How To Play Co-Op And What To Expect From The Experience

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No Man's Sky image astronaut planet co-op guide


When No Man’s Sky launched on consoles in August of 2016, it was met with a mixed reception. For a space exploration-survival sim, it was a little barebones. However, over time, it has changed for the better, as each new update has brought a new feature or fix to further improve the game (such as the recent pet-wrangling Companions update).

RELATED: No Man’s Sky: Crucial Tips For Beginners

One of the biggest (and by far the most popular) of these changes was the addition of multiplayer. Bringing co-op to the once vast and empty universe of the game had a huge impact. No Man’s Sky is now the multiplayer space survival game that fans wanted it to be when it was first shown off at VGX in 2013. Getting started with co-op in the game can be a little tough, though.

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Updated August 21st by Matthew Mckeown: No Man’s Sky has come a very long way since its shaky start. Regular updates have expanded the game substantially and there are now tons of activities to try out yourself or with friends.

Though the Universe seems like a vast and lonely space, the updates have made it seem much more alive and dense. Plus, co-op in No Man’s Sky is always worthwhile as exploration with friends can lead to all sorts of procedurally generated adventures. For those that are new, or have missed out on what the latest updates have dropped as there’s been quite a lot of them, here are some more details on the co-op experience of No Man’s Sky.

How To Play No Man’s Sky With Friends

Previously, the directions for accessing the co-op in No Man’s Sky were a little obtuse. When it first launched, there was still a small chance you could run into another player and, whilst they appeared as a floating ball of light, you were still unable to interact except through text or VOIP.


Since the NEXT Update dropped in July of 2018, getting into the cooperative aspect of No Man’s Sky has never been easier. Now there are two options: players can select Join Game to directly load into a friend’s session or start-up solo play and visit The Nexus.

How To Directly Join A No Man’s Sky Coop Session

One of the easiest ways to get into deep space adventures with friends (with the least amount of hassle) is to directly join their game. Selecting Join Game will present you with your friend’s list, as well as the system and sessions they’re currently in that are available to jump straight into.

There’s an interesting quirk to this feature, though: If you load up a previous save that your friend isn’t on, it will load you into that location instead of your friend’s general area. Make sure you know how to save correctly by using this guide, then.

How The Nexus Works

The Nexus is more straightforward. It essentially acts as a big MMO social hub. Here, players can run around, use the various vendors, emote and chat to each other using VOIP, or set up missions to run.

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However, this little hub needs to be unlocked first. Usually, this should take new players around 5 to 6 hours in-game, if they jump straight from each mission to the next. Once you’ve progressed far enough, you will receive a series of strange signals to investigate that will culminate in The Nexus warping into nearby space. After that, it can be summoned at will.

Can Anyone Join Your Game?

Like most multiplayer-based games, there is a level of privacy available when you decide to host a co-op session in No Man’s Sky.

This can be achieved by going into your Network Settings and turning off the option for anyone to join. You can also set your lobbies in The Nexus to invite-only if you’re looking for a session that’s just you and your friends. After all, the last thing you want is a stranger joining and potentially damaging your base or antagonizing the local sentinels.

How To Set Up Missions

One particularly fun distraction in co-op is the fact that randomly generated missions are available. They can reward you with anything from equipment to nanite clusters, or a huge payday of units.

To get started with these missions, just head to The Nexus in any star system you’re in and walk over to the Job Board next to where you parked up your ship. From there, you can build a private or public party. After that, you can choose from a range of activities, including hunting down pirates, investigating signals, or collecting resources. Each mission is played in its own instance, so you and your friends can enjoy your task without strangers stopping by.

Race With Your Friends

One of the most unique additions to multiplayer in No Man’s Sky is the ability for players to make their own custom racetracks with their friends.

To get started on building your own circuit, you need to first construct a Race Initiator. After that’s set up, players can build their course and then drive along the route, to map it out and set a time for visitors to beat (just remember the importance of dropping checkpoints periodically). Anyone stopping by your base or downloading the circuit via the Base Sharing option can share their lap times for your course.

Tame And Ride Flying Creatures

Although there were already plenty tameable of critters creeping around the planets in No Man’s Sky, there weren’t many flying creatures aside from the gigantic beetles.

With the Prisms update comes a whole new host of creepy crawlies or odd floating alien cryptids that you can climb onto and take to the skies with. Taming a flying mount works the same as an ordinary mount, you just need to figure out what kind of bait it needs to become docile.

Take Part In No Man’s Sky Co-Op Expeditions

One of the biggest additions to the variety of things you can do with your friends in a No Man’s Sky Co-Op session is the ability to go on a long-running expedition. These adventures can be played solo or with your friends as you explore the galaxy.

RELATED: No Man’s Sky: Everything New In The Expeditions Update

As you progress through these goals you will unlock exclusive items and rewards, from ship parts to skins. Or in the case of the Mass Effect Anniversary Event, a flyable Normandy. With social hubs dotted along the way where you can meet and interact with other players, they’re a great way to experience new and interesting elements of No Man’s Sky.

Explore The Vast Galaxy Of No Mans Sky

In No Man’s Sky, it can get a little lonely traversing the Big Empty with nothing but the soundtrack and your scanner for company. With co-op, however, you can bring in a buddy or two to keep you company. Charting out new territory together, discovering intriguing new alien races (such as the Vy’keen) on strange worlds, or just having dogfights amongst asteroid clusters can be incredibly fun when you bring along friends.

Exploration plays a big part in this game. Having another pair of hands to help mine resources or someone to watch your back when you’re out in the wild can make quite the difference.

Enjoy Co-Op Multiplayer Base Sharing

Base building and open-world survival go hand in hand. As such, when the update to let players colonize planets with their own Star Bases launched in July of 2018, the game’s popularity skyrocketed.

RELATED: No Man’s Sky Base-Building Tips For An Epic Outpost

To get started building your own spaceport with your friends, just fly to the surface of any planet you encounter and place down a Base Computer (this can be found in the Portable Tech section of the building menu). Dropping one of these down requires some Chromatic Metal (which isn’t too hard to make). If you’re short on this, you can usually get some from refining Copper, which shouldn’t take too long.

Explore Abandoned Freighters and Face Other Threats In No Man’s Sky

When the Desolation Update was announced in July of 2020, a new threat appeared: freighters infested with a mysterious alien organism. Each floating derelict is procedurally generated, so no two voyages aboard these abandoned space hulks will be the same.

One mission might yield rewards, while another the life of a crewman. You are unable to save onboard each of these behemoths (as they vanish instantly should you leave), so plan ahead and make sure your team is prepared for what they might find. In addition to these freighters, there are also Space Pirates and roaming robotic Sentinels of various levels and sizes on each planet.

Create Your Own Freighter Crew

When Freighters first appeared in No Man’s Sky they were mostly just small places in space to hang out. Which was handy if all the planets in the system were inhospitable and you needed a portable base. Though there wasn’t much use or room to build, after the Endurance update they got a substantial overhaul.

For starters, Freighters now provide direct access to teleport hubs and warp travel. So you don’t need to jump system in your starship and then call in your Freighters again. There’s also a larger selection of Capital class ships and timed exclusives. As an example, for a while, the iconic Normandy ship from Mass Effect was also unlockable as an Expedition reward. If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one it’s worth grabbing some friends to make your own Spectre crew.

Settle A Colony

In the beginning, the planets of No Man’s Sky were pretty barren and bland. But over time all sorts of fantastical and suitably alien flora and fauna was added and the ability to colonize these new strange landscapes has expanded right alongside it.

First, it was the ability to build a base. But with the Frontiers update, explorers were given the ability to found their own ramshackle settlements of their own. These post-apocalyptic-looking hamlets will upgrade and fill with NPCs over time. Allowing you and your friends to carve out your own fiefdom, or colonize a planet wholesale with outposts spread throughout the procedurally generated alien continents.

Form A Mecha Squad

There’s an almost endless list of co-op activities in No Man’s Sky. Whether player created from scratch or added by the devs with an update or tweak. One particularly great one is the ability to form a mecha action squad with your mates.

The Minotaur exo-suit were one of the new vehicles that were added. These clanking power suits are big, beefy, and able to be covered in all sorts of attachments and weaponry. For example, you could have someone in the squad equipped with mining drills, lasers, and a lot of cargo space. Whilst others could have big canons, tanky shields, and high mobility to fend off potential threats. With the Sentinel update, you could also bring a friendly Sentinel bot companion with you for extra backup. There are a lot of great robot toys to try out, so it’s worth checking out if you want to make a Pacific Rim-style fighting force.

Build New Atlantis

The base building in No Man’s Sky was a little rough around the edges in the beginning. There wasn’t a lot of customization and your ability to get creative was stymied a little. Whilst some great designs did come out from the Community regardless of this, there wasn’t a lot of variety.

Then in steps the Prisms update where the options for secret space base building got a substantial boost. Now for example there is a whole subsection of building parts to make a base underwater or high in the sky. So you could grab a few friends, build some submarines, and set up shop at the bottom of the now large and dense alien oceans. Especially since more ocean creatures got added as the game got more updates.


NEXT: No Man’s Sky: Things Players Didn’t Know They Could Do



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