Critique of Derelict Freighters (The Desolation Update)

I know the Desolation Update came out in 2020 but I never actually tried it until now; as I usually am content making my way to the galactic core (I’m going system by system and not using black holes), ship hunting, and multi-tool hunting. Derelict freighters are basically the No Man’s Sky version of a rogue-like dungeon. Now when you hear rogue-like dungeon you probably think a randomly generated overly maze-like dungeon with meaningless and senseless twists and turns and dead ends, but this is not the case with derelict freighters. The layout of the maze is for the most part linear, trust me you can’t get lost. There are dead ends but these always contain loot and supplies, and they’re not long dead ends that make no sense. This update is for the most part, very well developed; unlike settlements which I feel are not even adequately developed to provide any meaningful gameplay. But I’m certain Hello Games will flesh out settlements eventually, they’ve simply laid down the groundwork for it.

But back to derelict freighters. This is not for new players. It will cost you 5,000,000 units to get derelict freighter coordinates from the scrap dealer at a space station. So this is for players who have established some type of money-making scheme for themselves such as crafting or cooking. So far I have encountered two “types” of derelict freighters, one that focuses on making your way through the maze and reaching the final computer to acquire data or information on what happened to the crew. There is basically no combat, its just a maze game. The other type is combat focused, the freighter will have an alien infestation and you’ll have to shoot them. Its safe to always prepare for combat even if you may not get it. The only other thing to worry about is to make sure you have exosuit upgrades that protect you from cold since you are in deep space. But freighters have “heaters” that you can run into, there is basically one in every room. All you have to do is turn them on with a button press and they will warm you up and restore your hazard protection. A derelict freighter run can generally be finished in 30 minutes. This is perfect, not too long to be annoying but not too short to be a waste of time. The loot you can get is just right I think. You can even make a decent amount of nanites. You can get nanites as loot from crates and as a final reward when you reach the last computer. Other potential rewards are also base-building parts that you can’t get from the Nexus/Anomaly using salvaged data. And here’s the best part, when you reach the last computer you don’t have to make your way back to the start of the maze. The last computer always has a teleporter right next to it so you can get back to the start instantly, head back to the space station, and sell whatever loot you don’t want to keep.

Now here’s what I really like about derelict freighters. Hello Games will eventually bring this mechanic to planet surfaces, either through caves or ruins. Someday we’ll be going through mazes on the planets themselves. However, since the maze generation for derelict freighters uses rooms, we might see this mechanic implemented in space stations first. If No Man’s Sky ever gets procedurally generated technological cities, they will probably happen on space stations first before planet surfaces. So we have the groundwork for cities on the planet surface via settlements and the groundwork for cities in space via derelict freighters. Imagine if each space station had it’s own city with it’s own internal politics. The governor of the space station might request us to infiltrate a pirate’s guild hidden somewhere in the space station. The potential is amazing.

Conclusion: You can think of derelict freighters as a type of maze-like mini-game that lasts for 30 minutes, this time of 30 minutes I think is perfect. The maze is not overly long or complex. The loot is decent and varied but not focused, you get a little bit of everything. If you strictly want nanites or if you strictly want units, there are better and more efficient ways to acquire them. Derelict freighters are an excellent diversion if you want to try something different for 30 minutes.


Desolation has definitely been one of the best updates. In fact, maybe the best. I hope we do see more of this type of thing.


I hope that they will add more of this type of maze/ dungeon like adventures in the game.

Things like ancient ruins, special caves or infested stations are a few things that have sprung to mind for more varieties.


I’d like to see the freighter wrecks (on planets) get the proc-gen-tunnel-treatment, rather than the current identicle layouts.
I like the idea of excavating to access the entry points (sometimes) & the occasional collapsed/filled in areas like the current versions but variety of structure would make these more interesting to explore & loot.


I’ve always thought that we ought to be able to explore structures more thoroughly. Ruins with levels and some objects and / or info to discover world be nice.

OTOH, I’d be put off by No Man’s Sky become D&D in space and on planets.


Im all for dungeons/ruins(NMS style) and elaborate cave networks on planets. It would actually add to exploration.

They could make these dungeons/ruins/caves go beyond the depth-limit that our terrain manipulator can go and no bases can be made in them that way no one can deface them.

I can see them adding lore to them down there tied to “The Abyss”. That would be exciting.

I would imagine it would be similar to the derelict freighters were you can loot them for new base parts. Would be cool if they make them more than just loot caves though, perhaps having puzzles to unlock doors or to traverse a long corridor with traps.


Actually, doing a dungeon in a natural cave that’s been formed by procgen would be quite a challenge, because you don’t know how they look and where they go…
But I agree, more dungeony stuff would be very nice. I mean, abandoned space stations are basically begging for it. In ruins on planets it might be a bit tougher to seemlessly integrate into the world, but it would be nice.


I imagine you’d have to do it backwards - design a set of interlocking, interchangable rooms, that can be arranged in any order. Embed pathing functions into them, so there’s always a way through, and you can’t get stuck. Design sets of enemy encounters, puzzles, traps, and rewards, that the procgen can seed throughout the rooms. Dress and texture the rooms to look like cave walls. Then have the procgen arrange the rooms in pseudo-random order.

Then the real trick - (this is what they already do with the NPC bases) - you cut a vertical cylindrical chunk out of the base procgen world, and drop your constructed dungeon cave into it. Blend the edges into the surrounding landscape, and there you have it.

It’s essentially the same procedure they’ve been using for buildings and bases from day 1, but with more activities and interest added, and different wall textures.


That should work, yes…