No Man’s Sky is a gentle space exploration game, right? It’s all about traveling unaided, taking your time, discovering the marvels of a vast artificial galaxy at your own pace. It’s about the journey, not the destination.
Well, not for you, it isn’t. There was that one guy who played before release and said he reached the centre of the galaxy in thirty hours, and you’re gonna beat him. You’ve no time for looking at pretty animals, freshman philosophy or endless mining.
Traveler, read on. We’ve distilled the meandering path to the centre of the galaxy into eight simple steps. This is a No Man’s Sky guide with a single focus on the destination, not the journey.
Step one: get off your starting planet
A necessary first step, obviously. Technically you’d only need to repair your ship’s launch thrusters to get underway, but the game requires that you repair all your ship’s systems before you advance. It’s just as well really, since flying around in star systems without pulse engines can literally take hours, and your photon cannons are helpful for harvesting thamium9 - an important fuel - from asteroids.
First thing’s first, though. There should be a distress beacon next to your ship: check it out and make sure to follow Atlas’s guidance, at least for now. We’ll go our own way later, but while you’re getting your hyperdrive set up, Atlas gives you some useful tips.
Now to actually find the resources for repairing your starship. Check in your ship’s inventory and hover over the damaged equipment to figure out what you need, and check our resources guide if you need help tracking them down. Heridium will likely be scarcest; we found it only in mineral slabs some five or more minutes away from our ship. Repair your scanner to find them, or keep an eye out for tall obelisks of dark blue stone. Gather as much as you can, as heridium is important later for hyperdrive repair and making warp fuel.
Step two: get a hyperdrive
The equally obvious and essential second step. You should get some helpful directions for this; as soon as you leave your first planet, a waypoint will direct you to a beacon, which will direct you to an outpost, inside of which you will find a friendly alien. Help him, her or it out, and you’ll receive the blueprint for a hyperdrive.
The blueprint requires one dynamic resonator and 200 heridium. You’ll be able to buy the resonator from the galactic market, but will need to raise about 30,000 units first, so check our money-making guide for tips. Hopefully you gathered enough heridium in step one to build your hyperdrive right away, but if not don’t worry; you’ll need much more of the stuff to make antimatter for warp cells, so you’ll have to go mining again sooner or later. Keep at least one slot in your ship topped up with heridium at all times. Zinc, too (for antimatter - see below).
Step three: fuel the hyperdrive and make your first warp jump
Your hyperdrive needs fuel, which means you need a warp cell. Happily, the recipe for crafting these is given to you at the same time as the hyperdrive blueprint, so now you know it takes one antimatter and 100 thamium9. You can get the formula for crafting antimatter in your next star system (that’s step four), but for now, you’ll need to obtain it through some other method.
Method number one is charity. Somewhere in your starting system is another generous alien, bearing a message from Nada and Polo (more on them later), who will give you a piece of antimatter for free. This kind soul dwells in another outpost, which you’ll need to track down, and you can do that by using a signal scanner. These are the small antennae projecting an orange beam into the sky - you’ll know them when you see them, partly because you’ll have seen the picture below.
This is a signal scanner. They are useful for finding a great many things on planets, not that you’ve got time to stop and smell the roses.
Craft a bypass chip from 10 iron and 10 plutonium (you should already have the recipe), and hack the signal scanner. You’ll see a list of things to scan for, each of which will mark a waypoint on your HUD. Choose to scan for a “Transmission”, and keep trying until the scanner marks a “Beacon”. Head to the beacon, activate it, and the beacon will give you another waypoint for an advanced lifeform. This will then lead you to an outpost. If you don’t fancy going through all that, you could always look for one yourself by cruising over the planet’s surface; outposts are large buildings with a single landing pad.
When you find an outpost, chat to the alien inside, and you should receive your antimatter. Alternatively, if somehow you’ve got rich already and this sounds like too much work, you can just buy antimatter on the galactic market. It’ll set you back roughly 35,000 units, but if you have the money, it’s certainly faster.
I’ve always depended on the indifferent dutifulness of strangers
When you’ve got your antimatter, blow up a few asteroids for some thamium9. Craft your warp cell, fuel your hyperdrive, and go to the galactic map to plot your first warp jump. There’s only one path marked out at this stage, which is the path to the centre, so go ahead and jump to the next star along.
Step four: get the antimatter recipe
As we explain in the next step, you’ll need a lot of warp cells - and thus a lot of antimatter - to fuel the many warp jumps you’ll be making. Since you don’t have unlimited money, nor time to waste mining for profitable goods, buying antimatter at 35,000 units a pop is a mug’s game. Thus, you’re going to need the formula for yourself.
Follow the waypoints to the manufacturing facility in your second system
If you followed Atlas’s guidance earlier, a short quest to get the antimatter formula will begin when you make the jump to a new system. Follow the instructions: head to the space station first, speak to the alien behind the desk, and you should receive a HUD marker directing you to a manufacturing facility. Follow the marker down to the planet and blow open the facility doors (you’ll need a boltcaster on your multi-tool for this). This will get the buzzkill Sentinels on your case, so be ready to take care of them. Inside, interact with the terminal to get the formula.
Step five: craft warp cells and get jumping
Here’s where you can finally pick up the pace over all those starry-eyed slowpokes, wasting their time discovering things and advancing knowledge. Whichever path to the centre you take, you’re going to need a lot of hyperdrive fuel, which means warp cells.
See our guide on crafting warp cells for full details of the crafting tree that leads up to them. Fundamentally, the pertinent tips are these: blow up lots of asteroids to maintain your reserves of thamium9, and buy lots of suspension fluid whenever you have the chance.
Suspension fluid is the most basic ingredient in the tree that you can’t craft yourself. Alright, that’s a lie: you can craft it, but you’ll need to find the blueprint, which means you have to get lucky exploring buildings and chatting to aliens (which is how we got ours). Unlike antimatter, it’s not cripplingly expensive with an average sale price of around 1,100 units, so buying it is the more expedient option.
Suspension fluid plus plutonium makes electron vapour, and you have the blueprint for electron vapour automatically. Electron vapour plus heridium plus zinc makes antimatter, and antimatter plus thamium9 makes a warp cell.
Now that you know how to get the crafted ingredients, you can gather or buy the rest. Be sure to keep alert for zinc and heridium, but the other elements are pretty common and shouldn’t give you any problems. Whip up a few warp cells and keep following the path to the centre.
Step six: meet Nada and Polo
Each time you jump, keep an eye out for announcements. After a certain number of jumps, a third (blue) path will become available on your galactic map, with something called an Atlas Interface at the end. Follow it and fly into the Atlas Interface. There’s an esoteric exchange with the big red orb that is Atlas, and more importantly, a couple of free warp cells for you to claim.
Continue following the Atlas path, and it shouldn’t be long before you enter a system with a space anomaly - it looks a bit like the Death Star and behaves exactly like a space station. Fly on in, and you’ll meet the galactic adventurers, Nada and Polo. Polo will give you a blueprint for a V1 Atlas Pass - a huge boon for looting and exosuit slots - and more importantly, Nada offers some help with your journey. You’ve a decision to make...
Don’t be fooled by the front of spacefaring camaraderie; privately, these guys hate each other.
Step seven: consider your options
Nada’s offer of help can be redeemed in one of three ways. Nada can point you to the nearest Atlas Interface, to a shortcut to the galactic centre, or will give you a free technology to help you explore on your own. These choices reflect the three paths that now open to you; you can follow Atlas, use Nada’s shortcuts (which are, in fact, black holes), or shun them both and explore independently. You don’t technically lock out any one path by following one of the others until you trigger the associated ending, but focusing on one will, to some extent, make it harder to pick up the others later.
We have a recommendation for the fastest path to the centre of the galaxy - that’s the point of this guide, after all - but for the sake of keeping you fully informed, and because the optimal path isn’t completely definitive, we’re going to lay out the implications of each for you now. (Don’t worry, we’ll avoid spoilers.)
The Atlas path is the longest, but it’s also the easiest, which might mean that it’s actually the quickest, if that makes sense. The Atlas path is a meandering one, but no step is longer than a basic warp jump, so you only need to craft warp cells to advance.
A definite spanner in the works though is that those journey milestones - which seem so intrusive and pointless - actually gate your progress along the path, in that you won’t be able to accept Atlas’s guidance unless you’re at the right journey milestone rank. If you don’t meet the rank requirement - and there’s a good chance you won’t at some point, if you’re being direct - then you’ll have to screw around on a planet playing the actual game until you hit some more milestones.
To complete the Atlas path, you’ll need ten Atlas Stones in your inventory by the time you reach its end, so don’t sell them. The path doesn’t actually end at the galactic core, but it gets you close, and it also reveals the location of every black hole in the galaxy, which can help you get the rest of the way.
Each time you meet Nada and Polo you can ask Nada to reveal a black hole, which will teleport you closer to the centre, shaving many light years off your journey (it might be more technically correct to call them wormholes, but whatever). The catch is that each black hole jump will damage a random system on your ship, so there’s definitely an extra resource cost to following this path that’s not present in the Atlas path.
Here’s a tip though: if you’re on good terms with the local aliens, their representative in the space station can offer to repair your starship. After your first interaction - the typical alien dialogue puzzle - you’ll notice you can speak to her, him or it again for 20 carbon. Do so, and “Repair Starship” has a chance of appearing in the following menu. If it doesn’t, just try again.
Alternatively, you can minimise the impact of black hole damage by deliberately not installing advanced technology on your ship. Basic (sigma-level) tech is not expensive to repair; the necessaries are cheap on the galactic market or common to most planets. The only advanced techs that are absolutely worth installing are the warp drive upgrades (see below). If you do this, you could install a few sigma-level modules as sacrificial pawns, increasing the likelihood of each black hole damaging nonessential, easily-fixed systems instead of expensive, important warp reactors.
If an anomaly is ever detected on your galactic map, it’ll be a black hole, an Atlas Interface, or Nada and Polo. If it’s an Interface, it’ll say so when you browse over the system, so whenever a system has an anomaly that isn’t Atlas, go there. Either it’ll be a black hole, or Nada and Polo, who can point you to one.
If you want to make your own path to the centre, you can follow the first path on the galactic map, or use free exploration mode and aim towards the bright glow, and just keep jumping. It helps a lot to upgrade your ship’s hyperdrive and thus optimise your travel speed. You definitely want all three warp reactor upgrades, meaning you’re in for a bit of a grind for both resources and blueprints. You’ll need to hunt down as many possible blueprint sources as you can - damaged machinery, abandoned buildings, NPC interactions and so on - and just hope you get lucky.
We got our first warp reactor upgrade from a random damaged machinery. There doesn’t seem to be a clear method to get them more consistently.
Step eight: use black holes, but upgrade your warp drive if you can
So here’s that recommendation we were talking about. It’s a close call between using black holes and warping yourself to the centre of the galaxy, and the two methods are not mutually exclusive, but on balance, we think chasing black holes is the fastest option by the all-important measure of hours played.
Black holes can move you tens of thousands of light years in all directions, throwing you across the galaxy like a drunk baseball pitcher, but in terms of distance to the centre, they are fairly consistent in shaving off around one-and-a-half to two thousand light years from the journey (though some players report even bigger leaps). You can emerge anywhere within an ever-shrinking series of concentric circles, but, much like skinny-dipping in winter, the shrinkage is significant and dependable.
My god... it’s full of stars
The alternatives are less so. With a fully upgraded warp drive you can, in theory, jump up to 1600 light years, but because you have to warp to a star, and stars are not arranged in a nice straight line toward the centre, that range rarely translates directly to distance off your journey. Some players report getting only about 300 light years closer on average. It’s true that you can jump more often than you can ride a black hole, but not much more. You also have to consider the extra effort of finding three rare blueprints to upgrade your hyperdrive, and the fact that until you do so, there are some stars you can’t warp to at all.
By all means upgrade your warp drive as and when you can, but until then black holes are your best way forward, and they still work well even after your hyperdrive is all-powerful. Make use of them.
Didn't find what you were looking for? Try our other No Man's Sky guides, including learning No Man's Sky's galactic market and learning how to efficiently gather resources and find creatures quickly. You'll also probably want to increase your ship and exosuit inventory slots and how to upgrade your ship with optimal adjacency bonuses. Or hit up our No Man's Sky guide hub for everything.