[ NOTE: This post might be considered to be a bit of a spoiler. Be warned! ]
In February of 2020, Hello Games released the Living Ship update to No Man’s Sky which brought players the chance to own and pilot a new class of sentient starship, hatched from an egg and featuring unique organic technologies. Along with these procedurally generated ships, the update added the possibility of new, anomalous encounters with mysterious space objects and strange new lifeforms while pulsing through a star system. Some yielding rewards and some bringing danger, quite a variety of strange encounter scenarios were added to the game. (The Desolation update, released a few months later, introduced the Anomaly Detector which allows the summoning of these near-space anomalies.)
I made a blog post talking about the update and sharing a video of some of the things I was seeing, just a few weeks after it arrived. I’ve experienced a lot more anomalous encounters since then and do quite enjoy the living ships themselves. They have a smoother sort of feel that’s hard to describe, flying them in the game as compared to the traditional ships, I’ve found.
Recently, we were talking about these encounters on the NMS Discord and I posted a couple of in-game photos of some that I’ve had since the Living Ship update. I received a few comments in response, several asking if one of the shots was generated using mods. (It wasn’t.) It has been my experience that, in these encounters, some anomalous items appear more frequently than others. The feedback that I received on the Discord would seem to bear this out.
Seeing this, I thought I would share a few shots of the more interesting such encounters I’ve experienced. These are a few of the things I’ve seen infrequently, or perhaps only just once. (I’ve taken photos of most every unique encounter I’ve had, pulsing around the systems out there).
So, what have you seen out there?
New Frontiers of Base Building in “No Man’s Sky” Expedition III: Cartographers
At the end of March, Hello Games released the No Man’s Sky Expeditions (v3.3) update which brought a new, periodic, community-focused play mode to the game. I published posts and videos about my experiences with first two community Expeditions, Pioneers and Beachhead, as I completed them, here at NMSspot. A several month hiatus from Hello Games followed but, happily, Expedition Three: Cartographers finally landed — and on the heels of the major Frontiers (v3.6) update that brought the all new Settlements dynamic, allowing players to basically run their own little Mos Eisley, as well as a massive overhaul to the base building system and the base parts to choose from. (And I must, here, mention that in the aforelinked release notes to Cartographers, I was humbled by Hello Games’ kind nod to a piece of my in-game photography, a pursuit I most enjoy while exploring within No Man’s Sky.)
Cartographers placed players on a toxic world with extreme geography and a disabled explorer ship. The ship in question was of a highly unusual configuration making the task of repairing it and getting off the planet a rather long and laborious one, far more involved than that of a traditional starship. Once repaired, the player was able to escape the planet and seek out the various rendezvous points in systems across the galaxy and complete the remainder of the Expedition.
Given that I would clearly be spending a considerable length of time on that starter planet, I built a base near my downed starship, trying my hand for the first time at construction using the aforementioned new base parts. And that was a learning experience; many of the parts were quite unfamiliar and in the days and weeks after the Frontiers release, a series of patches arrived addressing various kinks in the entirely new building dynamic. (Things have since smoothed out nicely.)
Building that initial base was good practice and by the time I was able to make my way to space, I was ready to give it another go on the final rendezvous world, the Expedition’s end planet (or moon, as the case turned out to be).
While I particularly appreciate the solitude that No Man’s Sky can afford me, I have also enjoyed taking part in the game’s community missions (see my mission posts for more), as offered in their various forms over the years, which originally appeared following the 2018 release of No Man’s Sky NEXT. And, while the release of the Expeditions update in late March of this year brought the biggest community mission opportunities yet offered in the game (as I write this, there are six days left in Expedition #3), some of the smaller missions still bring all the boys (and girls) to the yard. An example of this is the recent weekend mission (worth 1,200 units of Quicksilver in-game currency) that started on October 1st and in which I took part.
In the weekend mission in question, one was tasked with building a small base of specified construction in the chosen mission system. Base building missions like this, when they come along, are easily and quickly completed but offer a particularly nice opportunity to encounter other players and explore the bases they have constructed.
Upon embarking on such missions, all players are warped to the same star system with the same mission target planet. As such, a great many bases and / or communication devices can be found throughout the mission weekend and beyond. Over the course of the mission, while I certainly didn’t explore or even do a fly-by of every base on the planet, I probably saw a total of 250 or so base markers displayed on my ship’s HUD. And, that’s not to mention the bases built on other planets in the same system.
Of course, most of the bases encountered during such missions are exactly as complex as the mission calls for — base built, mission accomplished. Some, however, go much farther. In exploring this mission’s planet, I saw elaborate farms offering Cadmium, Sodium, and Curious Deposits of Runaway Mould. I encountered grand halls in the spirit of Heorot of olde. I explored great, towering bases of intricate construction — and some incorporating rooms floating high above, when a tower wouldn’t climb quite high enough. Among the simple and small were some very creative bases that were a joy to explore.
For my part, after construction of the requisite, prescribed base in order to complete the mission, I razed it and began constructing a fairly ornate, towering wooden base using the new base building components introduced in the recent Frontiers update. While I have been trying my hand at building with the new base parts, playing through the third Expedition (which I completed a few weeks back), I still have a little ways to go before fully getting a handle on the huge number of new resources that Hello Games has brought to basebuilding. My wooden tower constructed during this weekend mission has certainly been good practice, I must say.
The accompanying video provides a walk-through of my own wooden tower, as well as walk-throughs of several — and fly-bys of many — of the bases, created by other Travellers, that I encountered on the mission planet Lohampsa Ruto in the Warasu system. Along the way, I ran into a few of said Travellers, themselves, doing their own thing on the planet as well. Come visit this populous world, and I’d love to hear in the comments from anyone whose base I’ve visited or who simply has a story to share about the weekend mission.
On the 2nd of September Hello Games released No Man’s Sky Frontiers, one of the largest updates the game has ever seen. It brought a great many additions, including the Settlements mechanic that allows people to run their own Mos Eisley-style city, a massive overhaul to base building comprised of a staggering number of entirely new and very nicely designed construction parts, and many other optimizations and quality-of-life enhancements. I am not going to try and summarize the update here; Hello Games does a pretty good job of that on their website.
Another way that Frontiers enhanced the game is by laying the groundwork for the third community Expedition that many of us had been eagerly awaiting. It’s been a few weeks since it landed and I have finished the mission, which was very enjoyable, as were the previous Expeditions — it’s an expansion to gameplay that I well appreciate.
One aspect of the launch of Expedition 3 that I particularly enjoyed was Hello Games’ inclusion of one of my in-game photos of my current Settlement on a violent, torrid world (shown at the top of this post) in the Expedition 3 release notes. Images created by /u/Consistent_Clock_120, u/BreezySaturn97, u/sByybz, /u/SpaghettiboiDudeMan, u/vestele8, u/tyrannosaur85, @Risbeak, and Zaippi, and myself were featured in the Community Spotlight section of the release page. I am thrilled to say this is the second nod that the creators of our glorious Sci-Fi universe have granted me, the Beyond Development Update 10 from April 2020 featuring a work of pixel-art that I created on a 35 year old Commodore Amiga computer.
I wanted to make a quick post sharing both my excitement for the recent updates as well as my inclusion in the No Man’s Sky Community Update. Thanks for the update as well as the mention, guys!
It has been five years since I first blipped into the No Man’s Sky universe, finding myself dazed and standing next to that downed Rasamama S36 starship back in August 2016. After exploring the alien surrounds to find the elements needed for its repairs, I lifted off into space and set out on a journey of exploration that has not slowed down since.
A day one player, I quickly found No Man’s Sky to be the best game I had ever experienced (in a rather long life of gaming). The surreal and alien landscapes of one world after the next ever captivated me and I was gripped with the drive to relentlessly explore the strange and boundless universe that is No Man’s Sky.
In the aforelinked blog post written just weeks after I began my journey, I said of the game,
Playing No Man’s Sky is the best and most breathtaking gaming experience I have ever had in my life. The sense of the infinite and of limitless discovery is tremendous. I am just lost in this game.
“Game.” Is it a game? It certainly seems more of a pursuit, a hobby, even a passion than a game to me. Inserting one’s self into No Man’s Sky is to begin a potentially endless adventure, visiting world after world after world that no eyes have ever seen before. Worlds placid, worlds violent. Worlds teaming with beautiful and fascinating life both plant and animal. Dead worlds, as well. You can never know what’s waiting down below when you drop into atmo.
All my life I have dreamed of exactly this in gaming — an interesting, alternate universe, massive in scale, in which I can freely wander and explore at my own pace.That is what No Man’s Sky is to me, and it’s my observation that many others are similarly moved by the game. The fact that the universe is procedurally generated and that even the game’s creators can’t describe everything that’s out there to be encountered adds to the incredible sense of the unexplored, the alien. There is a lovely feeling of solitude to the whole experience of discovering a world, leaving your mark on it, and moving on to the next.
Having started out on the PS4, I quickly decided to build a high-end gaming PC specifically for the purpose of playing No Man’s Sky to the fullest, at a higher resolution and framerate and with faster storage than the PS4 could offer. Over the years, as Hello Games graciously extended and expanded the game with update after (free) update, I upgraded the PC in various ways and accumulated a perhaps shocking amount of No Man’s Sky related schwag / merch. (Time is not the only thing I’ve put into this game, as a Polygon article from 2017 details [updated version of the post, here on the blog].)
With what I believe is certainly the friendliest community in all of gaming, the social aspects of No Man’s Sky have been a real pleasure to be part of. Sharing stories, screenshots, planetary coordinates and just getting to know fellow players on the related Discord and subReddits has been a lovely experience. Making a new friend by happening upon a fellow Traveller, tending their base on some planet in the corner of the galaxy, is a rather nice occasional treat, as well.
At just over 3,200 hours in-game at the time of this post, I have found certain particular gameplay pursuits that keep me busy. For example, I’ve taken to building “tiny home” bases on particularly breathtaking worlds. More recently, I very much enjoyed playing through the two community-centric Expeditions that have recently taken place as part of the No Man’s Sky Expeditions update, which landed this past March. I’ve made a little fan art here and there. And, of course, I am ever exploring. Sharing what I’m up to in the game is the main point of this blog, so if you’ve an interest, have a look around!
Perhaps my favorite pursuit in No Man’s Sky is in-game photography. The game’s visuals are amazing, and capturing that perfect shot (thanks to the superb Photo Mode the game provides) of a world that almost certainly no one has ever before explored is extremely rewarding to me. This has been the case since the beginning and, as such, I keep several galleries of No Man’s Sky exploration photos. Photo sharing is a big part of the NMS Discord; showing the vistas you have captured and seeing what others out there have encountered is a lot of fun. Another way I like to share my shots is in a public Flickr photo gallery I maintain that contains, presently, 1000 images I have captured in my travels over the past five years, going all the way back to day one. These are the photos I consider to be the best of the approximately 15,000 screenshots I’ve apparently taken in the game since the beginning.
To mark the fifth anniversary of No Man’s Sky‘s launch, I wanted to focus on that gallery, which provides what I think is an interesting look at a Traveller’s (me) encounters across all versions of the game, starting on PS4 and ending on the PC. So much has changed, and such sights were seen. Take a look back through the various ages of No Man’s Sky — at the sights that most captivated me.
One of the things I most enjoy in playing No Man’s Sky is in-game photography. The visuals are so, well, otherworldly and striking that capturing the perfect shot is a challenge I take on many times in each play session. When No Man’s Sky Pathfinder (v1.2) was released, Hello Games added a proper Photo Mode to the game that is, in my experience, unmatched in any other game out there. It allows the action to be frozen while camera placement and various other filter options are tweaked for just the right shot. They further improved Photo Mode in the recent release of No Man’s Sky Prisms (v3.5), adding several new controls. In No Man’s Sky, “virtual photography” or “gametography” is quite a pleasure and easily done.
Unfortunately, despite the numerous enhancements (including VR gameplay) that No Man’s Sky Beyond (v2.0) brought upon its release in mid-September of 2019, it introduced a glitch to the screenshot system that is still there to this day. It doesn’t affect everyone; it is an issue for PC players using certain anti-aliasing settings. It took me a few days after Beyond arrived to notice it but I soon saw that, after the update, screenshots captured in Photo Mode, upon close inspection, looked as if the anti-aliasing had been completely turned off.
Now, a bit of history. With the release of No Man’s Sky Foundation (v1.1) in late-November 2016, Hello Games introduced (among many other features) TAA or temporal anti-aliasing. Prior to this, FXAA or fast approximate anti-aliasing and SSAA supersampling anti-aliasing were the two AA modes available in the game. TAA is much cleaner than FXAA, and is the mode I choose to use on my i7-6700K PC with Nvidia GTX-1080Ti. Another available mode is TAA+FXAA, but to me this looks a bit too soft, ever so slightly blurry — I prefer TAA. (SSAA was removed from the game early on.) And, with the release of No Mans’s Sky Prisms (v3.5), Hello Games added DLSS or deep learning super sampling for PC users with Nvidia RTX-class graphics hardware, which uses machine learning to perform rather impressive asset upscaling to 4K resolution.
As in-game photography is such a big thing for me, I tried a few different approaches and discovered that if I set my shot up in Photo Mode as per normal but used Steam’s F12-key screenshot feature, the resultant image looked great, just as photos taken with the “Take Screenshot” button / key used to look, before the glitch arrived. This has been my workaround to the issue, but I have submitted the issue with screenshot examples to Hello Game’s tracker site.
Click the photos in the embedded gallery above and have a look at the full-sized screenshots provided to see the issue described here. The top two screenshots were taken shortly after Beyond landed in 2019 while the bottom two were taken yesterday, in the Prisms update. The TAA anti-aliasing mode is active in both sets of photos. (And for a brief time there was an issue with the zoom / aspect ratio between the two screenshot approaches, as demonstrated in the first pair of screenshots above, but that was addressed in short order.)
[ NOTE: This post might be considered to be a bit of a spoiler. Be warned! ]
I remember the first time it happened. I was mining rocks on some planet’s surface in order to load up on Pure Ferrite and Ferrite Dust for a base I was putting together. After a while at this tedious task — lo and behold — the rock I was mining sprang legs and started to run away from me! I was hundreds of hours in the game before seeing this, and it jarred me, taking me completely by surprise. Doing a little research for this post, I see that these “Sentient Minerals” are a thing that was announced in the No Man’s Sky Visions (v1.75) update, back in November 2018. They attempt to flee the heat of a mining laser and, if you can catch them, provide concentrated resource rewards. (Somehow I had missed that detail on the Visions release page way back when.)
Since then, I’ve encountered these fleeting boulders a handful of times in the game, but it’s still a rare thing. Not nearly as rare, however, as something I saw in a screenshot posted about a year ago on one of the social media feeds.
The screenshot in question showed a floor panel held high in the air above a planet’s surface by four gigantic legs, apparently running away from the player. The poster indicated that they were mining the rocks sitting within a decorative planter in a side room (which requires an Atlas Pass v2 to enter) of an Observatory building when not just the rock but the building itself sprouted legs and began to walk away. It was an absurd looking situation, and I wasn’t sure whether the poster was using some mod to get the effect, or if what was reported actually had happened in the game. Since then, however, I’ve gone out of my way to mine any rocks I’ve encountered inside Observatories, sadly with no dramatic results.
Until this weekend, that is, when all that mining paid off. When it happened, it was even more of a jump scare than my encounter with that first fleet-footed rock, despite the fact that I was specifically trying to get the Observatory to sprout legs with said mining. A couple of rocks into it, the room fell away and I was outside, four enormous legs towering high above me. The floor panel of the room I had been standing in was aloft and on the move. I chased after it, but it disappeared after getting some distance on me.
My daughter, who is very well aware of my more-than-passing fondness for No Man’s Sky, is quite an artist. She enjoys spending a lot of her free time sketching, painting, and otherwise creating (rather unique, in my not so humble opinion) works of art.
For Father’s Day this year, she really put a smile on my face with a card she made for me featuring a watercolor rendering of a dad and daughter pair of blobs.
Now, I know not everyone is a fan of the blob (I’m looking at you ECDMDragon (Discord)…), but I think they’re pretty cute. And clearly the girl does as well.
I thought I would share the “fan art” here and wish a belated Happy Father’s Day to all the other interloper dads across the universe.
Festooning the Wall With Vintage Sci-Fi Book Covers
A few months ago Hello Games setup a merchandise shop on their website and began selling official HG merch. The store has shirts, posters, stickers, socks, and the like for No Mans Sky as well as a few Last Campfire items. What caught my eye, though, are two sets of coasters (the sort upon which one might set beverages) featuring cover art from 12 of the larger No Man’s Sky updates. Upon seeing these, I quickly ordered both sets (along with a t-shirt, for good measure).
This morning No Man’s Sky Expedition #2: Beachhead drew to a close after its two-week mission clock timed out. As with the Expedition before it, I found it to be a great deal of fun seeing players zipping about the various systems along the mission route and visiting some of the many bases they left behind.
Having been a rather more basic set of missions than the initial, two-month expedition, I managed to finish the expedition after about a week of play and then set about constructing a base in the system hosting the fifth and final player rendezvous point. Within the final system I found a planet characterized by gigantic spires of rock and frequent storms bringing “walls of flame.” At the very top of a particularly tall spire I began constructing a concrete base in the shape of a ring that is positioned such that it is being impaled by the tip of said spire.
Doing what’s needed in-game to acquire blueprints for items with which to build the base and fill the new space (make it “home”) — gathering Salvaged Data, Quicksilver, and Tainted Metal — takes time…and, as such, I spent a total of about 20 hours play-time on this expedition, where the core missions were completed in around 12.