Now that you understand what resources are available in No Man’s Sky, it’s time to discuss how to collect them so you can make progress. You can acquire them directly by mining planets, or you can buy them on the galactic market, which means you need money.
It’s the nature of a vast, procedurally generated universe that we can’t recommend a specific, high-yield farming spot, but because No Man’s Sky’s procedural generation does follow certain rules, we can suggest a few “best practice” tips for sniffing out resource caches.
We could hold out for better prices, but between the gold and the emeril, this is still more than 400,000 units for about 30 minutes’ mining.
No Man's Sky: Where to get a better multi-tool
With multi-tools (and ships), there’s only one real measure by which to say one is better than another, and that’s the number of slots they each have. More slots means more places to install new upgrades (or “Companion Units” on your tool), which is the only way a tool or ship improves its performance.
Repairing the scanner and analysis visor on your starting multi-tool is cheap and beneficial enough to be absolutely worthwhile, but we suggest holding off on installing new Companion Units. Your starting tool, the Experiment C6/4, has only five slots, but as soon as you get off your first planet, you have opportunities to acquire a substantially better model.
Lay out your multi-tool to exploit adjacency bonuses wherever possible.
Throughout the game, you’ll find red wall-mounted terminals selling new multi-tools in space stations and certain planetary buildings. Take a look at the space station or accessible planets in your system to hunt down your first upgrade. If you can’t afford it, use the galactic market, which will often be nearby, to make some money. See below for trading tips.
No Man's Sky: How to upgrade your multi-tool
Once you have a multi-tool you’re happy with, there are two upgrades you should prioritise if you’re looking to improve your resource detection and extraction capabilities. The first of these is scanning technology.
With a scanner equipped on your tool, you can send out a pulse that highlights nearby resource nodes and other points-of-interest in your HUD. The value of this will become apparent when you’re hunting the last resource you need to repair your ship at the very start of the game, but it never stops being useful. You can also improve the range of the pulse your scanner sends out, which will mark many more resources in a single scan. If you add an analysis visor to your multi-tool, you can use it to zoom in and log local flora and fauna for another source of income (see creature hunting, below). Prioritise these upgrades to have a much easier time tracking down not only resources, but wrecked ships, drop pods and other points-of-interest.
A decent scanner can mark dozens of resource nodes with each scan.
Some elements take longer to mine than others, and what with your mining beam overheating and running out of juice, there are plenty of obstacles to grind past without making things harder on yourself. A strong laser makes mining a breeze and helps with Sentinels as a bonus. After the scanner, upgrading your multi-tool’s mining beam is one of the best “quality of life” investments you can make.
Note that multi-tool upgrades, just like ship upgrades, get performance bonuses when placed correctly in your tool’s inventory.
Avoid overheating your mining beam with this one cool trick
Hold down the trigger until your mining beam’s heat gauge hits the red. Now release until the beam stops firing. Now fire again. You’ll notice that the heat gauge starts building again from empty. This is how you can use your mining beam almost constantly without overheating it - just release the trigger until the beam stops and the heat gauge will be reset. No need to wait for it to drain naturally.
No Man's Sky: How best to mine planets via mineral slabs
Randomly wandering over the surface of a planet, plucking flowers and mining crystals as and when you stumble across them, is an inefficient way to stockpile resources. Generally, it’ll lead to your inventory filling with small stacks of many different elements. If you’re going for raw efficiency, it’s better to focus on stockpiling just a few plentiful elements.
To that end, look for tall, obelisk-like mineral slabs. Many planets develop these, and they contain large deposits of a range of elements, from heridium to the much more valuable gold, emeril and aluminium. If you find yourself on a planet with some large chunks of the latter, we strongly recommend a few mining runs focusing solely on these. Even from the air, they’re difficult to miss, so use your ship to make things go faster.
If you can fill your ship’s inventory with a rare neutral element and sell it all at the right price, you can net yourself a huge windfall - well into the hundreds of thousands. This is among the best money-making strategies in the game, but it’s very dependent on finding a rich planet.
No Man's Sky: Vortex Cubes, Gravitino Balls, Albumen Pearls and Sac Venom
These are four of the most expensive trade commodities in the game, valued between 25,000 and 35,000 units apiece. Filling your inventory with any of these and selling the lot is probably the best (legitimate) money-making scheme going, but even more so than mining neutral elements, you need to find the right planet. One rule of thumb is that Sentinels appear to value all these commodities highly, so keep alert if you discover a planet where the fun police is very aggressive. Otherwise, here’s what we know about when and how these commodities can appear.
Vortex Cubes are grey-silver objects that only appear on rare, specific planets, but in high volumes whenever they do. Thus, if you stumble upon a Vortex Cube, there are likely to be more nearby, so keep searching. They seem to appear most often in caves and lush areas, so check every cave you pass and hope you get lucky. Note that sometimes you’ll see them attached to pedestal-like Vortex Stones, and that in these cases, taking them will slap you with a wanted level of three. Picking a cube off the ground will also provoke the Sentinels, but only if they catch you at it.
Gravitino Balls are coloured spheres that will shine bright white as you approach. They are found on the ground, often near minerals or plants. Like Vortex Cubes, they appear rarely, but in great quantities whenever they do, and Sentinels don’t like you taking them. However, Gravitino Balls have a key advantage over Vortex Cubes in that you can scan for them; they will be marked in your HUD with a green exclamation point.
Albumen Pearls can be found inside green or red oyster-like plants. You’ll need to walk up to them and interact to open the shell, whereupon you can take the pearl. Again, when you do so, you’ll get a wanted level of three, so be warned. The oysters tend to appear in caves, but can also be found on the surface on some planets with extreme environments (and active Sentinels, as ever).
Sac Venom, described in-game as a “stabilised poison sample initially produced by aquatic urchin creatures”, can be found by destroying spiky urchin-like pods, which are also called Sac Venom. They tend to appear in or near bodies of water. Like Gravitino Balls, your scanner will detect and mark Sac Venom sites with green exclamation points.
No Man's Sky: Using trade routes to find resource caches
When flying through a system, you may notice pale lines arcing through the stars. These lines represent the paths taken by alien merchants, and they run from the space station to specific places on the system’s planets. Those lines lead to planetary trade outposts or to abundant resource caches, so follow them for a rich potential harvest.
See the tangle of pale lines against the purple sky? Those are trade routes. Follow them to the planet for rich mining and trading sites.
As with seeking out a planet’s richest minerals, the goal here is to build up large quantities of fewer varieties of goods and sell them. One final suggestion on the same method…
No Man's Sky: Should you bother with asteroid mining?
While in flight within a system, you can use your ship’s weapons to blow up asteroids and harvest resources from the debris. You’ll most often gather thamium9. Individual units of this don’t sell for much, but asteroids are so plentiful, and drop such a quantity of the stuff (about 100 per asteroid), that you can fill your ship’s inventory in just a few minutes. Stay near the space station to minimise turnaround times, and see how much you can earn.
Asteroid mining quickly yields lots of thamium9, and can be an efficient way to earn money if you stay near the space station
Do bear in mind however, that when selling goods in bulk - as is the idea with these tips - every penny of the per-unit sale price has a massive impact on final income. Finding a good sale price is key - read our No Man's Sky galactic market guide for how to do that.
You should also learn about No Man's Sky's resources generally. You'll also probably want to increase your ship and exosuit inventory slots in order to hold all your elements. Or hit up our No Man's Sky guide hub for everything.
Disclosure: Our Alec did some writing for No Man's Sky, and so doesn't write about it for us anymore.