On 1 October 2017 I discovered and conducted a preliminary investigation of an abandoned settlement in No Man’s Sky, and discovered another anomaly caused by the NMS v1.3 “Atlas Rises” update, which proved catastrophic to the human inhabitants of the Galactic Hub (renamed “Legacy Hub” post-evacuation). This brief report documents the location and excavation of the settlement, and the other anomaly found floating just above the planet’s surface.
The Galactic Hub once occupied a series of star systems in the Euclid Galaxy, these systems hosting human players who established bases on dozens of worlds orbiting dozens of stars. Although my recent archaeological investigations have centered on the Legacy Hub’s capital planet of Drogradur, I decided to explore a nearby system to compare what settlements look like within the Hub. The system I chose was HUB-G-193 (aka “deGrasse System”) in the Rentocnii Conflux, which hosts the Legacy Hub’s systems. I chose this system because of its close proximity to Drogradur, and because of the large number of planets orbiting the star there.
Once I arrived in the deGrasse System, I scanned it from my ship to determine if there was a player-base available to explore. There was, owned by player PLOTKING, on the planet renamed “Pr” discovered by player Broxi_Bear1872.
Occupied/shared bases appear on a player’s HUD as a black flag with two white dots. Players can aim for this location, and when they land, can enter the shared base to sign the guest register. I have done this before on a base in Drogradur, which is why I was surprised not to see a base at all upon approaching the flag icon.
I do not yet know the original disposition of atmosphere and resources on planet Pr, but in its current state, the world is without atmosphere, and is mostly sand, arches, and canyons. It is devoid of plant and animal life with a light Sentinel presence.
Nearing the objective of PLOTKING’s base, a number of Communications Terminals appeared on my HUD. Players use these terminals to leave messages for others to find. A cluster of terminals like the one pictured above indicates the presence of a portal, a gateway for fast-travel between planets by use of glyphs.
I have observed this type of portal-clustering of terminals on Drogradur and its neighboring planet, so I expected to see a portal here, too. Oddly, even though icons for terminals and the base were visible, the actual structures were not.
I landed near the cluster, and then walked towards the flag for PLOTKING’s base.
Upon arriving at the base-flag, it became clear that the base was actually underground. I’ve seen this before, too, but on purpose, namely when excavating for crates at the sites of crashed freighters. No Man’s Sky v1.3 introduced these plus the “Terrain Manipulator” function for the multi-tool. Players can now build things out of materials they find on planets. But they can also excavate.
I set up my own Communication Terminal directly above where PLOTKING’s base should have been. I entered the date, site name, and NMS (but with a typo, which I cannot edit, intending for it to read “NMSAS”). I fully expected to tunnel down to the base, which was now trapped under about 50 m of sand thanks to the catastrophic event of v1.3.
What I discovered through tunneling is that the base and the c. two dozen Communication Terminals are buried under the bedrock, which the Terrain Manipulator cannot cut through. I attempted to tunnel to other nearby terminals, but it’s clear that these are under the bedrock, too. So while I can pinpoint the locations of these terminals and of the base, I will never be able to read what they say or identify who left them.
Watch the video below to see where the base and terminals should be, and how the Terrain Manipulator works.
Following the brief excavation, I wanted to see if there were other Communication Terminals that I could read. As it happens, there were.
About a 1-minute flight away were three grouped Communications Terminals suspended in mid-air.
Players of NMS will know that it is impossible to place Communications Terminals in free space. Based on their current placement, and the fact that the notes from each terminal reference climbing a mountain, it is clear that these terminals mark the previous disposition of the planet’s landscape prior to v1.3, and even gives a hint to the shape. There used to be a mountain here, but now it is only sand. The video below shows a flyover as well as what the terminals say.
The results of today’s initial explorations of planet Pr might mark the first in-game excavation of a human-player settlement buried by a catastrophic event that had consequences unintended by the game’s developer (Hello Games). This work also documents how a planet’s landscape changed, and what happened to the human-placed material culture now abandoned because of the recent exodus from the original Galactic Hub. Base on my preliminary investigations of planets Drogradur and Pr, the archaeology of post-v1.3 NMS appears to be very rich indeed.
—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming
Archaeogaming is a collective of gamers who are interested in applying archaeological methods while exploring game-worlds. We are interested in the evolution of gaming worlds and in the use of archaeology while in-game. Archaeogaming was founded by Andrew Reinhard on June 9, 2013.
I’ve been lucky, as most of my beacons and assets were buried shallow, floating near grade or inside objects. Many players have been before me in places but left little to discover.
Are you going to make this study part of your thesis?
Yes, pending the successful outcome of my ethics review later this month.