The lifeless vacuum of space has suddenly got a lot more interesting in No Man’s Sky, with the Next update having just released alongside the Xbox One edition of the game, changing everything in the process. Aside from all the updates to base building, freighter management, and more, the big addition that Next brings to No Man’s Sky is full multiplayer, in which parties of up to four players can team up to explore all 18 quintillion procedurally generated planets together.
Yet, as was the case with the base game, No Man’s Sky isn’t brilliant at communicating all the nuances of this bold, new feature for the crafting-survival sim, and there’s more to it than just haphazardly firing at each other with your multi-tool (though that is admittedly a lot of fun). So whether you’re totally new to No Man’s Sky, or booting it back up just to check out what’s been changed, here’s our pick of the top 10 No Man's Sky multiplayer tips, which should provide everything you need to know about Next’s multiplayer offerings.
1. Objectives are still locked to each player
Annoyingly, you aren’t able to complete objectives together in No Man’s Sky, even if you’re in the same party. If every player is tasked with building a base as part of the main story campaign, for example, you’ll all have to build your own separate base for the game to register it as fulfilled for each member.
This slows down the progress of story missions, side quests, and other activities, and might come as a surprise to those who were hoping to complete No Man’s Sky’s campaign together. Basically, don’t think you can coast off of someone else’s efforts in No Man’s Sky multiplayer; to make your way in this brave new world, you’re going to have to chip in as much as everybody else.
2. Tagging objects is the next best thing to a minimap
No Man’s Sky’s new solar system map is a bit rubbish for trying to navigate the infinite swathes of space, but there’s a far more effective way to orientate yourself in multiplayer mode. See something in the distance worth investigating, and want to bring it to the attention of your team? Fire up your visor, aim directly at its location, and hold the “Tag” button to pinpoint it on the radar at the top of the screen.
This will register across every other player’s radar, so you won’t need to faff around trying to describe its exact position on the planet. This works, by the way, for objective markers, space stations, entire planets, and other players too, and in a world as gargantuan as this one, it helps to let everyone know exactly where you’re headed.
3. Photo mode works in real time
Of course No Man’s Sky has a photo mode. It’s certainly deserving of it, with all the mind-blowing vistas and randomised sci-fi scenery. What’s more, in multiplayer, this feature takes on a new lease of life, as time doesn’t come to a standstill whenever you whip out the camera, but lets you essentially play the part of unofficial cameraman while everything around you continues as normal.
In essence, it’s a great way to grab some neat action shots of your friends exploring the world, or just tail them without their knowledge, and Hello Games has added a whole suite of customisation tools so you’ll never be lost for new ways to snap your buddies.
4. Weather conditions aren’t shared
It’s unclear whether this is intentional, or an adverse side effect that Hello Games hasn’t yet looked into, but the dynamic weather of No Man’s Sky isn’t uniform to an entire team of players. One friend could be walking right beside you, experiencing the worst ice storm imaginable, while you’re enjoying a totally harmless stroll in the sun.
Sometimes, there appears to be a delay, where one player experiences a weather effect first before it eventually transfers to the next poor space tourist, but at other times, changes to climate appear to be completely isolated to each person. Why does that matter? Because your ability to explore the world may be set back by everyone’s differing weather conditions, so you’ll have to adapt your strategy accordingly.
5. Try not to die if you want to stick together
No Man’s Sky is a big, big place, and there’s currently no ability to teleport, on command, to other comrades within the game. What’s more, when you die, there’s a very strong likelihood that you’re not going to spawn back next to your team, but literally on the other side of the world, depending on the mood of Hello Games’ unpredictable formula.
We learnt this the hard way, after one of us bit the bullet before respawning thousands of miles away on the planet we’d been exploring. It wasn’t the end of the world (though it certainly felt like they’d reappeared at the end of the world), but it was a pain when reaching each other required leaving the stratosphere and pulse jumping just to reacquaint within a matter of minutes rather than hours. Learn from our failures; try not to die.
6. Trading with each other is possible, but there’s limits
As a game all about having the right chemicals for the right job, No Man’s Sky’s survival gameplay is made a lot easier now that you can trade almost any of your inventory items with party members. No longer will you have to desperately scrounge a planet’s surface for the right resource to keep your exosuit up and running, but simply ask a nearby buddy for the required mats (should they have any spare), and they can wire it over to your inventory within a matter of seconds.
To give something to another player, all you need to do is enter your inventory, hit “Transfer”, but make sure you separate out the exact number you’re wishing to part with beforehand, otherwise you’ll give them your entire stockpile, and they might not be willing to ever give it back. One thing to note; you have to be in close proximity (basically next to each other) in order to make a trade, so it’s not going to work if the donor or recipient decides to run off mid-transaction. Keep that in mind when the going gets tough during No Man’s Sky’s tougher excursions.
7. Friendly fire is on, so watch where you’re waving that multi-tool
PvP, while generally discouraged in favour of more co-operative endeavours in No Man’s Sky, is now an open possibility for any aggressively minded player, and the game doesn’t discriminate between friend or foe either. By default, friendly fire is on within your party, so any accidental (or intentional) shots with your multi-tool’s laser against a teammate will do real, lasting damage. Equally, the mining tool - which eats up whatever terrain you point it at - could easily land your buddies in hot water should you, say, drill the floor beneath them to land them in an inescapable pit of darkness and despair (I speak from experience).
The same goes for ship gameplay, too, but luckily, if you die, others aren’t able to claim your fallen inventory as their own, as the ability to recover lost loot remains locked to you and you alone. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out in No Man’s Sky in the coming weeks but, for now, let’s just say you ought to watch your back, even when playing in co-op.
8. You can play together with any save file, provided you’re in the same mode
Multiplayer doesn’t work in the traditional sense in No Man’s Sky, as no one’s ever really a host. Instead, think of it like Destiny, where explorers of the single, shared universe are simply teaming up to play the same game together. That means that someone who’s been playing for 100 hours can join a player who’s only just begun their No Man’s Sky journey, though there are a few strings attached.
For example, to really appreciate the extent of the multiplayer, you’ll need to all be playing in the same game mode of No Man’s Sky, either Normal, Survival, Permadeath or Creative mode. Any player who joins a crew but isn’t playing in the same mode as the leader will be considered a “guest”, and won’t have access to all the features they might be familiar with. Otherwise, any progress you make in multiplayer will transfer over to single-player, and vice versa, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on anything for the most part.
9. Anyone can board your freighter, but starships are off limits
Once you’ve earned enough credits to purchase a freighter in No Man’s Sky, any other player can join you aboard to check out the feng shui, customise their character, and enlist on new multiplayer missions. Your starship, however, is still very much your own thing.
Other team members are unable to pilot it (so you won’t need to worry about any prank hijackings), and there’s sadly no multi-mannable starships for co-op dogfighting, as they’re still strictly one seaters only. Perhaps in future, Hello Games will let us share the sweaty confines of our ships as co-pilots, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime style, but today is not that day.
10. Multiplayer missions don’t necessarily require multiple players
The aforementioned multiplayer missions are newly designed challenges that, like much of No Man’s Sky, are fairly simple, story-lite objectives which make use of the game’s exploration focus. You might be asked to scan a certain number of creatures, or take out a certain number of enemy starships, but don’t expect MMO style raids or epic story quests, even anything on the same level as No Man’s Sky’s story mode missions. What’s more, these multiplayer missions aren’t actually exclusive to multiplayer, but any solo spacefarer is able to take them on in solo mode, or perhaps as part of a multitasking effort while the rest of crew gets on with something else.