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No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky travel diary: leaving the nest

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Two years ago, when No Man’s Sky first launched, I wrote a journal that chronicled my adventures in the game’s sprawling, procedurally generated universe. Since then, the game has changed considerably, most recently with the No Man’s Sky Next expansion, which is the biggest update yet. It adds new styles of planets, proper multiplayer, and a third-person perspective, among other things. So it seemed like a great chance to dive back in and start the diary again. You can catch up on my previous adventures — and follow along with my new ones — right here.

It’s not much, but this place is starting to feel like a home.

For the past few days, I’ve been focused almost entirely on carving out a small part of the cosmos for myself. I had already settled on a planet — a quiet, safe, and boring sphere with a nice verdant moon to visit — but then came the actual building part. Looking at my base, you wouldn’t think it was much work, just two somewhat large, circular rooms connected by a glass tunnel. But it was a tedious affair. I spent hours in the nearby caves, hacking away at rocks to get the resources I needed. When I tried to mine the minerals on the surface, the ever-watchful flying Sentinels would chase me off, so I was stuck underground.

But now that it’s done — for now, at least — I’m pretty pleased. This simple structure has almost everything I need: a machine for refining minerals, a teleporter so that I can easily travel between star systems, and an all-terrain vehicle for quickly scouting the planet’s surface. There’s a huge storage container to house all of the trinkets and relics I’ve found, and I’ve even hired two aliens to help look after the place — though, to be honest, I’m not sure what they do all day. They never go outside, but instead seem to sit around waiting for me. Whenever I stop in, they have some new request. I’m starting to dread the high-pitched bark of the Gek construction supervisor.

With a basic but functional home now complete, I’m itching to get back out into the cosmos. One of my main motivations for creating a settlement was to ease some of the burdens of constantly traveling the universe. When things got tough, I reasoned, I would have a space to come back to and recharge my batteries, both literally and figuratively. And after hours and hours of mining rocks in a dark cave, I’m ready to leave this little nest and see what the stars have to offer. I’ve heard stories about strange mechanical planets, ones devoid of organic life, and I’ve made it a goal to finally see one.

No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky

As I leave my new home for the first time and see the beautiful ringed planet get smaller and smaller, I’m hit with a new sensation: the knowledge that, one day very soon, I’ll be back. It’s comforting.

I’m not sure exactly how to find one of these planets, so I decide to simply keep jumping star systems until I stumble across one. In each system, I make sure to establish a link at the local space station so that I can teleport back in case I decide I want to explore a little deeper. Eventually, I find myself in a system with a huge, pulsating black hole, which I’m hoping will push me even further toward the center of the universe and, if I’m lucky, one of those curious artificial planets. Before I take the jump, though, I decide to do a bit of exploring. There are three nearby planets, and according to my scanner, each one is full of life. After so much time mining rocks in the dark, I could use a nice, warm forest or beach to relax in.

The first planet I land on is almost entirely covered by a vast, blue ocean. Tiny red islands dot the surface, and the sky is a pastel rainbow. I find an island big enough to land on, and I set my craft down, thinking that it’s been a while since I’ve explored an aquatic environment. I’m excited. But it’s not long after I take a dip that I realize something is wrong. Despite all appearances, the planet is actually freezing — so cold that I can feel it through my suit. I can only swim for a minute or two before my computer warns me of the danger.

The next planet has the opposite problem. It’s beautiful in a different way: a seemingly unending desert with towering plant life the color of blood. It’s like something out of a strangely enchanting nightmare. I want to look around, but the surface is so hot that doing so is hazardous to my health. I sneak out for a few minutes to snap some photos of the gigantic plant life, and then I head back to the skies, hoping the third planet will satiate my need to explore nature.

No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky

Of course, it turns out to be completely toxic. As soon as I exit my ship, my view turns a foggy green, and I wonder what kinds of creatures live here in the extreme conditions. (Probably not the type of alien I’d want to get on the wrong side of.) As I head back to my ship, a toxic plume clouding my vision, I notice a small group of shiny, round plants. I’ve run across similar vegetation in the past, and, usually, they hide rare pearls or gems that can fetch high prices on the galactic market.

I figure after flying all the way to three planets that all seem to want to kill me, I may as well make a bit of money. When I open the plant, a glowing ball tumbles out, but I don’t have enough time to pick it up. A series of green bug-like monsters burrow out of the ground, and each seems focused on nothing but me. I leave the orb behind and rush to my ship, which is, thankfully, just a few seconds away. The monstrosities scramble over the cockpit and lunge at me even once I’m settled inside. I take off right away and head for the wormhole. I’ve had more than enough of this system.

After a few disorienting minutes of traveling through the wormhole, my ship materializes amid a cluster of other ships, mostly large-scale freighters. They’re under attack from what looks like a dozen or so pirate fighter crafts. The fleet’s commander sends me a message asking for help, and after how guilty I felt ignoring a distress call last time, I oblige. It doesn’t take long to chase off the pirates; between my missiles and the freighter’s turrets, they’re easily outmatched. The commander calls me back and requests my presence aboard his ship. I didn’t help him out for a reward, but I’m hoping he’s generous with his thanks. After all, I’m a bit low on units after spending so much building my first tiny home.

The ship is huge inside. There’s enough room for what looks like a dozen smaller crafts like my own. I have to walk down a long, winding hallway before I find myself at the multilevel bridge, where the commander waits. He offers me his thanks, but not money. Instead, he has a shocking proposal: do I want to take over his ship? After spending so much time building a home that’s anchored to one place, now I have the chance to have one that can go with me anywhere I want. It’s not a tough decision.

I say yes and continue the search for a mechanical planet.