No Man's Sky Wiki
The subject of this article is from the Interceptor update.
The information from this article is up-to-date as of 6 June, 2023.
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Mode Select Screen

Game modes provide different ways to play No Man's Sky.

Summary[ | ]

There are seven modes available for game play. Each provides a different experience, different opportunities, and different restrictions. Difficulty can be adjusted at any time as of the Waypoints update.

Normal mode[ | ]

This is the original mode of play in the initial release of the game in August 2016. It is labeled as a "chill exploration experience". Original gameplay style with regular difficulty, standard technology and building costs.

Death in normal mode involves returning to the location of death to retrieve lost inventory items. If the player dies in space, they must retrieve it with their ship, and one or more parts of the ship might need to be repaired. If the player dies on foot, they must return to the planetside location to retrieve their items.

Relaxed Mode[ | ]

"The new relaxed preset provides an accessible, laid-back experience of No Man’s Sky. Perfect for players who want to experience all facets of gameplay, from story to survival to combat, with reduced danger and minimal grind."

Life Support is disabled in this mode.

Survival mode[ | ]

This mode of play provides a "more challenging survival experience". The player is expected to survive with limited resources, increased hazards, and stronger, more aggressive enemies.

The player's first starship is located some distance away from the spawn point. This requires careful resource management to even reach the ship, let alone repair damage.

Death in Survival mode results in loss of your current inventory, whether in-ship, or on foot. If you die in your ship, you respawn on the nearest planet, a brief distance from your crashed ship. All inventory items on the ship are lost, and one or more components must be repaired.

Permadeath mode[ | ]

All Progress wiped upon death. Face the risk of permanent character death with the increased hazards and dangers of Survival Mode gameplay.

As of the Waypoint update, Permadeath mode has been converted from a standalone game mode to a difficulty preset within Custom mode. The player pool, as well as the bases are still separated from all other modes.

Creative mode[ | ]

This mode of play is a more relaxed version with the ability to "explore and create freely". The player is allowed to indulge their creativity and construction skills in a nearly risk-free environment.

The player begins with all blueprints and construction parts unlocked. Crafting and building can be done for free, as can most material usage in dialogue and repair interactions (however there are some quests which still require you to actually procure things). Rechargeable technologies (engines, mining beam, etc.) can be recharged simply by clicking on them in the inventory. The player's shields, hazard protection, life support, and oxygen supply will never run out. Sentinels and hostile fauna will not appear except in certain scripted cases.

It is important to note that trophies/achievements will not unlock in Creative Mode.

Expedition mode[ | ]

Introduced during the Expeditions update, this mode provides a series of limited-time events that start at a fixed point in the universe. This allows the community to "embark on a shared journey."

Each expedition is structured around a series of Milestones. These goals may be completed in any order, allowing the player to earn specific rewards, meet fellow players, and experiment with different ways of playing the game.

Game difficulty are Normal mode in expeditions 1 through 6, and Survival mode in the 7th expedition (though the introduction text incorrectly labels it as Permadeath mode). An expedition save is automatically converted to a normal save if the expedition ends or when all normal and bonus objectives are completed and the player enters the Anomaly.

Custom Mode[ | ]

Introduced during the Waypoint update, Custom Mode allows players to adjust all difficulty settings prior to starting a new save, including those which cannot be selected once the save has already been created. Existing saves started in other game modes may, in most cases, be transitioned to Custom Mode by changing difficulty settings so they do not match the presets for any non-Custom mode.

Customisable difficulty settings are grouped into four categories: Survival Settings, Crafting and Items Settings, Combat Settings, and Ease of Use. Options for each setting which remain available while creating a Permadeath mode save (death consequence set to Save Deleted) are indicated below via bolding.

Survival Settings[ | ]

  • Survival Elements: Controls whether one must manage health, life support and/or hazard protection. Options: None, Health Only, Hazards & Health, Full
  • Survival Difficulty: Controls the speed at which life support and hazard protection are depleted. Options: Relaxed (~0.33x drain rate), Standard (1x drain rate), Challenging (3x drain rate)
  • Natural Resources: Controls the amount of material yielded when mining and harvested. Options: Abundant (2x item yield), Standard (1x item yield), Scarce (0.5x item yield)
    • A base Mining Beam harvests 4/2/1 units of primary element every tick on Abundant/Standard/Scarce while mining flora and minerals.
  • Sprinting: Controls whether sprinting is limited by life support drain and/or stamina. Options: Infinite, Relaxed (limited by stamina, but no life support drain), Standard (limited by stamina and drains life support)
  • Scanner Recharge: Controls how fast the scanner recharges. Options: Very Fast (5x recharge rate), Fast (3x recharge rate), Standard (1x recharge rate), Challenging (0.2x recharge rate)
  • Damage Levels: Controls how much damage players take from combat or the environment. Options: None, Minimal, Standard, Challenging
  • Technology Damage: Controls the probability of technology breaking whenever the player takes damage from combat or the environment. Options: None, Minimal, Challenging
  • Death Consequences: Controls what happens upon the player's death. Options: No Item Loss, Standard (player loses items, but can recover them from their grave), Items Destroyed, Save Deleted

Crafting and Items Settings[ | ]

  • Fuel Usage: Controls how much fuel various pieces of technology use, including in Relaxed mode the ability to have free use of ammo, the mining laser and the terrain editor while still retaining general fueling mechanics. Options: Free, Discounted (0.375x fuel cost), Standard (1x fuel cost), Expensive (1.5x fuel cost)
  • Crafting: Controls whether crafting items is free. Options: Free, Standard
  • Recipes and Blueprints: Controls whether the game is started with most recipes and blueprints already known, or if they must be earned. Visible only during Custom save creation. Options: All Unlocked, Learnable
  • Purchases: Controls how much items and upgrades cost to buy or learn. Options: Free, Discounted, Standard, Expensive
    • Microprocessors are offered for 10.500/27.500/104.000 Units on Discounted/Standard/Expensive.
    • Procedurally generated upgrade prices are modified to 80%/100%/~167% of Standard values on Discounted/Standard/Expensive.
  • Availability: Controls the quantity and range of items available in shops. Options: Abundant, Standard, Scarce
    • Space Station terminals will only stock Oxygen, Sodium, Life Support Gel, or Ion Batteries while the Abundant option is active. Ferrite and Cobalt will not be sold at these terminals while the Scarce option is active.
  • Inventory Stack Limits: Controls how large item stack sizes can be within the inventory. Options: Standard, Restricted, Harsh
    • An Exosuit cargo inventory slot can hold up to 9999/500/300 of a single resource while the Standard/Restricted/Harsh option is active.
    • Product stack limits on Harsh are generally set to 30% of Standard/Restricted limits (e.g. an Exosuit cargo slot can hold up to 200/200/60 Ion Batteries on Standard/Restricted/Harsh).
    • Changes to this setting on existing saves are constrained to stack limit increases only (Harsh --> Standard/Restricted, Restricted --> Standard).

Combat Settings[ | ]

  • Enemy Strength: Controls how much health hostile ships / Sentinels / creatures have. Options: Weak, Standard, Challenging
  • On-Foot Combat: Controls how frequently, if at all, ground combat takes place. Options: None, Minimal, Standard, Hostile
  • Space Combat: Controls how frequently, if at all, space combat takes place. Options: None, Minimal, Standard, Hostile
  • Creatures: Controls how hostile various planetary creatures are in their behaviour. Options: Passive (all creatures never attack), Defensive (all creatures may attack only upon being attacked), Predators On (some creatures may attack the player on sight)

Ease of Use[ | ]

  • Tutorial Missions: Controls whether the tutorial missions take place or not. Visible only during Custom save creation. Options: Enabled, Disabled
  • Inventory Transfer Range: Controls whether other inventories (such as the ship and freighter) are always in range or not. Options: Infinite, Nearby
  • Hyperdrive System Access: Controls whether specialised warp drive upgrades are required to enter specific systems. Options: Unrestricted, Specialised
  • Base Power: Controls whether bases and base equipment require power. Options: Free, Standard
  • Reputation & Standing Gain: Controls how fast standing is gained with various factions. Options: Very Fast (5x standing gain), Fast (2x standing gain), Standard (1x standing gain), Challenging (1x standing gain)
  • Starting Slots: Controls whether the game starts with all squadron or companion slots pre-unlocked. Visible only during Custom save creation. Options: Maximum, Standard

Comparison[ | ]

Custom Creative Relaxed Normal Survival Permadeath
Starting Position Near Habitable Base Away from ship Away from ship Away from ship
Fauna and Sentinel Threat Level Custom None Default More aggressive More aggressive
Death Custom Impossible Inventory retrievable Inventory is lost, tech breaks Permanent
Starship Destruction Custom Impossible Inventory retrievable Ship crashes on planet Permanent
Trophies/Achievements Not available Available Available, one exclusive. Available, one exclusive.
Costs Custom None Default Increased Increased
Story Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Black Holes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resources Custom Infinite Default Decreased Decreased
Inventory Custom ?? Spacious Limited Limited

Additional information[ | ]

  • Each mode provides a separate save structure.
  • Per platform (PC/PS4/Xbox), all uploaded data is shared between all modes, including Communications Stations.
  • Player bases are only visible from the same mode.
  • Base building is included under creative mode, as are all Exocraft, and Freighters.
  • There is also a hidden mode titled "Ambient Mode". It is a free exploration experience with the player not having any input, with the game controlling a disembodied camera; which periodically switches worlds. This can be accessed in game by editing the current version number in your save file. For example:
Feb 2018 Mar 2020 July 2020 Nov 2020 Jan 2021 Mar 2021 Jun 2021 Nov 2021 Feb 2022 Apr 2022 July 2022 April 2023
Name decimal hex decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal
Normal: 4616 1208 4636 4638 4638 4639 4645 4646 4647 4649 4650 4651 4657
Creative: 5128 1408 5148 5150 5159 5161 5162 5163 4657
Survival: 5640 1608 5660 5662 5663 5669 5670 5671 5673 5674 5675 4675
Ambient: 6152 1808 6172 6174
Permadeath: 6664 1A08 6684 6686 6687 6695 6695 6697 6698 6699 6705
Expedition: 7201 597033 662570 793643
Differences between modes 512 412 / 512 / 612
Change since last entry +20 +2 +2 +1 +1
  • It is possible to return to the game mode select screen from the options menu.
  • If a player manages to reach the center of the galaxy in Permadeath before they do so in Survival, both Take a Deep Breath and To Live Forever milestones are unlocked.

Release history[ | ]

  • Foundation - Creative and Survival modes were added.
  • Pathfinder - Permadeath was added.
  • Atlas Rises - the universe seed is now identical across all modes. All generated stars, planets, names are the same.
  • NEXT - Expanded multiplayer features and player interactions
  • Expeditions - Expedition was added
  • Waypoint - Custom and relaxed modes added; Normal, Creative, and non-permadeath or survival Custom modes rolled into a single version decimal.
  • Omega - Normal saves can enter expeditions and are allowed to bring back a small number of selected items as well as their active multi tool and ship.

References[ | ]