No Man’s Sky has both determinate and RNG elements, and they intersect in very interesting ways.
Obviously, in the “near infinite” variety of planets, there needs to be some randomization. Theoretically, there should be enough random to have bubble shooting dragons somewhere in this game. There’s a “pool” of events that can occur given fixed conditions. Every planet has creatures, plants, caves, secrets and so on. The variety of each changes, and the quantity, but they are there. Systems are classed on the star type, which impacts the resources found within. There’s a random element to the major race in a system, and then the type of industry. This also impacts the types of events in a given system, as well as the types of ships you’ll find. What remains random (in general) is the quantity and quality of an object.
NMS has a ranking system for many things, from the lowest (C) to the highest (S). Within each rank is some additional random aspect to stats, so that the best rank A item may be better than the worst rank S item, though the overlap is min-maxing in practical terms. A Gek system, for example, will have 7 shuttle types, 7 Haulers, 3 Fighters, 3 Explorers, and 1 Exotic. These types are randomly selected from a pool, but are fixed for that system – realoading will not change the look of these ships. This also applied to Freighters, which is where I’m going with this.
Freighters are acquired through space battles. These battles only trigger when both the following have occurred: 3 in-game hours have passed, and 5 warp jumps have completed. (They will not occur in an unoccupied system, a black hole system, or an Atlas system.) When you warp into a system, it will be assigned a specific Capital Ship Freighter, which is selected from a given pool. The “largest” of them require you finding the correct – random – system. I wanted a Resurgent Star Destroyer, the largest of the bunch inspired by Star Wars. To find this thing, I needed to ensure I had a save prior to my 5th jump. I created a save point and then made single warps until I found the ship TYPE I wanted. That’s RNG phase 1 down, which took about 30 minutes.
RNG phase 2 is finding the highest rank ship, S. That means reloading the same TYPE until I found the proper RANK. To do this, I entered the battle, went to the nearby star station, and created a restore point. This meant I could enter the freighter, scan it to see the rank, and reload if it was not S. The odds of finding an S aren’t exactly high, reports vary between 2% and 5%, with “better” chances in 3* systems or Outlaw systems. The good news is that the reload doesn’t require a battle, simply flying into the freighter. It took about 90 minutes of reloads to finally get an S class.
Effectively this was save scumming, where I limited the RNG portions to only the ones I could not control. Under normal circumstances, you can only roll the dice every 3 hours for a TYPE and RANK, which is a crazy level of random. All told, it took me just over 2 hours of reloads to get what I wanted, which is over 100 attempts. At regular rate, that would have been closer to 300 hours of gameplay. Yeah, I’m good.
Does this freighter have any practical value over others? There are some minimal stat boosts. The real benefit here is 100% cosmetic.
Next up is finding an exotic starship. The good news is that they always spawn as rank S, though the odds of spawn are relatively low. I think I found a way around this though… while I was hunting my freighter, I noticed that starships landed inside the saved freighter, and there was almost always an exotic within. Now the kicker is figuring what type of exotic I want, spawning a space battle (3 hours + 5 warps) in the proper system, and then entering the freighter to collect. Sounds simple, let’s see how that works out.