No Man’s Sky is more than just an open universe waiting to be explored. It’s full of different paths and narratives that will help you to define your experience as you search the unknown. Those paths each have their very own endings which provide some insight into the world Hello Games has created for us, as well as a chance at a bit of introspection if you’re into that sort of thing.
We’ve had the chance to explore some of these endings as we endeavor to uncover more. To help provide a bit of understanding as to what happens we’ll be breaking down each one for you. Needless to say, there will be spoilers within the following pages. If you would rather find out everything for yourself, this is the last chance for you to turn back and experience the mysteries of No Man’s Sky’s universe without any outside forces ruining it for you.
Final Warning – Spoilers Ahead!
Path of Atlas Left Behind
Early on in No Man’s Sky, you’ll be introduced to an entity that goes by the name Atlas. It’s not entirely clear who or what Atlas is. All that you can infer from the start is that Atlas knows quite a bit about the universe and can somehow speak to your very being.
While the game never outright says that this is a god of some sort, the alien races you come across do revere its ancient wisdom. Many of the Monoliths you encounter while exploring the universe will speak of Atlas and how it helped form civilizations and prosperity. Whether or not any of that is true is up to you to find out by exploring the planets, but you can embark on a quest line that puts you into direct contact with this mysterious being.
Atlas asks for your devotion and commitment. It needs you to explore in its name so that you may uncover knowledge and worlds unimagined. But, you get the sense that it wants your undivided attention, as it whispers directly into your mind. It can be a bit discomforting, having this powerful force which is able to locate you anywhere in the entire universe watching you. The fact that it’s so stern and direct when asking for your sacrifice is reason enough to want to back away, and that’s exactly what you can do. Over time, the being’s words shift more towards it taking control of you. You have a choice during each of these encounters, to continue to be subjugated by this mysterious power or to refuse its outstretched hand.
Refusing cuts ties with Atlas. It will not pursue you, nor will it offer any guidance. You are free to walk a path of your own choosing. There is no pomp and circumstance, only the embrace of the cold, dark space that looms ahead of you as you choose your next destination.
As you may have gathered from the ending that allows you to walk away, Atlas is an interesting entity. On the one hand, it requests your complete obedience in exchange for its guidance. On the other, it means you no ill will if you choose to go a different route in your journey. Players that stick to the Atlas Path through to the end witness several things, including a sudden switch right when it’s all said and done.
Atlas is many things, and in time it will reveal several forms. One form, and this is the one that gives the most insight into what this being truly is, is a bright light with each of the three alien races. At the center, glowing the brightest, is an outline of the Korvax. It made sense that the Korvax would be at the center, seeing as how throughout the worlds they clearly had the closest attachment to Atlas.
From this point, it starts to become clear just what Atlas is. It is not just one sentient being, it is many. It is made up of all those that have come before you in search of truth. The knowledge comes from a collective, which is why the observation that the player character makes about Atlas needing them is so astute. It needs the player not for worship, but for growth. The bodies at the core are illuminated by discovery, the discovery of what the galaxy actually is.
Now, once you’re at the ending you can find out exactly what it is for yourself. To do this you need to have saved 10 Atlas Cores (who knew?). You will then have the ability to “birth a new star.” The player character’s quote that follows is:
“The orb floods my mind with an image. A new star has been created at the edge of the Galaxy. A new traveler will awaken there. I’m released, free to explore now. I can see the fabric of space, this simulation and black holes within it. Perhaps I’ll find answers there.”
Once you’re done, you’ll be able to travel to that new galaxy. The game starts anew, only this time you are full of the knowledge of your predecessor and have all of the upgrades you collected. It’s time to continue your quest for knowledge.
This whole time, those stern messages and requests for allegiance were to lead you to this point, to your own becoming. You are now Atlas, as those before you also were. It asked for commitment because there is no turning back to whence you came. Your duty was to reach a higher plane and allow for the next explorer to expand even further than you had. Through that effort the universe is born as other explore this simulation that is nothing but a stepping stone into what lies ahead. From that point you awaken in a new explorer.
It’s not entirely clear what that next plane of No Man’s Sky is, but we hope to meet our characters in the light once again in the future.
What Lies at the Center?
After over a week of non-stop journeying through No Man’s Sky’s procedurally generated universe the center has finally been reached. It takes a long time to reach that goal, over 70 hours even if you’re rushing (without cheating, of course). What awaits at the center is a globe shrouded in light with no name and no details. You only find out what it is when you’re finally within jumping distance… sort of.
You never actually land on the center, it is not a planet or anything of the sort from what we can tell from a single visit to its final location. When you choose to actually travel to this location your treated to a cut scene of sorts. Instead of going towards something, you’re rapidly pulled away in a reverse of how No Man’s Sky begins. Stars race past you as the game’s beautiful score rises in volume. Suddenly the camera pans to the side and a new glowing orb is there to travel too. You rush forward just as you did when the game first started and find yourself hurtling towards a new galaxy, one full of different stars and planets as the screen fades to black. When you come to, you’re once again stranded in this new Galaxy you’ve discovered.
It’s in a new dimension, something that isn’t exactly detailed at the moment. We don’t know what effect that dimension will have on gameplay. Whether or not it alters your new adventure remains to be seen. For now you are back at the beginning. The center was a bright lure, hovering just on the edge of belief, and as you approached it sent you back, making itself once again a distant goal.