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No Man’s Sky Review: What are Expeditions?

Posted in botch, video game, video game design by commorancy on July 27, 2022

No Man's Sky_20200306074944What exactly are No Man’s Sky Expeditions? Simply put, they are extended gameplay tutorials. Let’s explore.

Early Tutorials

Sometime around the year 2000, game designers found that it was simpler (and cheaper) to include a small intro tutorial in the game than producing an expensive and time consuming instruction manual. The purpose of a tutorial is to show the gamer how to use basic game mechanics to accomplish various tasks. It’s easier to do this interactively than trying to explain it in a written manual, which ultimately no nobody really reads.

In games like Call of Duty, these tutorials show you how to use the weapons, learn the button controller layout, such as stealth moves and so on. These tutorials began as simple introductory systems. These tutorials typically occur outside of the game’s normal play mode. Some games force tutorials to be completed, which prevents you from progressing into the game’s normal play mode until you complete all of the necessary tutorials.

However, game developers quickly realized the problem with these locked tutorials. Gamers weren’t happy with this forced intro system which tested a gamer’s patience before they could actually begin playing the main game. Gamers simply wanted to get into the meat of the gameplay immediately and couldn’t while locked into completing a silly, but long tutorial session.

Worse, many of the tutorials produce situations that ultimately never materialize in the game. It’s really frustrating to teach a gamer a specific technique which is never useful once actually in the game. The Titanfall game is guilty of forcing such a tutorial system, which also taught techniques never used in the game. What was the point in teaching a useless technique?

Tutorials Today

Today, game developers still use these in-game tutorial systems in various forms. Rarely are these tutorials forced, like in the above example. Many games allow you to skip the tutorials entirely, but they allow you to revisit any of the tutorials later if you want to learn a specific move, understand a mechanic better or simply hone skills around specific mechanics.

The best of all worlds is when a game developer chooses not to force a tutorial, but allows the player to skip them and revisit them later if needed. If tutorials are required, then the game developer should offer up a reward for completing them… as is done in the No Man’s Sky Expeditions.

Since most games have settled on standard controller layouts and many use similar mechanics, most gamers can easily fall right into a game within a few minutes, being required to learn only a few new concepts specific to that game.

No Man’s Sky has taken Tutorials to a New Level (aka Ways to Improve)

With the introduction the Expedition idea in 2021, Hello Games has turned long, but very basic tutorials into a gameplay mode, for better or worse. It is a gameplay mode that sees gamers earn rewards for all of their other game saves, but only after enduring very basic tutorial concepts.

Personally, I’d have preferred if Expeditions could be played on our existing game saves rather than cluttering up our game with a bunch of new saves, each used for a separate expedition. It’s a waste of space on our PC or console… space that we can’t get rid of easily because those saves earned the rewards.

More than this, I’d like to see expeditions offer us more than the simple, basic tutorials. Instead of teaching us basic concepts like using a portal, flying our starship, using hyperdrive on our freighter or installing technology modules, I’d prefer adding much more advanced features added to the expeditions that eventually get added into our normal play after the expedition is over. Basically, Hello Games should use expeditions as a preview mode for new features that eventually get rolled up and unlocked for our regular saves. As for these tutorials, the vast majority of players aren’t playing No Man’s Sky for the first time. We already understand all of these basics in abundance. That we must endure a somewhat condescending tutorial gameplay mode just to get some very basic rewards is quite time-wasting and insulting.

I’d have preferred a system that turns No Man’s Sky on its head, like allowing us to test out new features before being fully release to all game save modes. As an example, pick a planet and setup a PVP area. Then flatten that area and allow players to use a new unique vehicle to enter a new arena tournament. This allows full on competitive PVP on a specific planet. More than this, allow normal save players (not part of the expedition) to visit and spectate if they choose not to play the expedition. Simply spoon feeding us basics to collect a few low-level rewards seems mostly pointless. Instead, design brand new creative uses of the game engine, worlds and environments… then allow players to use those new areas in completion of an expedition. Better, use expeditions as a pre-release area to entice gamers to want to see what’s new and what’s coming.

Another example. Most worlds have large cave systems. Enable some kind of “egg hunt” in the caves of a specific world. Once you collect all of the necessary items and turn them in, you’ll get your expedition reward. This might require a new technology to be equipped on the scanner to allow searching for underground cave hollows. As it is now, it’s almost impossible to locate caves, thus a new technology must be added to the Multitool to allow for locating hollowed areas underground. Such a new Multitool feature would be an excellent use of an expedition to test this tool and get player feedback.

Now, I’m not advocating for expeditions to become strictly beta test areas, but pre-releasing fully working, but unreleased ideas allows Hello Games to understand if a feature is a hit or a bomb.

No Man’s Sky — 2016 Version

When No Man’s Sky (NMS) arrived in 2016, it had no tutorial. Gamers had to learn to play by doing. That’s fine, too. I find that tutorial systems take some of the fun out of learning the mechanics of the game and how far you might be able to take those mechanics. Tutorials teach you a straight-and-narrow approach for an individual mechanic, but it does not at all teach you the ways of using those mechanics in creative and unique new ways… ways that the developers might not have intended or, indeed, understood.

No Man’s Sky Expeditions

Let’s get into the meat of this review. What exactly is an expedition? To make an analogy, an Expedition is to No Man’s Sky as a Season is to Fortnite… mostly. More than this, an expedition is simply an extended tutorial for No Man’s Sky.

There are a number of pluses and minuses to expeditions and that’s what this article intends to uncover. Before we get into the advantages and disadvantages, let’s understand deeper what an expedition further is.

Extended Tutorial

Yes, a No Man’s Sky expedition is effectively an extended tutorial. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Hello Games takes you on a long-winded, convoluted journey by teaching you how to use, obtain and unlock features in No Man’s Sky in each expedition in an extremely detailed tutorialized way. Along the way, this very long extended tutorial will unlock a few exclusive items such as decals and decorations and an occasional piece of technology. These are both a plus and a minus.

If you’re thinking you would like to jump into the latest expedition, understand that it really only serves to teach you, in an almost condescending way, how to do extremely basic things in the game. When you complete a single phase milestone, the game unlocks certain rewards.

For example, in Expedition 8 (the current expedition running as of this article), visiting another player’s Freighter (a milestone), the game will give you a full Atlas Pass set, 5 million units and unlock all of the Portal glyphs. Nevermind that you have to find a random gamer, team up with them in a group, then hop aboard their freighter. Other player freighters don’t appear in multiplayer. They only appear after you’ve explicitly teamed up with another player. A hassle, to say the least. Why HG couldn’t have improved the game to allow all active gamer freighters to be visible and visitable without teaming up is unknown. That would have been an exceptional improvement to the game.

Almost all of the items that a phase milestone unlocks can usually be had without a phase milestone. It’s that if you perform a specific milestone, you’ll unlock them more quickly and easily in one step. The exceptions here are the expedition exclusive rewards. You can’t easily see which one these are, but you’ll know if you’ve played No Man’s Sky before. In effect, think of an expedition as a way to cheat your way through the game in just a few weeks simply by following the extended tutorial. By cheating, I mean that you get “sets” of basic items unlocked, like the Portal Glyphs, simply by doing a fairly simple thing. In a “Normal” game, it would take you way longer to get these Portal Glyphs.

On the flip side, however, the “new” exclusive Expedition rewards require extensive hoop-jumping exercises before the game unlocks these. If it’s an old mechanic, one thing unlocks the entire set. If it’s a new mechanic, expect to spend hours and hours jumping through burning hoops to unlock a couple of silly decals.

Advantage: Milestone Rewards

As mentioned just above, each phase milestone issues various rewards, most are standard while a few are exclusive to the expedition. While this is technically an advantage, it’s also a disadvantage because the game teaches you to get the basic items simply by performing basic milestones. With exclusives, you can only get these by performing a milestone. With the basics, you can get them by performing the milestone (the fastest way) or by doing standard in-game play (slower). While this is considered mostly an advantage, it honestly teaches the gamer the wrong way to get the basics if you intend to play using a “Normal” save. In other words, to get the basic rewards in a non-expedition save, you’ll have to do a whole lot more work by following the originally designed and intended method. There are no “expedition shortcuts” available in a normal game.

Disadvantage: Crap Rewards

Likewise, the primary disadvantage of expeditions is that they offer fairly crappy exclusive rewards. What I mean by that is, for example in Expedition 7, the final “big” reward was collecting the Living ‘Leviathan’ Frigate for your frigate fleet. While this frigate is unusual in its looks, it’s really nothing special as a frigate. It doesn’t have any features that are more unique than any other frigate you can find in the game. It’s a living frigate, but beyond that skin on the ship, it offers little unique benefit. In fact, it’s not even really a great frigate in and of itself. I have way better frigates in my fleet than this “reward” frigate.

What that means then is spending 6 weeks working your way through achieving 40 different milestones, each taking a substantial amount of time to complete. Then, only to be rewarded with something that isn’t substantially better than what you can buy with a couple million units. You can spend 6 weeks getting this “reward” or you can spend 6 weeks or less gathering enough units to buy several regular frigates, not just one.

That’s not say that the unique rewards, such as decals, aren’t somewhat interesting, but it may not be worth spending 6 weeks to complete an expedition that’s effectively a basic, but very extended tutorial.

Advantage: Rewards collected on other saves

Since the introduction of the Quicksilver shop in the Anomaly station, Hello Games has added the ability to collect expedition rewards for all of your game saves. So long as you play through an expedition, it will unlock unique rewards during that expedition. Thus, your other game saves can also collect those rewards, such as the Leviathan Frigate. That’s cool and all. Again, is it really worth spending 6 weeks just to unlock this reward for another game save?

Disadvantage: Starting Over

Starting any expedition, you must start a brand new game save. This means starting No Man’s Sky over from scratch with a minimally configured Exosuit, Multitool, Starship and, if given, a Freighter. It also means spending loads of time again collecting resources, units and nanites. It further means you need to collect salvaged data so you can, once again, unlock all of the unlockables at the Anomaly station and it means spending loads of time finding, then unlocking features in the Exosuit, Starship, Multitool, and Freighter.

In the case of Expedition 8, this “tutorial” is all about the newly introduced Freighter features. I’ll specifically discuss Expedition 8 more below. This means that Expedition 8 is effectively a very long tutorial to teach you how to unlock rooms in your freighter and build them. As a tutorial, it’s really basic. There’s a huge disadvantage to Expedition 8 in and of itself and I’ll also discuss that below.

After about the 3rd time going through an Expedition, the entire having-to-start-over thing gets very old. Being plopped down in a system with hazardous planets and being forced to forage for resources on these annoying planets is at once, time consuming and yet very, very pointless. If you choose to join an Expedition, that’s where you start.

Hello Games needs to figure out a way for us to import our character and at least one starship from a previous save into an Expedition save so we can start off with our suits and ships unlocked. Unless the goal is to tutorialize our way through the Exosuit and the Starship, then give us the ability to import those things that make no difference to the Expedition. Why make us continually start over from the beginning when it isn’t needed or relevant? It’s pointless and actually a severe disadvantage to expeditions. It also makes an expedition take way longer than is necessary.

Disadvantage: Slots

When starting over from scratch, that means minimal slots unlocked on the Exosuit, Multitool, Starship and Freighter… with the Freighter being the most difficult to unlock and the Exosuit being the most expensive. You can wait through achieving milestones to unlock some Exosuit and Multitool slots or you can buy your way into unlocking them.

During Expedition 8, I needed my Exosuit slots unlocked much, much faster than the milestones were offering. There were simply not enough slots given on the Freighter or Starship or Exosuit to proceed. I decided not to wait and paid 6 million units to buy 72 Drop Pod Coordinate Data, which I randomly found at a single Trade Terminal vendor.

I’d already paid to unlock all of the “General” slots by visiting space stations and the anomaly station. These slots are relatively cheap to unlock with the most expensive costing around 220,000 units. The only slots left unlocked are the incredibly expensive “Cargo” slots. I could spend a million or more units to unlock 1 slot at a time (after the first two or three) or I can pay 6 million units and chase down Drop Pods on a planet. I chose the latter.

I found a suitable anomaly “mushroom” planet, which has perfect weather and few sentinels. Then, I went to work with my trusty Signal Booster. Just craft this bad boy and drop it on the ground. Then use it to locate a Drop Pod using one of the purchased Drop Pod Coordinate Data items each time. Rinse and repeat. I did this maybe 45 times or however many slots were locked. It’s also way faster to do it this way than hyper traveling to system after system to unlock them at new space stations.

After I finished unlocking all Cargo slots, I proceeded to unlock the remaining Technology slots. That left me with 26 unused Drop Pod Coordinate Data items. I sold them back for 3 million units. To unlock almost every single Cargo slot and half of my Technology slots cost me around 3 million units all told… way, way cheaper than purchasing Cargo slots from a bunch of newly discovered space stations. In fact, if I had paid at space stations, I’d have spent maybe 20-50 million in total to unlock all of the Cargo slots. No. Using Drop Pod Coordinate Data is the cheapest and fastest way to unlock Cargo slots… and, it can be done on one single docile planet. In my case, unlocking that number of slots took me around 2 hours of real time. It’s pretty monotonous and repetitive, but once it’s done you don’t need to do it again.

Expedition 8: Polestar

Let’s review this latest expedition. With Expedition 8: Polestar, Hello Games has introduced some questionable new additions to the Freighter that really offer no added value to the game or to the freighter itself.

To reiterate, these new freighter room additions really add no substantial value to the overall game. In fact, the building additions dumb down parts of the game so much as to take the game in a completely wrong direction.

Building and Freighters

Building in No Man’s Sky has always been about using a construction kit and then placing specific technology objects wherever the player chooses. It’s a creative and rewarding endeavor because the player can use these objects in creative and interesting ways. The construction kits offer basic room designs that can be placed in unique layouts, including upper and lower floors.

Unfortunately, Hello Games has taken a huge step backwards with this latest freighter update. Gone is the basic room construction kit in the freighter and in replacement we get dumbed down and stupid single purpose rooms. Worse, though, is that these single purpose rooms are unconfigurable. Meaning, you must plop the room down as a whole as is. Gone is the empty room where you can place technology objects creatively. Now it’s just a single purpose whole room. Nothing creative at all about that.

Worse, Hello Games has decided to force the player to unlock these rooms from the freighter configuration area using Salvaged Frigate Modules (a form of in-game currency). Unfortunately, bar none, these modules are the single most difficult items (and currency) to locate in the game world. The only way to obtain them is by random spawn only. The chances of one of these spawning is probably 1 time out of 50, with the odds perhaps even higher than that. Meaning, it’s rare that these will spawn.

They can’t be purchased at all with any other more abundant currency, such as units or nanites. Nope. You must spend loads of time grinding in and around places that may or may not randomly spawn them.

Prior to this latest update, there were limited unlocks that required the need for the Salvaged Frigate Module currency. Since this update, there are many, many new items that now require them. Yet, Hello Games has not improved the spawn rate of these modules or made them easier to locate, making this Freighter update (and this expedition) at best a chore to complete. Worse, few of the expedition rewards offer Salvaged Frigate Modules as rewards. When they do, it’s between one and three at most, when the game ultimately requires around 15-20 of them to unlock all of the rooms, not counting the need for at least that many again to unlock hyperdrive add-ons and other useful freighter features.

When you’re playing outside of an expedition, you could spend several weeks and chase down only a handful of Salvaged Frigate Modules. Yes, they’re that rare.

Hello Games did a complete disservice to us with this update. Not only are these rooms almost 100% pointless to unlock as they don’t increase the freighter’s usefulness (thus wasting Salvaged Frigate Modules), the game itself is worse because of the new dumbed down building system combined with the need for even more Salvaged Frigate Modules to unlock these new features.

Overall, Endurance (the name of the update) is probably one of the crappiest updates Hello Games has dropped for No Man’s Sky.

New Rooms vs Old

Why is it so crappy? Because these new rooms don’t play well with one another, but more importantly, with the older legacy rooms. When you put these new rooms side by side with an older room, there are too many glitches and visual problems. Sometimes, the game leaves huge gaping holes. Yes, it’s that bad.

It’s also crappy because of the dumbed down building. With a game that includes building features, we don’t want single use rooms. We want a construction kit that offers creative building options. By dumbing down the construction in this way, Hello Games clearly doesn’t understand what us as gamers want from a building mode. Though, Hello Games was on the right track with the newest construction kit add-on for bases, these new one-use rooms in the freighter are a huge step backward for the game.

Freighter Improvement?

That’s the question, does this update greatly improve the freighter? No. Why? The freighter’s two main purposes include 1) being a starship garage and 2) launching frigate missions. That’s really the entire purposes of a freighter. With this update, nothing’s changed. The freighter’s usefulness is still limited to those two purposes. It’s far easier to equip your Starship for long distance hyperdrive travel using easier-to-obtain Nanites than trying to chase down rare Salvaged Frigate Modules only to get maybe half the distance with a freighter. No. The way to hyperdrive travel long distances in No Man’s Sky is still by using a starship. You simply cannot equip a freighter to achieve the hyperdrive distances that a starship can when properly equipped with technology modules. Freighters still do not offer enough technology modules in this or any other area.

With Endurance, we are once again forced to run around re-buying and re-unlocking all of the technology we had already spent weeks unlocking for base building. Instead, Hello Games has firmly separated base building from freighter building to the detriment of No Man’s Sky.

Freighter and base building should remain interlocked using the exact same features. If there’s a zone where you can build, all building construction tools should be available in every location. Instead, now we have these stupid one-use rooms that only work on a freighter and which also make zero sense. This change effectively takes the fun of building out of the game.

Base Building

The bigger problem is that, eventually, Hello Games will pull these single purpose rooms down into planetary base building. It doesn’t make sense to support two completely separate build systems. Eventually, Hello Games will want to marry this newer room based build system onto all build zones. What that means is that eventually base building will inherit this single use room concept, doing away with all of the current structures and technology by replacing them with these insipid all-in-one rooms.

For a game with construction capabilities, this really takes No Man’s Sky too far backwards. If you’re planning to take building back this far and dumb it down this much, then simply take building out of the game entirely. There’s no purpose in offering single purpose rooms and calling it “building”. Plopping down a handful of single purpose rooms is not considered in-game building. There’s nothing at all creative about that. Creation comes from construction kits, not from single pre-configured rooms.

This idea as a huge mistake and it is also badly implemented. In short, it’s an extremely disappointing move for No Man’s Sky.

Should I play No Man’s Sky Expeditions?

It depends. For Expedition 8, I’d suggest not. The Freighter additions are ultimately pointless and useless. With the exception of one thing, the Singularity Drive. This drive might be worth playing through to get this. Unfortunately, to get this drive, you have to play through Phases 1-4 and parts of Phase 5 to unlock it. There are still questions surrounding this drive, though. Since it’s a Singularity Drive, that means it likely uses the same jump mechanism as a black hole. When you traverse through a black hole in No Man’s Sky, technology ends up breaking once you emerge.

This means repairing technology after using a black hole and likely after using the Singularity Drive. I’ve stopped using this mode of travel because 1) it’s too random, 2) it doesn’t really get that much closer to the center and 3) technology breaks after using it. Traveling through a black hole is like circling a drain. You pop a teeny bit closer to the center, but you’re still just circling. It takes hundreds of hops through a black hole to get you even the tiniest bit closer to the center. It’s really, really pointless and it means repairing lots of technology with wiring looms along the way.

Outfitting your starship with the longest light year jump distance is really the best way to get to the center of the galaxy. It also avoids the broken technology problem each time you jump. I really despise it when Hello Games insists on breaking technology on the ship after using a jump technology. It’s such a complete waste of time and resources.

Also keep in mind that the Polestar expedition is entirely designed as a tutorial to teach you about these pointless freighter add-ons. Since the freighter itself isn’t drastically improved by these additions, I can’t recommend playing Polestar. Play if you like, but don’t expect great things if you do.

I also find that the rewards from the expeditions don’t match the time and energy expended to get through the milestones. While the rewards are “nice to haves”, they’re not ultimately required to play the game. That’s partly because Hello Games knows there’s no other way to get these rewards other than completing an expedition that eventually ends and may never return.

That means that if you never play a single expedition, you’re locked out of those expedition rewards. You can’t unlock them in any other way than by playing the expeditions. Ultimately, that means that the rewards offered by playing an expedition must ultimately remain inconsequential to any other game saves you may already have. This is why most of the rewards consist of posters or decals or other cosmetic items to decorate your base, with only one or two rewards being even moderately functional items.

Completed

[Updated Aug 6, 2022] I’ve recently completed Expedition Polestar. I didn’t complete the “Optional” milestone because it is a pointless multiplayer exercise that does nothing to help this expedition succeed; with its reward of 5 million units, unlocking of 16 glyphs and Atlas Pass set. The extra units are actually the most useful portion of this milestone, but units can be had in so many better ways than this. Unlocking the portal glyphs and the Atlas passes are entirely pointless as they are unneeded.

After completion of Expedition Polestar, there are still a large number of unresolved problems. The first problem is that while Starship Hyperdrive plans are unlocked, the red, green and blue drives are not! This means that your Starship is limited to yellow star systems only, forcing you to unlock all of the drives for the freighter ?!?? This also means that even though you have completed the expedition, the game is still nowhere near close to a “normal” save game mode. Secondarily and more importantly, the base computer remains locked with no way to unlock it. This precludes any base building after completing Expedition Polestar. Worthless!

I don’t know if the lack of unlocking these items was a simple oversight on the part of Hello Games or if they’re intentional. Either way, the left over save is pointless. Not only can you not build bases after you’ve completed this expedition, you can’t mine for resources on planets. This means you’re stuck using your crappy multitool alone to continue to gather resources from resource piles on planets. A complete waste of time and effort.

Some may think that these plans might get unlocked after the expedition clock times out weeks later, but I doubt it. If it hasn’t unlocked by the end of the expedition as part of the expedition, it’s never likely to unlock for that expedition save.

If you’re thinking of playing this expedition with the intent you can continue to use this game save after, you likely won’t want to. Even the biggest reward, the Singularity Drive, is more of a gimmick than it is useful. I wouldn’t suggest playing this expedition strictly for the Singularity Drive. It’s really not worth it for that. In fact, it seems Hello Games has been giving us ever crappier rewards (and saves) for each successive expedition.

To be honest, this is not only the single crappiest update for No Man’s Sky, Expedition Polestar is the single crappiest expedition to date. There’s nothing really of value to be had from these Freighter additions. In fact, these additions are so bad as to take the game back to a worse state than before the update… not just from a bugs perspective, but also from the single-purpose room building that Hello Games has now foisted onto us. There’s really very little that’s redeeming about this expedition overall.

Recommended: No
Stars: 1.5 out of 5
Play Value: 1.5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Overall Comment: Don’t play expeditions unless you really enjoy condescending tutorials that take forever and offer mostly pointless rewards.

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How to get the Living Starship in No Man’s Sky

Posted in video game, video gaming by commorancy on March 6, 2020

No Man's Sky_20200306074944

You’ve recently updated No Man’s Sky and you’re wondering how to get the new Living Starship? Let’s explore.

[UPDATED for 2022]

Since this article was written, new things have been introduced into No Man’s Sky by Hello Games that increases the efficiency of this quest. One change has majorly improved the speed at acquiring all of the pieces. A new Target Sweep scanner has been introduced into the game. It is also integrated as part of the basic scanner functionality. No need to add anything new.

Formerly, you used the old Analysis Scanner to locate coordinates. It was clumsy and very slow. In 2021, Hello Games required finding specific X-Y coordinates using this hackneyed clumsy scanner. However, the newly added Target Sweep scanner simplifies pinpointing locations. No longer do you need to skim in and out of the atmosphere looking for specific X-Y coordinates. Hello Games now offers up a “general vicinity” HUD marker. You can then target and fly right to that marker easily. This marker is only “near” the intended location. It might be over 1,000u away. Once you land, pull out the Target Sweep scanner to determine the general direction to head and how far away it is.

Note that while it might be possible to locate the intended destination in your starship, it’s easier to do this locating on foot. I also don’t recommend using an exocraft for this part because you’ll be jumping out and in often simply so you can whip out the new scanner.

This change makes finding each of the monoliths (which gives you your individual living starship components), much much faster. Though, you’ll still need to wait between 19-22 real clock-on-the-wall hours for each of the items to “mature” or “harden”. You still can’t progress further on the Starbirth quest until each of the items has matured/hardened. However, because the new Target Sweep scanner is available, it’s so much faster than mucking about with coordinates.

Additionally, the 5 starship limit has been increased to 9. This means there’s less pressure on the players to delete ships quickly.

Expeditions

In an effort to bring players back, a new Expedition system has been added. We’re on number 6. You can think of this new mode as a kind of campaign. The Expedition is to No Man’s Sky as the SCOREBOARD is to Fallout 76. It’s kind of a “seasons” addition that runs for several weeks. The good side is that it offers up unique rewards to the player for completing each milestone. The bad side is that you must start a brand new game from scratch to play this new mode. This means obtaining new ships and bases all over again. Unfortunately, base building is disabled in the Expedition until Phase 5, meaning no base building until the Expedition is over.

However, one of the milestones in this 2022 Expedition (Blighted) gives you a Void Egg as a reward. This makes obtaining the Living Ship much, much quicker (and cheaper). Though, there’s no guarantee to get a Void Egg with each Expedition, it’s always worth checking to see if it’s one of the rewards before getting it the old-fashioned way, through the Quicksilver store.

[END UPDATE]

Now, back to our regularly scheduled article…

Instructions

It all starts with a Void Egg. There may be several ways to obtain the Void Egg, but let’s discuss the most straightforward way to get one. Before you start, make sure you have the prerequisites.

Prerequisites

  1. 3,200 Quicksilver
  2. Literal days of time to kill
  3. One free Starship slot
  4. A Starship that shows you planet coordinates on the HUD screen. The multi-tool’s new Target Sweep scanner replaces this older, slower, clumsier requirement.

If your starship obscures the coordinates off screen, much of this questline will be even more of a pain in the ass. Choose a ship that has the coordinates front and center and fully visible.

No Man's Sky_20200306075049Further, if you don’t have a free available Starship slot, you may not be able to accept the Living Starship once it’s available for pick up. If your slots are full, you will need to free up a slot by salvaging one of your Starships. I’d highly recommend doing this step WAY BEFORE the game allows you to pick up the ship.

Obtaining a Void Egg — Overview

  1. Head into space and call the Space Anomaly station
  2. Enter the Space Anomaly station and land
  3. Open your inventory and see how much Quicksilver you have
  4. If you have 3,200 or more Quicksilver, you’re all set and you can skip Step 6
  5. If you don’t have enough Quicksilver, you’ll need to head to the Nexus and complete Quicksilver missions until you reach 3,200 Quicksilver. Note, weekend events can award anywhere between 1,000 and 1,200 Quicksilver. These start on Fridays. Complete these missions to get you to 3,200 Quicksilver faster. Otherwise, you’re limited to ~250 per day. Though, the game will gang up QS missions if you play the game daily, but don’t perform the QS missions daily… thus allowing you to do several QS mission in a day.
  6. With 3,200 Quicksilver in hand, head over to the Quicksilver store and shop. Inside this shop, you’ll find the Void Egg for sale. Buy it.

Once you own a Void Egg, you’ll perform a new set of actions to unlock its secrets.

Unlocking the Void Egg

To begin unlocking the Void Egg, follow these steps. There may be many ways to get this to work, but these are the easiest steps. Though, I’m not going to say that the steps are in any way “easy” or “fast”. In fact, it literally takes days to complete most of the steps.

Before you begin this process, you might want to jump down to the bottom of this article under “Living Starship” to get a better understanding of what you’ll be getting out of this deal. That way, you can determine if you think this process is worth the time for you.

Step 1 — Getting the Egg to Sing

  1. To begin the process and with the egg in your inventory, hop in your ship and head to space.
  2. Once in space, use the Pulse Drive between any two points in a solar system. Eventually, you’ll get a notification to drop out of pulse for an Anomaly. Once you do, any of a number of things may happen. You may see a living ship just in front of you. If you get this one, then your Void Egg will begin singing. If you get anything else, admire it if you wish, but that isn’t what you want. You’ll want to keep using pulse drive between points until you get a Living Ship anomaly. This one happened really quick for me once I had a Void Egg.
  3. Once you see the Living Ship anomaly, it will either give you a set of coordinates to a new solar system or it will have the egg send you to visit one of the planets in your current system.
  4. If it has to jump to a new system, once there is where the “hurry up and wait” starts.

Step 2 — Visit 4 worlds and find 4 Monuments

These steps are tedious because this portion of the Starbirth quest vaguely leads you to various worlds. Once on the world, it will give you a set of two coordinates to a monument on the planet. This is the pain in the ass portion of unlocking an egg. In the past, they would mark a point on your map and you could simply fast travel there. With this questline, Hello Games has you pilot your ship manually to a set of coordinates. It’s a pain in the ass because it’s entirely slow, manual and requires a lot of mucking about with flying the ship in and out of the atmosphere to speed up and slow down.

  1. Once the egg is singing, open your inventory and hover the cursor over the egg. The egg will reveal a “type” of planet to visit. Read the “type” carefully and then find world that matches where you presently are… or jump to the system where it wants you to search and look there.
  2. Once you land on the world it is wanting, the quest will switch to a set of coordinates on the current world that will look something like +45.??? -170.??? Sometimes the coordinates are static and sometimes they hop around. They will stabilize as you get closer to the monument. The newly introduced Target Sweep scanner makes this process much faster and no longer requires using the silly (and insanely slow) X-Y coordinates.
  3. To locate the monument, hop out of the ship and locate it on foot. You will need to use the Target Sweep device to lead you in the correct direction.

Step 3 — Final World

Once you have received and matured / hardened all 4 components needed for the living ship, you are led to the final world. To reach this world, the Void Egg will sing one last time. Continue reading down to “Final Wait” to see what you need to do.

Step 4 — Assemble and Pick up your ship

Inhospitable Worlds

Many of the planets that the egg leads you to are inhospitable worlds with frequent storms. This can make locating a monument even more difficult. This is why it’s recommended to do the last locating portion on foot or in an Exocraft.

Once you reach the monument, it will have you supply it with one of the newly crafted items listed immediately after this section. In fact, it will ask you to supply it with something that you won’t, at the time, know how to make. You will need to “Leave” the monument menu and then it will teach you the recipe. After that, you may need Hexite (or other unique resources) to make the recipe. If you need something like Hexite, it will lead you to a location to pick up the Hexite. This part is easy, but you’ll still need to go get it, craft the item and head back to the monument.

Once you have found a monument, it does put a marker onto the HUD so you can get back there easily. Otherwise, you’d be forced to drop a Save Beacon to easily find your way back. Thankfully, you don’t need to place a Save Beacon as a game marker is set up. It’s always worth keeping enough resources handy to create a Save Beacon so you can easily mark and then head back to a unique planet feature without having to build an entire base.

Once you’ve crafted the required item from the recipe the monument has given you, head back to the monument and supply it with the item you’ve just crafted. The monument will give you a new component. This is where the “hurry up and wait” part begins. The item it gives you will be something like an Immature Neural Stem or a Fragile Heart. These items require maturation of between 22 and 27 clock-on-the-wall real world hours. Yes, that means you can’t make any progress on this quest for at least 22 hours.

You can’t do anything else with this quest until these items have “matured”. You might as well put the game down and go do something else while that timer ticks down. You can do other things in the game, but you cannot progress the Starbirth quest until that timer has expired. Note that the timer ticks down regardless of whether you are playing the game.

Four Items to Craft

You will need to craft 4 different items for the Living Ship, each with unique components required to craft the recipes:

  1. Consciousness Bridge
    • 250 Hexite
    • 80 Pugneum
    • 1 Korvax Casing
  2. Pulsating Core
    • 250 Liquid Sun
    • 100 Gold
    • 80 Mordite
  3. Impossible Membrane
    • 100 Chromatic Metal
    • 1 Hypnotic Eye
    • 150 Living Water
  4. Seeds of Glass
    1. 100 Magnetized Ferrite
    2. 100 Fragmented Qualia

To locate the items which are “unique” like Liquid Sun, Living Water, Hexite or Fragmented Qualia, the game will lead you to a deposit. For standard items like Gold or Ferrite, you’ll be expected to locate or have these yourself.

Once the items are crafted, you will give each to a monument and that monument will give you an immature ship component in return. You will then wait, again, for the item to mature before you can make any further progress on this quest line.

Rinse and Repeat

After you have received your first ship component, likely the Immature Neural Stem, it will take a fair amount of time (22 hours or more) to mature into a Mature Neural Stem. Once you’ve waited for it to mature, the item is closed with nothing else to do with that item until you assemble the ship. From here, it’s simply rinse and repeat.

  1. Hop in your ship and fly into space
  2. Pulse drive between any two locations and wait for a Living Ship anomaly to appear
  3. Once it appears, the egg will again sing and tell you which type of world it wants (hover over the egg in the inventory).
  4. Search the local worlds, then head to the HUD marker, locate the monument, get the recipe, source its unusual requirements, craft it, give it to the monument and get a new item that needs to mature.

All told, you’ll need to repeat this 4 times to assemble the ship with its Neural Stem, Shell, Singularity Core, Membrane and so on. It takes 4 times, and each one is at least 1 day apart. All told, it takes at least 5 real days to finally get to the point where you can assemble and pick up the ship. Most of that time is spent waiting for something to “mature” or “harden” or whatever. This ship is easiest to obtain with Creative Mode and more difficult when using Normal mode or harder.

Hello Games would have done this quest much better to allow us to continue to find the rest of the components without waiting on the previous components to “mature”. Let us pick all of the items up and wait the time it takes for the longest component to “mature”. This would have meant waiting up to 2 days rather than 5.

Note, some players have stated you need to hyperdrive travel to trigger singing. I haven’t found that to be the case. Simply pulse drive between two points and wait for an anomaly “Living Ship” to appear after dropping out of pulse drive. Finding a living ship anomaly is all you need to trigger the egg to sing.

Final Wait

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With the final “Cracking Void Egg” step, the egg will again sing once more. However, this time instead of giving you a vague description of a world to locate in your local system, it will give you a set of portal coordinates in the form of words. In my case above, the “lyrics” are:

  • The Hunter
  • The Reflection
  • The Hunter
  • The Spiral of Reality
  • The Star Over Water
  • The Ascending Orb
  • The Obscured Companion
  • The Hunter
  • The Lowly Insect
  • The Anomaly
  • The Sailor
  • The Ocean King

If you’re looking for how to translate these words into symbols, you can either guess based on the symbols or the easier method is to visit this page. The three “Euclid” means that it’s in the Euclid Galaxy somewhere. The Starbirth quest also states that you’ll need to use unconventional travel, indicating travel by Portal. The above also implies that you need to know where a portal is so that you can use it to travel to the final world to, again, locate a monument and complete the final steps.

SoulChamberOnce you reach the final world by portal, you will be required to locate four sets of different coordinates on this portal planet. The final three coordinates may take you some time to reach as you have to locate the coordinates manually by flying to them. The first set of coordinates (the only to have a planet marker) will lead you to an abandoned building. Here you will obtain a Soul Chamber, which you are given by accessing a terminal at the abandoned building. Once you receive the Soul Chamber, you will then need to locate three gravestones each at separate specific coordinates given to you in a small panel on the screen. You will then interact with each gravestone, which will fill the chamber by 33.3%. Once you have filled the Soul Chamber with 3 souls (channeling The Elder Scrolls here much?), you will then be asked to head back through the portal to your origin world.

Once you are back at your origin world, you will then fly into space and use the pulse drive to make contact one final time with the living ship anomaly. It will sing one last time then the egg will crack open, disappear from your inventory and give you a set of coordinates to your new starship shell on a planet. Head to that planet marker to claim your new ship.

It is here where you’ll need to make sure you have a free Starship slot available. Once you reach the Living Starship coordinates, you will drop in all of the “matured” or “hardened” components you have received over the previous 4-5 days or so, including the Soul Chamber. This will then outfit your Living Starship to be fully functional. Once it’s functional, you can then claim it (assuming you have a free slot), enter and fly away in it. Just be aware that it has limited functionality due to its small Hyperdrive capacity and low gun damage levels. Don’t expect a hugely overpowered ship here. Don’t expect that you can upgrade it quickly, either. I’ll talk about those limitations next.

Note, since the introduction of even more galaxies into the game, ensure that when you portal to the final destination that the Cracking Void Egg requires that you enter the glyphs into a Euclid portal. The glyphs only lead to the correct world when using a Euclid portal. If you are in the Umirpaiya galaxy, for example, entering the Euclid glyphs into a Umirpaiya portal will lead you to the wrong world. In other words, make sure you have a Euclid portal world handy and known if you go into an Expedition that begins in one of the many other galaxies in the game and you want to obtain a Living Starship.

Living Starship

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Note that Hello Games has added what is effectively a “Cargo” area, called “Inflated Sacs” to the Living Starship since this article was written. This means that it can now hold cargo, like all other ships. Additionally, the modification station in Space Stations will also now modify the living ship.

Is the ship worth it? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. The “Living Starship” is a new class of Starship. However, there are definitely drawbacks. Specifically, notice that the ship’s areas are called “Storage Sacs” and “Organ Chamber” unlike standard ships where you have “General” and “Technology” areas. Here are the drawbacks around this new class of starship:

  • Cannot use existing “Technology” from “regular” ships for this new living ship.
  • Cannot expand the ship using the Starship upgrade tool at a space station
  • Cannot use storage augmentation to increase slots
  • Cannot extend base Hyperdrive range because “regular” technology doesn’t work
  • Cannot pay to increase slots like a standard starship
  • Cannot scrap the ship, but you may or may not be able to trade it for another

Basically, the ship you get is all that you get quickly. However, you can get new components by using the pulse drive between two points. If an egg appears, crack it open to reveal a new starship component to install. It will be a random component with a random class. You can then install it. After installation of the component, it takes Nanites to upgrade the level of the component. You can find components for the hyperdrive, weapons systems and shields. However, getting these is a very slow process. You can’t get these items in any other way than by using pulse drive between two points and it can sometimes literally take an hour or more to find one component.

It’s possible that Hello Games may introduce a new living starship upgrade system and merchant some time in the future. Hello Games may eventually open up more details about the Living Ship such as the world where the eggs come from, where the ships are likely to be found and so on. This means that we may be able to enter star systems where the living ships are easily found and can be augmented. There might even be star systems that may only be entered by the living ships.

For now, though, you can’t add on a Positron gun or any other “standard” Starship weapons to a Living Ship… even though this new “Living” technology type is basically the same as the old technology, just with a new name and new description. The weapon type it has is all it has. Same for the Hyperdrive with its base drive range at 164.9 (at least on mine), but can be extended by finding components. Considering I’ve gotten some ships to around 1,800+ Hyperdrive range, the base Living Ship’s range is next to nothing.

Even though it is a living ship, it doesn’t really need to be “fed”… you know, like an actual living creature. I guess Hello Games thought that might be taking things a bit too far. Though, considering it is a type of living creature, it should need to be fed.

Why this ship now?

I’m not entirely sure the reason for the introduction of this new class of starship. It’s interesting, yes, but what’s the point? As bare bones as this new ship is, there’s very little it’s actually useful for, other than being a novelty item in the game. Until Hello Games decides to introduce vendors that sell Living Ship technology upgrades, it’s not very useful.

Regular ships are still way, way better options than this Living Ship for functionality, combat, upgradeability, support and travel distance.

Is it worth having? Perhaps it is… as a novel collectible simply so you can say you’ve gotten it. But, it’s not a very useful starship at this point. Until or unless Hello Games decides to add more quests and features into the game that only activate or become useful when you’re using a living starship, the ship doesn’t really have a point to exist.

The point to adding any new feature to a game is that you have also have planned a whole wider set of other features around that item and which are “unlocked” by obtaining access to the ship. Until Hello Games introduces those additional pieces to support the usefulness of a this living starship class, as I’ve already stated several times, it’s simply not very useful addition.

I was actually hoping that this new ship class would offer a completely new and different faster than light (FTL) drive technology, such a technology that could go twice or three times the distance of travel using new ways that standard ships can’t. Or, perhaps, a better class of weapon. But, no. No such luck. Effectively, the Living Starship is basically the same as any other “standard” bare bones basic ship that you can find. Except that now you have to jump through about 5 days of hoops to get it. In fact, standard ships can be outfitted much, much better than the Living Ship can. This ship needs a whole lot more game support and effort by Hello Games than it presently has. Here’s what the interior looks like:

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The interior looks much the same as a regular ship, wouldn’t you say? If Hello Games is going to make us spend all of this time and effort to build this ship, they should have at least had the decency to give us something improved over regular Starships. Yet, Hello Games doesn’t offer us something better here. I’m not calling this exactly a fail, but it leans heavily in this direction.

Should I Get A Living Ship?

That’s up to you. I’d suggest reading above if you’re unsure if it’s worth your time. Perhaps in time Hello Games will make it more useful, but for now it’s mostly a novelty ship. Hello Games is going to be required to do a whole lot more quest building work to create a game that better supports the Living Ship and that gives us reasons to want to use this ship over regular ships.

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