Brandon Carbaugh (He/Him) Junior Game Writer, Pixelberry Studios. | All dumb opinions are solely my own. Aug. 01, 2018 5 min read

(thread) So here's an experience I just had in No Man's Sky. I'm doing some harmless crafting on a peaceful forest world when I come across something called a "sentient plant". The hell? I crack it open. Inside is a large pearl. I take that shit! Then all hell breaks loose.

No Man's Sky has these little robots called Sentinels. They're on every planet, and their thing is, if they catch you mining, they try to kill you, until you can escape them. Normally they don't bother you for just harvesting plants! But I guess sentient plants are different.

The instant I take the pearl, I go from a Wanted level of 0, to a Wanted level of 3. I have never even SEEN a Wanted level that high. Normally raising it that high would require fighting 3-4 waves of the fuckers, and why would I ever do that?

Fun fact: APPARENTLY when your Wanted level is high enough the sentinels send new kinds of robots after you! Like robot dogs with laser faces! I take off running. The second I break line of sight, I blast a hole in the ground and hide. And that WOULD have been the end of it...

...except then I look at my inventory, and that pearl is worth a shitload of money. And there were a LOT of those sentient plants in that clearing where I found it. You see where this is going.

I go back to the clearing, parking my ship nearby. I crack open all the plants -- but I DON'T take any pearls yet. I figure what I'll do is, I'll smash and grab. Take as many as I can carry, get in my ship, and blast off planet before those dumb robots know what's what. STUPID

Cut to thirty seconds later, I'm behind the controls of a ship full of viscous green pearls, with robot drones falling pathetically behind, cackling about what a clever boy I am. I blast off into space. Bad idea. Turns out sentinels have space ships. For space crimes.

I try to hyperjump away. Nope. Can't hyperjump when there's an enemy ship nearby. I try to run. The ship pursues me doggedly at top speed. If I let go of the throttle for even a second, they instantly catch up and start blasting. Fine. They want a fight? Let's do this.

I engage the sentinel ship in a one-on-one dogfight. It's one of the more intense space battles I've had. They fly really fast, aim really well, and if you sit still for more than a second, they hit you with this gnarly beam laser. But, somehow, I triumph. Or so I think.

Now, if you kill a sentinel on a planet, what that gives you is time. There's a brief lull between waves. Time enough for escape. I figure the same must be true with the space ship. If I defeat it, I'll be able to hyperjump away. Right? Wrong. I kill one; two more appear.

I can't fight two of them. And I can't go back to the planet I just came from, right? They'll be waiting for me? Fuck man, I don't know how space crimes work! So I pick a nearby planet. Normally a 30-second hyperjump, in realspace, it's about a 9-minute flight. I hit the gas.

I fly. The sentinel ships pursue. They can't catch me, but I can't escape. But nor can I slow down, or I'll fall within their blaster range. And my armor is REAL low. So: a moving stalemate. For 9 minutes. Think "It Follows". It is simultaneously boring and white-knuckle.

The planet nears. I don't know its name or terrain type, because you can't scan planets while in combat, which this low-speed chase technically is. The planet nears. I bob and weave through the orbital asteroid fields. I think I see canyons below? We break atmosphere.

It's a purple, barren, utterly flat, airless desert hellscape. You've got to be fucking kidding me. I dive toward the surface. There is NOTHING. Nowhere I can lose them. Just flat, featureless terrain. Infinite procedurally-generated planets, and I get fucking SPACE ARIZONA.

But now the game changes. Because while we were at a stalemate in space, in atmosphere? The sentinel ships are now faster than me. Just enough so to slowly gain on me, their blaster fire finding my wings with a level of accuracy that is increasing at an alarming rate.

I skim the surface. Dangerously low. No Man's Sky used to have low-altitude assist that prevented you from crashing into the ground, but not anymore! This is some X-Wing shit. Trails of dust racing across the ground. But hey, good news! The sentinel ships are bad at low flying.

Oh wait, bad news: So am I.

So now we're at another impasse. I can't escape, but they can't get a bead on me. But if I slow down or gain altitude, I'm toast. And while the ground is flat, it's not PERFECTLY flat. There are dunes and hills, and I keep nicking them. This is a bad situation. BUT WAIT!

Suddenly I spot plateaus in the distance. Big stone mesas, miles apart. Not exactly what I need for an Independence Day-style canyon chase setpiece, but close enough. I bank hard right, curving around a mesa. Line of sight breaks. And for JUST a second...they lose me.

Immediately I smash the land button and park my ship in the mesa's shadow. The sentinel ships shoot past, spot me, and arc back around. I abandon my ship and book it. (Can they impound it in my absence? Fuck man, I dunno.) I bore a hole in the ground. And hide.

NEOOOWWW. The ships shoot overhead. The controller vibrates. I wait. And wait. And then, something like a half hour after this ordeal first began, I FINALLY see those three blessed words: "Sentinel Force Deactivated"

I am now back in my ship, sitting on a stack of over 300,000 units of albumen pearls. And so ends another average Tuesday in the universe of No Man's Sky. What a game.

(The best part of this, of course, is that I can now literally name the planet "Space Arizona" and no one can stop me.)

Hey, to all the people retweeting this thread like "wow guess sean finally made NMS not shitty" or whatever...can you maybe fucking not? Please don't weaponize my dumb tweets into a backhanded insult. Extremely not cool. You're banned from Space Arizona.

NMS was pretty good at launch, has since become genuinely great, and the amount of horsefuckery that team has had to put up with in the past year is disgusting and toxic.