No Man’s Sky is a gargantuan space sim that promises hundreds of hours of entertainment, but like any game of this size it can take a long time to adapt to the controls. There are several layouts one must learn – player controls, ship controls, and exocraft each have different setups.
It can be intimidating and even downright confusing jumping into No Man’s Sky – there are so many systems to learn, with new features constantly being added. Below you will find a few tips that may help you derive maximum enjoyment from the game regardless of which platform you are playing on.
Swap Sprint and Scan on Controllers
The default controller layout works fine, but in in my experience I found that the default mapping of some buttons is a little awkward. Namely the Sprint and Scan buttons – these are mapped to R3/RS and L3/LS respectively. When using a controller I found myself constantly activating my scanner when I really wanted to sprint, so swapping them around was a logical choice and made on-foot exploration that much more enjoyable.
If you play any other games using a controller, chiefly FPS type games, you will know that most games have a fairly standardized layout – the left stick is used for movement, the right one controls the camera, and generally speaking depressing L3 or one of the shoulder buttons is used for sprinting.
In No Man’s Sky I did consider mapping sprint to a shoulder button, but the most convenient RB/R1 button is mapped to the all-important melee function. The next logical port of call is simply mapping Sprint to L3/LS instead since it interferes with movement otherwise. Instead of keeping your stick pointed in the direction you’re moving, each time your sprint recharges you have to center and depress it, so it makes a lot more sense to have it mapped to R3/RS instead.
One of the most important movement techniques in No Man’s Sky is as follows: Sprint, Melee, Jetpack – getting momentum with sprint, then propelling yourself forward with a melee attack and finally boosting with your jetpack to take advantage of that forward momentum will help you cover a lot more ground while exploring planets. Assigning Sprint to your LS/L3 button will ensure a smooth transition from Jetpack to Sprint, since typically you will begin sprinting again as soon as you land.
Don’t Install More Than 3 Weapons on Your Starship/Multitool
There are a couple reasons for this tip – firstly, it’s a real pain in the neck to cycle through more than a handful of weapons if you are in battle. It is distracting and in my experience I find myself often selecting the wrong one if there are too many options. The second reason for this is that it leaves you more room for upgrades.
Here’s what usually happens – while in space combat, I’ll want to select an appropriate ranged weapon, say the Infraknife Accelerator, to take down an enemy at a distance. My attention is now divided between my HUD and trying to keep track of the enemy. By the time I get the right weapon, the enemy has closed in necessitating a more close ranged weapon (the Positron Ejector is a personal favorite) but it’s too late now – once I select it he has flown past and is out of range!
Don’t spoil yourself for choice – it is great to try out all the weapons to find your personal play style, but having more than 3 increases the likelihood that you will be fumbling for the right weapon instead of attacking. It can also prevent you from evading attacks. The same is true for your multitool weaponry.
Map “Toggle Camera” o “0” in the Quick Menu (Keyboard and Mouse)
I find this handy regardless of whether you are on foot, in your starship or tearing across the landscape in an exocraft – being able to switch from first to third-person view on the fly is handy especially when you find yourself in battle unexpectedly.
Third-person view grants additional situational awareness which is helpful while exploring on foot. You may miss an important resource or curiosity while exploring in first person due to the limited field of view. While I personally prefer combat in first-person on foot, space combat benefits from the additional spacial awareness in a similar fashion and doesn’t seem to suffer as much when it comes to aiming compared to first-person.
To do this, access your quick menu (mapped to “X” by default on keyboards) then highlight “Toggle Camera” and press Control and 0 together. You’ll have to do this separately for your traveller and ship, but this will allow you to change views on the fly without disrupting your movement if you are evading fire from enemies.
Get At Least 2 Multitools – One for Combat, One for Exploration (Keyboard and Mouse)
Back in the day you could only have a single multitool, which is a pain in the neck for one big reason – you have to cycle through all your weapons and tools piecemeal to find the one you want, which makes it difficult to concentrate if, for example, you are exploring a derelict freighter and are attacked unexpectedly.
The idea here is simple. On your exploration multitool, you will only have scanner, mining and terrain manipulator modules while the other is where you will keep weapons. I mapped each to the 1 and 2 keys using the same method as above – highlight your multitool in the quick menu and press Control and the respective number key you want to map it to.
Having 2 separate multitools makes it easier to transition from exploration to combat by pressing 1 or 2, which is similar to how you would change weapons in many FPS type games. No more cycling through 5 or 6 different modules to get to the one you want, or having to cycle through them again in the event that you miss the one you want.
No Man’s Sky is a massive game with many different functions to learn and master. Unfortunately if you are playing with a controller there is a limit to how much you can optimize your setup, so the general rule here is less is more in terms of how many weapons you install on your starship and multitool. Using a keyboard and mouse you have a few more options, namely the binds you can set through your quick menu.