No Man’s Sky is, at its heart, a game about exploration, and the wondrous yet frightening discovery of just how small you are. Its systems are built to encourage this discovery on every level, from logging new plant species to new planets. Its much-hyped procedurally-generated universe is designed to make you feel overwhelmed, but just like our universe, it obeys its own laws. If you’d like a little help understanding those laws, read on.
Surviving and finding resources on the surface of a planet is the first thing you’ll need to do in No Man’s Sky as you repair your ship. See our resources guide for a full run-down on the different types of resources you can collect, check our gathering guide to learn how to collect them with full efficiency, and read on for a few tricks to survive and indeed thrive while exploring, even on hostile planets.
Use the sprint, melee, jump trick liberally
Try this: sprint, then use your melee attack, and jump as soon as you can after hitting the melee button. Sprinting appears to turn your melee into a kind of shoulder drop - the attack animation differs from the usual downward smack with your multi-tool - and if you engage your jetpack while the momentum is still carrying you forward, you’ll fly through the air at great speed.
Exploring planets on foot can be frustratingly slow in No Man’s Sky, especially if you’re trying to get under cover from toxic rain or some such hazard. Learn this trick and use it often; it’s very helpful for getting around.
Scan everything and don’t forget to upload
Your analysis visor can analyse and catalogue the many new species of flora and fauna on each planet you visit, and these discoveries are worth money. In many cases though, you’ll only get paid if you go into the pause menu and upload your discoveries. There’s no “upload all” button, which is a bit annoying, but it’s a simple thing to do after a session and usually nets you a few thousand credits, which is a big help with those early-game expenses.
If you can discover and upload every single animal species on a planet, you’ll get a bonus payment that’s well into the hundreds of thousands, so dedicated explorers can use this to make money well into the end-game. If you like the sound of that, see our guide on animal hunting for more details.
Your jetpack can climb almost anything
Besides giving a huge boost to your speed via the melee boost method, the jetpack is an excellent tool for ascending No Man’s Sky’s irregular terrain. And we’re not talking a quick jump out of a cave here; it seems the jetpack gets infinite fuel when scaling a cliff, so even the highest mountain can be conquered.
Try it for yourself. At the next cliff you see, stand directly in front of it and run forward, into its face, while holding the jetpack key. You should be at the top in no time, with fuel to spare.
Oxides are your friends
Oxides are a type of element denoted by yellow icons in your HUD as you explore, and include iron, zinc and titanium. They are used in crafting and repairs - with zinc especially valuable as a component in antimatter - but they are also important in charging various protective technology.
Oxides can recharge your starship’s deflector shields - an important tip if pirates ever sniff out your cargo - but most importantly, they can recharge your exosuit’s environmental protection. Few planets in No Man’s Sky are completely benign, and the most valuable resources are typically found on very hostile ones. Given this, it’s good practice to keep a healthy stock of an oxide - iron is common - in your exosuit at all times. Double up if your planet is extremely hot, cold, radioactive or toxic, just in case.
Caves are your friends and your enemies
Cave systems in No Man’s Sky are generated with their own bit of procedural code and, while we’re on the subject of hostile planets, can give you valuable shelter from the elements. Your environmental protection will recharge when you’re in a cave, so if you should stumble upon one while on an extreme planet, make a mental note of it in case you need respite in the future.
Caves can also be rich in resources, as well as a possible source of hugely valuable vortex cubes (see our resources gathering guide for more), but be careful: if you delve too deep into one of the larger cave systems, it can be frustratingly difficult to find your way back out again. Many caves are near the surface, so you can look for cracks in the ceiling (or create your own with your grenade launcher), but it’s best to not get lost in the first place. If you’re determined to go spelunking, consider parking your ship right outside the cave entrance, so you have a waypoint to guide you back out.
Use signal scanners to find blueprints
Apart from upgrading your inventory size, crafting new technology is the main way to strengthen your equipment. This leads to more efficient mining, better performance in space and planetary combat, longer warp jumps and more, so it’s pretty important.
Before you can get crafting, though, you need blueprints. A major source of these are the various colonial buildings you can find on planets, and apart from flying low over the surface and spotting them with your naked eye, a good way to find these buildings is by using signal scanners.
These are the stump-like antennae emitting a beam of orange light. You can use them to scan the planet for nearby points of interest, which will then be marked with a waypoint on your HUD. You’ll need to craft a bypass chip from 10 iron and 10 plutonium to do so, but after that, you’ll have a choice of the following categories:
- Monolith: marks the position of either an alien monolith or a plaque.
- Colonial Outpost: marks either a manufacturing facility or operations centre.
- Transmission: marks a transmission tower, observatory or beacon.
- Shelter: marks a shelter or a drop pod.
Drop pods and transmission towers are covered in our guide to upgrading your inventory size, but other buildings here are great sources of technology blueprints, with multi-tool tech, damaged machinery and loot boxes sometimes spawning randomly inside them. Manufacturing facilities and operations centres are guaranteed sources of tech blueprints, while operations centres are the only known source of the very rare and desirable Atlas Pass V2 and V3 blueprints.
Alien monoliths and plaques will usually have knowledge stones granting alien vocabulary, and the central interaction with a plaque will always give some alien-related lore, vocabulary and faction standing. The central interaction with a monolith may award blueprints, but only as one of several other options.
A few general tips on crafting, trading and exploration as you leave your planet and head out into the star system.
Escape the atmosphere to circumnavigate a planet faster
Perhaps you’re farming abandoned starships to get a 48-slot hulk, or drop pods for more inventory slots (check our guide to improving your inventory space if so). You’re using signal scanners to mark waypoints all over the planet, and getting from place to place in your ship is taking longer than it should.
Here’s the problem: atmospheric resistance. Escape the planet’s atmosphere by heading up into space and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your estimated arrival times as your thrusters pull you through the vacuum. You can also use your pulse engine to get there even faster.
What you can’t gather from a planet, you may be able to buy on the galactic market. This interstellar bazaar is accessible from the terminals that look a bit like Portal 2 personality cores, found in space stations, trading posts and outposts in every star system. Its prices and stock change to some degree at every terminal, and you can get another set of prices and inventory from the alien traders you’ll meet as their ships come in to dock. You can use any discrepancies in the two rates to make money, by buying certain goods at a low price and selling them for a profit, but this is only worth it if the difference between the two prices is substantial and the travel time between the two markets is not. It’s also rather boring.
Check our guides on the galactic market and on resource gathering for more practical advice on making money. Many important goods may only be available at the galactic market, and you can’t beat the convenience of such a range of inventory in one easy place, so stacking those units is one of the major goals in No Man’s Sky.
Take risks when speaking to aliens
Until you learn enough extraterrestrial vocabulary (by visiting alien monoliths and knowledge stones), you won’t understand most of what’s being said whenever you speak with an alien. This sucks, as making the correct choice in an alien dialogue can often yield significant rewards, including free multi-tool upgrades and valuable technology.
A good rule of thumb until you can speak the lingo is to always pick the dialogue option that’s most dangerous, least obvious, or any option that’s locked behind a reputation level. Brain extraction? Sign me up. If you’re asked to donate resources of some kind, hand over the most expensive. If you don’t have any in your inventory, remember you can always back out of these dialogues without making a choice and come back after you’ve restocked.
Some final advice for those of you ready to warp between stars, and onward to the centre of the galaxy.
Upgrade your warp drive by hunting down starship blueprints
Blueprints are No Man’s Sky’s crafting recipes, and will enable you to make items in three broad categories: processed goods used for yet more complex crafting, energy sources to recharge your equipment (e.g. warp cells for interstellar travel), and technology or “companion units” installed on your gear to improve its effectiveness.
In our experience, multi-tool tech is the most helpful - particularly on your mining beam. Exosuit technology falls into the category of “nice to have”, but when that toxic protection theta is keeping you safe from a storm of toxic rain, it’s really nice to have. Starship technology, by contrast, is mostly useless; unless you fancy a bit of piracy yourself and want to attack freighters for loot - in which case, fair enough - you can avoid almost all space battles, and your basic thrusters and pulse drive work just fine.
However, there are three ship techs that are so important we recommend seeking out ship technology whenever you can in the slim chance of getting them. They are the hyperdrive upgrades: Warp Reactor Sigma, Warp Reactor Tau, and Warp Reactor Theta.
Each upgrade increases the range of your hyperdrive, enabling you to jump more than one star system at a time. Furthermore, some star systems are completely inaccessible without them. You begin with the ability to warp to yellow stars, but red stars require the Sigma drive, green stars the Tau, and you can’t warp to blue star systems without the Theta warp drive.
Since these stars produce way richer and more interesting planets than yellow ones, you’re potentially missing out on No Man’s Sky’s greatest spectacles if you keep flying without an upgraded warp drive. Not to mention, by limiting your range and the stars you can warp to, your progress to the centre of the galaxy is massively hampered.
To the centre of the galaxy
As you set off into the depths of the galaxy, you have three paths before you. You can continue to follow the guidance of the mysterious Atlas, or explore the black holes charted by dynamic duo Nada and Polo. Alternatively, you can go your own way, unfurling the galaxy’s mysteries with nothing but your wits and your warp drive.
Regardless of your thoughts on future exploration, you should hunt down Nada and Polo as soon as you can. They’ll give you the blueprint to make your Atlas Pass V1, which gives access to more loot and a consistent source of exosuit inventory upgrades. Check out our Atlas Pass guide for full details.
You’ll continue to encounter Nada and Polo randomly throughout your adventure, and can ask Nada to point you towards an Atlas Interface to pick up the Atlas path if you’ve strayed, so don’t worry about locking yourself out of any of these options. Check out our guide on getting to the centre of the galaxy in a hurry if you’d like to know more about them. Or hit up our No Man's Sky guide hub for everything.