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No Man’s Sky travel diary: responsibility

Set your communicator to silent

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No Man’s Sky

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.

I’m starting to hate the sound of my communicator.

Once upon a time, I was a lonely traveler, venturing across the universe in search of meaning. My only real concerns were keeping my spaceship full of fuel and my life support packed with oxygen. But that’s changed. Suddenly, everyone wants something from me.

It started with my newly acquired freighter. The massive ship is useful to me as an explorer. It has a huge cargo container to house rare minerals and expensive relics, and its warp engine can jump much farther than my trusty one-person craft. But it’s also a big ship with a large crew who want more to do than just sit around and wait for me. So I head to my command room and find some missions for them to take on. Luckily, my captain seems more than capable on their own, so I don’t have to helm the ship for the excursion.

Once they’re off, the messages start coming in. “We’re under attack” or “We might not be able to make it to deliver the cargo.” Of course, it’s up to me to make the big decisions. When one of the frigates returns after a mission, I discover that none of my crew are able to make repairs, so I have to do it myself. That means flying my little ship over to the giant craft, finding a spot to land, and then making my way through the various ducts and stairways to fix things by hand. I imagine that I could float away into space at any moment, but I make it out unscathed.

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

Eventually, I send the crew off on the easiest, shortest adventure I can find, hoping it’ll buy me a few hours of peace. Then I fly to the nearest space station and hop in a portal to zip back to my home base. It’s been a few days since I’ve checked in, so I figure it’s a good time to see if anything is happening. My humble home has expanded a bit. The main structure now consists of three round, metallic units that are connected by long tunnels with copious windows so you can safely watch the sandstorms. Each of these units houses one of my workers, while a smaller wood cabin off to the side serves as my personal workspace.

After a few days away, the crew all need something. My vehicle specialist is very intent on me building a device to expand the scanning range of my all-terrain vehicle, while the construction expert wants me to hire someone adept at weapons for our small crew. The robotic scientist has the most unsettling request of all: after being cut off from the Korvax hivemind, the researcher wants me to take its personality core and scan it in a nearby transmissions tower. I agree to help, and when I take the core, the Korvax’s body turns into a lifeless shell. I sure hope I don’t lose it.

I make the five-minute trip by car, and along the way, I run into all sorts of wildlife. I drive alongside a herd of horned beasts, and at one point, I get out of the vehicle to marvel at the huge, gentle crab creatures that tower over me. But I don’t dawdle for long. As much as I love discovering new aliens, I feel the pressure of the scientist’s core in my pocket. When I make it to the tower, I insert the core into a computer, and I’m told to... await judgment.

Apparently, the Korvax collective is concerned that the scientist may have become corrupted by working with me. When I remove the core, a disturbing “They see you” message flashes across the screen, but I’m not really sure what the judgment was. I return to the scientist and breathe a sigh of relief when their screen lights up, alive and well. Aside from a few lost memories, the researcher appears to be no worse for the wear.

No Man’s Sky

Having a base and a freighter seemed like good ideas at the time, but now I’m starting to feel bogged down by responsibility. I’m not exploring for the thrill of discovery; I’m doing it to run errands for various aliens under my employ. So I take off in my personal ship not sure about where I’m headed when — of course — my communicator chimes again. This time, it’s an unnamed alien who has been helping me search for the signal of Artemis, a mysterious creature lost somewhere in the cosmos. I’ve been trying to locate Artemis’ signal for weeks, and now this alien is offering some help. It involves activating an ancient portal on the surface of a nearby world. It’s yet more busywork, but at least it feels important this time.

The process is surprisingly quick. I fly about the planet — a mostly aquatic world with an ocean filled with jellyfish-like creatures — and activate three ancient devices, each somehow connected to the portal through an inscrutable glyph system. I don’t actually know what I’m doing, but it appears to be working. The alien knows what it’s talking about, it seems. When I confront the portal, it lights up, and I step inside clinging to the hope that this will finally bring me to Artemis. I’m not sure what it is, but I feel a connection to the alien. Maybe we’re just both two lost, lonely souls out in the vastness of space. Whatever the source, it’s reason enough to risk the nauseating trip through the portal.

The other side isn’t what I expected. It’s a bright, shiny room where everything appears to made of expensive glass and metal. It’s all red and black, lending a sinister vibe. It’s a place I know all too well. Earlier in my journey, I adhered closely to something called the path of Atlas. An all-knowing being (or so it claimed) named Atlas had promised me answers to the mysteries of the universe by following this path. But I got no answers and eventually abandoned the journey. Once my eyes adjust to the light, I see it: the pulsating red orb that is Atlas.

Great, the last person I wanted to see.