|The subject of this article is from the Origins update.
The information from this article is up-to-date as of 9 November, 2020.
The information from this article is up-to-date as of 9 November, 2020.
Warning: This page contains spoiler content. If you would prefer to uncover these secrets on your own journey, turn away now.
Lore is a backstory page.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Waking Titan
- 3 In game Sources
- 4 Characters and Lifeforms
- 5 The Atlas
- 6 The Multiverse
- 7 A History of the Universe
- 8 Recurring Elements
- 9 Release History
- 10 Videos
- 11 References
The Universe of No Man's Sky has a deep lore regarding events that happened before the storyline. Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, Kingsman, 2000 AD) and James Swallow (Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Star Trek) contributed to the lore of the game as well as the Adventures in No Man's Sky comic that is part of the game's Limited Edition. The lore gives a consistent narrative and different perspectives from each lifeforms across the universe. Lore logs may be discovered in colonial outposts, shelters (Traveller's log), Plaques and Monoliths found throughout the game.
The lore of the universe changes and grows with each new update, reflecting larger changes in the game itself.
In June 2017, Hello Games partnered with Alice & Smith to run a complex ARG (Alternate Reality Game) for No Man's Sky, called Waking Titan.
The Game Detectives wiki page thoroughly documented the ARG.
The ARG took place in our contemporary era. It follows the actions of a company named the "Atlas Foundation", and its many sub-companies. The Atlas Foundation's primary goals were to find answers to the fundamental questions of existence, through research on Artificial intelligence, Reality simulation, metaphysical analysis, dream theories, mind digitization etc... many themes that are central to the NMS universe.
The imagery and symbolism through the ARG were direct references to the NMS universe, showing the Atlas symbol, glyphs, travellers, images of the game, the Atlass Pass V4 rewarded to the players which looks exactly like the in game Atlas Pass etc... as well as many references to in-game Lore like Vy'Keen, Korvax etc...
If we are to believe that the events of the ARG are canon to the NMS universe, a few connections can be made between its content and the game:
- The Atlas was created by the Atlas Foundation after concluding their research on AI and simulated worlds, to simulate universes and find answers to the reasons of our existence.
- The NMS universe simulation takes place in our universe, millennia after our era (and the events of Waking Titan), and after humans left the Earth.
- The AI known through the ARG as Emily or Loop16 is an older version of the current Atlas.
- During the ARG, a few mentions are made to the AI Emily/Loop16 learning how to lie, which would be linked to the in-game references of the Atlas being a liar. It could have been the first steps toward the Atlas becoming sentient.
- The creators of the Atlas being human means that the Anomaly race (player characters) are based off humans, and could look human under their helmets. The other Travellers look alien most likely because they are more corrupted copies.
In game Sources
The lore can be pieced together from various sources, such as:
- NPC conversations
- Crashed Ships
- Abandoned Buildings
- Boundary Failures
- Rogue Data
- The Atlas Path
- The Artemis Path
- The Dreams of the Deep quest
- Colossal Archive Lore - Korvax
- Colossal Archive Lore - Gek
- Colossal Archive Lore - Vy'keen
- Sentinel Pillar
- Base Computer Archives
- The Trace Of Metal Quest
Characters and Lifeforms
Here are the list of lifeforms and special named characters intertwined in No Man's Sky's universe:
- Gek Dominion, Gek the First Spawns, or Gek Trade Federation (see Gek for now)
- Korvax or Korvax Convergence (see Korvax for now)
- The Aerons (see Sentinels)
- Vykeen Alliance (see Vy'keen for now)
The Atlas is a large machine that was designed to simulate universes for research purposes. After improvements to its design, the original Atlas was considered bulky and obsolete, and was abandoned on the planet it was built on. This original Atlas now communicates to the simulated inhabitants of its universes through surrogate characters and spacious interfaces.
Millenia later, the physical fate of the Atlas became apparent when it noticed that its systems were starting to fail. With no access to the physicality needed to prevent its crash, Atlas instead attempted to understand why it was abandoned by seeding a digitized brain of its creator into its universes. The Atlas' creator takes the form of the Travellers.
The Travellers/The Anomalies
The Atlas originally created the Travellers from the corrupted memory of a brain scan it performed on its creator before it was abandoned. The Anomalies are considered to be the race of the player character, and are a sub-type of Travelers. Every known Anomaly is the last Traveller in their iteration of the universe.
Telamon was a security sub-protocol created to monitor Atlas. At the birth of the Last Traveller, Telamon becomes the voice AI attached to the Traveller's exosuit.
There seems to be an endless number of universes (or "dimensions", according to some accounts), known as "iterations". They used to be varied and with different races and past, however due to the Atlas' errors, they now all share the same set of rules and have the same history, with a few minor differences.
Previously, each Traveller was alone in his or her own universe. As the Atlas degraded itself over time, Travellers were able to see and interact with each other in limited ways. Now, Travellers can explore the universe together and meet in the Space Anomaly from anywhere in the universe, even jumping back and forth between galaxies, which was previously impossible.
A History of the Universe
The No Man's Sky Universe is a simulated universe run by The Atlas. According to in-game lore, many vastly different iterations of the universe existed, with very different histories and races. As the Atlas AI became more and more corrupted, the universes became more and more similar to each other. A pattern began to emerge, with the same three dominant races living in the universe, and an identical history of war and conflict. Every player character exists in an instance of such a universe. This is a summary of the backstory of these Universes that the players evolve in.
Since the birth of this universe, there have been thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of unique entities. Over many millennia of advancements and wars, three entities reached the pinnacle of evolution before falling into a dark time, and they are as follows:
- Gek Dominion
- Known as Gek First Spawns. They are very impulsive and aggressive and have earned an infamous blood-thirsty reputation due to the fact that they will also murder their own kind if they are deemed too weak. Their numbers are highest at the Center of the Universe and they eschew engagement with other entities.
- Korvax Convergence
- Known as Korvax, they are the most intellectual of the known Mechanical Lifeforms. Through technological advancement they wield an impressive power never meant to be used against any other entities in the universe. Their belief system was unknown until the arrival of the Aerons which they then began to worship as gods. As robots, they constantly look for ways to advance themselves while peacefully engaging other entities. It is said that they mainly reside in a distant secluded system but have also wandered planet to planet between The Outer Edge to the Edge of the Universe studying fauna and vegetation.
- Vy'keen Alliance
- They are the nomads of the universe. Widely scattered, they can be found on almost every planet. They originated in the Outer Edge and are known for their violent disposition, seeming to be in perpetual conflict with other entities, They do not eliminate every entity they encounter, rather they accept the strong-willed and exile the weak into the vast universe to wither. The Vy'keen worship their war heroes. Hirk the Great, and a few who have had the honor of fighting with Hirk are the leaders of the alliance.
- Millennia before the mysterious Travellers came across the No Man's Sky Universe, the Gek decided to dominate the universe, as it was their birthright to be masters of everything that lives. As they devoured every entity they encountered while advancing out from the Center of the Universe with pride, an unknown entity entered the galaxy from the Outer Edge -
- The Aerons
- Later called Sentinels, these supposedly mindless mechanical lifeforms appear in the No Man's Sky universe, and enforce the protection of the planets and lifeforms that exist within it. The Aeron forces consist of different variations, from small, drone-like entities to giant walkers to Starship carriers. While they reached into the universe effortlessly with astonishing speed, they were quickly spotted by the Vy'keen Alliance who considered their actions to be against the natural order of things, and the Aerons were soon engaged in a long war with the Alliance, in which Hirk would find his death.
- The war resulted in massive casualties for both the Aerons and the Vy'keen Alliance. The Vy'Keens had the last laugh when the Aerons began their retreat. But what they didn't expect was that the Gek would take advantage of the absence of Aerons to launch their attack. While the Vy'keen believed they needn't worry about the threats of the Gek advancing outward, Korvax Prime was chosen as the next target by the Gek, who mined the entire planet for its resources and power, and took the remaining Korvax into slavery to extract the resources, until the planet was completely destroyed. This event is known as the Great Disconnection.
With the Vy'Keen in no condition to fight, no one could stop the advance of the Gek. During their time in slavery, countless Korvax sacrificed themselves to pour their nanite blood into the spawning pools of the Geks. Through this process, they re-wrote the very DNA of the first spawn and redirected their greed and need to dominate and conquer through war toward a need for commerce and trade. This alteration of the Gek is not known by the non-Korvax races, who think this shift has been a natural change. Slowly, new geks started to be born with a mercantile mindset, and the Gek first spawn Dominion fell down from within. The Aerons, after the destruction of Korvax Prime, came back as the Sentinels, stronger and more aggressive than ever, and eliminated the remnants of the First spawn. They now spread their true domination over the universe, existing in every part of it.
The New Gek shared the Korvax' worship of the Atlas and Sentinels, and entered into an Alliance with them under their new belief system. The universe is now in an Era of peace. The Korvax's new convergence (after the destruction of Korvax Prime, their first convergence) still roam the universe in search of knowledge. The Gek, now a peaceful race, constantly seek economical domination through trading and diplomacy. The Vy'Keen, still at war with the Sentinels, are now incapable of actually stopping them in a meaningful way. They are at peace with the new mercantile Gek, but stay alert, as they did not forget the war crimes of the first spawn.
It is in this Era of peace between the three races that the events of the Game take place.
The number "sixteen" is a recurring element in the game and all things surrounding it.
- In Atlas Rises lore content, multiple sources stated that the Atlas had 16 minutes of operational time remaining.
- The predictive AI in Waking Titan was called Loop16.
- The cassette tapes delivered to members of the community during Waking Titan were numbered out of 16.
- The number of planet possibilities (seeds) (18,446,744,073,709,551,616) is equal to 16^16.
- There are 16 tracks in the No Man's Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe OST.
- No Man's Sky was released in 2016.
- There are 16 portal glyphs.
- There are 255 different galaxies, the highest number, expressed as FF, in two digit Hexadecimal (base 16).
- Many items obtained during Starbirth quest have the value of 16 .
Contaminated Water / Don't drink the water
Several NPC characters mention an ongoing containment breach in the water that alters the minds of those who drink from it. According to the logs of the Sentinel Pillar, The Abyss along with the sentinels are using Nanites to contaminate the water, and change lifeforms across the universe in order to gain freedom from it. It seems that half of the water of the universe is already contaminated. 
Abyss / Void Mother / Atlantid
Originally discovered by a group of missing Korvax scientists, the Abyss is a mysterious presence discovered while investigating underwater signals. Logs recording its existence note that its energy signature is similar, but distinct, from the Atlas. A narrator speculates that Atlas and the Abyss have a similar level of influence over the universe. According to the Sentinel Pillar, the identity of the Abyss is that of the AI of Korvax Prime, the Home planet of the Korvax, and the core of the first convergence, that was based off the Atlas itself. The planet was destroyed by the Gek, but the AI somehow survived. It is gaining influence across the universe, using the sentinels that defected from the Atlas. Korvax Colossal Archives suggest that "Atlantid" and "Void Mother" were other names given to the Abyss before the destruction of Korvax Prime. 
World of Glass
A realm of existence where nothing can die.
- The Aerons (sentinels) use the glass from this realm to prevent lifeforms from dying.
- In a Waking Titan community effort, players were asked to submit images of themselves reflecting the Atlas symbol into an infinity mirror. This was meant to be an intensive stress-test of their system, which would model these reflections.
- The new "A Trace Of Metal" questline added to the game in the Sentinel Update contains heavy references to this world of glass, with a final sentinel terminal explaining that it is an "afterlife" of sorts, an archive for the simulation.
- Laylaps hints at the ability to avoid such a death, claiming that both they and Telamon have already died once, and can work together towards preventing themselves from falling into that world.
Asteria, the Hero-Traveler
Asteria is the name of a dead traveler that appears in Vy'Keen Colossal archives, as well as two occasions during the interactions with reality anomalies and NPCs during weekend missions. Though we never see what they look like, we do interact with what's left of their mind during one of the missions, and also get some information about them. Asteria is apparently one of the first travelers to cross the gap between worlds according to Hesperus. They were an ally to the Vy'Keen and fought against sentinels. After their death, they were preserved in a Mind-Arc, and dispensed wisdom and prophecies from the grave. During the player's interaction with said grave, they hint that they know the true nature of the Abyss. The mention of Asteria in the Vy'Keen archives also suggest that they know of the Abyss previous name, "Atlantid".
The code-name "Mercury" was used in Waking Titan when referring to an in-universe initiative whose actions covered Hello Games' development on the game. It was sometimes written as Hg80, the atomic number of mercury and its symbol, Hg, which is also the acronym of Hello Games.
It is also worth mentioning that Quicksilver is another name for the chemical element of Mercury.
Release - shipped with a barebone lore which already included the Testament of the Korvax, the Script of the Gek and the Saga of the Vy'keen as well as the Abandoned Buildings' lore. The Atlas Path was the only structured quest and featured different Atlas Interfaces, but it ended identically with the choice to birth a star and the ability to see Black Holes.
Foundation - added the ability to recruit NPCs for specialized terminals. This begins a series of quests involving recruits for the Construction Terminal, the Agriculture Terminal, the Science Terminal, and the Weapons Terminal.
Atlas Rises - introduced Traveller NPCs and the Artemis Path. It added new NPC interactions, and lore for new gameplay content such as Traveller crashed ships, Traveller graves, crashed freighters, procedural missions, boundary failures, and rogue data terminals. The update also added onto pre-existing logs found in abandoned buildings. The base building quests were updated to accommodate a brief transition to them that occurs during the Artemis Path. The Atlas Path was revised to include new Atlas Seed blueprints. This update's story content was written by Greg Buchanan.
NEXT - added lore for the new Base Computer, written by Greg Buchanan. It also introduced player-models with a default sub-race, known as Traveller-anomalies. The introduction of this sub-race was foreshadowed in the Waking Titan ARG. In the story, test-subjects of a dream-powered VR device were asked to wear these exosuits to survive while dreaming for long periods of time.
Living ships - Added the starbirth quest-line
- Hello Games (27 April 2016). The Lore of No Man's Sky. No Man's Sky. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- NMS 1.37 Boundary Failure, logs #8–10. https://pastebin.com/Gfi30p52.
- Rogue Data. https://nomanssky.gamepedia.com/Rogue_Data.
- NMS 1.37 Traveller dialogues, interaction #18, https://pastebin.com/Fbkrtrf9
- r/NoMansSkyTheGame, Cassettes Megathread, https://www.reddit.com/r/NoMansSkyTheGame/comments/6fmyn3/cassettes_megathread/
- NMS 1.37 Korvax dialogues, interaction #27. https://pastebin.com/HBR5hQyg.
- NMS 1.37 Crashed Freighters, log #2. https://pastebin.com/cBcgn51Y.
- NMS 1.37 Korvax Harvester puzzles, log #15 https://pastebin.com/1cnGVjqa
- NMS 1.37 Traveller Grave, log #14. https://pastebin.com/zC8YS63r
- UNLOCKING MERCURY PROCESS FILE L16.JPG, Waking Titan. https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.wakingtitan.com/loop16/a224a1f4-00e5-467b-9893-83fcc1a4f19a.pdf.