No Man's Sky's settlers are the most miserable bunch of creeps I've ever met

No Man's Sky settlers being sad
(Image credit: Hello Games)

I walk into my office in No Man's Sky.

That's not a phrase I thought I'd ever write, because why would I have an office in a limitless space exploration game? Well, the Frontiers update added settlements and as the new "Overseer" of the settlement (those quotation marks are sarcastic and will be explained shortly) I now have an office at the settlement for doing settlement management things.

So, I walk into my office in No Man's Sky. Waiting for me in the dark, sitting in my chair and illuminated by the light of a single lamp, is one of the Gek settlers. I can read his thoughts. He's jealous of me.

How can I read his thoughts? That's an excellent question. Along with my new job as settlement manager, I can read the thoughts, or at least the emotions and actions, of all the settlers in little text-pop-ups that hover around their bodies. I'm not sure why becoming a settlement admin means I suddenly have psychic powers, especially since I don't even speak Gek that well in the first place.

(Image credit: Hello Games)

At first I'm alarmed to learn that this creep sitting silently in my office in the middle of the night is jealous of me, mainly because earlier I spotted another settler "Taking a Parasite Sample to the Overseer's Office." If my settlers don't like me and can just waltz into my office with alien parasites, are they planning a coup?

But I go from alarmed to annoyed in a space-second. Wait, why is this settler jealous of me? Does he think, as Overseer, I'm enjoying some life of luxury? If so, he is wildly mistaken. I am not managing the settlement, I am doing literally everything around here.

For example: I can choose to add buildings to the settlement, like a tower. The tower requires resources to be built, in this case, hundreds of units of magnetized ferrite. Which means someone has to spend long minutes shooting rocks with a laser, collect ferrite dust, stuff it into a refinery, refine the dust into pure ferrite, and then re-refine the pure ferrite into magnetized ferrite.

In No Man's Sky, shooting rocks is entry-level labor. So who is out there doing it? Do you think it's any of the twenty alien settlers who spend the day walking in circles around the settlement? No, it's me, the "Overseer." And after feeding the ferrite to the construction robot and waiting for the first portion of the tower to be built, I learn the next portion also requires several hundred units of magnetized ferrite, so I lurch back outside and start zapping rocks again. I have no idea what this dude is jealous about.

Above: A gallery of Gek misery

Considering I'm in charge yet doing 100% of the work, I'd expect the aliens to be a bit happier in general. They've got it made in the shade. But they're miserable. I run around psychically gleaning their emotions, and find one "Tired and grumpy," another "Disappointed with the settlement," and another "Looking for someone to blame." Several more are "Still angry about yesterday" and "On the warpath" and "Regretting the past."

I do find their relentless misery a bit charming. My favorite is the alien "Unimpressed with life." Consider all of life, and this dude gives it a "meh" out of 10. It's gloomy as hell, but can't really say I disagree.

(Image credit: Hello Games)

Thing is, though, this isn't a randomly chosen settlement. I didn't want to take on a settlement located on some horrible toxic planet with acid rain or erupting volcanoes or that miserable colorless planet I found that one time. I specifically ignored the quest given to me and used a planetary map to find a settlement on my own home planet to manage, because my planet is perfect. There are no angry sentinels, there's no bad weather, there are no hostile creatures. It's literally described as a paradise planet.

So what did these settlers do? They built a settlement on "cursed ground" and a fault line, and somehow wound up with poisoned water to boot. I have no idea how they managed it when every acre of my planet is serene, blue-grassed perfection. But I guess it explains why they're so damn unhappy.

(Image credit: Hello Games)

Despite all this misery, the only dispute I've had to settle was when two aliens both claimed they owned the same pair of boots. With no actual information to go on, I just picked one of the identical aliens and declared him the rightful boot-owner. BootGate has plunged the entire settlement into "An atmosphere of suspicion" which I don't think is helping morale.

After my third round of shooting rocks and refining dust, the tower is built, which I assume will make everyone staggeringly happy, or at least convince them not to sit in my office with the lights out. Apparently not, as you can see in the image below, in which the alien pictured standing next to the tower "Cannot find the tower."

(Image credit: Hello Games)

Ah, well! I'll keep trying to whip these miserable creeps into a state of semi-happiness. I'm starting work on a new building, a bazaar, which requires loads of carbon so I'll be off shooting trees instead of rocks for a while. When it's built, it will hopefully give my settlers a fun place to hang out while they're taking a break from not doing any work. Provided they can find it.

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.