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No Man's Sky has its very own narcotics empire, and we met its Heisenberg

(Image credit: Hello Games)
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(Image credit: Hello Games)

The best No Man's Sky mods (opens in new tab) for making the game look (and play) even better

It's unlikely that the burgeoning narcotics industry featured heavily in Sean Murray's original vision for No Man's Sky (opens in new tab) but, then again, the trajectory for one of this generation's wildest experiments has been all but predictable. Since its notoriously troubled launch in 2016, the endless space simulator has played backdrop to the creation of its own United Nations style government (opens in new tab), a multi-manned Black Hole cataloguing expedition (opens in new tab), and the mass exodus of an entire civilization. 

Yet, out of all the crazy developments to arise from Hello Games' canvas of infinite space, Dopelord Confederacy (opens in new tab) is perhaps the strangest. Founded in September 2018, the Confederacy is one of many communities of "civilized space" that make up the StarFleet inspired body known as The Federation. 

Most of these communities dedicate themselves to noble spacefaring causes, like collating detailed libraries of their discoveries across the expanse, or spreading peace and prosperity to remote areas of the universe. Dopelord Confederacy is different. It has but one decree; "All members shall grow, cultivate, harvest and distribute NipNip wherever and whenever possible."

(Image credit: Hello Games)

NipNip, I should probably clarify, is an in-game item described by No Man's Sky's official encyclopedia as "a medicinal herb known for its pungent buds [which] thrives in dank environments, and often grows as a weed." The item, harvested from NipNip buds, can be used to produce GekNip; an "edible product much beloved by the Gek", one of the game's main playable species. 

Far out, man

It's pretty clear from the outset that this is No Man's Sky's winking nod to marijiuana. Naturally, then, an entire empire has been built around its production, distribution, and recreational usage. Members of the Dopelord Confederacy grow elaborate indoor NipNip farms, conquering entire planets to expand production and evangelise the joys of the galaxy's most popular hallucinogenic to the masses. 

More importantly, however, the Confederacy actively encourages experimentation with NipNip both in and, uh, out of the game… if you catch my drift. "We usually try to schedule regular meet-ups on our planets," explains the community's founder, known in-game as Gentlegrendle. "Together, we ingest psychedelic substances and find beautiful places to just sit and watch the clouds go by over an alien horizon. We talk about our lives, our hopes and dreams, and mostly bask in the wonderful spectrum of colors that the game offers."

(Image credit: Hello Games)

"Consuming LSD and playing in VR is an unrivaled psychedelic experience."

Of course, the devil's lettuce has a long and storied history with No Man's Sky itself. The game's kaleidoscopic colour palette, ambient soundtrack, and meditative tone are so perfectly primed for spaced out gaming that an entire Reddit page, No Man's High (opens in new tab), is devoted to those who enjoy playing on a mellow high. Even Gentlegrendle admits that the Reddit group was where they "originally found some real love for the game", describing it as "a better place for players to gather and share their positive experiences" without the negative discourse that coloured No Man Sky's early years. 

"As far as the game being perfect for intoxication," continues Gentlegrendle, "I'm inclined to agree. Few things are as wildly satisfying as having a built-in smoke break (traveling with the pulse engine between planets) and landing on colorful, peaceful worlds to explore in wonder. Consuming LSD and playing in VR is an unrivaled psychedelic experience that is among my favorite ways to play."

But how did a humble group of NipNipheads become a key player in No Man's Sky's supranational body of governance, The Federation? You might assume that Dopelord Confederacy acts as a lobby of sorts for the galactic cannabis industry, influencing the development of space law to guarantee drug regulations are most favourable to those involved in the trading and consumption of them.

(Image credit: Hello Games)

Instead, as Gentlegrendle explains, the group just wanted to be recognised on The Federation's Galactic Map; a star chart of known communities within the game that helps spacefarers navigate the universe and visit player-run points of interest: "If other groups had Wiki pages and their names in the stars, why not the Dopelord Confederacy? After a short, successful recruiting bout, we created our Wiki page and received federal recognition."

As for the Confederacy's future, Gentlegrendle tells me that their aims are modest, steeped in the community's founding vision to "exhale their smoke across the stars." Indeed, despite being part of The Federation, the group is a fairly self-serving and isolationist community, its charter stating that "to be a Dopelord is to be wealthy, affluent, powerful, unbound by galactic morality, and empowered by the Nip." 

Still, as Gentlegrendle admits, the future is full of possibilities. "I'd honestly like to see how we can fit our psychedelic-addled lifestyles into the changing landscape of No Man's Sky," they explain. "As the game gets larger, I expect that the Dopelord Confederacy will find its own niche within the tapestry of factions, clans and gangs scattered across the stars. We don't necessarily have a desire to grow larger, but expanding our presence in the universe would make all of us quite happy."

Check out the best No Man's Sky bases (opens in new tab) that people have built in the universe so far, or watch the video below for the latest episode of Dialogue Options. 

Alex Avard
Alex Avard

I'm GamesRadar's Features Writer, which makes me responsible for gracing the internet with as many of my words as possible, including reviews, previews, interviews, and more. Lucky internet!