No Man’s Sky is huge. For those just starting out, here are a few things you need to know to make the most of your first few hours in the game.
Fix your scanner and scan everything
No Man’s Sky is a game of exploration and discovery. Two of the first items you should fix are your scanner and analyser, which help find minerals and classify new plants and animals.
Why is this important? Because every plant and animal you discover earns units, the game’s universal currency. Discovering new locations and waypoints also earns cash, so you’d be silly not to do this.
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Remember to upload your discoveries
Before you can earn money, however, you need to upload your discoveries to the online database. This goes for planets and systems as well, and any you find you can name for all eternity.
To name your discoveries and claim your bounty, press "Options". Sadly, there’s no "bulk" upload option at present, so a little and often approach is best.
As for how you name your discoveries, that’s entirely up to you. My preferred approach is to name systems after films I like, and the planets as characters from the film. And yes, someone’s already thought of Spacey McSpaceface.
Know your elements
While you don’t have to eat and drink as you do in many hardcore survival games, everything you use expends some kind of resource, so try to identify the things you need most. The isotopes Plutonium and Thanium9 are two of the most important elements, as they power key parts of your ship and equipment.
So far, Plutonium is the resource I’ve needed the most. It powers the thrusters that let you take off from planets, recharges your mining multi-tool and a bunch of other systems.
Whether through good fortune or intentional design, I also found that the space station in my system paid very well for plutonium, making it a good way to make money early on. This could be true for any element, of course, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
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Caves are good for mining
Every planet has Sentinals, robotic police that take a dim view of you over plundering the local resources. The more you mine the most valuable resources, the more likely Sentinals are to attack you – they can be even more stringent dependent on the planet.
One way around this is to look for caves. Sentinals won’t follow you deep inside, so you’re free to plunder everything you can find. Of course, not all planets have caves full of useful resources, but take advantage when you find one that does.
Don’t leave your starter system too quickly
I can’t stress this enough, really. While it’s tempting to dash off to the next system once you get your warp drive online, it pays to spend a decent amount of time exploring your starter system. You’ll get a good grasp of the basics and the planets there will be fairly tame and harmless.
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Running away is the smart thing to do
You're not a warrior. While you can upgrade your gun to make it more effective, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to be overwhelmed. That crab-like thing might look harmless enough, but if you're surrounded by a few of them you can quickly get in trouble. When that moment comes, run.
The jetpack is great for getting out of trouble, too. Use it to float above the crowd and look for routes to escape.
Don’t waste space on common items
For better or worse, there’s lots of inventory management in No Man’s Sky. Until you upgrade your ship, you’ll have to be selective about what you carry around with you. Don’t be afraid to dump common resources, such as Iron, in favour of Plutonium or any of the other rare materials you find.
Buy low, sell high like a wheeler-dealer
Pay attention to the rates at space stations. If someone is offering 99% above market rate for a material, drop everything and gather as much as you can. It's the best way to quickly earn cash so you can upgrade from that rubbish starter ship. Having a larger ship with more slots will earn you more in the long run, too, so it's win-win.
Don’t forget to save properly
There are no checkpoints in No Man’s Sky, so you have to save your game old-school-style at save points. There are numerous opportunities on every planet, so be sure to take advantage when you find one. It’s one more reminder to explore thoroughly, too, since it’s the only way you’ll find save points for your game.
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No Man’s Sky – Advanced Tips
Scanning entire systems when you’re floating about in your spaceship highlights potential places of interest. This is the best way for you to forward the game’s “story” moments, and every now and then, push you onto something important – we shan’t spoil what.
It’ll also highlight abandoned buildings, which almost always seem to have upgrades for your suit to expand your inventory. Really useful when you begin to amass a collection of items and don’t have the space for all of them.
Master your Multi-tool
You’ll spend the majority of your time in No Man’s Sky mining for the dozens of different elements that power your gear and let you build new technologies. This is good fun, for the most part, but you might start to find it a little irritating having to wait for your multi-tool to cool down when mining a large object.
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There’s a nice little trick to get past this – just wait until the multi-tool meter starts flashing that it is about to overheat, then take your finger off the trigger. Wait until the meter begins to cool down and immediately start mining again. The bar immediately resets to zero, saving you precious seconds.
Use landing pads
When you’re visiting many planets in quick succession you’ll quickly learn that taking off uses quite a lot of lander fuel. However landing pads don’t use any fuel at all. It makes exploration much more economical and saves time mining for isotopes.
Some of the kooky alien life you find in No Man’s Sky can be fed. This is super cool, not only because you’re literally feeding aliens, but because they will sometimes give you cool rare elements that you can’t find elsewhere in the game. They’ll also occasionally lead you somewhere awesome!
One tip: be cautious. A couple of times while trying to feed the animals, I ended up getting attacked and almost killed. Sometimes the cutest creatures can be the meanest.
Cliffs aren’t impassable
It took me getting stranded on a dead planet with no way to get back up to my ship to refuel its engines to realise that, if you stand against a cliff, you can boost with your jetpack and it won’t use any fuel.
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Just make sure that you use the jetpack to soften your fall when you jump down. You suffer quite heavy damage when dropping from a height, and something the size of a cliff will kill you in one go.
Pursue black holes
Yes, you can go into black holes in No Man’s Sky. It’s really damn cool, and something that you should definitely do if you’re looking to get closer to the centre. They’ll appear as part of the game’s main storyline as a beacon on your galactic map. They’re only usually a couple of system jumps away, and usually save you a few dozen thousand light-years in travel distance towards the galactic core.
Your jetpack has even more interesting uses: you can use it to dash forward in one direction. It’s really simple, just hit melee and then the jetpack button straight after. It propels you forward, perfect in a game like No Man’s Sky where you can sometimes be walking quite long distances.
It’s even more useful when you get attacked. If you’re low on health, use it to quickly get back to your ship in one piece.
Keep eyes on Sentinels
Sentinels are basically space police, and they don’t take kindly to you attacking planetary wildlife, or over-mining resources. You should also keep a close eye on whether the planet has hostile or crazed sentinels. On these kinds of worlds, you’ll find they can sometimes attack unprovoked.
On planets with higher security, where the sentinels are larger, this can be a real threat.
Learn your science
A couple of hours into No Man’s Sky and you’ll start to pick up on how its take on elements works. In order to get the most out of the game, we recommend learning the periodic symbols.
The lightning icon is for isotopes like plutonium, which keep your ship’s engines charged, while the yellow brick icon is for oxides like Zinc that are great for charging your technologies. The beaker symbol is for Silicates like platinum and heridium, which can also be found by looking for tall glowing structures that appear on your scanners. This kept us stumped for quite some time, but you soon learn the game’s mechanical makeups.
Upgrade your gear
Now, this sounds like an obvious one, but we mean that you should specifically upgrade your suit so that you can breathe underwater for longer. No Man’s Sky populates deeper areas of water with more interesting things to find, so taking a dive can be really beneficial.
The same goes for simply exploring deeper underground, which you can do more easily if you upgrade your multi tool with the plasma grenade launcher technology.
Keep your Atlas Stones
People that have finished the game say that you need 10 Atlas Stones. It might be tempting to sell these, seeing as they’re worth around 70,000 units per pop, but we really recommend you don’t do that. Instead, keep them around and they’ll come in really handy.
Keep your ship’s shields intact
As you explore space it’s quite common for you to get attacked by space pirates. These can vary in difficulty. You’ll either get one or two enemy ships attacking you, which is quite easy to handle, but sometimes it can be more – we’ve sometimes had 5 of them on our tail.
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In order to survive these attacks, you should always make sure you have some titanium in your inventory, as this is the best element to keep your ship’s shields charged. It can be quite frustrating to have to access your inventory while you’re being attacked, too, so try memorise where each element is in your suit so that you can access them quickly.