No Man's Sky Wiki
The subject of this article is from the SentinelUp update.
The information from this article is up-to-date as of 12 April, 2022.

Mode Select Screen

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


There are five modes available for game play. Each provides a different experience, different opportunities, and different restrictions.

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.

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.

While other modes have two save slots, one for auto save and one for manual save, in permadeath there is only one save slot which contains the last save (either auto or manual).

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.

Players must create a new save game at the beginning of each expedition. 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). At the end of each expedition, the player may choose to convert their save to a new Normal or Survival game, and continue to play the save in the Normal or Survival universe.


Creative Normal Survival Permadeath
Starting Position Near Habitable Base Away from ship Away from ship Away from ship
Fauna and Sentinel Threat Level None Default More aggressive More aggressive
Death Impossible Inventory retrievable Inventory is lost, tech breaks Permanent
Starship Destruction Impossible Inventory retrievable Ship crashes on planet Permanent
Trophies/Achievements Not available Available Available, one exclusive. Available, one exclusive.
Costs None Default Increased Increased
Story Yes Yes Yes Yes
Black Holes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resources Infinite Default Decreased Decreased
Inventory ?? 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
Name decimal hex decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal decimal
Normal: 4616 1208 4636 4638 4638 4639 4645 4646 4647 4649 4650
Creative: 5128 1408 5148 5150 5159 5161 5162
Survival: 5640 1608 5660 5662 5663 5669 5670 5671 5673 5674
Ambient: 6152 1808 6172 6174
Permadeath: 6664 1A08 6684 6686 6687 6695 6695 6697 6698
Expedition: 7201 597033 662570
Differences between modes 512 412 / 512 / 612
Change since last entry +20 +2 +2 +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
  • Abyss - Aquatic environments added
  • Expeditions - Expedition was added