You could spend a good ten to 12 hours exploring individual planets in No Man's Sky; they're that vast. The enormity of No Man's Sky and its 18 quintillion planets is as daunting as it is unprecedented, and most players will probably feel a little lost as their journey through the cosmos begins.
There will be, or at least should be, a number of No Man's Sky guides telling you exactly what to do and in what order. Hello Games' PS4 and PC epic isn't about strictly following objective after objective (though it does start off that way by means of an introduction), but what we can offer the players are some tips for getting the most out of your first few hours in the game.
Discovery drives the game, so in the tips we offer below we'll keep the details vague. We'll also steer clear of the game's lore, which is sure to prove one of its greatest mysteries, and which becomes apparent to the player early on.
Look out for exosuit upgrade stations and crashed ships
Early on, players will quickly fill up their inventory slot (divided between their exosuit and ship) with the game's many elements, minerals and crafting materials, becoming well-acquainted with the "Inventory Full" warning before too long.
To avoid this, the best thing to do is to upgrade the amount of slots in the exosuit and find a ship capable of holding more items. The former is done through upgrades found at outposts on the surfaces of planets and moons. These posts look like abandoned Apollo modules (as in Nasa Apollo modules, that isn't an in-game term) and offer additional slots for increments of 10,000 units.
It's not yet clear to us if there's an upper limit to the number of spaces or the cost of them. We haven't encountered it quite yet.
Upgrade scanning and mining equipment
A better way to find these outposts is to improve scanning capabilities through upgrades put together after finding bluepirnts – which are littered throughout the game. A greater scanning range means you'll pick up materials to mine and points of interest to investigate.
Upgrading mining equipment will also aid in the hording of materials, which will become a routine part of any player's game – especially early on. Doing so will make this less of a chore, and generally saves time.
Scour space stations and outposts for blueprints
Blueprints are plentiful in No Man's Sky. They require multiple materials - some crafted, some mined - to create new tools to power your journey through the universe, and to upgrade existing ones. Your ship's drives, thrusters, shields and weapons for example, your exosuit's survival capabilities, jetpack and your multi-tools mining and offensive capabilities.
Blueprints are found through investigating outposts and space stations, interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) and discovering ancient artefacts and monoliths. In constructs, blueprints are often found on the walls with other intractable elements that offer units, while alien monoliths are self-explanatory once you find one.
Talk to the NPCs
Talking to NPCs is a core part of the game and a regular occurrence. Often found in space stations and outposts, they'll speak to the player in their alien tongue, and in turn the player character (through text, not speech) will offer their thoughts on the situation.
This account of what has happened typically involves interpreting the alien's mannerisms and demeanour given the player doesn't yet know the alien languages (we'll get to that next) and then selecting a method of approach.
Common sense will, by and large, direct you to the "correct" answer, and in turn the alien will usually offer up a reward – typically a blueprint.
Learn alien languages
Players learn alien languages through Knowledge Stones found on planetary surfaces. Interact with these, and larger monoliths, and the player is granted a single world that will thereafter appear in English when conversing with an alien.
This naturally makes it easier for the players to understand the aliens' intent, and in turn select the action most likely to benefit the alien, and themselves.
Stockpile Warp Cells (eventually)
In the very early stages of No Man's Sky, the player is given set objectives, which they can ignore if they wish, but which also sets them on the path and introduces them to the core gameplay. The string of objectives leads players from fixing their crashed ship to building a hyperdrive, fuelling it with a warp cell and leaving the star system they started in.
The temptation is to keep moving from system to system without exploring planets in any great depth. Some players will do this, others won't – there's no set way to play the game. Our tip, however, would be to at some point stop and explore a system in great depth – amassing warp cells as you go.
With more warp cells you'll later be able to travel more freely, and it'll break the cycle of warping to a new system then having to find the means to warp again before moving on. If you're not tied to doing that, you'll be more free to pursue other goals.