effort and materials for a ship you’ll be spending a lot of time with.
11 Place upgrades carefully
When you do finally find a ship or multitool that you like, don’t just slap the upgrade into place wily-nily. No Man’s Sky doesn’t do the best job of explaining how its upgrades work, but essentially, upgrades of the same type placed next to one another work more effectively than upgrades of that type that aren’t touching similar upgrades.
Think carefully about where to place upgrades--it’s a surprisingly difficult balance between maxing out one type of bonus while still leaving room for others to have their place. Remember, once upgrades are placed, they can’t be moved, so you definitely want to think carefully about this.
10 Use landing pads whenever you can
This is a relatively minor tip, but it’s not one that’s brought up enough in terms of beginner traps. In No Man’s Sky, every ship requires a certain amount of plutonium simply to get off the ground, which can make repeatedly landing and taking off much more expensive than it should be. However, trading posts and certain bases will offer landing pads that your ship will automatically dock in, and taking off from these positions doesn’t require any plutonium. Whenever you can, try to seek out a landing pad, especially if you’re somehow scarce on plutonium.
9 Max out your personal inventory quickly
One of the most persistent complaints about No Man’s Sky is the tiny inventory space offered to the player. The fact that upgrades permanently occupy inventory spaces further compounds the problem. Fortunately, there is an easy (if costly) way to quickly max out your inventory space.
Look for a signal scanner--it’ll be a metal base emitting an orange beam--and use a bypass chip (more on that later) to activate it. Scan the landscape for shelters to locate drop pods, which offer permanent upgrades to your exosuit inventory. The first upgrade is a paltry 10,000 units, with each subsequent upgrade costing an additional 10,000. It’s a pricey road to the maximum of 48 inventory slots, but it’s well worth it.
8 Max out your ship inventory quickly
Like your personal inventory, your ship inventory starts out pitifully small. Similarly, upgrades into your ship occupy inventory spaces, making extra room hard to come by. While you can buy new ships with larger inventories, a simple trick lets you quickly obtain a ship with the maximum inventory of 48 slots very quickly.
As with obtaining more exosuit inventory slots, you’ll need to find a signal scanner and unlock it with a bypass chip. Keep scanning for transmissions until you find a transmission tower; once there, you’ll need to solve a simple mathematical puzzle to find a crashed ship. These ships are guaranteed to have at least one slot fewer than your current loadout, with a decent chance of having an additional slot. By upgrading (and subsequently repairing) these ships, then scanning for more transmission towers, you can rapidly work your way up to a full-sized vessel.
7 Use your ship for bulk storage
Even with fully-sized inventories, storing everything you need can be a challenge. Fortunately, your ship’s inventory is much larger than you think.
While rare items like graviton orbs and vortex cubes always require a full storage slot each, more common materials require fewer slots in ships. Your exosuit can only store 250 units of materials like iron, carbon, and heredium per slot, but your ship can store 500 units of these materials in each slot, effectively doubling your room. You can even strategically juggle between your ship and exosuit inventory as necessary, prioritizing items that require bulk storage depending on what you have more need of in the moment.
6 Pay attention to space station prices
If you’re looking for quick ways to earn money, it always pays off to keep an eye on local prices. Every system’s space station has a trading console with certain items marked with gold stars, indicating demand that inflates the price of the item by well over a hundred percent. Sometimes, the item will be something that’s already rare and hard to find anyway, which makes capitalizing on the price hike difficult, but other times, you’ll get lucky. Hikes on easy to find materials like carbon or plutonium can easily net you hundreds of thousands of units in short order, while materials that pilots in the space station commonly trade in can make more money still.
Just be sure to check your inventory when you have enough money--you don’t want to waste valuable space carting around some goods that will probably sell for normal prices in the next system.
5 Use bypass chips to get money as quickly as possible
It isn’t nearly as fun, exciting, or glamorous as searching for rare materials or putting on the hat of a space trader (or for that matter, taking advantage of dodgy exploits), but as detailed by Polygon, bypass chips are the key to making as much money as efficiently as possible in No Man’s Sky.
Crafted from 10 units of iron and 10 units of plutonium, the chips are ludicrously cheap to build, and sell for several thousand units upon construction, therefore inflating the value of the components involved by an enormous amount. One stack each of 250 pieces of plutonium and iron will net you over 75,000 units, an absolutely absurd return on the paltry investment of gathering the two materials. Sitting in front of a trading station and mindlessly crafting bypass chips isn’t very thrilling, but if you’re in dire need of a new ship and don’t want to take the time to earn a few hundred thousand units in other ways, bypass chips are definitely the way to go.
4 Don’t worry too much about space combat
Players should be ready to defend themselves in space--if you’re carrying valuable cargo, you might be set upon by pirates in later systems, and their incredibly frustrating ability to disable your pulse thrusters makes fleeing from these fights basically impossible, leaving destroying their ships as your only option. However, players that prefer to avoid space battles whenever possible, and therefore miss out on the chaotic, swooping fights between massive capital ships and squadrons of smaller fighters, needn’t worry too much.
Like its ground combat, No Man’s Sky’s space combat is fun and serviceable, but ultimately very simplistic, and the rewards it yields are utterly negligible. When you find anything from enemy ships, you’re as likely as not to pick up some gold or emeril, and while these valuable metals are nice, they’re rarely worth the damage your shield endures in the process. If you enjoy dogfighting in space, more power to you, but those that don’t like it shouldn’t worry about missing out on much.
3 Move on from planets quickly, but move on from systems deliberately
Video games have taught us for years to thoroughly explore every nook and cranny of their worlds to find secrets, hidden content, and powerful story moments that would have easily been missed otherwise. No Man’s Sky flies in the face of this ingrained searcher instinct, as its planets are so large that discovering every plant, animal, outpost, knowledge stone, and beacon on even one is a feat of gargantuan difficulty--and one that would leave you with 17,999,999,999,999,999,999 still to search. Don’t feel pressured to spend a certain amount of time on planets before moving on, or even any amount of time if the environment is harsh and there doesn’t seem to be much there--there’s a functionally infinite number of other planets you can explore instead.
That being said, moving on from systems is something that requires a bit more thought, as the game’s space navigation between systems makes it very difficult to move to one specific system if it’s further away from the galactic core.
2 Don’t expect to meet your friends
Outrage over Hello Game’s “broken promises” about No Man’s Sky was bound to happen with a game with so much hype behind it, and indeed, there are some things that trailers and interviews implied about the game that simply haven’t panned out. Most of these complaints are relatively minor--the game ultimately hasn’t suffered much from dinosaurs not being able to knock over trees--but one thing the studio promised but apparently hasn’t delivered on is a much more serious, and troubling, consideration.
Despite assurances that multiplayer interactions would be scarce, but still possible, all evidence points to No Man’s Sky having basically no form of multiplayer at all aside from publicly uploading planet and species names. While sharing your discoveries online is an amazing experience that’s unique to the game, fans looking forward to eventually meeting another player and conducting some exploration together shouldn’t get their hopes up. Hopefully, Hello Games can eventually patch the feature in as promised, but for now, consider No Man’s Sky a single-player game.
1 Get your expectations in order
The other tips from this list have all hinted at this basic truth about No Man’s Sky: it’s a very, very different game than what many people wanted, or even expected. Marketing hype about an infinite, procedurally-generated universe conjured visions of an all-encompassing dream game, with the sci-fi themes and depth of Mass Effect and the total player freedom of a Fallout or Elder Scrolls. Instead, the game is much smaller scale in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay, bearing more similarity to Minecraft or rogue-like games like that than anything else.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; exploring alien planets, finding bizarre new animals and creatures, and gathering minerals and materials to craft new upgrades is fun in a very low-key, laid-back kind of way. But it’s probably not what people are expecting, and if it’s not the type of game you’re looking for, it might be wise to give something else a try.
Do you have any tips or tricks on how new players should approach No Man’s Sky? Let us know in the comments below!
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