The whole Twitter stuff is enough distraction. I disabled my account yesterday and I’m moving on.
No Man’s Sky doesn’t have many timegated systems, 2 that are quite obvious – Frigate missions and Settlement Upgrades. The latter doesn’t have any real impact on gameplay today, and feels more like the seed of an idea. A sort of ant farm really. The former is a very weird (for this game) system that allows you to send smaller ships on missions, where they can return with various items. With two exceptions, these items can be found through other means, so this activity acts as a more passive gameplay than much else.
Obviously, I am not considering mining operations as timegated.
In 2020, the Living Ships update was added. This is a quest that starts in the Anomaly, requiring 3200 Quicksilver (a unique quest currency, takes less than a week to collect this much). Using the Void Egg, you embark on a quest that spans a few systems with relatively simple steps. Each quest then has a 24hr timer, so it ends up taking about 5 days to get to the final part, where you unlock a new starship. Living Ships are starships in a practical sense, all S class, and cannot take any normal upgrades. Selecting your ship is dependent on the system in which you unlock it… so some save scumming is advised to get a look you want. All told, about 2 weeks or so to get one. Now, aside from looking cool, in nearly every other regard it’s worse than any exotic ship due to the upgrade issue. Less cargo slots, slower speed, less damage…
In July 2022 the Endurance update added an upgrade path for Living Ships. You need Psychonic Eggs, which only come from Frigate Missions, and then only from missions where there is an Organic Frigate. To get the first Organic Frigate, you need a Dream Aerial, which is a random reward from a normal frigate mission. Getting more Organic Frigates pretty much requires Anomaly Detectors (found in asteroid fields), and then pulse driving until you get the proper encounter (could take 20 mins). Frankly, that is a ton of RNG and timegating to get something that does look cool, but is a real struggle to actually improve. I’ve got my ship, 10 Organic Frigates (that was not fun), and 3 upgrades. Now it’s just a matter of sending them on mission and hoping for RNGesus.
I do get that none of this actually matters in the larger scale, and it’s truly more of an end-game customization thing. The real joy in NMS comes from the discovery and building phase, and then slowly drifts off as the new-car-smell fades away. That joy lasts for way longer than I had expected. There’s a true sense of achievement when you finally reach one of your goals – be it automated mining, a cool base, or a new ship. The fact that you’re not pigeon-holed into a single activity in order to find progress is amazing.
I know I’m in the long tail now. I could reset the universe (crazy typing that out), build an underwater base, or complete a full farm setup for every remaining element (there are only 4 I don’t mine currently). Regardless of where this goes in the next few days/weeks, this ride has been absolutely amazing.