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Tips For Starting Out

Michael Bitton Posted:
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These days, I’m often looking for something relaxing to play, so I decided that, in light of the recently deployed Atlas Rising update, No Man’s Sky might be worth another look. Gamers seem to be receiving the update well (No Man’s Sky has finally achieved Mostly Positive on Steam reviews as a result), and it’s clear that Hello Games has been fleshing the game out with a series of significant updates over the past year.

Are all of the updates, including Atlas Rising, enough to make No Man’s Sky the game it should have been at launch? It’s hard to say at this point, but it’s doing a pretty good job at providing me a chill exploration experience at the moment, so I thought I’d share some starting out tips this week for those of you who may be interested in giving the game a try.

Stick to Normal (or Creative, if you’re into that)

I’m the type of player who tends to play games on the hardest difficulty on offer (excluding permadeath options), but the Survival difficulty of No Man’s Sky is pure torture. Everything annoying and tedious about the game is dialed up to 11 on Survival, so unless you’re out to prove something to yourself, I’d suggest sticking with Normal.

One of the things I hated most about No Man’s Sky at launch was having to play whack-a-mole with meters in my inventory. Sure, most survival games get you to eat and drink, but with NMS, you’re constantly refilling your life support, hazard suit, launch thrusters, mining beam, and so on. This is still a thing on Normal, but in Survival, resources are much more scarce, your life support drains extremely quickly, and you even expend the entirety of your launch thruster fuel whenever you take off (on Normal, it’s 25%). In any other game, these downsides might be reasonable, but with NMS, it really just exacerbates the tedious inventory whack-a-mole and it’s really just not fun at all.

Keep Moving, But Grab What You Need

Planets in No Man’s Sky are absolutely, ridiculously massive. You could probably spend a lifetime just exploring a single one. The thing is, the game’s planets are procedurally generated, so trying to explore each planet for all of its secrets afraid you’ll be missing out on something isn’t really a good idea.  I tend to explore planets with specific purposes in mind and I have a simple system for making sure I get the most out of it.

Resources to keep stocked up on:  Iron, Plutonium, Thamium, Carbon, Zinc, and Heridium. These resources are roughly what you’ll need to play inventory whack-a-mole. Heridium is also good to keep around for repairing your ship or any crashed ships you come across.

Once you’re able to place down a Signal Booster (press Z), you can use it to search out for important areas on a given planet. These can include drop pods, resource deposits, monoliths, and so on. I try to use Signal Boosters to locate most of  the drop pods on each planet, since locating a drop pod will allow you to expand the inventory on your Exosuit. Keep in mind that each slot you add will cost 10,000 more units than the last, so it can get expensive quickly, which brings me to my next tip…

Establish a Source of Income

There are some advanced sources of income you can set up later in the game with base building, but I haven’t dug into that just yet. For now, I like to farm resources and take out bounties when I come across them, but you’ll definitely want to figure out something that works for you. What I tend to do is keep track of how much resources I mine are worth when I enter a new system. You can take things further and system hop to sell for the best prices, but I’ve had a pretty OK time of just finding stuff that sells for a lot, farming up an entire Exosuit’s worth and then crashing the market by dumping it all at once for a nice infusion of units. It has worked OK for me so far. You can also farm the crap out of those nosy Sentinels for Neutrino Modules and resources you can sell on the galactic trade network.

Slots, Slots, Slots

When it comes to ships, the name of the game is slots. Ship types or classes don’t matter at all early on as their bonuses apply to ship upgrades, which you won’t have a ton of, and you’ll need lots of slots to properly take advantage of, anyways. This means whenever you’re looking for a ship upgrade, you should be focusing on whether or not it’s giving you more slots for storage. The best way to do this is to buy shuttles. Shuttles are terrible endgame ships, but they are great in the beginning because they are cheaper than all other ship types for what you get. Unfortunately, shuttles cap out at 28 slots, so you’ll need to move on at some point, but they’re the best bang for your buck in the beginning.

Crashed ships often come with most of their slots broken and they’re expensive to repair, so whether they’re worth keeping tends to be something that needs to be judged on a case by case basis. Each slot will cost 130% more than the last one to repair, so it can get crazy pretty quickly. However, if you find a really awesome A class hauler, it’s likely that the ship’s value (which is based on the amount of slots repaired) could be enough to trade up towards something fully functional that also ends up being a slot upgrade. For example, if you find a 48 slot A class hauler with only 15 slots functional, it’s still likely to have enough value to trade towards a high slot shuttle outright. Pro tip: crashed ships appear on your radar as little red dots.

Also, inventory placement is a thing.

Talk to Everyone

A great way to make exploration easier to manage is to make sure you talk to everyone. Asking NPCs for directions will often reveal key locations on planets in the system. It’s a great way to find crashed ships or freighters, ruins, manufacturing facilities, and so on. You can also talk to NPCs to unlock more words of their languages, which definitely comes in handy.

NPCs may even offer you upgrades. I’ve had NPCs replace my multitool with a significantly more powerful version, grant me new tech recipes, and more.

Find Direction Through the Story

It’s easy to feel lost in No Man’s Sky’s gigantic galaxy, so it’s always a good idea to use the story to keep you moving and provide some direction. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but I’ve heard that the new story arc released with Atlas Rising is pretty good, so there’s that, too.

Even if you decide to forego the story, it’s best to make your way towards the galactic center. If you make this your focus, you’ll eventually be given the option to take shortcuts through the galaxy via black holes, but navigating the galaxy using these methods will damage your ship, so keep that in mind.

Got any of your own tips to share? Post ‘em in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB