The latest No Man’s Sky Expedition, Polestar, is great fun. It’s the latest in a string time-limited events within the game — which basically give players a set of unique quests to complete on a fresh save file. This one is all about freighters. Those are the capital ships players have been able to own for some time. Though they got a major overhaul in the last named NMS update: Endurance. It’s a pretty nuts and bolts expansion altogether, focused on quality-of-life, without a splashy crossover prize like the Normandy from Mass Effect waiting at the end. But it’s also likely the calm before the storm, as the update brings a bunch of great rewards for “catching up” before Patch 4.0.
This isn’t even the first time I’ve said Expeditions are great jumping-on points. The unique quests allow returning players to find their space legs again without replaying the humdrum tutorial section of the main game. This is doubly true in Polestar. You don’t even start on a planet during this event. Instead, you’re given a capital ship from the jump and must build your own mobile space base to progress.
This introduces players to a lot of the new features of the Endurance Update: hydroponics gardens, a teleporter for your planetside cars and submarine, a scanner room that lets you scout planets ahead of time. There’s a lot to learn (and possibly relearn).
In exchange, you permanently unlock useful or attractive items for all of your future NMS saves. Stuff like a new cosmetic cape and a space jellyfish companion. That means even hardcore players can bring some rewards into their “main” save. It’s pretty convenient!
Anything not tied to those overarching rewards remained locked in the Expedition save. You can convert this into a “normal” campaign and continue playing it like any old NMS file, but that means redoing lots of potentially frustrating content if you want to have everything in one place.
I’m seriously considering doing just that, though… And it’s all thanks to a small, optional “Milestone” in the event. It’s the only one of its kind (unlike Expedition 7: Leviathan, which had optional objectives for every step of the story). It only takes a few seconds to complete, too, if you can find another human player willing to help. Yet the rewards are, ahem, pretty out of this world.
All you need to do is land on another player’s freighter: checking out their home base for a few seconds and possibly saying hello. Your reward is 5,000,000 Units (the central NMS currency), 16 Portal glyphs, and a full set of Atlas Passes (basically fancy lockpicks).
That’s… a lot. If you haven’t played in a while, 5,000,000 Units is precisely the amount you need to purchase your first set of coordinates to a Derelict Freighter — one of the game’s current “endgame” activities. Insomuch as No Man’s Sky has an endgame at all.
Speaking of which, those Portal glyphs completely bypass one of the most frustrating steps of the Living Ship questline. Which is itself one of the more interesting and rewarding parts of the game. There’s also never been a better time to get a Living Ship, period, as the Endurance Update allows you to harvest new organs (i.e. upgrades) for the organic vessels.
Finding every Portal glyph is a massive pain. You either need to play most of the way through the game’s main story quest or explore around randomly until you find them. Both options can take hours upon hours. And that’s after you spend literal weeks on the Living Ship questline itself. Many of its steps are gated by real time with no way to speed them up.
I am, personally, at a bit of a crossroads right now. I’ve already completed all the time-gated steps of said quest on what I consider my main save. However, I still have the very tedious process of collecting most of my remaining Portal glyphs ahead of me. I could continue poking through the game for hours, spending Nanite Clusters and hunting for Traveller Graves, or… I could instead make my Polestar save into my new home.
Newcomers won’t have that issue. Instead, this is a perfect chance for players to make their own new “home” and get a jumpstart on some of the game’s most interesting activities! As tedious as unlocking glyphs can be, the Living Ship quest is still unique and a fascinating experience in a game that only fills up with even wilder stuff to explore all the time.
We’re also getting dangerously close to No Man’s Sky patch 4.0 (the latest update being version 3.98). While it’s total speculation, one would assume that the big, numbered update will have something big in store. Patch 2.0 and patch 3.0 before it both overhauled massive chunks of the game — adding new locations, activities, and literally altering the landscape of the game’s many worlds.
Developer Hello Games hasn’t slowed down one bit in the interviewing years, so getting a handle on the very complex game now will presumably position players for whatever happens next.
Y’know… Kinda like the No Man’s Sky NEXT update, the big version 1.5 update that originally reworked the game after its rocky launch.