No Man’s Sky: What Is An Atlas Pass?

If there’s one question echoing around the belly of the No Man’s Sky universe over the last few days, it’s these three: “What the bleeding heck is an Atlas Pass? And how do I get one? And what’s for tea?” Well, we can bring you the answer to at least two of these queries. Below are the possibly spoilery details of how you can open all those bloody locked doors and sealec containers.

To repeat, this is technically a spoiler. Although a spoiler for something the game is outrageously bad at pointing players toward, least of all communicating that you’re not actually meant to have one early on.

Right at the start of the game, next to your first crashed ship, lies an orb. When used, it’ll ask you if you want to follow the path toward Atlas, or somesuch rubbish. And you’ve absolutely no frame of reference for how to reply. It’s dumb beyond belief. But, assuming you say yes, you’re opening up a possible path through the game that’s a bit Star Trek V as you search for God. This is the direction in which you need to head. The game will start prompting you to get off the planet’s surface and head to space, then perform a search. These will create location markets on particular planets, and when headed to you’ll start getting the bits and pieces you need, both for building a hyperdrive, and for finding out more about this Atlas business.

At a certain point in this quest chain a third option becomes available on the Galactic Map, letting you move down a chain of stars toward the Atlas Interface instead of the centre. That’s your route. And a quick tip – make sure to check if you can go more than one star in a single jump. At one point I noticed I could leap three ahead to reach the end.

Here you’ll find yourself flown to a special base with a giant red orb. Again you’re asked a confusing, meaningless question, but just keep nodding and agreeing (it’s like so many religions!) and you’ll be given an Atlas Stone. You’re halfway there!

This will now open up a new chain of stars on that story path, and again you need to warp your way along them, until a certain point where an anomaly appears. It’s in here that you’ll be given the blueprint for crafting an Atlas Pass. With a few basic elements you can get your ticket.

If you ignored the Atlas story, you can apparently still stumble upon Atlas Doodahs in star systems you visit, and get there that way. But huh.

What a palaver.

The Atlas Pass is just one important item in No Man’s Sky. You should also learn how to craft Warp Cells, how to efficiently gather resources, and learn about No Man’s Sky’s resources generally. You’ll also probably want to increase your ship and exosuit inventory slots. Or hit up our No Man’s Sky guide hub for more.

Disclosure: Our Alec did some writing for No Man’s Sky, and so doesn’t write about it for us anymore.

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  1. Cinek says:

    So… if you answer “No” it’s GG, game over, no way to obtain Atlas Pass… ever?

    Well.. that sounds like a special case of retardation on dev’s side.

    • John Walker says:

      You can apparently stumble upon solar systems with Atlas Doodahs in them. But yeah, what a dumb design.

      • Someoldguy says:

        I’m pretty sure you can also hit monoliths that open up the atlas path. I rejected the Atlas path but was nevertheless directed to head to an Atlas Station before I found an anomaly station. It may not be common – I’ve hit a lot of monolith sites in my pursuit of the alien languages, but it’s a third way to open the Atlas path if you really want to. I’m not convinced spending more hours chasing Atlas stations to upgrade your pass level is really a good investment of time if you’re heading to the centre of the galaxy or just noodling about. It’s like saying every character build in RPGs must take pick locks to open those bonus loot containers. You might get a slight sense of missing something if you don’t, but it’s hardly mandatory.

        • Qazi says:

          The consensus at the moment is that Atlas Pass v2 and v3 are RNGd from Manufacturing Plants. Manufactoring plants are those alien structures where you have to blow off the door. These are the game’s proscribed way of giving out more crafting blueprints, and as Atlas Pass is craftable, v2 and v3 are in the list of blueprints available.

      • Steelbeard says:

        I don’t think it’s dumb design at all. It’s called giving the gamer freedom. You can accept or reject the Atlas path. Either way, you have the ability to find get an Atlas pass. If you follow the Atlas story, you will get one, guaranteed, since you will be directed to a system with an Anomaly. If you ignore the Atlas story, it is still possible to get the blueprint to craft the Atlas Pass from other places in the game: abandoned buildings, monoliths, or alien NPCs. The guy in the recent PC gamer article crafted one without ever leaving his starting planet.

        What we’re not used to is a game that’s about exploration that requires you to actually do it rather than go look up a wiki article. The game will eventually reveal its secrets, but only after you play. I felt a little miffed myself after leaving the Atlas Interface, thinking that finally I was going to get a pass, and then nothing but warp cells. But then I saw the path laid out. Another carrot on a stick. Before I could follow it, however, I found a black hole, and that’s yet *another* way to get an Atlas Pass. I think eventually every player is going to get one, following Atlas or not.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      No, you can definitely still get it, I found an anomaly without following any path.

      • xcession says:

        1) What should I be looking for to find that anomaly? My system scans normally only show derelict facilities.

        2) Having got it, are you now “on the path” to atlas or what?

        • jon_hill987 says:

          No idea I’m afraid, just showed up on a system scan.

        • cpy says:

          It just appeared one time when i jumped to next system. I refused to do any quest in this game. Leave me alone i bought this game to explore and not to do your stupid quests. Geez.

        • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

          I found one last night, having told Atlas to bugger off on planet 1. In answer:

          1. It appeared on my HUD when I entered a random system en route to the galactic centre (it’s only like the 5th system I’ve visited) I don’t think I even scanned to find it (but do always scan when you enter system, can find some cool stuff that way).

          2. No, I just got the pass blueprint regardless. Although there did appear to be a way to opt back in to the Atlas story path if I wanted (i said bugger off again).

        • Eclipse says:

          It’s a random event, you get a purple marker in space, if you get there you find a ball shaped space station, inside you can get the Atlas Pass blueprint AND other stuff I wont spoil.

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          corinoco says:

          Mine told my I was “clear of thetans, level two”

          Hang on, am I playing the right game?

      • SSR says:

        I saw mention of an anomaly on the map, but not as a location I could travel to, that I remember. This was perhaps a jump or two in. Is it something you can backtrack to? Annoying!

      • Cinek says:

        Weird, I’ve been in over a dozen of systems and haven’t encountered it yet.

        • Archonsod says:

          All of the questline stuff is tied to mission progress, not how many systems you’ve went through. IIRC you should get the Atlas Foundry location after the first ‘big’ Atlas monument you need to travel to.

          Thus far it’s not essential though. As noted you can find the v2 and v3 recipe through random blueprints; also Atlas is one of the three paths through the game so I’d assume it’s possible to finish without one if you opt for one of the other paths.

  2. xcession says:

    I did all that stuff at the beginning till I made my Warp Core and blasted into space, but seeing the galactic map for the first time I just chose to head towards the centre. 6 jumps and 15 or so planets later, and I’ve never seen, although I probably just missed, any reference to crafting an Atlas Pass. Am I totally screwed now?

    • SSR says:


    • Archonsod says:

      I’ve yet to find anything with the Atlas pass that you can’t find elsewhere. In fact about the only thing it does is let you get an upgrade (suit / multitool) on every spacestation (behind the Atlas door) and collect yet more random crap from crates (it tends to be slightly better random crap, but it’s still random crap. If you want to make money you’re still better off simply locating the trade post on the planet and farming everything in it’s vicinity to destruction).

  3. DuncUK says:

    As for getting v2 and v3 passes, this works completely different. Once you have v1 you can use the following technique (quoted from elsewhere):

    “a recipe for the v2/v3 Pass can be found by pure chance from one of the Operations Centres you’ll find on a planet’s surface. You can track down Operations Centres a little faster by using one of the Signal Scanners – identified by the vertical orange beams they shoot up into the air – and selecting ‘Colonial Outpost’ from the options it provides.”

    If you luck out and get a v3 pass first, it opens v2 doors anyway so don’t worry.

  4. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    But John, what is for tea?

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    clem2k3 says:

    I went the Atlas way, found the bigger red orb, didnt really pay attention to what it said and then sold the orb. Still got an Atlas pass at the anomaly though…

    The anomaly was really clearly signposted at my entry to that system so I doubt anyone would miss it.

    Has anyone being randomly given play tips late into the game? Im about 12-15 hours in and it gave me a tip last night about turning on the flashlight … would have been handy a bit earlier on.

    On the whole though I like the game. It gives you enough purpose to keep going, whilst providing enough things to do on the way (such as broken space ships that I cant leave behind because they have 1 more inventory slot than mine does …). Sounds like it should put everyone on the Atlas path and then just let them ignore it if they want to free roam or hunt the galactic centre.

    Damn the inventory system though. Damn it to hell.

    • SSR says:

      I keep people told to build the jetpack upgrade, after I’ve made it. Sigh…

      • MajorLag says:

        That’s really disappointing. It should be fairly simple to bake in a little intelligence about tips. Like, oh, the player is in a dark place and has been stumbling around for a while, and they’ve never turned on the flashlight, maybe I should give them a tip? I mean, that’s what tips are right? “I don’t think you realize this, but you can/should do X”.

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      Awesomeclaw says:

      The inventory initially feels quite constrained but once you get an Atlas pass you can buy a suit upgrade (which gives an extra inventory slot) at almost every space station (behind the left-hand door as you face into the station hangar). They become increasingly expensive as you go, but it’s still much cheaper than trying to save up for new space boats.

      • Rodney Dee says:

        You can also buy additional suit inventory slots without an Atlas pass. There are small… well, sort of chambers, mini-buildings on planet surfaces that offer them.

        • Cinek says:

          They look like capsules. And yea, even with them inventory system is way too restrictive. I guess I should buy some fancy freighter with lots of slots, but that would requite tons of painful grind which again: is crippled by a low number of inventory slots. Bleah :/

          • Archonsod says:

            I no longer worry about my inventory. Thing is you find nearly every planet contains every element so I’ve taken to simply flogging everything that isn’t an upgrade to the nearest space station before I move on. Handily it also tends to minimise the number of pirate attacks you’ll be subjected to.

  6. Rodney Dee says:

    I’m really confused. I have a lot of “ruin” markers spread all over my start system, and I thought those were the ones I discovered anyway. Never saw any connection to that Atlas thing.
    On a different note: I started with that bonus ship (yes, preordered, mea culpa) which already has a warp drive. I roamed my start system until I was able to purchase a significantly better ship and then went off to another system. There I was greeted with a message about a “beacon”… long story short: I was given a warp drive blueprint and was told to purchase antimatter at the local space station. Having done that, I crafted a warp cell, and that was it. So I need to buy antimatter every time? Isn’t there a blueprint for this, too?

    • Hunchentoot says:

      I’ve been making my antimatter for the warp drive, so it must be a blueprint, I just don’t remember where I picked it up though, Sorry, maybe just a random drop.

    • mechavolt says:

      There is a blueprint for anti-matter, but you either get it from a later story quest or find it randomly.

    • Archonsod says:

      There’s about three blueprints you need – you get the warp cell as part of the questline. In order to make it entirely yourself you also need the blueprints for suspension liquid to craft the vapour which lets you create the antimatter. The other two are random, I was lucky enough to already have one and find the other in an abandoned building on the system after I got the antimatter blueprint.

    • KestraltheElder says:

      You get the blueprints for making Antimatter, Suspension Fluid, etc from Manufacturing Facilities. You’ll have to break through a steel door to get in, which the Sentinels will not like one bit so be ready for some shooting. However, I’ve found that if you stand in the little alcove for the doorway while you burn it down, you’ll only have to kill one or two of the flying sentinels before you get inside. Once you step through the door they generally leave you alone.

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        corinoco says:

        I’ve got into those places, but then what? I’ve read there is a ‘simple puzzle’ to solve – is that the ‘three questions’ button with only 1/3 chance of guessing correctly? Not really a puzzle, is it?

  7. MaxMcG says:

    I only read this article to find out what’s for tea. Imagine my disappointment. Now I don’t know what on earth is for tea. I have dietary requirements. How am I supposed to concentrate on my work as an important administrator when the composition of my tea is uncertain. I shall unsubscribe.

  8. mercyRPG says:

    An Atlas Pass is a proof that this useless game sucked away precious time from your life that you completely wasted.

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      Harlander says:

      Isn’t wasting time part of the point of games?

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      We’ve all seen what you do with your time (filthy!), and therefore don’t feel wasting it is any real loss.

  9. aircool says:

    I was struggling to find aluminium, but I found some little doggies that you can feed…

  10. Luciferous says:

    Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it meaningless or dumb.

    The one thing above all else that I am loving about this game is the zero hand holding approach. With the Atlas Passes I just assumed (correctly) that it would be a tech I’d receive later on because I’ve played games like Metroid that teach you not everything needs to be available and known straight away.

    As for whats for Tea… Probably beans on’toast, we always have something simple and quick on a Monday.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      You put beans on … toast??

      You island people are disgusting

  11. Jay Load says:

    Hilariously, I thought the Red Orb was something to do with the Tutorial, that saying No would mean I’d be left to figure the game out for myself. I kept expecting it to follow me around, Navi-from-Zelda style, offering helpful hints and advice.

    But no, other than being told what I need to do next, and what minerals I’ll need for that, the game is weirdly quiet. It just kind of drops you into the world/system/galaxy and lets you get on with it. I actually approve of this but it took me by surprise in this day and age; I really wasn’t expecting it from a game so heavily anticipated.

    • Archonsod says:

      You get exactly the same pointers if you tell the red orb where to lump it too. I don’t think you’re actually set on a path until quite a bit later.

    • Marr says:

      It does however like to constantly switch off your HUD and fill half the screen with black bars and messages like Hurrah, you know 25 words.

  12. LANCERZzZz says:

    Yet another reason why I don’t understand people with <2 hours writing negative reviews on this game, when there are people who play it every day and still haven't fully figured it out. The game is vast, anyone who says it's shallow probably didn't do much

    • thebigJ_A says:

      It can be both vast and shallow. Those aren’t mutually exclusive.

      I’d love to hear examples of depth, but I haven’t yet.

    • Marr says:

      It doesn’t take more than two hours to see that every discovery is basically just an overdecorated loot chest with a few ores, a crafting recipe or some alien words, and sometimes a waypoint to another loot chest. Cool spaceship generator, though. Pity they all steer like a cow.

  13. plugmonkey says:

    I can only speak for my experience, but I told the Atlas orb to do one at the start and didn’t really worry about it.

    Then I found a door with a pass I didn’t have and thought “well, I guess that’s maybe what you get if you don’t tell the Atlas orb to do one” and didn’t really worry about it.

    Then later I found a relic that offered to return me to the path of the Atlas, but I told it to do one as well, because I still wasn’t particularly bothered. It’s just a door.

    Then I found an Anomoly where I met an alien who wanted all the species data I’d been gathering, so I gave him it and he slid me an AtlasPass, so there really wasn’t ever anything to worry about after all. This is all in the first 7 hours.

    At the beginning of the game you make a decision that has short term consequences. It wouldn’t be much of a decision if it had no consequences. It doesn’t break or ruin the game, and personally I’ll be carrying on telling the Atlas to do one, for the time being at least.

    I can’t tell if you’ve been spectacularly unlucky, or whether you’ve been a little too quick to give in to the anxiety of what you’re missing out on. In the words of Mr Jovi, I’d recommend people keep the faith. Make a decision, go with the decision, don’t worry that the decision has completely removed all the fun from your playthrough, because the chances are it won’t unless you make it.

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      Nauallis says:

      Reading this, I feel like I’ve been spectacularly unlucky by comparison. I’m 20 hours in, and only last night did I get to the first Atlas beacon (and I started out saying “yes” to the Atlas chain). That said, I am only in the fourth system because I decided to visit every planet in each system before that, and spent about two hours wandering around one planet increasingly frustrated because the last remaining animal (out of 10) didn’t appear to exist. Gahh!

  14. bandertroll says:

    In game need button “restart campaing”.

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      corinoco says:


      Close NMS
      Open %appdata%/Roaming/HelloGames
      Delete folder NMS
      Oh, you did back that up in case you want to restore? No? Ok.
      Restart NMS

      Generates new game, maybe you’ll get a planet that isn’t raining radioactive acid at -74C which is all I seem to get. You get to listen to the funky computer burble again, too.

  15. KatLady4 says:

    You can choose how you want to play at any time. You either take the path toward the center of the galaxy, follow atlas, or do your own thing. The galaxy map let’s you decide. It points one way or the other (or neither) and you just go in that direction to the next system. It’s an unusual game mechanic but it’s a nice change, to be honest. You didn’t need to answer a certain way to the red ball at the beginning, if you even spoke to it at all. It’s there only as the simplest of introductions: a passing glance. It allows fluidity to the way you choose to play.

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    Skabooga says:

    That’s all very well and good, but:

    What does Atlas need with a starship?

  17. Jactap says:

    Finally a decent explanation on how to acquire this. Thank you! All the other websites I’ve read have been ridiculously vague on how to actually get to the anomaly.