The purpose of No Man's Sky's mysterious Atlas Stones has been discovered

If you're playing No Man's Sky and wondering what to do with those Atlas Stones you've been picking up here and there, Kotaku has a potentially very important piece of information for you. It will, of course, involve spoilers of no small significance, so if you want to play it clean, you'd better stop here.

Seriously. Big spoiler ahead. 

Atlas Stones apparently sell for a pretty good buck, and inventory space is in short supply when you're first getting started in No Man's Sky, so there's obviously incentive to get rid of them fairly quickly. But if you're following the Atlas path through the game, slowly swirling toward the center of the galaxy, you'll want to be sure you have at least ten Atlas Stones in your possession before you make that final, fateful visit. 

Okay, for realsies this time. Final. Warning. 

Once you've reached the end of the Atlas path and penetrated the center of the galaxy, you're given a choice: You can continue to explore the stars, bashing around as you see fit, or you can use the Atlas Stones to create an entirely new galaxy. The consequences of doing so aren't as weighty as you might think, though: Instead of becoming a god in this strange new reality, you're basically just starting over again in a different neighborhood. Even the end-of-journey message has a certain plus ça change ring to it: “A great sense of fulfillment washes over me, but fades as I realize that, for all my efforts, I am unchanged.” 

Heavy, man. 

I really like the idea of No Man's Sky having big secrets tucked away in its vastness, and I hope there are many more of them for people to find on their own. After all, exploration is a lot more fun when it leads to discoveries. 

A video of the No Man's Sky Atlas Path ending is embedded below—skip to the 12 minute mark to get to the good stuff. We've got our own impressions of No Man's Sky, based on a couple of days with the PS4 version of the game, up here, as well as a list of ten handy tips to help you get off on the right foot.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.