14 tips for successful galactic exploration in No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky just celebrated it's first birthday and it's quite a different game to what it was when it first launched. I've updated our tips and tricks to help you get to grips with some of the new features. 

I'd also advise checking out our 12 hidden mechanics No Man's Sky never tells you about. However, there are plenty more tips and tricks to help you out as you roam the vast galaxy, so keep reading for advice on how to make stacks of cash, increase your inventory and survive in the harshest of conditions.

How do you pick up missions?

(Image: © Hello Games)

If you're looking for a little more guidance beyond just milling about in space, then the Mission Agent is your new best friend. This little alien pal has a list of galaxy-related quests to give you, allowing you to earn more money, rare items or a way to get in better with other alien races. 

They range from simple tasks like scanning the flora and fauna, to collecting specific items for traders. But whatever kind of mission you pick up, it suddenly gives you a lot more to do in each galaxy. 

If you want to get yourself a slice of the action, the Mission Agent is lurking in every space station. Just head into the left hand door, when looking away from the space station entrance, and he's in there waiting. Always waiting. 

How do you build a base?

(Image: © Hello Games)

Base building was added to No Man's Sky back in November 2016, but actually working out how to do it isn't exactly straightforward. It actually took me a while to find out how to do it and it takes a bit of scanning. 

If you're flying around in your ship between planets, hit L3 to scan and you might see a red icon pop-up indicating that you've discovered a 'habitable base'. It might take a few tries, so if that fails head down to a planet you'd like to call home and build a Signal Booster. They're hidden in the new Build Menu, which is accessed by pushing up on the D-Pad. Once you've built your Signal Booster, you can use this gadget to scan the planet for a habitable base and then head over to it. 

After that you'll need to head inside and interact with the pod to claim it as your home planet. You'll then be taken through a quick Sims-like tutorial as to how to make your base bigger, better and more productive. 

I'd advise building a Construction Terminal and hiring a Alien Construction Manager, who will give you a series of tasks that let you earn serious cash quickly. You can also build a farm to grow plants and hire an Alien Farming Specialist Worker who will improve them and cultivate 10 new species exclusive to your base. 

How do you find other players?

With the Atlas Rises update, Hello Games has actually allowed players to find each other, or at least try. Open up your galaxy map by pressing down on the D-pad and then switch to free exploration mode. Sweep across the galaxies until you see something that says "contact", which is essentially another player. Unfortunately the only way to then get to them is by having enough warp cells to power your hyperdrive long enough to jump to their system. 

At the moment you can see up to 16 players at a time in the form of the glowing blue orbs shown above, so it's pretty limited and very much random. Don't get any ideas of trying to meet up with your mates and have a Destiny-like space party, because it ain't happening. 

How do you use portals to warp to other planets?

(Image: © Hello Games)

The only way to actually exist on the same planet as your pals (although you won't be able to interact with them, even when you do get there) is to use the ancient portals. They're scattered across planets and are a bit of a pain to discover, but Signal Boosters can help if you search for monoliths. However, as there are a few different types of monoliths, it's a bit of a gamble. 

If and when you do find a portal monolith, you'll be able to choose the 'locate a portal' option and you'll get a map marker for that portal. You will then have to activate it in order to use it and you'll need to charge it using isotopes, oxides and silicates. Then it's just a case of entering the glyph sequence of the specific planet you want to travel to, which you can obtain from your friends if they've done this on their own planets, or extract them from fallen travellers you find in caves. 

Yes, it's that simple... In that it really, really isn't.

How do you max out your Journey Milestones?

Journey Milestones track your ongoing progress against various exploration tasks and are found in the pause menu, with each having a rank from 0 to the maximum of 10 and showing the requirements to reach the next milestone. These are the targets you need to hit for the top rank:

On-foot Exploration: travelled 100,000u - equivalent to roughly that many steps

Alien Colonist Encounters: met 40 aliens

Words Collected: learned 150 words

Most Units Accrued: earned 2,000,000 units - must be held at once, not a cumulative total

Ships Destroyed: destroyed 80 starships

Sentinels Destroyed: destroyed ? sentinels - not required for any trophies/steam achievements

Extreme Survival: survived 32 sols in extreme conditions - must be done on a single planet flagged as Extreme without dying, roughly 8 hours real time

Space Exploration: warped 60 times

Planet Zoology Scanned: discovered all species on 10 planets - make sure you upload the 100% record when completed

How do you scan 100% of species on a planet?

When trying to tag 100% of species on a planet, look out for red dots through your scanner view to identify fauna you haven't collected yet. If you're struggling to fill in all the blanks in your records then move to different parts of the planet, and don't forget to look up as some creatures will be flying - these are really hard to tag normally, though you can shoot them down then scan their body on the ground.

If you find a planet with no fauna you can still upload the record for zero credits to collect another Journey Milestone, but doing this may glitch your existing planets to be marked as 100% complete and stop you uploading them so be wary if you plan to return to any previous locations.

How do you find rare items while exploring on foot?

When exploring a planet on foot, regularly use your scanner to highlight element deposits and points of interest, with the icons that appear identifying if they're oxides, silicates, isotopes etc. These local scan icons are 4 sided, to differentiate them from the 6 sided icons indicating tagged locations further away. Pay particular attention to exclamation mark icons, as these denote valuable items such as Gravitino Balls and Sac Venom, though you'll almost always be pursued by Sentinels if you pick them up so be prepared to run or fight.

How do you upgrade your Exosuit and Starship capacities?

There's a huge amount of stuff out there to collect, so you'll want to increase your inventory capacity as soon as you can. Your Exosuit can be upgraded using the terminals inside Drop Pods on planets or behind the locked Atlas Pass v1 doors in any Space Station, though each successive upgrade costs 10,000 units more than the last.

To increase your Starship capacity you'll need to purchase a new ship, which can be done at Trading Posts or Space Stations - approach the other ship and interact then make an offer to see the value and capacity of your potential purchase. If you decide to buy then make sure you transfer your existing inventory to the new ship first, and also dismantle any upgrades from your old vessel to recover the materials.

If you're still finding yourself short of space, then remember that you can store twice the amount of elements in a single slot on your Starship compared to your Exosuit, so use your ship for stockpiling materials.

How do you earn lots of units quickly?

If you want to make a fast buck, you can earn lots of units by trading items within a Space Station. First, clear as much space in your inventory as possible, then access the Galactic Trade Network and make a note of which items are marked with a gold star as these will be purchased for a much higher than average price - ideally you're looking for a valuable individual item such as a Dynamic Resonator rather than dealing in large quantities of elements.

Next, head to the deck and interact with every visiting trader, buying as many of the items you've identified for their standard price, one at a time so you don't accidentally purchase something you then don't have storage space for. Once your inventory is full, return to the trade terminal and sell all the items you've accrued to make a tidy profit, then repeat this process as many times as necessary to reach your financial target.

How do you understand what the Alien Colonists are saying?

You can improve your standing with the various alien races by completing interactions with them, and learning their words by examining Knowledge Stones and Monoliths. The better your standing, the more options you'll have available when requesting assistance from Alien Colonists in Outposts and Space Stations. If you have a relic specific to that race then place it in your Exosuit before speaking to them, as you may be given the option to exchange it for a gift of a useful blueprint.

Can you crash into planets or Space Stations?

When you engage your Pulse Engine in space you fly at frankly terrifying speeds and can't really steer, but don't worry about crashing as you'll automatically be pulled out of it when you come into close proximity with a planet or Space Station. Better still, if you already have a location marker on your target planet, simply point your ship at it and fire up the Pulse Engine - you'll automatically follow a course into the planet's atmosphere near your destination.

How do you interact with the different types of buildings?

There are various types of buildings that can be found on planets, and each of them offer different rewards for visiting them. Abandoned Buildings contain a terminal you can simply interact with, whereas Operations Centres and Manufacturing Plants challenge you to select the correct response to an alien prompt - if you know enough words then you might be able to work out the right answer, otherwise you can just guess, and as a save point will be nearby you always have the option to reload if you make a mistake.

Observatories are similar but task you with picking the next number in the sequence displayed in the bottom left of the screen, which is normally a digit shifted from one end of the number to the other. Providing the correct response in these situations can earn you upgrade blueprints, new technology, crafting formulae, and further location markers to explore.

What do you do when your Hazard Protection is running out?

When your Hazard Protection is running low, get into your Starship or head inside a building, Drop Pod etc and wait for it to automatically recharge itself before venturing out again. If you get stuck outside then you can manually recharge it, but this uses up precious Zinc or Titanium unless you have Shielding Shards/Plates, so if possible you should try to get under an overhang or inside a cave for shelter instead. If you have a Plasma Launcher upgrade on your Multi-tool, you can even blast yourself a hole to hide in while your protection recovers.

How do you get Atlas Stones and the Atlas Pass?

Whether you're following the Atlas Path or decided to take the alternative route, look out for Atlas Interfaces along your travels. Once inside, you'll receive several rewards including warp drive fuel and a mysterious Atlas Stone - I don't want to spoil their purpose but you'll need to amass 10 stones in total before they can be used, so make sure you're prepared to allocate the extra space in your inventory. Also watch for Space Anomalies, as these are the best locations to secure an Atlas Pass that opens previously locked containers and doors.