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No Man’s Sky: Everything You Need (and Probably Want) To Know

Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky will finally hit PlayStation 4 in the coming weeks. One of the biggest releases of the year is long-overdue, having been delayed multiple times before finally getting the solid release date we’ve all so passionately craved.

No Man’s Sky is a unique game, unlike anything any of us would have played before, at least on console. As such, we’ve put together all the important information you need to know about the game ahead of its release, and answer the questions you’re probably asking.

What do you do in No Man’s Sky?

Believe it or not, this is actually a really common question. Plenty of journalists have seen No Man’s Sky in action, and gamers have surely watched countless hours of footage of the game, but few people outside of Hello Games have actually played it, so all we have to go on is what we’ve been told and shown.

While No Man’s Sky was originally touted as an “exploration” game, it has slowly morphed into a survival action-adventure game, with multiple gameplay features across different genres. No Man’s Sky is built on four pillars: exploration, survival, combat and trading.



You will explore a universe, which is procedurally generated (that means it loads at random as you explore), and you’ll search for planets, trading posts, resources, wildlife, and anything else of interest.

Once you find something special that no one else has found, you can claim it, name it, and add it to the game’s encyclopaedia, The Atlas. Once you claim and name a planet, it’s like that forever, and anyone that visits that planet will see that it has the name you gave it.


When is No Man’s Sky release date?

No Man’s Sky went through multiple delays, but we’ll finally get our grubby hands on it on August 10.


What consoles will No Man’s Sky be on?

No Man’s Sky was originally touted as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, but it’s also coming to PC.


Where can I buy No Man’s Sky?

It was originally thought that No Man’s Sky would be a digital-only title seeing as though it was being made by an independent developer. However, the game will get a full retail disc release for both PC and PlayStation, meaning you’ll be able to buy it from leading video game retailers.


Where can I download No Man’s Sky?

STEAM for PC and the PlayStation Store for PS4.


Why is No Man’s Sky not on Xbox One?

That’s a very good question. With No Man’s Sky coming to PC and Microsoft hyping up its cross-platform compatibility, it seems strange that such a massive title isn’t on Xbox One. At this stage there is no release date, but it’s obvious that Hello Games isn’t committed to exclusivity. A year ago we didn’t even know if it was coming to PC, but that was eventually confirmed. Chris Charla, the former director of ID@Xbox, said a while back that he “would love to see” No Man’s Sky on Xbox One.

There have been murmurs about No Man’s Sky on Xbox One ever since the game was first revealed, so while we don’t have anything concrete yet, one would think it would eventually make the jump and hit Xbox One.



What engine does No Man’s Sky use?

No Man’s Sky uses an in-house engine written by Hello Games. No other games (as far as we know) uses the No Man’s Sky engine. For a game as demanding and random as this, one would think that it’s a powerful, resource-intensive engine that is very unique and advanced. Whether they can pull it off or not is another story, and we won’t know if it can until August 10.

Most fascinating about the engine is how it builds the game’s worlds. It employs several deterministic algorithms using parameterised mathematical equations to shape different forms of geometry and structures found in nature. This is how the game manages to randomly create such unworldly planets and creatures.


How many planets are in No Man’s Sky?

There are 18 quintillion (1.8×1019) planets. Yes, quintillion. If you thought that was amazing, get this: most of those planets have their own flora and fauna. That’s right: they are totally unique in look, life, plant life. Crazy, isn’t it?


How does No Man’s Sky’s universe work?

At the core of No Man’s Sky is a constantly evolving and growing universe. This universe houses a near-infinite number of stars, planets, ecosystems and lifeforms. The behaviour of these each individual pieces within the galaxy is completely random, created through the process of procedural generation (which is when an outcome is automatically determined by a set number of variables) using deterministic algorithms and random number generators.

The mathematical approach using “seed numbers” (read more about them here) eliminates the need to manually create each planet, life form and plant by hand, which is how the universe is No Man’s Sky grows randomly.

Each player in No Man’s Sky will have the capacity to visit any specific planet, so long as they have the planet’s coordinates and their personal ship is capable of travelling the distance. When the player arrives at the planet, they’ll find the same flora and fauna as any other player visiting the planet, as the seed number is the same. In other words, once a planet is created by one player, it exists for everyone else: they just need to find it.

The universe can be expanded and explored offline, as there is no server-side storage. However, you’ll need to be online to register your finds in The Atlas, as well as to find other players.

Creatures will also evolve over time, as will planets: any changes you make to a planet will slowly dissolve over time once you leave.

The variety of ecosystems available is truly mind-boggling. The amount and behaviour of life on planets will be determined by their distance from the closest sun, with plants outside of the currently known habitable zone generally being void of life. What we know is that of the 18 quintillion planets, about 10% of them will support life, while 90% of that 10% will have only mundane life. That means that visiting a planet bursting with a strong ecosystem will be rare, and should be appreciated.

When you first start No Man’s Sky, you’ll be on a random planet at the edge of the universe, with the main goal to reach the centre of the universe through the game’s lore: the closer you get to the core of the universe, the more valuable the resources are. On the flip side, environments will be more exotic and hostile.


How to play No Man’s Sky

Hello Game says No Man’s Sky invites a number of different gameplay styles. Co-founder of the studio and co-director Sean Murray says it could take you around 40 hours to reach the core of the universe, but that’s only if you don’t do any of the side missions and explore other planets. Alternatively, you might choose to explore as many planets as you can and add them to The Atlas, or perhaps set up peaceful trade routes between planets.

Your ability to visit planets is limited to how powerful your spacecraft is. You’ll need to upgrade your hyperdrive by visiting planets and mining resources, which can be used to build new resources and tools and expand your reach in the galaxy.

There will be trading posts set up at planets, and you’ll be able to expand trade routes using the game’s free market system. Interestingly, any resources take from a planet, or life that is interfered with will incur a wanted level similar to the one in Grand Theft Auto. Once you “earn” a wanted level, you’ll be hunted by sentinel robots that patrol the universe.

You will be able to play alongside other players, although the chances of this are extremely rare according to Sean Murray. There is a matchmaking system and an “open lobby”, and you’ll be able to track your friends on their journey via the galactic map. Bu the likelihood of randomly encountering another player is nearly zero.


How many galaxies are there in No Man’s Sky?

This is where the confusion sets in, because the feedback from Hello Games has been conflicting. In some parts they’ve said “galaxy”, in other parts, “galaxies”. “Universe” and “galaxy” seem to be used interchangeably, although this quote from Sean Murray appears to put the debate to bed:

“You start out in the same galaxy as everyone else but as we said before there is more than one galaxy.”

However, it says this on the Steam store:

The galaxy is a living, breathing place. Trade convoys travel between stars, factions vie for territory, pirates hunt the unwary, and the police are ever watching. Every other player lives in the same galaxy, and you can choose to share your discoveries with them on a map that spans known space.

It would make more sense if the universe is filled with millions of galaxies with 18 quintillion planets spread out across them. The idea of a single galaxy with 18 quintillion planets would make reaching the centre simply impossible for any player, which is why the centre of the universe and multiple galaxies makes sense. Our Milky Way galaxy theoretically has 100 billion planets, so going by that figure, you’d think there would be millions of galaxies, possibly around 45 million, maybe less, maybe much more.


Is No Man’s Sky a shooter or an exploration game or what?

No Man’s Sky is what you make of it. When it was first shown off at E3 2014 during Sony’s press conference, it was described as an exploration game. When I first saw it behind-closed-doors that same year, Sean Murray didn’t explicitly say it wasn’t an action game, but he honed in on the exploration and mining aspects, something he said was at the core of the experience. He has also mentioned that the universe isn’t always passive: you may play the game for hundreds of hours and never engage in combat.

There is combat, however, both boots-on-the-ground shooting and space combat. You may take the aggressive route and seek it, or you may be the target. On some planets, taking the resources or interfering with wildlife may incur a wanted level, in which case you can either flee or fight for survival. For a deeper look at how combat works, check out the video below.



How long will No Man’s Sky take to explore?

Sean Murray has said that it will take about 40 hours to reach the centre of the universe without focusing on exploration, mining, and combat. So the “endgame” is possible within a reasonable time frame.

As for the game’s 18 quintillion planets, it would take about five billion years (!!!) to reach every planet and explore it for one second. Just one second! Fascinatingly, the Hello Games team originally started off with a 32-bit numbers system, which would have led to a much smaller number of planets. That would have taken roughly four thousand years to explore, but jumping the numbers system up to 64-bit extends the planet count into the quintillions, and exploration time into the billions of years.


Is No Man’s Sky online only?

No. You can play offline, as the universe is generated in-game. You will need an internet connection to meet other players (as rare as that will be) and to upload your discoveries to The Atlas. You won’t need a PS Plus subscription.

We’ll be sure to update this article with more information as it comes to light ahead of No Man’s Sky release on August 10.

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