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A beginner’s guide to No Man’s Sky – from its creator

Posted by
David Cornish
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No Man's Sky is big.

Bewilderingly big. Bigger than big. 18 quintillion (18 with 18 zeroes after it) planets big.

In the first few days of the game going live in the US, players scanned and identified 10 million animal species wandering around the game. That's more than we've discovered on Earth. 

This vast scale, coupled with the game's hands-off approach to tutorials and guides, could leave some players feeling a touch lost when they power up their ship for the first time. Which is why we've asked Sean Murray - founder of Hello Games and creator of No Man's Sky - to give us his top tips for starting out in this brave new world. 

Take your time

Take your time

"I think my top tip would be actually to just take your time when you go into No Man's Sky. Don't rush it.

"You start out with a crash-ship on your own planet, a planet that no one’s ever been to before, on the outside edge of the universe, and I always see people rushing to get out into space, fix their ship, get on with their journey. 

"I always think, 'That planet is yours, you could go and discover it, you could go and discover the creatures on it, you could find some really bountiful resources.' Take your time."

Want to find out more? You're going to want to head online

Want to find out more? You're going to want to head online

"If you’re stuck, or have some difficulties with this game, I actually expect people to look online.

"Look at games like Minecraft, or Stranded Deep, or Terraria. You can expect that over the next few weeks a community will build up online with lots of information on how to play.

"Another part of the fun is the meta-game of going online and being part of the community, tracking your discoveries, and really making your own little story."

We'll be uploading our own guide to the game once we've actually got our heads around it ourselves. The problem is, with every single player starting on a different planet, creating a catch-all 'guide' isn't only impossible, it's impractical. 

Expect to get a bit confused

Expect to get a bit confused

"We do land you in at the deep end with No Man's Sky, and we expect you to kind of have to learn all the systems, and that’s part of the fun."

We'll add our own thoughts to this one: having wandered about No Man's Sky for several hours now, we can attest that this game will leave you scratching your chin on one than one occasion. 

Some players will be infuriated by this: "But HOW do I build a warp core?!/ Where do I find that mineral?!/WHY CAN'T I USE THIS UPGRADE!?" 

Others will find this process of learning all part of the fun: "Oh, you press square!/Oh, that mineral is more abundant in asteroids rather than on planets/So I need to get a new slot on my multi-tool first? Understood." 

Take your time. Give it a Google. Realise that this is a game that's been built to provoke moments of query, rather than an 'unfinished' project that wants to leave you stranded. 

Do your own thing

Do your own thing

"Another tip that I would have for it is that we have a goal, an objective, to get to the centre of the universe - but I’m totally happy with players making their own goals, and their own objectives, it is that kind of game.

"There isn’t a story with half hour cut scenes or whatever; create your own objective and have your own fun if that’s what you want to do. I like to see people get completely side-tracked."

Like we did, getting lost in an underground cave network. For half an hour. You have no idea how overwhelming the sense of joy is when you finally see the open sky again. 

It's supposed to be a unique experience

It's supposed to be a unique experience

"My last, big tip for the game would be that where you are and what you’re experiencing is probably reasonably unique.

"I see people play and the first three planets that they hit are really harsh and kill them really quickly, and they conclude that No Man's Sky is a really difficult game. And then I see somebody else, and their first three planets are really lush and beautiful, and they conclude that No Man's Sky is a really easy and chilled out game. 

"The reality is that it’s neither of those things, and it’s both those things. If you want to experience the game, you need to play for a reasonable length of time - start to experience all of the things that are out there. There isn’t a linear progression there that we have planned out for you. You are having your own experience and that’s totally fine."

Go get exploring.

No Man's Sky is out now on PlayStation 4

If you're still at a loss...

...just do what Bill Bailey does. Jump in. Muck about. Give stuff silly names. Enjoy yourself.

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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