How Do Portals Work In No Man’s Sky


No Man’s Sky has a massive universe with a lot of unanswered questions.

Let’s not mention the fact that No Man’s Sky’s pre-launch trailers showed players going through some brain-looking ball at the base of a large upright block of stone and experiencing, what some might call, time travel.

We shouldn’t mention that because by now we all know that nothing No Man’s Sky’s team says about its space exploration can be taken for granted. If the steam page of No Man’s Sky is anything to by then perhaps everyone should just forget that No Man’s Sky even ever existed.

An overall rating of “mostly negative” doesn’t look good on anyone’s CV let alone a semi-survival game from an “indie” studio.

Hello Games, the studio behind the development of No Man’s Sky, has managed to garner about 41,000 down-votes on No Man’s Sky official steam page. That’s a lot of downvotes for an “indie” game that was hyped up to mark the next generation of video games where players would be able to do anything and everything they wanted to do in a video game.

Needless to say, “Portals” was one of those features that were advertised in No Man’s Sky trailer before the game’s official launch.

And to nobody’s surprise, it turned out to be another feature that was missing from the main game.

No Man’s Sky players have spent countless hours in the past couple of weeks to discover more of these giant upright slabs of stone (in other words, megaliths). As of this moment, the consensus seems to be that No Man’s Sky developers have peppered their procedurally generated universe with many of these megaliths which, as of now, do nothing.

But the problem is that these structures are too big and too well-built to not have any consequence in No Man’s Sky. In other words, somehow, these megaliths look like they play a unique role in the world of No Man’s Sky.

Common sense would dictate that megaliths like these would allow players to do something meaningful in the game or perhaps might be able to trigger a special event of some sort.

Except that they don’t do anything apart from just existing.

As mentioned before, many of you might have seen the video, aptly named “Portal gameplay trailer”, on Youtube where No Man’s Sky developer studio Hello Games showed off these giant structures in action.

The Youtube video was uploaded about two years ago so many of the newcomers to No Man’s Sky may not remember what happened in the video.

Essentially the video showed a No Man’s Sky player stepping through one of these “Portals” (the megaliths) and being transported to a random planet (which looked beautiful and was brimming with life).

Now, after two years since that trailer was shown, No Man’s Sky players have managed to locate some of these Portals.

But the problem, as alluded to before, is that these Portals from the older in-game trailer are basically just static structures that do nothing.

But that hasn’t stopped some websites such as No Man’s Sky Gamepedia to stop searching. In fact, users on the website have cataloged all known locations of these Portals.

As a result, a lot of No Man’s Sky players have uploaded their own images of Portals from the game and have shared their locations.

In case you were wondering: no No Man’s Sky player has managed to make these Portals work even though the number of “discovered” portal continues to rise.

So the obvious question to ask here is that why don’t these Portals in No Man’s Sky work let alone work like they did in the 2014 gameplay trailer.

Well, there could be an infinite number of reasons as to why these Portals seem to be just broken like hell. One of the foremost reason could be that No Man’s Sky developer team led by Sean Murray, just like they did with many other “promised” features, didn’t put in the work and flesh out the feature in the main game.


No Man’s Sky has a lot of missing features. Monoliths seem to be one of them.

But of course, other explanations are equally plausible such as,

  • A change in the development goals of No Man’s Sky
  • Hello Games developers not being able to implement the feature in its stable form i.e functionality issues

But some optimistic No Man’s Sky players are of the opinion that players haven’t been able to solve some mystery puzzle in the game and that’s why the Portals seem, deactivated.

Some have even theorized that the game requires NMS (No Man’s Sky) players to collect a certain number of special items before the Portals can be utilized to travel to distant places almost instantly.

As was the case with Pokemon Go augmented reality mobile video game, some Reddit users managed to found chunks of in-game code that referenced these Portals.

The same group of Reddit users also unearthed in-game dialogue which strongly suggests that Portals indeed have a role to play in NMS even though no one has managed to find out what that role is.

No Man’s Sky, even with the negative reviews the game has received since launch, does try to overwhelm you with sheer size and distance.

And because of that, there is a small group of NMS players that is doing its best to dig deeper into the game and eventually solve the enigma that is NMS Portals.

NMS marketing team used mystery quite cleverly to sell the game and in that respect, the game has been quite successful. That same “mystery” factor has now become the source of inspiration for many NMS players to keep searching No Man’s Sky’s universe in order to find out how do these Portals work.

Just to take an example, a NMS player who goes by the name of Luke Berner recently managed to, unexpectedly, find out that going through the “deactivated” Portals may damage a player under special conditions.

You can watch the video for that below.

————youtube video—————–

While Luke Berner’s method is certainly pretty direct, other NMS players are taking the “geek” approach to figuring out how do these Portals work in the game by searching for the dialogue that is buried deep within the game’s code.


These NMS player hope that by taking a closer look at the code, they might be able to understand how a Portal functions and how to activate the Portal.

Ostensibly, the dialogue these players have found out mentions factors such as time of day as an important aspect of how to turn these Portals on.

As a result, some NMS players have reported having spent long hours near Portals in order to notice anything different with these megaliths. But so far, no NMS player has reported anything new regarding Portals at any time of day.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that “breakthroughs” such as Portal damage may just be in-game bugs rather than an indication that Portals do indeed work.

Of course one can’t fault NMS players of trying (and experimenting) everything there is try, in order to trigger one of these Portals to activate.  


2014 No Man’s Sky trailer showed a working Portal. 2016 No Man’s Sky game didn’t have any of that.

In fact, one NMS player even tried to shove a Walker (Sentinel) through the Portal. Another NMS player tried to push a golden ball inside the Portal itself.

While all these methods are worth trying out, some players are just spending a lot of time studying the game’s files and related chunks of code to find interesting game assets which might indicate what Portals would appear like once they are triggered on.

As mentioned before, none of the methods have worked so far and NMS player are still no closer to finding out how these Portals work.

But at least, the activity around the search for Portals has sparked a lot of NMS Portal discussion forums where players have discussed their own theories about how these Portals might work.

Some NMS players have theorized that Portals in the game would simply allow players to transport to random locations just like what was shown in the pre-launch trailer.

While others think that these megaliths might, finally, enable NMS multiplayer mode. Of course, that won’t be possible since Hello Games removed the multiplayer icon from the game box before the first NMS disk was even shipped.


Hello Games has promised more features for the space exploration game in the future so hang tight.

Other theories are more plausible such as players being able to meet each other after passing through a Portal. Though that also seems unlikely since two players did manage to find each other on the first day of No Man’s Sky’s launch and were not able to interact with each other in any meaningful way.

The wildest theory that NMS discussion forums have managed to come up with is that these Portals, once activated, would allow players to time travel.

But one can’t ignore that possibility that these Portals simply do not work at the moment. Maybe the developers will add more functionality to these Portals in future updates for the game.

Because even though no one has managed to trigger these Portals on, we know that NMS developer team will introduce new features in the game at some later date. Those future updates may include working Portals.

So far, the most in-demand feature by far is base building and Sean Murray has hinted at introducing that feature at some later date.

For now, NMS players will have to live with broken Portals.

Do let us know your thoughts and theories about NMS portals and don’t forget to share the story if you think it might help another NMS player in activating a Portal.


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