No Man's Sky multiplayer has been functioning for a little while now, since the NEXT update back in 2018. How it works, however, has changed, with the Beyond update bringing new elements like the Nexus and a slightly unclear reworking of the joining and inviting system, too.
Here's everything you need to know about the essentials of No Man's Sky's multiplayer so far, based on our own experiences and what the community has found following Beyond's debut.
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No Man's Sky multiplayer explained - how does Multiplayer work and what's changed in 2019?
No Man's Sky multiplayer comes with some caveats. Despite the addition of a kind of social space in the Nexus, 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.
Instead, No Man's Sky's multiplayer has limits: there's a maximum of 8 people in any instance on consoles, if the community has it right, and this goes up to 32 players on PC (the official word is that it's "between 8 and 32, depending on platform", as per the initial No Man's Sky patch notes for Beyond. You can party with up to three other people, making a group of four, as far as we can tell.
One change, however, is that even players who aren't in your party are visible to you as actual player characters. Previously, anyone not in your party that you bumped into by pure chance would appear as a floating orb. That means the other seven to 31 players in your instance all look and move like players properly do.
There are two ways to get interacting with others in No Man's Sky's multiplayer: by invinting and joining players directly, and through meeting others at the Nexus. More on those in the sections below!
Cycle back to our main hub for what's new in what's new in No Man's Sky Beyond 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, an introduction into electrical wiring and powering your base, 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 players and invite friends in No Man's Sky
Just like with NEXT, 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.
If you select Play Game, then you won't join any other players in your party - essentially you'll be joining seven to 31 other players in an instance of the game's universe, and you'll see each other as a proper player character if you happen to stumble across one another, but you won't be grouped up, partied, or spawned together in any way, barring the Nexus (again, more on the Nexus below).
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.
When you select Join Game, you'll then be given one more option: who to join from your friends list. Previously, you'd have a second option - to join a random player - which would spawn you in with them. That option, as far as we can tell, now no longer exists - despite the game's menu saying you can join "random" players.
The list is either empty, if none of your friends are playing, or its populated with your friends who are currently active in the game (note that if you and a friend are both in the menu then the friend list will appear as empty - one of you will need to be properly in game to be joined onto). As far as we can tell, there's defintiely no random joining at the time of writing for us.
Back to joining friends, and once you select join, and the save you want to load, you'll be in a party with those players, meaning whoever you joined can 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 as far as we can tell things are the same as before, with NEXT:
- 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, we understand that 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.
Note that, at the time of writing soon after launch, the joining feature seems to be bugged. You'll spawn into what seems to be your friend's system, but immediately become "unmatched". In theory though, things should work as described above.
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!
No Man's Sky's Nexus lobby explained
Finally, there's the Nexus, a kind of MMO-style shared space where you can see and interact with the other players - party or not - who are in your current instance of the game.
This is located in the Space Anomaly, which you'll reach around four or five hours into the game, if you just go straight from one main objective to the next with little pottering around between.
Unlike before, where it appeared largely at random after every one or two warps between systems, the Space Anomaly is now something that you can control. You'll reach it after warping to a new system for the second time, where you're asked to follow an anomalous signal to a planet and find a kind of obelisk. From there the next objective is to head into space, and it appears for the first time.
Once you've visited it once, the Space Anomaly is summonable. Simply fly out into space on your ship, and bring up the menu by pressing Down on the D-Pad. Select "Summon the Space Anomaly" from there, and it'll warp in right in front of you.
On board, you'll find a selection of players from your current instance of the game, going about their business as usual. You can use emotes to sort of half-communicate with them, but otherwise the main way to interact is through missions.
These are selected from the Nexus itself, which is a sort of glowing green cube directly in front of you as you land inside the Anomaly. Simply interact with it and you can join or start a mission, and it'll warp you to the mission's location when everyone's readied up and hopped into their ships. That, effectively, is it!