Become a cargo-smuggling space pirate in the No Man's Sky Outlaws update

Twitter got all excited the other day when No Man's Sky creator Sean Murray posted a tiny pirate flag emoji. That's all it took for the hype to get dialed up as fans speculated this must be the dawn of some new space pirate update on the brink of release, with cargo smuggling, pirate missions, and black market features.

Turns out, a lot of that was correct. The new No Man's Sky update is called Outlaws and you'll finally be able to live the life of a space pirate in the infinite cosmos. No Man's Sky's seedy underworld will be explored in the update, including pirating missions, black-market technology, contraband smuggling, and pirate-run spaceports in outlaw star systems.

Also there are cape physics. Because there are capes. Check it out in the trailer above.

I remember an update (I don't remember which update) that added dormant space stations. They were lit with spooky red lights and were completely abandoned: no vendors, no NPCs at all. From the trailer it looks like those stations may be populated with space pirates now. That's where you'll acquire new pirate missions and black-market tech. "Like-minded players can even acquire a forged passport that will allow them to by-pass the authorities," says developer Hello Games.

To go along with your new life as an outlaw, how about some new ships? For the first time since the Living Ship update, a new class of starship has been added, and they look pretty darn sick with those extendable solar sails. You won't have to ditch any of your current ships when you find a new solar ship, either: the maximum number of player ships has been increased from six to nine.

Naturally, smuggling contraband will attract the attention of trigger-happy sentinels, but that's not all you'll need to worry about. Just because you're now a pirate doesn't mean you won't still have to fight other pirates, because stealing from thieves is a good way to make a living. You won't be alone in battle, however: AI-controlled squadmates can be hired to act as your personal wingmen, and they can even be upgraded over time to improve their flight and combat skills. You'll be leading a real space pirate gang.

To go along with all this extra pew-pew-pew you'll be doing, combat has been overhauled. "Handling has been improved, weapons have new visual effects and enemy starships now have shields," says Hello Games. "Depth has also been added to weapon selection with a variety of specialist secondary effects, such as slowing enemy engines or disabling shield systems."

"Ship-to-ship combat can now occur within a planet’s atmosphere too—and pirates may raid your settlements. For those who find Space Combat difficult, flight accessibility has been significantly improved with a new Auto-Follow mode."

Are you ready for a life of crime? Space crime? The Outlaws update arrives today, and, as always, is free for owners of No Man's Sky.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.