No Man’s Sky Next is here, and it is big.
Let’s say you, like us, stopped following the Atlas Path a couple years ago. And let’s also say that you, like us, are ready to dust off your Gek-to-Traveler dictionary and get back to exploring the universe. With everything new that’s been added in the last couple years — let alone everything added with Next — it’s an intimidating proposition to just jump back in. So consider this your re-beginner’s guide.
It’s still the same game at its heart, but …
You probably still understand the basics of No Man’s Sky — or it’ll come back to you pretty quickly — and nothing about the core of the game has really changed. Your backpack is still too small, your spaceship doesn’t have enough trunk space, and you’re always running out of resources. You’ll still spend a lot of your time shooting rocks with a ray gun.
But it’s become much more than it was. If you haven’t revisited No Man’s Sky in a couple years, Next will feel almost like a new game. There are freighters and bases and teleporters and all new resources. If it’s been long enough and you try to hop back into an old save, you’ll even notice that all of your technology — modules and upgrades — are outdated and useless.
So what’s a Traveler to do?
Let the game guide you
No Man’s Sky Next is full of new resources (with new uses), new upgrades, and new mechanics. The fastest way to learn them is to just start a new game. The game will walk you through (most of) the new things you need to know as you get your ship off the ground — similar to, but changed from the original version of this task — and teach you the basics of the new controls and mechanics.
When you get to space, you’ll get a message from a fellow Traveler named Artemis. (If you don’t want to start an entirely new game, watch for the message from Artemis — he’ll contact you when you go to space for the first time.) Following Artemis’ story will bring you into contact with a lot of the games other new mechanics.
So what’s so different?
Let’s talk about some of the biggest changes you’ll see when you come back to No Man’s Sky. (Not all of these are new with the Next update.)
Planets and minerals
Planets are no longer just two elements and some crystals. You’ll find multiple elements — sometimes even within the same minerals. And you’ll be able to scan for the elements each planet has from space.
No Man’s Sky has always had some sort of recharging mechanic, and you still need to pump fuel into your ship’s engine and recharge the batteries in your mining laser. But now, there’s a much quicker way to do that. Pressing down on the D-pad brings up the Recharge Equipment menu, letting you power back up everything from your suit to your multi-tool to your ship with just a few button presses.
When you’re selecting what to use to recharge your gear, you’ll notice that you have a few options. For example, you can recharge your mining laser with (raw) carbon, condensed carbon, or phosphorus. Mostly, these are just a span of common to rare elements (or more complicated-to-craft items), but there’s a twist to it.
Sticking with our carbon example, you gather raw carbon from plants, but you can also refine it yourself into condensed carbon. And you’ll want to do this because a more refined element (or harder-to-craft item) is a more efficient power source — it takes much less condensed carbon to charge your mining laser than raw carbon.
Pressing up on the D-pad brings up a menu where you can choose from several portable technology items to build (this is also the menu that you’ll do your base building from). The most important item here is the portable refiner. You’ll build it, charge it up with carbon and process elements through it. You’ll use it to turn raw elements into better power sources or break down items into more useful raw elements.
There are three currencies in No Man’s Sky now. You still have your basic credits. You’ll use these in the Galactic Trade Network and to buy ships just like you used to. But Next also has a currency called Nanite Clusters (these were added back in the Pathfinder update in early 2017, but let’s assume you, like us, didn’t know that).
Nanite Clusters are your dedicated upgrade currency (see Technology Merchants below). You’ll earn Nanite Clusters from repairing damaged machinery on planets or collect them out of buildings — originally, this was how you found blueprints for upgrade modules. You might also earn them by completing Missions for a Mission Agent (more on this below) or by uploading your discoveries (this is a great and easy way to earn a ton of Nanite Clusters).
You can upload your discoveries from the Discoveries tab in your menu. You can hold down a button to upload each highlighted item individually, or there are buttons to upload all new discoveries at once. There are a couple catches and extra steps, though. You can only upload all fauna, flora, minerals, and one category at a time — you still need to click on each tab. Uploading all system data — the list on the left — does not upload any of the flora, fauna, or mineral information.
The concept of space stations is still basically the same. You can still come here to access the Galactic Trade Network and sell your stuff and shop around for a new ship, but there’s so much more — a lot of the game’s upgrade mechanics have moved here now — that we decided to give space stations their own section.
We’re going to break them down into left and right, based on facing the exit of the station — the way your ship is pointing when you get out — like in the image above.
The right side of the space station is dedicated to your gear. At the right side, you’ll find a hallway back to a small room. There will be a few NPCs hanging around and a Galactic Trade Network hub.
All the way to the left side (toward the front of the station), the first thing you’ll come to is the Appearance Modifier. Now that you’ve got the option of a third-person camera, you’re going to have opinions about how you look. The Appearance Modifier will let you change it at any point for free.
Along the wall, you’ll find three Technology Merchants. Their stalls, from left to right, sell technology for your suit, ship, and multi-tool. While there, you’ll spend your Nanite Clusters on either blueprints for upgrade modules or just a one-time use upgrade module. The difference here is that a blueprint will build and rebuild the module as many times as you need to, but you’ll have to collect the necessary resources each time, whereas buying the module outright lets you skip the resource gathering, but you won’t know how to make a new one if you need to.
A quick, but important aside: If you walk just a little past the suit technology merchant into his stall, you can interact with the suit hologram. This will let you purchase additional inventory slots for your suit with credits. This is similar to how drop pods used to function. (You can still find drop pods in the game, and they still let you upgrade your suit. Now, though, instead of taking credits, you get the upgrade for free once you complete some very resource-intensive repairs on the drop pod. Those repairs mean that you’re not going to be able to use a drop pod to upgrade your suit for a long time when you’re just starting out.)
The left side of a space station is about your relations with the local alien race. It will be full of NPCs to talk to. You’ll also find a(nother) Galactic Trade Network hub and a teleporter (that will take you and your ship back to any space station you’ve visited or base you’ve built).
Missions and Mission Agents
There are two Mission Agents on the left side of every station. The one on the left is the only one that will speak to you at first. Missions are another new mechanic in No Man’s Sky Next. These are bite-sized side missions you can complete to earn credits, valuable trading items, or Nanite Clusters. They’ll often also increase your standing with the local alien race.
The Missions you can take on depend on your standing with the local alien race and your rank with the three guilds — Explorers (Korvax), Merchants (Gek), and Mercenary (Vy’keen). Once you have a high enough standing with the local guild, you can start to take on more complicated — and more rewarding — Guild Missions.