"Embark on an epic voyage to the center of a boundless universe," the back of No Man's Sky's retail box says, inviting you to chart an unambiguous course to the galactic core. Your warp menu lets you connect the interstellar dots, giving you constant access to the distance between you and your destination. Nada, one of No Man's Sky's most intriguing characters, tells you to go there. So we went there.
In this guide, we'll teach you the most efficient ways to get to the galactic core. We'll also tell you why you might not want to go to what No Man's Sky also refers to as the Galaxy Center — and what happens if you go there anyway.
Before you go, maybe don't
Seriously, maybe don't do it. Or at least don't treat it as an absolute necessity. Why? Because charging ahead like you're in a race to the Galactic Center isn't necessarily the best (or even a particularly good) way to play No Man's Sky.
If you've found a way to play that lets you enjoy No Man's Sky, keep doing that. Shoot all the animals, learn a new language or become the Blackbeard of the stars. But don't think that the destiny you've created is less meaningful than the one promised on the back of the box.
Despite what the packing implies, No Man's Sky is a game best played at your own pace, doing the things that you find fun. Getting to the center is a huge undertaking, and if you focus too narrowly on that goal, you can miss out on much of what No Man's Sky has to offer. If you spend all of your time raiding planets for the resources you need for your journey and then bouncing, it becomes easy to start ignoring Knowledge Stones, goofy-looking animals and stunning vistas.
No Man's Sky is at its best when it's presenting you with planets to explore — there are 18 quintillion of them, after all. As a vehicle for an ultimate goal or a conclusion, the galactic core is … not so great. Spend your time where you feel it's worth it. Don't overlook the wonder of the journey because you're too focused on the destination.
How to get to the galactic core
This is the easy part: Get in your ship and fly there.
Your only choice lies in the path you take. You can follow the "Path towards galactic core" provided inside your warp menu, use Free Exploration Mode to chart your own course or hop from black hole to black hole. Of course, you could also choose a combination of the previous choices, but no matter how you choose to get there, you're going to need tons of resources.
What you're going to need
The path may be obvious, but getting there isn't easy. Flying to the galactic core is a huge investment of time and resources. It's a long trip no matter how you go about it, so a little planning pays off.
In short, you'll need a ton of resources to survive, refuel and repair the things that constantly deplete, wear out and break around you.
Find resources the easy way
Learning No Man's Sky's secret visual language isn't a requirement, but if you want to eliminate hours of confusion and frustration as you hunt and peck for elements and resources, you really should. Luckily, we have a guide for that.
The very first thing you should do, regardless of your destination, is max out your Exosuit storage. As we wrote in our beginner's guide, your primary enemy in No Man's Sky is storage space, and it's far easier to add slots to your suit than it is to find and repair it or buy a bigger ship. Your trip to the center of the galaxy is going to be resource-intensive, so every additional slot helps.
You should also spend some some time finding a good ship. You don't have to spend the time or the money to get yourself a 48-slot space yacht with suicide doors and shiny chrome, but find one that has room for all of the Companion Units you want and still has some storage space left over. At the very least, make sure your ship has room for your warp drive upgrade Companion Units.
No matter what approach you take to get there, the warp drive upgrades allow you to warp to a wider variety of stars and reach just a little farther toward the center with every jump. Build all three — Sigma, Theta and Tau — and make sure they're all touching to get the most out of them.
Being rich helps
You can absolutely make your own way and build everything you need from scratch if you know all the recipes and blueprints (and let's face it: if you've been playing long enough, you do). Sometimes, though, it's quicker and easier to just buy what you need from Space Stations or your fellow travelers.
Let's say you find yourself three units of Chrysonite short of a repair you desperately need. You can hop from planet to planet, hoping the next one is cold, or you can just buy what you need from the guy parked next to you at the local space station. Having a healthy bankroll will help you do this.
Warping your way there
If you choose to ignore the ship-breaking black holes and make your way to the core only by warping, you're going to need to craft a lot of warp cells — far more than you can carry at one time.
Based on our math, you're going to need over 400 of them to make the trip under warp power alone. That means you're going to be stopping periodically to restock and refuel. That may sound tedious, but it does have one big advantage over black holes: Traveling this way means that you never have to repair your ship, so you can devote most or even all of your inventory slots to crafting and storing Warp Cells.
You'll still need Warp Cells if you choose to take the hyperspace bypass route through black holes, but you'll need a lot fewer. Which is good, because you should stock up on a lot of other elements for the inevitable breakdowns.
Nearly every jump through a black hole will break a part of your ship. Sometimes it's just a coolant system for your laser that you can ignore for another few jumps. Other times — absurdly frequently for us — it's part of your warp engine. Fixing those tends to require a lot of disparate resources, and gathering resources can take up a lot of time.
Having a handy supply of everything from Iron to Zinc is going to cut down on the amount of time you spend looking for the parts you need to get back on the road. This is especially true for Iridium, the rarest of all non-exotic elements. If you find it, stock up.
Lather, rinse and repeat
If you want to head straight toward the center of the galaxy, those are the things you'll need to do again and again. For the overwhelming majority of your journey, nothing changes beyond your location.
Then, as you float just outside of the Galaxy Center, things can get weird.
The last step is a doozy
Once you're at the end of your warp menu's "Path towards galactic core" — or as close as you can get in Free Exploration Mode — you'll still be about 6,000 light years from the Galaxy Center.
At that point, your warp menu may tell you "TOO FAR TO JUMP (UPGRADE DRIVE)" — even if your warp drive is fully upgraded. (At least that's what happened when we got there.)
Turns out, you just have to top off your warp engine's tank with Warp Cells. You're right to exclaim, "But that mechanic isn't established anywhere else in the game!" It's not. Just fill up the tank, and you'll be able to select Engage. (At least that's what happened when we got there.)
Fill up your inventory
Before you take that final jump, you should prepare for what comes next. Visit nearby systems to stock up your inventory. Start hoarding. Anything and everything you need to build Companion Units and repair your ship is going to come in handy in just a few minutes.
What happens when you reach the center of the galaxy
Nothing. You don't do anything. There's nothing to do.
Instead, you're going to watch as all your hard work unspools before you. The camera doesn't zoom in. It doesn't even tease at zooming in. It just rewinds. It flies directly away from the Galaxy Center in an agonizing and unskippable cutscene. Then you're faced with this:
If that looks familiar, it's because that's what you saw at the very beginning the game. If you're wondering why you're seeing what you saw at the very beginning of the game again, well it's because that's where you are again, more or less.
After you Initialize (again), you're met with another familiar scene. You're alone and confused and all of your toys are broken. The trip to (through?) the Galactic Center has disabled all of your tech and deposited you in the Hilbert Dimension. (At least that's what happened when we got there.) Good job, you.
What to do after you reach the Galaxy Center
First, as necessary, buy a new controller to replace the one you just broke out of frustration and/or rage.
Now you can get to work fixing your ship, suit and gun. Then focus on the essentials.
Everything is broken this time, and you're probably not going to be able to repair it all right away. Focus on getting your suit's basic functions running, getting your Multi-tool to work like a Multi-tool again and repairing the basics of your ship.
Chances are, you found yourself on a planet that had Plutonium, a few rocks and almost nothing else, so you might need to tear apart some of your Companion Units to get off the ground. Just worry about getting airborne and off of this rock. You can always rebuild your Companion Units. Now get back out there, or, as a boy once said to a gunslinger, "Go then, there are other worlds than these."
What happens now?
This guide was written through No Man's Sky version 1.05. If a subsequent update adds end-game content or we discover something that didn't exist before we reached the center of the galaxy and makes the trip worth it, we'll update this guide.
Would you like to know more?
No Man's Sky is a largely solitary experience, but you don't have to travel the universe alone.
This is just one small section of Polygon's No Man's Sky guide. Be sure to check out the rest, where you can learn all about your ship, your Multi-Tool and Companion Units and even get answers to some of the biggest questions about No Man's Sky. We also have a guide to No Man's Sky's resources that'll teach you the difference between Oxides and Silicates as we explain No Man's Sky's elements.
And if you're just looking for a quick reference guide to locations, like where you can save and trade — we've got you covered — too.