As you read this, new planets are being discovered in No Man’s Sky. People are setting foot on these worlds to study life, map the terrain, and mine valuable resources. The universe is a blank canvas, and every one of us has the chance to fill it in and put our fingerprint on it. This is an exciting proposition for a game to deliver, and so far, that element of discovery has been a strong driving force.
Don’t expect every planet to be a world of wonder filled with aliens to interact with and beasts to marvel at. Most of the planets I’ve charted have been mostly barren, offering mostly elements I can extract to improve my space ship. An entire solar system (consisting of six planets) was largely void of life – a discovery that took five hours to realize.
Those disappointing worlds are needed however, as they heighten the thrill of a big discovery. Finding a groove in No Man’s Sky takes time. The opening minutes (and perhaps hours) can be confusing and a little overwhelming, as inventory management looms large. Just gaining an understanding of what each element can be used for takes time. Don’t give up. The limited inventory space is puzzling, but I now know what I need and I feel like I’ve established a comfortable groove with resource management.
I thought it would be fun to chronicle my journey through the game today. Below is an active journal that I will update throughout the day, hopefully minutes after each discovery. Before we get to that, I know many of you want to know if you should play the game. My answer after spending two days with it is “Yes.” If you go into it expecting a somewhat rocky start, and know that you have to stay on top of inventory management at all times, charting the cosmos has been rewarding and unlike anything I’ve done in game. Yes, there are big lulls in the excitement, and you may find yourself mining rocks for hours on end, but there are also strong hooks of discovery and becoming a more powerful and proficient space explorer. Here’s hoping that comes across in the journal. Without further delay, let’s get to it…
Starlog 00:01 – The Planet Reiner I
A new Warp Cell in the Hyperdrive leads me to Alnyevoikh-Zuen, a class F2p solar system consisting of four planets. The first planet I see looks promising. Even 450,000ks away, I like the look of it. Most of the planets I see look like dead rocks from afar, this one looks a little like Earth. I can see lush green foliage on the landmasses below the cloud cover. I have a feeling I’ll find life here. I quickly name it Reiner I, an act that earns me units (the currency in the game).
00:06 – A Big Discovery
After entering the atmosphere, the first thing I think is it looks like Felucia, a Star Wars planet with giant mushrooms and pitcher plants (there’s your Star Wars reference, everyone). After a quick scan of my surroundings, I’m alerted of a Monolith on the planet’s surface.
00:08 – Speaking Alien
A land my vessel near the alien structure and walk up its stairs. I learn it’s the Gek Monolith: Legacy of Ukkarnes. My character says “The Monolith stands silent on the planet’s surface. It does not belong here. Neither do I. There is a shimmer, and then the vision of the red orb returns. The Atlas. It speaks to me again. Again I feel the half-elation, half-terror that I have met my creator. The Atlas offers me guidance, purpose, meaning. Significance in an uncaring galaxy. All I must do is follow its path, and its orders.” My character the learns the Gek word “spawn.” I learn a couple of other words and leave the Monolith.
00:11 – A World of Riches
I haven’t seen any signs of life yet, and that could be from the toxin rain that is falling. I’ll have to stay close to my ship, as the rain is hammering away at my suit, and I can only stay out in it for a couple of minutes at a time. My next discovery is a big one: gold, and tons of it. I spend the next half hour mining as much of it as I can carry. This is a rare resource in the galaxy and it should fetch a pretty penny at the space station that I passed to reach Reiner I.
00:37 – A Bid for Power
Inventory space is limited, but new vessels can be purchased. The bigger ships offer more storage. With the gold I’m digging up, I should be able to upgrade soon. After my pockets are filled with as much gold as I can carry, I travel to the station, and sell my fortune. I’m up to 152,000 units. I quickly learn I need roughly a million for a significant ship upgrade. I could settle for something smaller for $300,000, but I’m at a planet that is overflowing with riches. I should mine it for all of its worth before traveling further into the universe. This is going to take time, but it will be worth it.
00:45 – Another Discovery
My second trip to Reiner I produces another find: an advanced outpost. After looting its shipping containers, which contain basic elements for my vitals and devices, I come across a pod that contains an upgrade pack that gives me one more inventory space. That will come in handy, especially since I’m here to mine as much gold as I can.
01:12 – Macaroni and Cheese
All of this mining is making me hungry. I take a quick break from my game to nuke a canister of Hormel’s delicious macaroni and cheese. I chose this lunch because it only takes four minutes to make. It’s also huge. This will feed me most of the day. Back to the gold.
01:37 – A New Friend
With as much gold as I can haul, I return to the space station and cash in. The hangar bay is essentially a used car showroom. Every vessel can be purchased, if you have the funds. One of the sellers is Assistant Fossasy. While I can’t understand what he or she says, we communicate well enough to enact a sale for 605,000 units.
01:38 – A New Ride
I’m now the proud owner of the Kizawate S17. It may look small, but it gives me five additional inventory slots. Sadly, the resources I pumped into my previous vessel don’t transfer to this one, meaning I lost a warp core.
01:39 – Exploring Again
Since I’m stuck in this system, I might as well check out new planets. My next stop is Onodateyaman-Twe, a little planet on the outskirts of the system.
01:49 – Respectful Naming
Being pleased with my mac and cheese lunch, I decide to name the planet Hormel.
02:52 – Starting to Feel Alien
My first scan of Hormel doesn’t provide much, but something terrible happened to the explorers that came here before me. Their settlements are overrun with alien growth.
02:53 – A Deep Thinker
My character tries to explain what is happening, but I have no idea what he’s talking about. I just know it was “moist and yielding.” That keeps a smile on my face for a while.
02:55 – New Technology
A thorough sweep of the habitat reveals a number of upgrades, including something called Shieldboost Theta. The upgraded shield will help – I just need to figure out where I can get the materials for it.
Timeout – Live Stream
I’m jumping into our live stream for an hour and will return after that!
03:15 – Game On!
I’m back and intent on finding life. So far, this system has been rich in resources, but I haven’t seen any creatures. I still have a couple of planets to explore, but I have a bad feeling about their proximity to the sun (and no, I can’t fly into it). Might as well check them out before I leave. My next stop is the planet Uninskogalya.
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03:17 – LIFE! AND TONS OF IT!
I haven’t had a lot of luck finding life in the universe, but this planet is crawling with interesting animals (and it’s only listed as having an average amount). Before truly studying them, I enter a habitat and meet an alien salesman. He has nothing for me. Next up is a thorough examination of the local life (which you can see in the video below). One of the creatures is aggressive to the point that it attacks anything around him. There’s no point in attacking them, so I scan them on and continue my search for more life.
03:22 – Upon Further Inspection…
Did I stumble upon an adorable little bear with a backpack, or does it have a turtle shell? The text behind the creature shows how much is left to discover on this planet. If you like being thorough and want to see everything when exploring, the game has a checklist for you to follow.
03:26 – POWER!!!
I foresee myself spending more time on this planet than any other. I want to see what happens when I find all of its life. I found a variation of the specie pictured above without a shell. I also found something that looks like a Dimetrodon. I also stumbled upon a three-building settlement with various research labs. One contained a vendor selling a new multi-tool. I think this one is from Destiny. The new tool gives me two additional inventory spaces, and the promise of adding more (the blank spaces).
03:41 – A New Surprise
Although I don’t find other signs of life (a hunt that would likely take hours given the planet’s size), I do make another discover: a crashed ship.
03:43 – A Choice
The crashed ship doesn’t offer any story, but instead a choice: I can use this ship instead of mine. This particular model offers more storage, but is in need of repair, a process I don’t want to go through at the moment. This discovery does show that exploration can lead to riches.
03:51 – A Look at the End Game?
Before leaving the planet, I visit another research lab. The biggest vessel I’ve seen is on the landing pad. It’ll set me back a pretty penny, and I’m guessing this is one of the higher-level ships in the game.
03:55 – A New System
Having seen enough of this system, it’s time to move one step closer to the center of the universe. After leaving the planet’s atmosphere, I pick a destination, active my warp drive, and I’m off.
04:00 – A New Beginning
And here I am, on the cusp of discovery yet again. That’s what No Man’s Sky is – a game of exploration. The early reliance on survival mechanics lessens as the game goes on, but I still don’t feel like a character with focus. I’m just exploring and doing little things. That may be the central experience. I’m enjoying the reveals, but at this point, they are new and varied. What happens when that charm fades? Time will tell.