As well as finding No Man's Sky a relaxing exploration sim to play, I’ve especially enjoyed hearing about all the weird and wonderful corners of the universe that other players have stumbled upon. Now, Hello Games have made it much easier to find those stories. Released with the latest update, the Galactic Atlas allows anyone to explore fan-submitted points of interest. And I can’t stop poking around in it.
A lot of the Atlas feels like a tribute to the community that sprang up around the game even before the Next update added traditional multiplayer elements. It shows the Euclid Galaxy, which has been the heart of most civilization-building attempts since the game’s release, and it’s easy to stumble onto descriptions of player-driven events like “Unification Day 2017,” a gathering of factions where players left kind messages for one another. (Gita Jackson over at Kotaku has done a lot of reporting on the role-playing, politics, and even wars that have taken place within the game, which is well worth digging into for more context.)
Mostly, though, the Atlas documents smaller joys, submitted by individuals who just want you to know about the base they built on an especially pretty planet, or to show off a particularly good creature. And it all feels very...human. Way out on the edge of the galaxy, you can find a touching tribute to late physicist Stephen Hawking. Then next thing you know, you might be clicking on “the largest maze ever built in NMS.” “It's a cool lookin' planet,” reads another description, and hey, they’re not wrong!
Everywhere you click is a snapshot, creative project, or anecdote left by another spacefarer. It serves as a much more condensed, collaborative version of what I like about the actual game: exploring to find weird, beautiful, interesting stuff. And since I don’t often have the time to load up the game and actually go planet-hopping, being able to dip in and see what other people are excited about is an excellent alternative.
You can explore the Galactic Atlas for yourself online.
Disclosure: RPS's own Alec Meer wrote for No Man's Sky earlier in development.