No Man's Sky multiplayer is finally here, about two years after the game launched, but exactly how multiplayer works in he game is still a little bit up in the air.

On this page we'll break down everything we know about it so far - some things are probably going to take quite some time to be confirmed by the community - and likewise we'll keep it up to date as we learn more.

No Man's Sky multiplayer explained - how does Multiplayer work in NEXT?

No Man's Sky multiplayer comes with some caveats. It's not, obviously, an MMO. Not every player who's playing the game is playing in the same 'instance' as everyone else - if you're not in a party with someone and you decide to try and meet up with them at a specific location, you're probably not going to see them there when you arrive.

Look! People!

Instead, No Man's Sky's multiplayer has limits: there's a maximum of 16 people in any instance of the game at once, as we understand it, and you can only party up with three other people, making a party of four.

What's more, it seems to be the case that only you and the up-to-three other players in your party are visible as actual player avatars. The other twelve in your instance of the game are likely to just be the "floating orbs" that were already introduced in a previous update. It's worth saying, though, that this is yet to be officially confirmed, although we've tested it ourselves and it seems to be correct.

When we tested it, we found that when two players joined into the same Solar System, and the same instance (or server), travelled to each other, but weren't in a party, we appeared as floating orbs to one another, as you would in a previous update.

Our orb friend.

When we partied up and did the same thing, we could see each other - so that theory seems to be true: you can see players in your party as actual avatars, and players in your instance but not in your party as floating orbs.

Cycle back to our main hub for what's new in what's new in No Man's Sky NEXT and more basic info on the big update, otherwise take a look at our deep dive on No Man's Sky multiplayer explained for more on teaming up, our guide to base building, to how to expand your Exosuit, Ship and Multi-tool inventory space, and Freighters and Frigates explained. Plus other handy stuff like how to repair your ship and get the Hermetic Seal, Pure Ferrite, Navigation Data and Signal Booster, locations of theAtlas Pass v1, v2 and v3, a guide to No Man's Sky money and how to earn Units fast, plushow to get Antimatter and the Antimatter recipe, and even how to save the game in No Man's Sky, too. Finally, we have pages on how to reach the centre of the galaxy, how to get Chromatic Metal, and a Journey Milestones list, too.

How to join games, find players, and other things to know about No Man's Sky multiplayer

There are a whole range of permutations for how joining games works, and where you'll spawn on joining a game, but here are the essentials.

When you start up No Man's Sky, or quit to the menu from your current game, you'll be presented with two options: Play Game or Join Game.


Play Game

If you select Play Game, then you won't join any other players in your party - essentially you'll be joining 15 other players in an instance of the game's universe, but they'll only ever see you as a floating orb. You could find each other by chance or never find each other at all.

It is, however, still possible for other players to join on you specifically, into your party, if they have you as a friend. It's also always going to be the case that you're thrown into an instance with other players, unless you go into the in-game menu and turn off Network Features all together.


Join Game

When you select Join Game, you'll then be given two more options: join someone you know, from the list, who's on your friends list, or join random players.

Whatever you choose, you'll be in a party with those players, meaning whoever you joined can actually see you avatar, communicate with you, share resources with you, and so on, vice versa.

Where things get weird is when you choose to load a previous save, or start a new one - we're still figuring this out ourselves because there are some complications involved, but here's what we know about that:

  • If you Join Game on someone and select an old save where you were in the same systems already in that save, then you'll appear where you last saved.
  • If you do the same, but in that save you're loading you weren't in the same systems already, then you'll load into their system. That's our experience, at least!
  • If you select a New Game instead of an old save, you'll start a new game with all the usual Ship-fixing introductory stuff on a planet in the same system as the person you're joining - again, this is from our own testing.
After loading into a friend's game who had warm jumped to a new system from our last one, we spawned floating in space in that system, instead of in the hanger of the other system where we actually saved.

So basically, it seems to be the case that if you join other players, you always join in their general location (at least within the same System as them), even if the save you're loading was in a different system altogether. You do, however, bring your ship and inventory with you if you're loading a save from beforehand.

We'll update this page as we learn more but, for now, that should hopefully clear up some early questions!

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About the author

Chris Tapsell

Chris Tapsell

Staff Writer

Chris Tapsell is Eurogamer's Staff Writer, its newest Chris, and a keen explorer of the dark arts of gaming, from League of Legends to the murky world of competitive Pokémon.