How to make money in No Man’s Sky

One of the first things we wanted to do in No Man’s Sky was find a new ship—because to hell with that starting inventory size. Saving up three or four million credits for a fancier ride is a bit of a chore if you’re just selling Gek Charms, though, and the free, abandoned ships you might find are a crapshoot—they can be worse than the ship you already have. So you need to make money, fast. While you’re going to have to grind it out to some extent, there are ways to rapidly increase your capital.

Buy low, sell high

The resource mining in No Man’s Sky can feel like a bit of a grind at times, but luckily there are two things that can lessen your workload: space station sales terminals and other traders. Put them together and you can make a big profit simply by carrying goods from one to the other.

Anytime you dock at a space station and awkwardly jetpack to the second floor, take a look at the galactic sales terminal. When you choose to sell items from your inventory, it will list the terminal’s buying prices. Keep an eye out for a yellow star next to certain items: it indicates you can sell these item for a much higher price, usually about 95% more than the galactic average. In one station I recently visited, the terminal was buying Grantine, an alloy, for 70,446.6 each, a 97.6% markup.

Once you’ve noted the items and prices, head back to the landing strip, where a steady stream of traders will be constantly landing, sitting, and then taking off. Approach each ship, and see what these merchants—too lazy to climb a flight of stairs themselves—have for sale. After checking with a few ships, I found a Gek selling Grantine for 42,267.9 per piece, a shade below the galactic average. That’s a nice profit someone essentially carrying a lump of rock about 40 feet.

Not every trader will have what you’re looking for (unless it’s a common item, but those profits won’t be nearly as worth your time), but after about 10 minutes of hustling Grantine around I’d netted around 700,000 units in profit. It’s not the most stimulating work, but it’s a great way to put a nest egg together.  

Attack freighters

As you’re scooting around No Man’s Sky’s solar systems, you’ll often see a small fleet of trading ships arrive out of warp (or, they may already be there waiting). Fly close enough to one of these freighters, and you’ll see their hulls are lined with cargo containers.

Dock at a space station, climb out to save your game, then climb back in and head to a freighter. I’m not suggesting you open fire on a bunch of innocent traders, but really, you should. Blast as much of that cargo out of their hull and into your inventory as you can. This will alert sentinels, the do-gooders of the universe, and their ships will immediately open fire. Just ignore them and keep peeling open cargo vaults. Don’t worry about fighting back or escaping: the plan is for you to die.

After you die, you’ll respawn back in the space station. Fly back out and find your grave, where all the cargo you just illegally acquired has been politely left for you. Collect it and sell it back at the stations, and repeat this as many times as you like, because you’re a terrible, terrible astronaut.

Raid planets

Whenever you land on a planet and are forcibly ejected from your cockpit, hit your scanner and look for any exclamation points among the icons that appear in your HUD. If you see an exclamation point, head over to it and you’ll find it’s most likely a Gravitino Ball, a Vortex Cube, or an Albumen Pearl. These are rare and expensive items, perfect for selling at a huge profit.

One problem: sentinels get incredibly angry if you pick one of these items up and try to abscond with it. In fact, many planets that have these resources are high security planets, meaning sentinels will shoot you on sight, before you’ve even done anything wrong. When landing on a planet with a high security rating, you’ve most likely struck paydirt.

Begin by clearing up as many slots in your inventory as you can, and by making sure you’ve got enough plutonium in your launch thrusters to take off. Then run around scanning for these rare resources. Once you’ve spotted four or five of them, get ready, because the second you pick one up you’ll be attacked, not just by flying sentinels but higher-level ground-based robotic laser dogs. If you want to fight it out, that’s up to you, but we prefer to sprint back to the ship as fast as we can, collecting all the rare items we spotted along the way. Then take off, fly off for a few seconds to let the sentinels cool down, then land and repeat. Once your inventory is full, find a trading depot, unload ‘em, and repeat as many times as you like.

Scan wildlife

Some of the biggest financial rewards come from thoroughly getting to know a planet’s creatures. If you scan every animal on a planet, which you can keep track of in the Discoveries menu, then you’ll have the option to upload that data for a huge cash reward. A single planet can yield 350,000 units or more depending on how many different species you need to scan. It’s not the most entertaining task to grind out, but it’s definitely worth doing if you find a planet you like. You can pair it with your usual exploration ritual since animals don’t stray too far from most outposts, and while using your scanner, you can see small dot icons that indicate the location of scannable entities. If an animal’s dot turns green when you point your scanner in its direction, you’ve already scanned it. If it’s red, it’s new. A few tips if you’re having trouble: find some high ground and don’t forget to look up.

Craft and sell Bypass Chips

Bypass Chips are about the easiest items to craft: they take only 10 iron and 10 plutonium to make. Not only are iron and plutonium easily found just about everywhere you look on a planet’s surface, but the chips themselves typically sell for a few thousand units on the galactic market. So, if you’re trying to make ends meet or are just short of being able to afford something you desperately want, exit out of whatever trade window you’re in, craft as many Bypass Chips as your inventory can hold, and sell them right then and there.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

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.