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No Man’s Sky

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No Man’s Sky travel diary: the final entry

The end of a journey

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. This will be my final entry, but you can catch up on my previous adventures right here.

The beach is peaceful, and the view is perfect.

I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes trying to contemplate my next move. Thinking back on all I’ve experienced on my journey thus far, in a lot of ways, my adventure has been a failure. For a long time, I searched for answers, a reason for the existence of the universe, and my place within it. I followed the path of an inscrutable, god-like creature named Atlas, who promised those answers but ultimately didn’t deliver. Then, I tried to solve a star-spanning mystery involving a lost alien, which also didn’t go so well.

But then I think about all of the things I’ve been able to see and do. I’ve fought off pirate scourges and managed my own fleet of frigates. I’ve traveled to vast, empty worlds full of floating bubbles and flown my ship alongside tiny dragons soaring through acid rain. I’ve been chased by giant crabs and uncovered the ruins of ancient civilizations. And, somehow, after visiting literally hundreds of different worlds, I’m still managing to find things that are new. Not long ago, I touched down on a planet that was completely covered in gigantic rotating machines. They were both plants and animals, and they made me question how much I truly understand about the universe.

I’m not sure if anything can top that.

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

What I need right now is a place to think. The star system I’m currently in is full of choices. There’s an icy blue arctic world and a nice, quiet lifeless planet with exceedingly low gravity. But there’s one world that catches my eye. It’s shiny blue, dotted by sprawling clouds, and surrounded by a series of hypnotic rings. A bright yellow moon is barely visible behind it. When I scan the planet, I get a strange reading; my computer calls it a “vile anomaly,” something I’ve never seen before. As much as I need a moment of peace, I can’t turn down the thrill of seeing something completely new. I switch on my starship’s pulse engine and race over to the vile planet.

I’m not sure what I expected from this anomalous world, but this isn’t it. From the comfort of my ship, the sky is a searing yellow-orange, and the skyline is dominated by strange, jagged circles as tall as a building. When I get close, I realize they’re made of some kind of rock. Massive plants jut out of the ground, but they’re dwarfed by the rocky rings. Given my past experiences, this doesn’t seem like a very inviting place. It looks devoid of life, and it has a fog so thick you can barely see through it.

But that perception goes away as soon as I land my ship.

The ground is lush, with a thick grass that gently moves as a cool breeze blows past. There are herds of peaceful creatures — some feathery deer-like animals, others more like dog-sized lizards — and they don’t seem to even notice my presence. Around the base of each of those gigantic plants is a tiny ecosystem of other fauna, from glowing yellow flowers to pulsating green orbs that move like liquid inside of a hard shell.

No Man’s Sky

One thing I couldn’t see from the sky were the vast oceans covering the planet’s surface. They’re beautiful and crystal clear, the kind of blue you see on a postcard. The planet is perfectly calm. It’s not as hot as it looks, and there are no toxins in the air, so I don’t have to worry about my health. I decide to go for a long walk.

I’m honestly not sure where the “vile” designation comes from. This might be the most relaxing planet I’ve yet visited. As I stroll through the olive green fields, I encounter nothing even remotely dangerous. Animals live their lives, skittering about in search of food. I see schools of tiny jellyfish in the large pools of water that dot the surrounding areas. Even the Sentinels — a typically over-aggressive intergalactic police force — seem at ease. The drones buzz around me but don’t seem all that concerned.

It’s been a long time since I just walked with no destination or goal in mind and nothing chasing me. It’s nice. I take my time on my way back to my ship, stopping to get an up-close look at the giant rings. They’re curiously smooth and shiny, as if something was coating the rock. You really don’t get a sense of the scale until you’re standing in front of one, staring straight up. I can’t even see the top of the formation, its pointed edges lost in the fiery-orange clouds.

A quick jog takes me back to my ship, which is sitting just a few feet from the ocean on an empty sandy beach. I sit down beside it and stare out into the blue water. I’ve come to realize that I’m probably never going to find out the truth about Atlas or see the center of the universe. The answers I’m seeking may not even be out there. I haven’t seen everything, and I probably never will. But maybe I’ve seen enough.

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