No Man's Sky may only have a score of 71 on Metacritic, but it has come a long way since its launch in 2016, with plenty of updates that finally let the game live up to those initial promises, bringing an experience that's absolutely worth delving into.
However, when you boot up the game and enter the vast, endless universe of No Man's Sky, things can get a little daunting. Still, with a niftier ship to pilot, a fleet at your disposal, a handy fire-arm to keep you safe in the most hostile of environments, and enough cash to nab the resources you need, the tension can be eased. So, here are some ways to earn units in No Man's Sky.
Updated on October 1, 2021, by Richard Horton: Thanks to the continued support of the developers and a thriving community, No Man's Sky has managed to remain an active and enjoyable game in the years since its initial launch. The trouble is that players need resources to make the most of all the new content that's been added, and in No Man's Sky, that means money. But as fun as it is to aimlessly wander the stars, it doesn't earn players the units they need to buy new ships and items. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make money in No Man's Sky, so it won't be long before you can afford the starship of your dreams.
15 Refine Basic Materials
One of the best ways to make money in No Man's Sky is also one of the most frequently overlooked and that's refining materials. It's particularly effective in the early stages of the game once you have the use of a portable refiner to turn basic resources into more valuable versions of themselves.
Ferrite Dust is a great example of this. It's easily available and has a base value of 14 units. Put some in a portable refiner and it will become Pure Ferrite with a value of 28 units. Refine this Pure Ferrite and it will become Magnetised Ferrite with a value of 82 units. That's nearly six times its original value. Work with large enough quantities and you'll be making hundreds of thousands of units in no time at all. And it gets even easier when tools like the medium refiner become available to you and allow more efficient production of these valuable resources.
14 Quests And Nexus Missions
Side-quests are the lifeblood of every open-world game's economy and just because No Man's Sky spans an entire universe doesn't mean it is any different. Head to the nearest space station and speak to the Mission Listings Agent to grab a few jobs. They usually only pay in the tens of thousands of units but you can complete multiple at once for a bigger payout.
But if you want a bigger payout, summon the Space Anomaly and head inside to The Nexus. Here you'll find multiplayer missions (they can also be completed solo) which payout thousands of nanites or hundreds of thousands of units. Plus, they offer valuable goods as a secondary reward too, making them all the more worthwhile.
13 Gold / Silver / Platinum
When you finally take to the skies and get off the hellspawn tutorial world you're thrust into right off the bat, you'll encounter asteroids in spades, and shooting them with the ship guns or mining beams can net some fairly decent early game rewards in the form of Gold, Silver, and Platinum - you'll also get Tritium, which you'll want to keep a stock of to fuel your ship. While these precious metals are used in crafting, it's not something you'll have to worry about for a while if you're just starting out, so shoot those rocks all you can.
Similarly, you are able to scan planets while in space - just look directly at them and hit the scan button to learn about the planet. You can then easily check if any nearby planets have these metals on them. If they do, head down to the surface and scout on foot for deposits using your analysis visor. You'll soon be able to gather up a plentiful amount of these metals, that you can then sell for a not half-bad price at the space stations. These aren't the quickest methods, but certainly a starting point.
12 Chlorine Farming
However, if the basic riches of the galaxy aren't bringing in enough units to get you that sweet spaceship you want or a new blaster to take down sentinels, then you're better off going for more complex methods such as making a chlorine loop factory. It's not difficult to get chlorine in No Man's Sky — all it takes is a refiner, some oxygen, and a little salt. Salt can be found from planetary deposits, so scan the planets from space to check.
Set up a medium refiner in your base of choice and refine some salt mixed with oxygen, which will net you some chlorine. Then, add the chlorine back into the refiner and mix it with even more oxygen - this will multiply the chlorine significantly. Repeat this step, as soon you'll have a growing amount of chlorine. Throwing together 250 chlorine with 500 oxygen gets you 1,500 chlorine. Dumping that chlorine with 3,000 oxygen will then get you 9,000 chlorine, or roughly 5 million units. Set up multiple refiners dedicated to this process and you'll be set for life.
11 Freighter Expeditions
Early game money and an alternative system to work towards - suddenly, that 10 million unit ship at the space station doesn't seem so pricey, but whilst all of that is going on, a fleet at your command to get some extra cash can be the cherry on top. There's a chance when jumping from system to system that you'll encounter a freighter under siege by pirates and, if you do, the captain will happily retire and forgo his freighter to you.
Once you are the captain of your own freighter, you can gradually expand your fleet and send your workers on expeditions. When flying through space and near other fleets, you can move closer to a frigate (the smaller ships surrounding a freighter) to open a comms channel - here, you will be able to hire them and add to your fleet. Then you can manage them from the command deck of your freighter and organize missions, not unlike the way that Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Black Flag let you send assassins or pirates on timed missions in the background to get you cash while you gallivant around the open world. It's slow, but it's a free bonus.
10 Raid Trading Fleets
Space piracy might not be the most ethical way of earning your way in the universe of No Man's Sky, but when you need to make money fast it's a guaranteed way of netting a few hundred thousand units of valuable items, assuming your ship survives being attacked by Sentinel starfighters.
All you have to do is find a nearby freighter fleet and open fire on their cargo pods. When their health hits zero, whatever valuable material or item they were transporting will appear in your ship's inventory. However, be wary not to attack the frigates that surround the larger freighters as each one you destroy will lose you a point of standing with the dominant species of the star system.
9 Whispering Eggs And Larval Cores
If you have ever stumbled across an abandoned building or a life-incompatible planet on your travels in the endless worlds of No Man's Sky, you have likely come upon whispering eggs. These nests usually have a fair few of these eggs around which, when broken, summon some nasty monstrosities that will be out for blood - yours, particularly.
However, it's worth the hassle of tangling with the biological horrors as whispering eggs contain larval cores that can be sold for a pretty price of roughly 70,000 units each. You can either run from them, fight them off, or build up some walls for protection. Just bear in mind that the larval core will only be around on the floor for a few seconds after the egg is destroyed, so you will have to pick it up quickly.
8 Gravitino Balls
Gravitino balls aren't the most profitable of shiny objects in the universe of No Man's Sky, but they are easy to find and near-impossible to miss given that they glow blindingly bright when you are near them. The best place to find them is a planet with high sentinel activity - they guard them well and will become hostile when you pick one up, so be wary that a fight will likely ensue.
Once you've nabbed some gravitino balls and tucked them away in your backpack, simply high tail away from the sentinel hordes and use your scanner to find the next batch. Grab enough and you can make a decent amount at the terminal. Don't bother fighting the sentinels, as they will only send stronger forces - instead, hop in your ship and fly above the ground for a bit without leaving orbit. Soon after, they'll give up looking for you.
7 Derelict Freighters
Derelict freighters are eerily similar to Dead Space, so expect horror galore. They were added in the Desolation update and they can be explored to find both units and nanites - two different currencies in the game. You can tackle these with friends or alone, but expect to be creeping around dark and abandoned halls that faced an unclear demise.
To find a Derelict Freighter, the scrap dealers are your go-to, as they sell Emergency Broadcast Reciever for 5 million units, increasing in price with each one you buy on the same day. It's not cheap, but when you arrive, you're likely to find enough loot for a profit. If that's too much of an investment, though, Helios on the Space Anomaly gives out a free Emergency Broadcast Reciever once per week.
6 Crashed Ships
Spend enough time in No Man's Sky and you're sure to encounter distress signals. Some will be downed freighters or a citizen in peril, but other times you'll find a crashed and damaged ship. Spend a minimal amount of resources fixing up these downed ships by repairing only the launch thrusters and pulse engine, then take them to the nearest space station.
Once you arrive, head to the Starship Outfitting Terminal and scrap the ship. You'll receive a reduced amount of the ship's value due to the damage but still several hundred thousand units, and an added bonus of some free ship upgrades that can be used or sold for nanites.
5 Broken Machinery
Finding units is all fine and dandy but not everything in No Man's Sky can be bought with that form of currency, so where exactly is the best-guaranteed place to get nanites? There's broken machinery which can be found on nearly every planet or there are the aforementioned larval cores and freighters.
Your very first set of broken machinery can be found by your ship right at the tutorial world, but you may have missed how to scoop the nanites out of it — remove the goop or rust or whatever else is blocking up the system and some cash will pool out for you. Refine the slime into living slime and that can then be refined into nanites. It's a slower method, but with how much of this broken machinery you'll be running into, it's worth mentioning.
4 Albumen Pearls
Caves are filled with goodies so it's not just the surface that'll be your source for riches. Deep down in the caverns, you might come across some valuable pearls, among many other potential treasures and relics. While you can find a few different things that can be found, we're going to focus specifically on the Albumen Pearls.
They're found fairly easily by means of the Analysis Visor or scanner - though it does mean you'll have to interact with some slightly disturbing Humming Sacs to get them. However, the pearls inside can be worth around 10,000 units each, so gathering them in bulk can be a way to make some quick cash. They're indicated by a diamond icon on your visor, which is fitting since they fetch quite a nice price at the terminals.
3 Galactic Trading
Every Space Station in No Man's Sky has a galactic trade terminal on it. You can also find them in some small buildings and at on-planet trading posts. They allow you to buy and sell all manner of things, of which you'll no doubt be familiar with if you're trying to make a fortune. However, you can make use of the economies of each system as you travel, which can earn you plenty of units at a fast pace.
Usually, the top of the trade menu will feature some complex items that you don't have much need for - produced tech or local components, that sort of thing. Take a look through them and find something with a high value, but at a low trade rate (this will be listed underneath the item in the same menu). Buy these items in bulk, and then head over to another system's Space Station. Once there, check to see if you can sell these items for a profit. If not, keep hopping systems until you can - it won't take long. after a few runs, you'll see your units increasing at a rapid rate.
2 Ancient Bones
If a planet has ancient bones, stop what you're doing and get down on the surface and start searching for buried treasure modules. They don't stack, so make sure you have plenty of room in your inventory, but the pay-off is worth it as they can fetch a price from roughly 80,000 to 2 million units each - or even more depending on the rarity.
There are three variants - blue: common, purple: rare, and gold: legendary. They're abundant when you find a planet that houses them, so your best bet is to set up a camp that you can teleport to whenever you need some quick cash. This method is perfect for players who are new to the game as well - a short while of using your Analysis Visor to locate them and some quick digging, and you'll be good to go.
1 Salvaged Technology Data
Salvaged data is used to research base-building schemes and the like, whether that's the starting teleporter, underwater structures, or decorative pieces like a sweet curved sofa - but eventually, you'll no longer need them. This will be much later, as there is an abundance of structures and furnishings for you to unlock, but it is inevitable that you will have them all.
Once you're no longer finding a need for Salvaged Data, they are still absolutely worth going out on the hunt for with your terrain manipulator. In bulk, they can bring in millions of units at a time. Their value, combined with how easy they are to find since they're needed to research essential blueprints, suddenly makes them an incredibly easy way to accumulate units - they're on pretty much every single planet.
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