7 things to do in your first 5 hours with No Man’s Sky

Get to grips with your new life as a galactic explorer with these early-game pointers

“What do you do in No Man’s Sky?” is a question that’s followed Hello Games‘ ambitious space opus around ever since it was unveiled back in 2014. Truth is, it’s never been an easy proposition to explain; when there’s an entire galaxy to explore, how do you tell someone where to start?

You might already know that the goal is to make your way to the centre of a galaxy full of unique, procedurally-generated planets, but it’s what happens on the way there that’s a mystery. Now, with around five hours game time behind me, it’s becoming clear that there’s a lot to do. As millions of travellers prepare to make their way into this vast, unknown universe, here are a few things that will help get your journey underway…

What to do in first few hours of No Man's Sky

1. Fix your ship

You’ll start No Man’s Sky in sight of your small starship and it won’t be in good shape, so making essential repairs, fuelling up and taking your first tentative steps into space flight are job #1.

Some milestones are laid out for you as you progress through the game – like locating a space station, repairing your ship’s Hyperdrive and eventually travelling between star systems – but for the most part, you’re free to explore as you please. And before blasting off, there’s already a lot you can do on that first planet.

What to do in first few hours of No Man's Sky

2. Collect essential elements

Your Exosuit’s scanner reveals valuable elements that are scattered across every planet. Plutonium fuels various parts of your ship and keeps your life support systems online, while iron keeps your shields powered up, protecting you from the hostile conditions on a planet’s surface – so you’ll want to stock up on those early.

Combining elements lets you craft materials to fix your ship or enhance your Exosuit and Multi-Tool – while others fetch a high price on the galactic market. Inventory space is limited, but it pays to learn which elements are worth keeping hold of.

What to do in first few hours of No Man's Sky

3. Meet the Sentinels

An early mining expedition introduces me to the sinister, ever-present Sentinels – a galactic police force of sorts, who silently patrol each planet to ensure order is maintained. They hover around, scanning the area I’ve been mining to check I haven’t been greedy before focusing on me with a large, techno-cyclops eye.

Satisfied I’m not upsetting the galactic order (for now), they leave me alone. But it’s a chilling reminder that I’m being watched – and I certainly don’t feel ready to mess with them… yet.

What to do in first few hours of No Man's Sky

4. Explore a planet

Wandering around even a small area of your first planet, you’ll encounter unique creatures, plant life and minerals to scan, name and upload to the ‘Galactic Library’ (who, by the way, pay handsomely for discoveries) – as well as evidence of alien civilisations. Knowledge Stones teach you words from strange languages, which make trade negotiations with their native speakers easier and raise your standing with their cultures.

There are also signs of less fortunate travellers. Smoking debris can be seen on the horizon and investigating these provides blueprints for new technology or improvements to your Exosuit, ship or Multi-Tool. You’ll also stumble across abandoned signal scanners – beacons that, if you’ve got the elements needed to get them working, highlight points of interest like trading posts, downed ships or transmission signals – each of which could lead to rewards like valuable resources, a new Multi-Tool or even a bigger, better ship.

What to do in first few hours of No Man's Sky

5. Blast off

Leaving solid ground for the vastness of space is a mind-blowing experience – there are asteroids to blast through, colossal freighters to marvel at and other pilots to dodge (or engage in a dogfight if you’re feeling brave). But it’s when you take a look at the galactic map for the first time that the overwhelming sense of scale takes over.

Every star system is charted, each is home to a multitude of planets that are yours to discover, once you have a hyperdrive blueprint. It’s an exciting prospect that every pinprick of light can be explored, particularly when a path to the galaxy’s centre begins to open up. A true sense of purpose takes over, and travelling onward to a space station to buy, sell and craft the necessary parts becomes an important goal.

What to do in first few hours of No Man's Sky

6. Make some upgrades

The role you play in the galaxy is very much defined by your gear. Your Exosuit, Starship and Multi-Tool can be modified in countless ways and blueprints for new technologies and enhancements are common – but inventory space is limited, so giving some thought to the kind of traveller you want to be is wise when making upgrades.

If exploration and discovery is your focus, adding extra range to your Multi-Tool’s scanner will make new species discovery a breeze, while enhancing your mining beam will help you become an efficient, wealthy trader. If a more aggressive approach is your thing, adding a Plasma Launcher or upgraded Photon Cannon to your vessel can aid a life of piracy and take down traders and Sentinels faster.

What to do in first few hours of No Man's Sky

7. Cause some trouble

If you find the eyes of the Sentinels on you to be intimidating, or the lure of plundering space freighters gets too much, it’s easy to start a fight. A warning though: early-game aggression is likely to be over pretty quickly and the chances of you coming out on top are slim.

With the right upgrades, you’ll stand more of a chance – at least against the first wave of Sentinels. Attaching a shotgun-esque attachment to my Multi-Tool let me take a few down, but revenge came swiftly as my wanted level increased, more Sentinels arrived and I was brought to justice. Equally, my attempts at interstellar piracy were short lived as Sentinel fighters were instantly scrambled in response to taking a shot at a cargo freighter.

Of course, the thing with No Man’s Sky is that you don’t have to do any of this – there’s a lot more you could do in your first five hours, but equally you could spend all of that time and more on your first planet and still come nowhere close to getting bored.

It all depends on how you want to play the game; in this relatively short time I feel like I know what I want to do with my game and have an idea of how to get there – but that might be entirely different to how to want to play. That’s what makes No Man’s Sky such a unique, intriguing prospect – and I can’t wait to spend many more hours in its universe.

4 Author replies
Lt_Fed_Brusque 09 August, 2016 @ 15:20

I’m spending my first five hours desperately trying to find some anti-matter. I’m betting on the local natives giving me a clue so I’m trying to learn as much of their language as possible.

Also… the first planet where I started my journey is now called Farpoint :) #OldReference :P

Rhys Sutheran 09 August, 2016 @ 16:59

I found some pretty cool Monoliths on my first planet (the one in the screenshot above the “Explore a planet” section above) that taught me a lot of Gek lingo – seems to have helped as apparently now I’m their best friend.

We’re you able to redeem your pre-order stuff and access it in game or is it locked till 00:01?

No. My preorder was cancelled due to “insufficent funds” error, that does not makes sense. So I had to delete predownloaded game and purchase normal copy (at least no error there). Now Im downloading again. Hopefully wilk be able to play soon. But there is propably no way for me to get the preorder stuff anymore.

What will I be doing?

Waiting while my friends are playing because I was stupid to pre-order the digital copy and not the physical copy. For some reason it won’t start until Wednesday. Thanks Tuesday release that’s actually a Wednesday release.


Actually, the physical release in the EU is on Wednesday too. It’s the US that gets it today.


I gave up ordering physical copies. No more trips to the store to put down a deposit then return and stand in line to pick it up.


I went for physical because it’s cheaper.

Digital prices on PlayStation are pathetic.

“Things to do in your first 5 hours”

Basically walk around like in Proteus, with the occasional bit of Minecraft mimicry.

badgerboy1977 09 August, 2016 @ 19:16

Can’t wait to get my hands on my Ltd ed copy tomorrow and join the adventure :)

Rhys Sutheran 10 August, 2016 @ 09:50

Let us know how you get on.

I’m busily saving credits to buy a new ship; I saw one I wanted with a massive cargo hold, but it was about 1.5 million credits too expensive :(

Well ive played about 7 hours of it

badgerboy1977 11 August, 2016 @ 12:18

@Rhys Sutheran Absolutely loving it so far, played 7 hours straight yesterday without even noticing the time pass.
I’ve expanded my suit storage considerably and started on my journey to find an Atlas stone, also my kids have been helping me name the planets and creatures along the way :)

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I spent time walking across the planet to get the resource I had to get and it crashed the game. Wasting 3 hours and losing 50,000 credit worth of items, did it again and crashed again. Losing yet more credits worth of items.

Worst game for errors since I bought elite frontier in the 90’s !

It must be your actual ps4 because i have been having zero problems with the game :/

Well what a mess, i wont be buying £50 its too much for a waterdown PEGI-7 Sticker Over a PEGI-12 with online.

Hello games misleaded.

Please let me craft some new boots because j want to ski down the mountains like in Tribes.
I find walking around is a bit on the slow side and stops me from going very far because it takes forever to get back. I went on a 1 hour trek this morning and thought it was a bit too painful to do it again.

Rhys Sutheran 11 August, 2016 @ 09:17

There are a few blueprints around to improve your running speed and jetpack that should speed you up. Also if you come across an outpost, you can use a bypass chip to call your ship to you.

Skiing would be pretty cool though!

I love this game and i hope Sean and his crew will do their best to make it even better! @Harrisown find the right upgrades to run/fly faster&longer…

Hello everyone, i have a question , i preordered this game and used my new ship as the prompt in the game tols me to , but now i realized i missed out on the hyperdrive blueprint , now i cant change my ship anymore as these dont have hyperdrives , will this be addressed in some upcoming patch ? or do i need to delete my save and start all over? please help me with some advice


When you get a ship without a hyperdrive, it will give you instructions on how to obtain and craft one. I did so and didn’t miss out.


It’s a glitch that circumvents the hyperdrive tutorial since the pre order ship already has it installed. Apparently, the only thing you can do when you’re a victim of this is to make sure the new ship already has one installed… This is beyond ridiculous, a lousy pre order incentive that effectively stops me from playing before this gets patched, assuming patching it will even be possible for this game…
Major disappointment, how on earth did this not get noticed during testing?!? Facepalm

stu1smartcookie 12 August, 2016 @ 10:24

I found a few abandoned ships but none had a hyperdrive and , as I already had one , I decided not to swap . It was then that the game opened up a little and I found a blueprint for a hyperdrive .. so , the next ship I find I will upgrade .. I haven’t even tried combat yet , preferring to explore. I was stuck on a group of planets before I was able to buy a “warp cell ” , now I can go further afield and get off these poisonous rocks that I ventured to. Lol , this game has pretty much taken over my evenings for now ! …and for the foreseeable future. The gardening and the rest of the household chores can wait …i’ve got some serious exploring to do , in space….(To Be Continued)

I’m 10+ hours into the game and loving it … exploring and trying to learn more about the history – looking for clues to lead me to the next location. Learning new words, activating observatories and then checking out the coordinates they give me. Only been to two planets so far: lucked out as the first one had one fauna and the second has none!

So inspired I started a ‘travel blog’ of sorts – trying to document what it’s like being an explorer in this strange universe. Called it No Woman’s Sky, just for the fun of it ;-)

Forgot to ask in my post, for anyone else who did the preorder: I’m pretty sure the preorder bonus included a dynamic theme but I can’t find it anywhere on the store. Has anyone found it, and if so where? If not, is there any news about the theme? Thanks

HappySpaceInvdr 30 August, 2016 @ 22:50

“Take on any role you desire to make your mark on the galaxy – from hostile space dogfighter, bounty hunter or pirate to peaceful trader, miner or explorer.”

“Discover a living galaxy with trade convoys, smugglers, police and galactic armies ready for action and forge alliances – and rivalries – with everyone you encounter.”

Really? I haven’t seen any of this.


…and ask for a refund?

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