No Man’s Sky Derelict Freighter Salvage Guide

Raiding derelict freighters is the best way to get upgrades for your capital ship. Here are some tips to carry out your salvage runs as efficiently as possible - whether you're in it for the money, the upgrades or the survival-horror thrills.

No Man's Sky Derelict Freighter Salvage GuideDerelict Freighters were introduced back in No Man’s Sky Desolation, a new way to collect massive amounts of resources. They are still highly profitable as of Waypoint 4.0, the only trouble is, these lost freighters are usually inhabited by some or other nefarious presence that usually leaves no traces of life in it’s wake.

You can get all sorts of goodies on Derelicts, including upgrades for your personal freighter. Travellers keen on maximizing their payload and getting the most out of these gargantuan vessels should take note – executing salvage runs efficiently is the best way to do this.

In No Mans Sky freighter salvage is one of the easiest ways to make a massive profit. Possible rewards are tech upgrades for your freighter, cargo bulkheads that increase your freighter storage, and if you don’t need either of those things you can rack up some Nanites.

Ready Your Weapons

Before you take on a derelict ship, make sure you are packing plenty of firepower by installing some upgrades on your multitool. You don’t need to have every type of weapon installed, but make sure you have at least a few good upgrade modules to maximize your damage output.

My personal favorite is the Scatter Blaster, which emits a powerful shotgun-like blast that vaporizes anything within it’s range. It can be effective at medium distances if you are accurate, but having a Boltcaster or Blaze Javelin handy will take care of any enemies taking potshots at you from across the room.

Upgrades can be purchased on Space Stations from Multi Tool experts. Each system will have it’s own set of randomly generated upgrades available, but you are more likely to find the coveted S-Class Upgrades in systems with 3-Star economies. Scrap dealers and some pirate-controlled systems will have the dubious X-Class upgrades available that will sometimes perform as well as their S-Class counterparts.

Scatter Blasters are great close range weapons

Scatter Blasters are great close range weapons

Regardless of your weapon of choice, do your best to maximize your damage output. Installing upgrades adjacent to each other will give you bonuses, so take a moment to review your setup and shuffle things around if necessary. You can make or break a No Mans Sky freighter salvage run on your Multi-Tool setup.

Hazard Protection Falling…

Derelict freighters are often highly compromised in terms of their structure, so while on board you are essentially exposing yourself to the frigid temperatures in deep space. There are heating units scattered around, but you won’t have time to worry about them if you are locked in battle with the opportunistic new inhabitants.

It’s best to have a few shield modules installed, and make sure you aren’t taking extreme cold damage by getting the relevant upgrades from Exosuit merchants aboard space stations. Again, Scrap Merchants and Black Market Dealers might have some X-Class upgrades you can use for far cheaper than their S-Class counterparts, but your mileage with these is almost always variable.

If you have limited tech slots, you’re in luck – the Waypoint 4.0 update changed the way these packages work, so you can now store them and re-install them as needed. You might want to take some time scouting a few of the space stations you have visited for tech upgrades – you’re looking for Thermal Protection here, and some Shield Upgrades.

All kinds of enemies await you aboard derelicts

All kinds of enemies await you aboard derelicts

Heating Units 

Derelict Freighters are equipped with emergency heating units that you can find scattered around. They can be activated to give the player some reprieve from the icy death of space. Mostly, you’ll find them on the floor but some come out of the ceiling. Your scanner will reveal their locations. Their importance to you will depend on how much hazard protection you have.

Fortunately, Heating Units are abundant but if you don’t want to keep pausing and waiting for your gear to recharge, carry some Dioxite which can be found on most icy planets. Oxygen and Sodium are also essential. The quick menu usually prioritizes whichever is lowest, so recharge your equipment by using the Quick Menu on the go. I usually only activate the heating units near main systems and logs I want to read, but occasionally I’ll activate one in a larger area to take a break and scan for enemies.

Offload Your Inventory

You’ll have a lot of items to collect on your salvage run, and it would be a shameful waste to embark on this journey only to find you have no space for the valuables you come across. Be sure to visit your storage and free up as much inventory as you can, but keep a bunch of Oxygen, Sodium and Ammo to keep your shields, life support and weapons fully operational.

You can usually find these critical resources scattered around lost freighters, but it’s much more efficient to just bring some along rather than waste precious time scrambling to get some with enemies nipping at your heels. The inside of these abandoned freighters can be extremely hostile, even for seasoned players so going in prepared is your best bet for survival.

Unlike me, you'll want to only carry the essentials

Unlike me, you’ll want to only carry the essentials

Get Your Emergency Broadcast Locator

The Emergency Broadcast Locator is an activateable item that you can purchase from scrap dealers. You’ll find these guys aboard most space stations, even though it’s a mystery how they get away with erecting their shoddy stalls aboard the otherwise neat and clean commercial hubs.

Be warned, these items become progressively more expensive, so you’ll have to make the most of each opportunity. To use the Emergency Broadcast Locator, exit the space station and activate it from your inventory while in space. The game will prompt you to engage your pulse drive, at which point it will begin scanning frequencies to locate a derelict. Once it’s located, you simply have to drop out of Pulse Drive and land your ship.

Scrap Dealers trade in Tainted Metal exclusively

Scrap Dealers trade in Tainted Metal exclusively

Know What You Are Looking For

Once you’re aboard a derelict freighter, the fun begins. Your movement will slow due to unstable gravity, and your jetpack will be disabled. The game takes on a distinct survival-horror feel aboard derelicts as you steadily make your way through the dark hallways of the once bustling ship.

There are dozens of containers to open, usually a handful of log snippets to read that paint a picture of what happened to the ill-fated crew. Interacting with the log snippets will occasionally net you a valuable item such as a crew manifest, and you’ll have to find login credentials to access the main systems.

The main system computers are hard to miss. They comprise of a large screen and are always located next to a warp pad that you can reactivate to get back to the emergency airlock. If you are only after upgrades for your freighter, the interface that spits these out is usually right at the end of the ship.

The Emergency Broadcast Locators get pricey, going into the tens of millions of units, so unless you are Space Rockefeller try get as much loot as you can to help offset this cost. Besides normal loot, like storm crystals, hadal cores and upgrades, you can also find ancient artifacts that can be sold for a premium. You might also get some Tainted Metal, a currency of sorts favored by scrap dealers – you can use it to buy upgrades and unique decorations from them.

This is what we're after!

This is what we’re after!

Dispatching Enemies Within Freighters

You’ll encounter a few different enemy types as you explore your derelict. You can sometimes avoid battle, but you should always be ready to engage – enemies have a bad habit of lurking in hidden corners, ready to attack when you least expect. In No Man’s Sky, freighter salvage runs can be extremely dangerous so inform yourself before you head into their depths.

Horrific Nests

These gelatinous monstrosities take over entire rooms, and are a poorly understood and highly invasive deep-space life form. Dormant nests pose no threat, but they will stir periodically at which point they will explode with little warning if any nearby movement is detected.

The disgusting explosion isn’t the problem, although you may need to take your suit to the space drycleaner to get the stains out (or just visit an appearance modifier for a fresh look) but rather the small, hostile creatures spawned as the Horrific Nest ruptures. These little cretins will immediately scatter, and are best dispatched immediately – a few taps from the Scatter Blaster usually does it.

If you’re too slow or miss any of the parasites, rest assured that they will be sniping you from remote corners of the room before long. They can also run along walls and ceilings, becoming a real menace in their numbers. You also run the risk of disturbing other nests in the vicinity if you let these guys run amok, so look out for their beady yellow eyes and blow them away before things get dicey.  Just take care not to shoot any other nests in the process.

Visiting Tech Merchants will help you survive

Visiting Tech Merchants will help you survive

Rogue AI

In No Man’s Sky, artificial intelligence subverting it’s keepers is not just the subject of Science Horror. Much like in the cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, the freighters automated systems have rebelled, turning security turrets and drones into deadly threats as opposed to their intended purpose of protecting the crew.

Security Turrets will attempt to lock onto the player once caught in a scan. Once targeted, the Turret will direct a stream of Boltcaster-style fire at the player. This is easy enough to avoid by ducking behind a wall or cabinet, but you are unlikely to encounter turrets in isolation.

There are usually some Security Drones hanging around, you will know if they have detected you by the ear-grating mechanical sound they emit when engaging in battle. Security drones behave a lot like Sentinels, right down to the laser fire. They aren’t normally hard to take down, unless you encounter a few of them. They have a nasty habit of hiding just out of view and firing from above – I’ve been surprised and killed by them a few times, even with advanced gear.

If you've upgraded your Multi Tool, most enemies should go down quietly

If you’ve upgraded your Multi Tool, most enemies should go down quietly

Abyssal Horrors

These ghostly green monsters are typically spotted from far across the room. Don’t delay – they’ve likely already noticed you and are beginning their slow and steady attack. Watch out for others hidden nearby – they are deathly quiet. They love to sneak up on you while you’re occupied with other enemies or reading log snippet. I have never had too much trouble from these Jellyfish enemies, just shoot them on sight. They normally go down without much fuss, if you’ve got the firepower.

A Case By Case Approach

As you progress on your salvage run, it’s best to take on each room in isolation. The randomly generated nature of these ships ensures that you’ll encounter a unique challenge each time, and you’ll find that in some areas you’re better off clearing each corner carefully to make sure enemies aren’t going to catch you with your pants down as you rifle through the cargo.

You can safely breeze through some areas, blasting away at isolated enemies and sneaking past others. If your goal is simply to upgrade your freighter and you are flush with cash to keep buying EBLs, you can safely ignore most of the containers. You may need to look at a few log snippets to get security credentials, but you can beeline straight for the main computers next to the teleport pads otherwise.

For the most part, you can breeze through areas as long as you make sure you are safe when interacting with logs and main systems. I found myself frantically clicking through dialogue knowing an Abyssal Horror was slowly heading towards my position. It’s not worth the anxiety, just shoot everything that moves – unless it’s a distant security turret or dormant nest. Most of the time, you can safely avoid these enemies. They are usually more trouble than they are worth.

Crew Manifests are valuable to Envoys and Scrap Dealers

Crew Manifests are valuable to Envoys and Scrap Dealers

No Mans Sky Freighter Salvage Complete – Sell Your Spoils

You’ve made it out alive! Before you proceed on your next salvage run, head to a space station to offload some of the high-value items you’ve obtained. You have a choice here – the Scrap Dealer will reward you with Tainted Metal, which you can use exclusively to buy his upgrades, while Guild Envoys will give you Units or Nanites depending on what you are selling. Working with Guild Envoys also increases your standing with whichever race is dominant in that system. 

Rare Artifacts can be exchanged at Planetary Archives or sold at Galactic Trade Terminals. Other resources can also be resold, or refined into more valuable items – that part is entirely up to you! Starting out in the game, I would recommend improving your relations via the Guild Envoys – if you make sure to sell your goods in a particular lifeform’s systems, you can rank up your standing quickly. 

On the way to my next salvage run

On the way to my next salvage run

Rinse And Repeat

That’s all there is to it, really! It takes about 10 minutes to work your way through a derelict, the main limitation I found myself with was affording the Emergency Signal Scanners – they start out at 5 Million Units, then increase in price each time you buy them. The price resets each day, so it might be best to take the patient approach if you want to max out your freighter.


  1. Avatar photo

    amazing guide! a slick little tip i figured out, if you put your active broadcast receiver in your personal refiner after the derelict shows up, complete the run and leave, and your broadcast receiver can be used again infinitely.

    • Avatar photo

      Wow, that tip is so slick it could slide uphill! Thank you for the engagement, it really means a lot. 🙂

      Just don’t tell HG until I can get a few salvage runs out of that one! I hope other people see your comment – could help them get a head start.

      • Avatar photo

        of course! i really enjoy these articles. they have not patched it since like the outlaws update, so i think we’re okay, haha

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