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.
A bulging to-do list and freeform space exploration aren’t really compatible.
Over the past few days, I’ve been experimenting with adding more structure to my life. I started with my base, creating a checklist of things that need doing — fix the stairs, build a new terminal — and then methodically following through. Then, I go to work on my ship, upgrading the engines and weapons, before slowly repairing and improving my exosuit. If nothing else, I’m now very prepared for any toxic planets I come across.
I applied this same methodology to the search for Artemis, a mysterious alien whose signal I picked up and have been trying to pinpoint ever since. That’s meant ferrying myself across multiple galaxies in search of portals and communication towers, often losing entire days to travel. In order to get it all done, I’ve had to keep my head down and get to work. Sometimes it’s been unpleasant. This means that I’ve also been missing out on the real reason I’m out here: to explore and find new things. To get back into that adventurous spirit, I try to get as far away from my responsibilities as I can.
I hop into my freighter, fill the engine with as much fuel as it can handle, and just keep jumping. I go from one star system to the next, barely even stopping to look at the worlds I’m speeding past. When I need to, I refuel, but I do it as quickly as I can. It may seem like I’m being impulsive, but there is a slight method to my madness: with every jump, I move closer to the center of the universe. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen the same aliens and same planets and same buildings over and over, and I’m craving something new and exciting. I figure if I’m going to find it somewhere, the center of the universe is a good place to start.
After more than a dozen warp jumps, I take a break. The bending light of faster-than-light travel is starting to make me a bit nauseous. When my eyes focus, I realize my ship is floating in an eerily green galaxy that’s surprisingly full. There’s a pyramid-shaped space station and four different planets, two of which have sizable moons. It’s time to see what kind of weirdness I can find now that I’m far away from home.
Read next: The No Man’s Sky travel diaries
The first world I set down on is so toxic I can barely see where I’m flying. The dense, green plumes of gas are causing me to crash into trees as I search for a place to land. When I do exit the cockpit of my craft, the clouds fade away, and I’m left with a fairly boring, mostly dead planet. Acid rains pelt my suit as I wander around. Aside from a few glowing pearls, which I’m hoping to trade for some technology modules, there isn’t anything of interest that I can see. I am glad I installed those extra hazard protections in my suit, though.
The next planet is what’s known as an “abandoned” world, according to my computer. Usually, this means there’s no life there at the moment, but there used to be. It can be a good place to find ancient alien ruins, which are among my favorite things to stumble across. I scan the surface as I speed past in my ship, but I don’t see much. This planet has huge, rectangular mountains, but there’s absolutely no visible plant or animal life. Just a dark gray surface stretching out forever.
There’s still some activity on the ground, though. Sentinels — those inscrutable, flying protectors of the galaxy — seem especially abundant here, scanning everything in sight despite that everything is dead. The world is so dire that I almost decide against landing, when I see a bright light flash on the ground, and I realize there are more glowing orbs I can harvest for cash. I set down my ship and start walking over. Before I even touch an orb, the sentinels surround me. And after only a few seconds, they open fire. I’m not sure what exactly I did, but I figure if they’re attacking me, I may as well snag a few pricey orbs for my trouble.
Problem is, these sentinels are persistent. Not only do they hound me the entire time I’m on the surface, but they continue to follow me with a small fleet of drone ships tailing my craft as I fly to the next planet. To make matters worse, they have the ability to jam my pulse engine, which means the trek to the next world takes forever. They can’t seem to catch me, but they don’t leave me alone either, so I have to manually pilot my ship for over an hour before I find a more hospitable world. I manage to land in a huge cave, and I hide there until they lose my trail.
When I check my ship’s computer, it tells me this is a “breached” planet, a term I haven’t come across. I was so busy avoiding the sentinels that I didn’t actually notice what the planet looked like as I landed. When I step out of the cave, I’m astounded. Huge, mechanical-looking balls are everywhere. They float in the sky, slowly rotating, while others are half-buried in the dirt. Small bits of metal are scattered on the ground, and it’s the same everywhere I look. There’s nothing on this planet but these mysterious machines.
According to my scanner, the unmoving ones on the surface are actually a kind of plant life, while those in the sky are animals. They both look identical to my eye, though, and the closer I look, the weirder they become. For one thing, the smaller orbs that cover the machines each have an incredibly bright light in the center, and they all appear to be made of some kind of metallic substance. When I fire at one of the supposed plants with my mining beam, it explodes in a cloud of dust, and I don’t spot anything that looks even remotely organic. I’m baffled: how could this be life? It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
I knew that I’d find something new.
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