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How to use portals in No Man’s Sky

The fast travel network will likely be key to exploring the game’s upcoming season of new content

No Man’s Sky portal Hello Games via Polygon
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.

The latest update for No Man’s Sky, called Next, piles on the new features. It also lays the groundwork for what Hello Games promises will be its first season of new, free content. If you want to participate, you’ll more than likely need to be highly mobile. No amount of scrounging for di-hydrogen is going to get you where you need to go quickly enough to have any fun.

This guide will get you up to speed on the game’s fast-travel network, including how to find and use portals.

Short- versus long-distance travel

Much of the early game in No Man’s Sky revolves around gathering enough fuel to move from one star system to the next. In fact, the updated in-game tutorials and single-player campaign do an excellent job of explaining what resources you need to find and how to use them.

As you move from system to system, you’ll find that each one has its own space station. Inside every space station is a teleporter that will connect you with every other space station that you’ve visited. Traveling between teleporters is completely free, and you’ll find that your starship is docked and waiting for you when you arrive as well. You can even build a Base Teleport Module near your own base to link that into the network as well.

a person in a spacesuit stand near a cylindrical stone in No Man’s Sky
Portals are the key to fast travel in the No Man’s Sky galaxy.
Hello Games via Polygon

But the space stations themselves, along with any bases that you’ve connected, form a small, personal network only you can use. It’s easy to go back and retrace your steps, but these teleporters aren’t going to get you anywhere new.

To go further, you’ll first need to find a portal.

Flight of the navigator

Every planet in No Man’s Sky is supposed to have a portal, but searching for them by hand is a fool’s errand. Planets themselves are physically massive, and even skimming low and fast over the surface in your starship, portals can be laughably easy to miss.

To find one reliably, you’ll need to first locate a monolith. If you’ve played the game for a few hours, you’ve likely come across a few already. They’re dark, vertical towers with a few Knowledge Stones scattered around. If you haven’t found any, or you’re just not interested in backtracking, here’s how to find one in a hurry.

No Man’s Sky monolith sequence
Once you code in the coordinates for a planet found on the Galactic Atlas, you can simply walk through the portal and be teleported there.
Hello Games via Polygon

How to find a monolith

To find a monolith, first you’ll need to gather a special in-game item called Navigation Data. As far as we know, it’s not possible to manufacture Navigation Data, but there are a few ways to locate them in the wild.

If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble across some on the open market, either at a building on the surface of a planet, from another pilot, or for sale by a vendor on a space station. Otherwise, you can find them hidden inside the orange cubes that you may find floating inside the space station lobby areas.

Navigation Data can also be found on the surface of planets. Pull up your visor and look for a yellow diamond marked as an Ancient Data Structure. Sidle on over, and you can pluck the items right off the ground.

Once you have that data in hand, you’ll need to build a Signal Booster from your inventory. Use the Navigation Data and choose to “locate nearby structure,” and then “scan for artifacts.” After a few tries, you should come up with the location of a monolith on your planet.

Finding a portal

Once at a monolith, you’ll need to interact with it and have the correct items in your inventory.

Depending on the dominant species in your part of the galaxy, that could be either a Vy’keen Dagger, a Korvax Casing or a Gek Relic. You’ll commonly come across these items as rewards from successful conversations with NPCs or for sale on the open market, as above. We've also received them as plunder from sending our frigates out on missions.

With the correct item in your inventory, select “locate portal,” and it will show up on your map.

No Man’s Sky portal glyphs
To power up a portal, you’ll need a small amount of easy-to-find resources. Once each glyph is activated, you’ll be able to output the 16-glyph code that is your planet’s address in the No Man’s Sky galaxy.
Hello Games via Polygon

Portals and the Galactic Atlas

Once you walk up on the portal, a dais will snap out of the ground. On that dais will be 16 different runes, each of which you’ll need to activate by charging it with resources. Those resources should be fairly common. We were able to charge our first portal with just the salt, carbon, cobalt and chromatic metals that we had on hand. Otherwise, it’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle with a little bit of foraging.

Once you power up the portal, you can use it to find your own location in the galaxy. That location will be represented by a combination of those 16 glyphs. Once it pops up on screen, take a screenshot. You’ll likely want to have it on hand it later.

Here’s where the fun really begins. With the Next update, Hello Games also launched a website called the Galactic Atlas. It’s an interactive map where players can input the glyphs from the planet that they’re on, and get an actual map marker showing them where they are in the galaxy.

Prior to the launch of Next, Hello Games sent out a survey. In it, the studio asked for information about notable planets that players had discovered. The developers curated a short list of those planets and loaded them into the Galactic Atlas as points of interest. All you need to do is zoom in and click on an individual planet to get its 16-glyph code.

But before you can use that code to step through the portal and leap across the galaxy, you’re going to have to jump through some hoops.

No Man’s Sky - traveler Lisker
Once you get far enough down the Artemis Path, NPC travelers will begin to appear randomly on some space stations. By paying them nanites, you can uncover graves that will teach you glyphs. To find other travelers, look for NPCs that don’t match the race of the other characters on board your space station.
Hello Games via Polygon

Robbing graves to find glyphs

You can power up portals on every planet that you find, but without earning the ability to use those glyphs, you’re not going anywhere. Unfortunately, learning each of those glyphs is a bit of a pain.

Shortly after you leave your first planet, you’ll pick up the Artemis Path storyline. If you follow the prompts in your log, you’ll eventually come to the grave of another traveler. By interacting with that grave, you’ll learn your first glyph. Now you just need to find 15 more graves to fully navigate the galaxy using the Galactic Atlas.

No Man’s Sky - traveler’s grave
The graves of NPC travelers are differentiated from the graves of your player character by the use of a yellow border.
Hello Games via Polygon

After you interact with that first grave, other travelers will begin to show up inside space stations. If you pay them 100 nanites, they’ll cough up some anomalous data. Hop back inside your starship, and you’ll see a new location listed on the HUD. It’s called an Unknown Grave. Land at the grave, interact with it, and you’ll be given another glyph.

The legitimate way to unlock all 16 glyphs is to simply travel to enough new space stations that you bump into 15 more fellow travelers. On PlayStation 4, there are reports of a bug that will allow you to harvest all 16 glyphs from a single grave. So far, we’ve not been able to duplicate it, but if we can, we’ll update that here. Even if it works, expect it to eventually get patched out.

Once you have all 16 glyphs, return to any portal to input a code from the Galactic Atlas, and you’re on your way.