No Man’s Sky: How To Play Co-Op

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When No Man’s Sky launched on consoles in August of 2016, it was met with a mixed reception. For a space exploration-survival sim, it was a little barebones. However, over time, it has changed for the better, as each new update has brought a new feature or fix to further improve the game.

One of the biggest (and by far the most popular) of these changes was the addition of multiplayer. Bringing co-op to the once vast and empty universe of the game had a huge impact. No Man’s Sky is now the multiplayer space survival game that fans wanted it to be when it was first shown off at VGX in 2013. Getting started with co-op in the game can be a little tough, though. Here’s how to play No Man’s Sky multiplayer.

Updated January 08, 2024 By Matthew Mckeown: Hello Games has continued to support and nurture No Man’s Sky ever since its rocky launch. Now the game is teeming with alien life, vast colorful worlds filled with all sorts of dangers and droids, plus a massive variety of ship types and activities to do with friends.

There are multiple platforms to play on as well as VR and the Nintendo Switch even has its own version of Co-Op multiplayer. So grab your friends, form your party, and get ready to soar into the vast reaches of procedurally generated space in a fleet of ships with this updated look at how to play Co-Op in No Man’s Sky.

How To Play No Man’s Sky With Friends

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Previously, the directions for accessing the co-op in No Man’s Sky were a little obtuse. When it first launched, there was still a small chance you could run into another player and, whilst they appeared as a floating ball of light, you were still unable to interact except through text or VOIP.

Since the NEXT Update dropped in July 2018, getting into the cooperative aspect of No Man’s Sky has never been easier. Now there are two options: players can select join games to directly load into a friend’s session or start-up solo play and visit The Nexus.

How To Directly Join A No Man’s Sky Co-op Session

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When it was first introduced to the game, multiplayer was a bit of a mixed bag. From horrendous lag spikes, to crashes, and other issues that could crop up like the infamous bugs that would trigger from someone saving their game during a multiplayer session, being social in space took a lot of trial and error.

Thankfully the game’s multiplayer component is in a good place now and it’s pretty easy and quick to get started cruising around the universe with your chums. For starters, when you load the game you’ll have the option to play single-player on your own or host a multiplayer session by selecting “Host New Session” and then inviting people in or using the session options to customize things. Such as making the game private for just you and your group or turning it into a big public excursion, the choice is yours.

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On the multiplayer menu, you can also now share and add people via a Friend Code, which basically allows you to add people to your friends list via an in-game code system. If the code system is a little too fiddly for you though, there’s also the tried and trusted option of joining someone directly or sending an invite to a buddy through your platform of choices friend list.

There’s also the Nexus, but we’ll get into that in a minute as it’s a whole system unto itself as well. But essentially, it’s extremely easy to get started with multiplayer in this game.

The friend codes are used because No Man’s Sky is cross-platform, so it makes it easier to sync everyone up together across multiple systems.

No Man’s Sky On The Nintendo Switch

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For those using the Nintendo Switch version, you’ll find that you can also play co-op multiplayer. But it does come with a caveat. Those using the Switch can only host or join a local co-op game due to the limitations of the console, and there’s also no cross-play with that particular platform.

It can be accessed the same way as the other console version through the multiplayer menu and though the performance isn’t as smooth as the other consoles, you do get an exclusive ship to use on the Switch.

How The Nexus Works

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The Nexus acts as a big MMO social hub. Here, players can run around, use the various vendors, emote, and chat to each other using VOIP, set up missions to run, or open exploration sessions all through the Mission Board at the center of the Nexus with nearby players.

However, this hub needs to be unlocked first. Once you’ve progressed far enough through No Man’s Sky’s main quest line, you will receive a series of strange signals to investigate that will culminate in The Nexus warping into nearby space. After that, it can be summoned and entered at will.

Can Anyone Join Your Game?

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Like most multiplayer-based games, there is a level of privacy available when you decide to host a co-op session in No Man’s Sky. So you don’t have to worry about randoms forcing their way in if you don’t want them.

This can be achieved by going into your Network Settings and turning off the option for anyone to join. You can also set your lobbies in The Nexus to invite-only if you’re looking for a session that’s just you and your friends.

How To Set Up Missions

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One particularly fun distraction in co-op is the fact that randomly generated missions are available. They can reward you with anything from equipment to nanite clusters, or No Man’s Sky’s cosmetic currency, quicksilver.

To get started with these missions, just head to The Nexus in any star system you’re in and walk over to the Nexus Interface next to where you parked up your ship. From there, you can build a private or public party. After that, you can choose from a range of activities, including hunting down pirates, investigating signals, or collecting resources.

Each mission is played in its own instance, so you and your friends can enjoy your task without strangers stopping by.

Things To Do With Friends In No Man’s Sky

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As No Man’s Sky continues to add update after update into the game, the number of activities you can get up to with friends has skyrocketed. What was once just a humble exploration experience, now you can do everything from base building, to majorly exciting missions and even long-running expeditions into the deep reaches of space.

It can be a little overwhelming at first to find out what you can do and where, but we’ve kept an eye on how things have been progressing over the years and there’s a substantial list of fun things to do. If you’re curious about what your group can get up to, here’s a selection of things to try.

Race With Your Friends

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One of the most unique additions to multiplayer in No Man’s Sky is the ability for players to make their own custom racetracks with their friends.

To get started on building your own circuit, you need to first construct a Race Initiator. After that’s set up, players can build their course and then drive along the route, to map it out and set a time for visitors to beat (just remember the importance of dropping checkpoints periodically).

Anyone stopping by your base or downloading the circuit via the Base Sharing option can share their lap times for your course.

Tame And Ride Flying Creatures

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Although there were already plenty tameable of critters creeping around the planets in No Man’s Sky, there weren’t many flying creatures aside from the gigantic beetles. But the universe’s Zoo has had some new additions.

With the Prisms update comes a whole new host of creepy crawlies or odd floating alien cryptids that you can climb onto and take to the skies with. Though you can’t tame everything, most aliens are mountable with the right amount of bait.

Taming a flying mount works the same as an ordinary mount, you just need to feed it bait so it becomes docile.

Take Part In Co-Op Expeditions

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One of the biggest additions to the variety of things you can do with your friends in a No Man’s Sky Co-Op session is the ability to go on a long-running expedition. These adventures can be played solo or with your friends as you explore the galaxy.

As you progress through these goals you will unlock exclusive items and rewards, from ship parts to skins. With social hubs dotted along the way where you can meet and interact with other players, they’re a great way to experience new and interesting elements of No Man’s Sky.

Explore The Vast Galaxy Of No Man’s Sky

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In No Man’s Sky, it can get a little lonely traversing the Big Empty with nothing but the soundtrack and your scanner for company. With co-op, however, you can bring in a buddy or two to keep you company.

Charting out new territory together, discovering intriguing new alien races (such as the Vy’keen) on strange worlds, or just having dogfights amongst asteroid clusters can be incredibly fun when you bring along friends. Exploration plays a big part in this game. Having another pair of hands to help mine resources or someone to watch your back when you’re out in the wild can make quite the difference.

Enjoy Co-Op Multiplayer Base Sharing

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Base building and open-world survival go hand in hand. As such, when the update to let players colonize planets with their own Star Bases launched in July of 2018, the game’s popularity skyrocketed.

To get started building your own spaceport with your friends, just fly to the surface of any planet you encounter and place down a Base Computer (this can be found in the Portable Tech section of the building menu).

Dropping one of these down requires some Chromatic Metal (which isn’t too hard to make). If you’re short on this, you can usually get some from refining Copper, which shouldn’t take too long.

Explore Abandoned Freighters and Face Other Threats In No Man’s Sky

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When the Desolation Update was announced in July of 2020, a new threat appeared: freighters infested with a mysterious alien organism. Each floating derelict is procedurally generated, so no two voyages aboard these abandoned space hulks will be the same.

One mission might yield rewards, while another the life of a crewman. You are unable to save onboard each of these behemoths (as they vanish instantly should you leave), so plan ahead and make sure your team is prepared for what they might find. In addition to these freighters, there are also Space Pirates and roaming robotic Sentinels of various levels and sizes on each planet.

Create Your Own Freighter Crew

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When Freighters first appeared in No Man’s Sky they were mostly just small places in space to hang out. Which was handy if all the planets in the system were inhospitable, and you needed a portable base. Though there wasn’t much use or room to build, after the Endurance update they got a substantial overhaul.

For starters, Freighters now provide direct access to teleport hubs and warp travel. So you don’t need to jump system in your starship and then call in your Freighters again. There’s also a larger selection of Capital class ships and timed exclusives.

As an example, for a while, the iconic Normandy ship from Mass Effect was also unlockable as an Expedition reward. If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one it’s worth grabbing some friends to make your own Spectre crew.

Settle A Colony

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In the beginning, the planets of No Man’s Sky were pretty barren and bland. But over time all sorts of fantastical and suitably alien flora and fauna were added and the ability to colonize these new strange landscapes has expanded right alongside it.

First, it was the ability to build a base. But with the Frontiers update, explorers were given the ability to found their own ramshackle settlements of their own. These post-apocalyptic-looking hamlets will upgrade and fill with NPCs over time, allowing you and your friends to carve out your own fiefdom, or colonize a planet wholesale with outposts spread throughout the procedurally generated alien continents.

Form A Mecha Squad

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There’s an almost endless list of co-op activities in No Man’s Sky. One particularly great one is the ability to form a mecha action squad with your mates. The Minotaur exo-suit was one of the many new vehicles added to No Man’s Sky. These clanking power suits are big, beefy, and able to be covered in all sorts of attachments and weaponry.

For example, you could have someone in the squad equipped with mining drills, lasers, and a lot of cargo space, whilst others could have big canons, tanky shields, and high mobility to fend off potential threats. With the Sentinel update, you could also bring a friendly Sentinel bot companion with you for extra backup. There are a lot of great robot toys to try out, so it’s worth checking out if you want to make a Pacific Rim-style fighting force.

Build New Atlantis

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The base building in No Man’s Sky was a little rough around the edges in the beginning. There wasn’t a lot of customization and your ability to get creative was stymied a little. Whilst some great designs did come out from the Community regardless of this, there wasn’t a lot of variety.

Then came the Prisms update where the options for secret space base building got a substantial boost. Now for example there is a whole subsection of building parts to make a base underwater or high in the sky. So you could grab a few friends, build some submarines, and set up shop at the bottom of the now large and dense alien oceans.

Compare Those Cosmetics

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When No Man’s Sky first launched, customization of your character wasn’t really much of an option. You couldn’t even see what you looked like, so there wasn’t much point. Now, however, showing off with others is at the forefront of the game, so, of course, you’ve got to have the fashion to flaunt.

Right from the jump, No Man’s Sky’s customization now lets you alter everything from greebles on your suit to the type of alien face you wear. There are a ton of them to choose from, and more are added regularly either as expedition exclusives or as part of a big update. Plus, with the addition of capes and undoubtedly more items in the pipeline, there are a lot of ways to show off your own sense of style in No Man’s Sky.

Collect Companions

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It can get quite lonely in space, even after a solid multiplayer session. To combat that, No Man’s Sky brought in the ability for you to go on a charm offensive with the local wildlife of any planetoid you happen to land on, within reason.

In the same vein as mounts, you can also tame a range of wildlife as pets or companions to keep you company as you wander around exploring the strange sights and sounds of this alien procedurally generated universe. With the Sentinels and Interceptor updates, the type of creatures you could pal around with has only increased. So your crew of chums can have quite the entourage.

Start A Smuggling Ring

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With the Outlaws update came the opportunity for you and your friends to break a few rules. Outlaw Stations were added, and the ability to transport dangerous and illicit goods was introduced, allowing you to make a tidy sum from suspicious items that can get confiscated if you are caught.

The rewards are worth it though as you can earn exclusive and powerful upgrade modules for your ship. Or, if you wanted to start some under-the-table wetwork, there’s the option for you and your friends to hunt down notorious Space Pirates and other Outlaws around the galaxy for a handsome fee.

Create Sqaudron Swarms

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In the early days of the game, it was easy to be outnumbered by hostile ships out in the ocean of stars, thankfully now you can live out your Rogue Squadron fantasy by bringing in some backup. A feature that was also introduced with the Outlaws update, now you can recruit an NPC fighter wing to escort you around space.

But, what makes this addition particularly devilish, is that not only can other players see your individual Squadrons, they can be attacked by them as well. So grab as many friends as you can and fill up the sky with swirling swarms of ships as you each summon your squadrons to protect your group and unleash laser-spewing pain on whatever intergalactic threat gets too close.

Start Your Own Custom Galaxy

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No Man’s Sky has a lot of moving parts now and it can be a little tricky and overwhelming to get everything up and running, especially if you’re new to the game. Thanks to the Waypoint update you can start up your own Custom Galaxy that comes with a highly personalized set of options.

For example, you can change everything from the combat difficulty to survival elements such as resource spawning and mining as well as the option for permadeath if you’re feeling particularly masochistic. There’s also Relaxed Mode, which lets you play the game with a lower difficulty so you can focus on just admiring the wonders of the weird universe you’re exploring.

Combat The Corruption

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As part of the Interceptor Update, No Man’s Sky has a new threat for you and your friends to take on in the form of purple crystal corruption that’s begun encroaching on planets throughout the universe. These strange purple crystals have corrupted and changed the local Sentinel population and made them much more dangerous to deal with.

These crystals have brought new arachnid-type enemies to the fray as well, but it’s worth taking this blight on as it allows for some pretty unique items, companions, jetpacks and other unique bits of gear to be built. The enemy AI is also a little smarter and will aggressively hunt you down as you try to blast apart these corrupting crystals.

Take Down Or Join The Space Pirates

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When No Man’s Sky was first shown off all those years ago, one thing that Sean Murray tried to sell was the ability to join or fight Space Pirates. It took some time, but at the end of 2023, the Echoes update finally brought what was promised. Alongside a wealth of over content, you can now join or completely annihilate massive Pirate Freighters.

These huge ships come with an array of anti-ship defenses that will give you and your fleet of friends quite a challenge if you want to get their loot. You’ll need to take down their shields and even fly along their interior like the classic Death Star Trench Run to blow up their defenses. It’s an exciting distraction that can make those long jaunts through space a bit more thrilling.

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