No Man’s Sky Is Embarking On Its Boldest Experiment Yet With the Adrift Expedition

Where is everybody?

screenshot from No Man's Sky Adrift Expedition
Hello Games

Since 2021, No Man’s Sky has reinvented itself again and again with a series of Expeditions — season-long mini-campaigns that launch every few months and offer unique challenges in exchange for exclusive rewards. These Expeditions add lots of new content to see in No Man’s Sky, but for the upcoming season, developer Hello Games is focusing on what it can take away.

No Man’s Sky’s 13th season is called Adrift, and the theme of the whole Expedition is loneliness. Since its 2016 launch, No Man’s Sky has grown into a bustling galaxy, with starfarers regularly running across each other and even completing quests together in populated space. Adrift turns that on its head, returning players to a more sinister version of the game’s early days when everyone truly felt alone in the universe.

Adrift looks like the scariest season of No Man’s Sky yet.

Well, you won’t be entirely alone. Hello Games says there will be plenty of dangerous sand worms and the malicious aliens known as fiends to keep you company. But you won’t be running into other players or even NPCs, as shops are out of business and outposts have all been left to rust. What interactions you do have will be with the ghosts of travelers lost in this newly empty universe.

That will make it significantly harder to progress in Adrift than in the base game or other expeditions. While No Man’s Sky has always been about carving your own path through space, you could rely on space stations and planetary bases to buy new ships, trade scrap for more useful components, and just find respite from the more aggressive creatures spread across the surface of planets. Now you’ve got nothing but yourself and your own ship to rely on. It sounds far and away like the most intense survival experience there’s ever been in No Man’s Sky, and it will be interesting to see how a game built around cooperation adjusts to totally solitary challenges.

The galaxy is a ghost town in the No Man’s Sky Adrift update.

Hello Games

Like previous Expeditions, Adrift rewards players with plenty of in-game gear for reaching certain milestones. This time, tasks revolve around repair and survival, befitting the new dog eat dog — or, worm eat worm — world. In exchange, you’ll receive some appropriately spooky cosmetic prizes. You can earn wrecked spaceship parts to decorate your base with if you’re going for a post-apocalyptic aesthetic, along with “posters that recall the empty endless void of space and the scale of that infinite, black expanse.” Neat! Then there’s the Gnawing Scuttler companion, a crab-like fiend you can cart around with you, which looks just as cute as its name sounds.

Isn’t it just adorable?

Hello Games

The stars of the show this time around are the ships. First, we have the Iron Vulture, a new Hauler class ship with a cool industrial/military aesthetic that really goes with the grittier feel of the Adrift Expedition. You’ll be granted an Iron Vulture of your own to tool around in while completing the season’s challenges, and you can take it back to the main game — along with other seasonal rewards — once the Expedition ends. Then there’s the evocatively named Ship of the Damned, a haunted Frigate modeled after the Flying Dutchman, which also seems to be integral to Adrift’s story.

Enjoy the beauty, or horror, of space.

Hello Games

Presumably, that plot involves figuring out why the heck the galaxy is suddenly so creepy. The season’s reveal trailer hints at a mystery to uncover, and an introductory blog post says the reason you’re not interacting with other players is that “The boundaries between realities have thickened.” That could mean that finding your way back to the less existentially terrifying main universe of No Man’s Sky will be the real goal of this Expedition. Either way, it seems like a fascinating new way to explore the game for long-time players. It certainly seems less newcomer friendly than the Omega Expedition earlier this year, which was specifically meant as a new jumping on point.

Like many No Man’s Sky players, I’ve grown to enjoy the common experience of running across other players on my travels, and even the busy airport vibes of the Space Anomaly that serves as a hub for most of the game’s activities. But there’s definitely something compelling about stripping that all away and confronting the horrors of empty space on my own. If you also want to embrace the horrors (and who doesn’t?), the Adrift Expedition is available now in No Man’s Sky. Hello Games says it will run for around seven weeks, so you should have until mid-July to complete this solo trip into the cosmos.

No Man’s Sky is available now on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.

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