Last week I expressed appreciation for the turnaround that No Man’s Sky has experienced. I talked about how I was able to add a few mods to the game and have a really good time. A few people wanted to know what mods I was using. So let’s talk about that.
Modding NMS isn’t hard by the standards of PC modding, but it is a little more involved than finding something on the Steam Workshop and hitting “subscribe”.
How to Mod
If you’re a frequent modder then you probably already use the mod Nexus and already have the Vortex Mod Manager installed. That program downloads, installs, and manages mods for over 1,000 games. If you’re seriously into the modding scene, then Vortex is the way to go. If you’re already a Vortex user then you don’t need my help and you can skip to the numbered list below.
I recommend using Vortex, but I’ll be the first to admit there’s a non-trivial setup overhead and a bit of a learning curve. If you’re just looking to install a couple of mods for one particular game, then you probably don’t want to mess around with all of that. To sum up,:
Option 1: Use Vortex, which has a long setup time but afterward offers one-click installs for all mods.
Option 2: Install stuff manually, which is easy to get started but can get a little technical. You need to be comfortable manually shuffling files around and editing the occasional settings file.
So here’s how to install NMS mods the manual way…
The Manual Way
First, find the directory where the game is installed and drill down to the PCBANKS folder. On my machine this can be found at:
D:\GOG Galaxy\Games\No Man's Sky\GAMEDATA\PCBANKS\
On your machine it will obviously be different, but you can probably figure it out from here. In that folder, find the text file called
DISABLEMODS.TXT and delete it. Then create a new folder in this location named “Mods”. Now you can download .pak files from the No Man’s Sky Nexus and put them into this
A warning: The game doesn’t care what the files are called, and will attempt to load anything in this folder. This tripped me up because I’m used to Minecraft modding. When I want to disable a mod without uninstalling it, I just rename it from
Some_Mod.xxx, and it won’t get loaded. That doesn’t work here, so the only way to disable a mod is to remove it from the folder.
A final note is that while you’re browsing for mods, look for ones that say “Updated for Desolation” or somesuch. The older ones might work, but it’s a bit dodgy.
Anyway, here are the mods I’m using…
The first (and in my opinion, most important) item isn’t really a mod, it’s a save game editor.
This is to fix some annoyances that I can’t fix with other mods. For starters, it’s extremely hard to get a cool-looking ship. It would be fine if that was something you could work towards, but as it stands it’s mostly an exercise in tedium and blind luck. So I start the game by giving myself a cool-looking ship. I’ve already clocked a few hundred hours flying the low-class flying lumps the game starts you off with, and I find the game so much more enjoyable if I’m hopping around in something sleek or fun. I just go to No Man’s Sky seeds, browse for a cool ship, and then put that seed into my save.
Also, I couldn’t figure out how to repair the frigates in my fleet. One of them came back from an expedition damaged. I looked at every single menu on my capital ship, talked to every NPC, and looked at every control panel, and I never saw any option that explained where / how you were supposed to fix a damaged ship. I looked online and someone described the process where you must physically fly from your capital ship to the frigate, enter it somehow, then climb around the confusing maze-like interior and avoid falling into the abyss while you click on the thing to make the repair happen.
I don’t know if that’s true, or was true in some past version, but that sounded like exactly the kind of irritating bullshit busywork I wanted to avoid. It might be okay if ship damage was something I had control over, but since your ships get damaged by RNG on expeditions, I’m not willing to go through all that hassle to fix them. I’m the admiral for crying out loud. I really ought to be able to delegate this sort of crap. So I hit the “repair frigate” button in the save editor and subtracted a million space-bucks from my account. We can pretend I paid someone to do it for me. Done.
I noticed that it was ridiculously hard to find lifeforms to scan in the latest version. This was not the case when I played the game a couple of years ago. Maybe this was changed in a recent patch? I don’t know.
To complete certain milestones, you need to scan one of every species of fauna on a planet. There are usually 6-15 species depending on the planet, and some will be common while others will be rare. So you’ll spend twenty minutes tracking down the common ones, and then you’ll lose you mind over the next two hours as you search for that last elusive critter.
The game still works this way, but now even the common ones were hard to come by. I spent fifteen minutes on a planet that supposedly had “ample” full fauna population according to the summary screen, and I didn’t see a single animal out of the 13 available. It was ridiculous. I was spending between fifteen and fifty minutes on a planet and I’d only find 2 out of the 10 species. Considering how insanely difficult it is to find the final rare ones, this seemed like a hopeless task.
There’s something really odd about how creatures spawn in this latest version. You’ll get out of your ship and maybe see two different species in large herds. There are creatures all around you, but it’s just the same two species. So then you walk away from your ship and there’s… nothing. Like, just no life at all. You’ll walk a few kilometres without seeing a single animal. Then you jump back in your ship, save and reload the game, and suddenly you find animals again. It’s like they only spawn when you first load in a planet. Or maybe they only spawn directly around your ship? I don’t know, but it feels off.
So I installed this mod. To be honest, it still feels a little sparse compared to what I remember at launch. Anyway, this mod helps.
At launch, each in-game alien languageThe languages are simple word replacement. had a very small vocabulary. You could learn 100 or so words and understand nearly everything aliens said to you. In a later update, the vocabulary was massively expanded. Now learning 100 words was almost nothing.
The problem is that none of the other language-learning features were scaled up to balance this. The milestoneLike a per-game achievement. to recognize language mastery still acted like learning 78 words was a big deal, and gave you the title of “Polyglot” for doing so. That’s like calling someone a chess Grandmaster because they can correctly tell you that the little horsey thing is called a knight.
While the number of words was greatly expanded, the rate at which you could learn them did not. This sort of made it so that attempting to learn a language was a hopeless task. You’d be at the endgame in terms of gear and resources, but you’d barely have begun mastering the languages.
This mod makes it so you acquire words 5x faster, and that seems to work out just right. I managed to master one of the languages just as I was wrapping up with all the other milestones and progression systems.
This is a nice quality of life mod, but not strictly necessary. In the vanilla game, you need to hold your view on a creature or plant and scan it for ~5 seconds to get the scanner to record and catalog it. That’s not terrible, but it’s a bit of an annoyance when you reach a new planet and you’re surrounded by new stuff. You need to stand there scanning stuff for over a minute before you can begin exploring. Again, that’s not horrible, but it’s not ideal.
This mod makes the scans almost instantaneous. There are multiple versions, but I chose the 0.5 second one. It’s nice, and it doesn’t feel like it’s breaking the game or anything.
5. Item Stack
I have this mod, but I’m pretty sure it’s not doing anything. It’s supposed to upgrade all of your inventory slots to store 9,999 items, but then according to the Wiki that’s just the default these days. I should probably uninstall this. The current stack value of 9,999 feels about right.
This was a mistake. I have regrets.
Okay, it’s kinda fun, but also overpowered. I had a different modWhich I foolishly deleted and now can’t remember what it was called. to slightly boost player run speed by 25% or so. That was nice and still felt reasonable. But then I saw there was another speed mod and I thought maybe another little boost might be nice. None of the mods express your speed in terms of comparable numbers. They’re just “faster” or “slightly faster” so I didn’t understand what I was signing up for.
This particular mod boosts you up to the speed of the Doom Marine in 1993. If you’re too young to remember, then just think “motorcycle speed”.
It’s fun to glide over the terrain like you’re on the speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi, but then you get inside a building and discover it’s impossible to just walk around the room without blasting into the walls. Stopping to talk to someone is an honest challenge and it takes practice to avoid overshooting.
Worse, this mod conflicts with the mod that boosts the scanner speed, so that stopped working.
This one might be fun to play around with, but I don’t recommend it for general use. I’d uninstall it and switch to something more reasonable, but I think I’m done with the game for now.
So that’s my mod list. I avoided anything that made really ambitious changes, but those sorts of mods exist if you’re looking for a major overhaul to one system or another. The community is still catching up with the Desolation update, so there will be more mods added in the next few weeks.
I’m honestly looking forward to coming back to the game when they do the next update, and that’s never been true before.
 The languages are simple word replacement.
 Like a per-game achievement.
 Which I foolishly deleted and now can’t remember what it was called.
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