No Man’s Sky has is an open ended game, where the goals are mostly self-driven. There are certainly crumbs along the path, to give you an indication that something exists to chase, but the decision to do so is mostly yours to make. Now, compared to most MMOs today where the systems are not at all connected (or just dumped at the next expansion), most of the systems in NMS are interconnected. Derelict Freighters, Frigate Missions, Nexus Quests, and Mission Boards all get you to a similar goal – improving your own freighter.
One of the challenges of these open games is that the initial breadcrumbs often lead to a massive gulf of content, before you can find footing for the actual goals. Examples are things like Factorio or Sim City, where you will likely reach a point where you need to undo a lot of what was built in order to move to the next step, as you didn’t fully understand the logistical implications of earlier choices. Minecraft sort of has this, where you have “starter homes” before you get the idea of the larger/complex systems. NMS is more like this, where development is almost always forward. It’s certainly possible to make bad choices, but they are clearly bad choices when made, and you can recover from them quickly. Even your starter base isn’t a bad thing, because you unlock more blueprints, see how the various systems interwork, and rather simply grow it to something larger (though likely, you will want a base on another planet for reasons…)
Along this path is the RNG of loot. There’s a ton of it, and all of it has some use. Either you craft with it, eat it, upgrade with it, or sell it. Some of these items are of a rarer quality than others and are therefore worth more. When you find your first item that’s worth 500,000 credits, you’re going to be extremely happy. On the 5th time, you’ll start wondering how you can more readily acquire said item, and if there’s something beyond. Well, there is a path for both.
Currently, there are two “ultimate” crafts – Statis Devices and Fusion Igniters. Each is worth approximately 15m credits. The top row of that image is the base material required to start. With the exception of Mordite, each one can be farmed in raw form, though the pre-requisites to do so varies a tad. The metal & gas items have to be mined, while the plants need to be harvested.
The harvesting part isn’t too bad, you need glass Bio-Domes to harvest 16 plants. You need seeds and some elements to get started, so it will take a few days to get it all sorted out at a single base. No power required, just the glass to build it all (which ideally is bought).
The mining part is less obvious. You need a Survey Device in the multi-tool in order to find gas/mineral hot spots. It’s a hot/cold game to find them, and then fingers crosses it’s the actual material you want. Finding Paraffinium took me way too long. Once you have those 2 elements, then you need to find a power hotspot, giving you 3 points of interest. Finding the center of those, you build a Base Computer, a Portal, and then some Supply Depots. You then branch out from this base, back to the points of interest and build various collectors (harvester, miner, generator) and then connect all that back to the base you built. Repeat for all the base materials you need (3 to 4 bases). Building each base like this also has a cost, mostly in Metal Plates. You’ll also learn how to “extend” your base past the 300u limit up to the 1000u limit (this really feels like there’s a bug preventing the true size).
The table above gives you an idea of the materials required to make 10 Stasis Devices. The first 2 items listed are actually a combination of Oxygen + Carbon/Cobalt. In most of the scenarios, you can expect to wait 24 hours between collection timeframes, assuming you have 50 or so of each plant, 2 harvesters of the elements, and 5 supply depots along with it. Getting the entire production chain ready is a good 10+hours of effort, with a fair chunk of shopping ahead of time to stock up on construction material (metal plates, ferrite dust, chromatic metal and glass most notably).
Once it’s up and running, it’s a rather simple affair to collect the material (<5 mins), process the Carbon/Cobalt (2 mins), and the craft the materials (2 mins). If you time it right, you can queue the processing for the next day, making it even faster. That’s a nice 150m in your pocket per day.
Scaling to MORE than this is a tad more painful, mostly due to the fact that items only stack to 9,999 and you will run out of inventory space. Plus, with perhaps 1 or 2 exceptions, there is no object in the game that costs more than 150m credits. Being a billionaire is more status symbol than much else. Though perhaps it can help seed a massive gold mining farm…