clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Flying in No Man’s Sky is beautiful now, but not that easy with mouse and keyboard

Use a controller, or suffer the consequences

Hello Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

No Man’s Sky’s free Next update piles on the improvements. The team at Hello Games has breathed new life into it, with special attention given to the overall look and feel of the exotic environments that you encounter.

But, if you’re playing on PC, I have some bad news for you. The in-flight controls with a mouse and keyboard are among the worst I’ve encountered, and coupled with very aggressive enemy AI, that presents some serious problems. You’ll want to start flying with a controller as soon as possible.

When No Man’s Sky first came out in 2016, fans immediately noticed that there was something screwy with the flight model. The most offensive aspect to many was that the game simply didn’t allow you to fly close to the ground. If you got too low, it would force your nose up like you were hitting an invisible floor a couple hundred feet off the ground. To get anywhere below that artificial floor, you had to tap the button to land, which would automatically bring your ship to rest on the surface of the planet.

That meant that during a dog fight, you felt less like Will Smith in Independence Day, dodging green shit in the Grand Canyon, and more like someone pulling levers on Dumbo’s Wild Ride.

With the latest update, that’s all changed. Now you can hug the earth and even crash into it, causing serious damage to your ship in the process. And now No Man’s Sky even lets you fly underground, deep within the tunnels and caverns below a planet’s surface.

But during my first time out of atmosphere this week, I came upon the hard limits of the mouse-and-keyboard control style right away. On PC, you use the WASD keys to control forward and backward thrust and roll. Pitch and yaw are on the mouse. But the acceleration seems off on the mouse aspect, which caused me to shoot wildly around my target rather than at it.

Once I switched to my attached Xbox One-style controller, the problems went away. In fact, the controller actually gave my character a neck, extending my field of view in all directions as my avatar turned toward the direction I was steering. After switching back and forth between the two, I came to the realization that no matter how I remapped the controls the mouse-flight simply wasn’t going to work for me.

Of course, your mileage may vary, but you can’t deny that the two control styles feel completely different from one another.

As far as flight stick and throttle compatibility, we’ve reached out to Hello Games for more information. There are some hacks that worked with the game’s older versions, but I’m not sure if they work with the new and I’m having too much fun right now to give it a try at the moment.

Also, if you’ve picked the game up on GOG, which is issuing refunds due to a lack of multiplayer, and don’t have a controller for your PC perhaps consider picking the game up on console instead.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon