No Man's Sky Derelict Freighter Guide: Landing, Tainted Metal, & Tips (2023)

No Man’s Sky Derelict Freighters are spooky, dangerous, and full of valuable rewards like Tainted Metal and Salvaged Frigate Modules. Originally introduced in the Desolation Update, these are now one of the most lucrative activities in the game. You can do a lot with very little by completing just one of these hulks. You just need to know where to find them and what to do! That’s the purpose of this guide as we run through every step in this semi-survival horror activity found in the depths of No Man’s Sky. Let’s take a look!

How to Find a Derelict Freighter in No Man’s Sky

The first step in this process is, of course, to find yourself a freighter. This requires a special consumable item called the Emergency Broadcast Receiver. Each of which can be acquired in a variety of ways. The most consistent of which is going to set you back a bit. You can buy them from the Scrap Dealer on any standard space station found in No Man’s Sky.

The NPC can be found next to the Technology Traders — up the left-side ramp as you enter any space station. They will sell a single Emergency Broadcast Receiver for 5 million Units. You can buy more after that, but the price goes up each time. The first costs 5 million, the second costs 10 million, the third costs 20 million, and every other consumable after that point costs 30 million. That’s the cap. However, the price resets to the original 5 million every 24 real-world hours.

The Scrap Dealer will also explain the very, very basics of Derelict Freighter discovery in No Man’s Sky. Yet you really need to experience them yourself to get a handle on the important stuff. In fact, you don’t actually unlock the second method of purchasing Emergency Broadcast Receivers until after you complete your first derelict. After you do finish a derelict, however, you can get one free receiver per week from Iteration: Helios on the Space Anomaly. You can find them standing at the top of the right-side ramp — leading up to the observation deck where Nada and Polo are found.

No Man's Sky Derelict Freighter Guide: Landing, Tainted Metal, & Tips (1)

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To actually use the Emergency Broadcast Receiver, interact with the item in your inventory, then engage the Pulse Engine. The direction doesn’t matter. You just need to fly around at pulse speed for a few seconds until warning message appears. When it does, drop back to normal speed and the Derelict Freighter will appear before you.

There’s one last way to find a Derelict Freighter: random chance. You may occasionally encounter one as a Pulse Engine anomaly (not to be confused with the Space Anomaly, which is a specific location). Anomalies are random events that also occur when flying around with your Pulse Engine. They’re very rare and lead to a wide variety of things. Only a few will turn out to be a Derelict Freighter.

You can technically also increase your odds by using an Anomaly Detector, which forces an anomaly to occur. These are found (very, very,very rarely) inside of asteroids. Just shoot rocks with your starship and you may find one eventually. This is hardly reliable, of course, so stick to the Scrap Dealer for your first derelict.

How to Land on a Derelict Freighter in No Man’s Sky

This seems like a very basic question, but it apparently trips up more players than you might think. That’s probably because it relies on a mechanic that No Man’s Sky never fully explains. It relies on the “auto-landing” system that you normally see in places like Trade Outposts. Auto-landing is just shorthand, however, as the process isn’t fully automatic. You do need to approach the Derelict Freighter and press the landing button to get out of your ship.


However, you need to specifically line up your ship near the airlock. This is next to a set of four symmetrical landing pads — marked by nearby red lights. You need to approach the area and wait for a set of small, blue circles to appear. This indicates you’re approaching the right landing zone. You can see these same circles at certain planetary structures (like the aforementioned Trade Outposts). When you get close enough, and line up your starship so it is roughly parallel to the parking spot, the concentric circles will turn green. This means you’re clear to hit the landing button. After which, No Man’s Sky will take over the hard part and automatically complete the landing sequence for you.

Perhaps the reason this is so tricky for players is because the landing spot on a Derelict Freighter is much smaller than average. You also don’t usually see this mechanic in space — where the glowing blow tractor beams of space stations and functioning freighters are more common. Either way, this is the trick.

No Man’s Sky Derelict Freighter Tips

Every No Man’s Sky Derelict Freighter is slightly unique. It’s a procedurally generated game, after all. But the basics always remain the same. After landing, you open an airlock and begin exploring the innards of the empty beast. Though it’s not really empty, is it? Each derelict is full of hazards just waiting to kill unsuspecting players. We want to avoid that at all costs — while also soaking up the many juicy rewards inside.

Note that the inside environment will first shut down your jetpack and attempt to kill you with frigid temperatures, security drones, auto-turrets, and regular old suffocation. You need to slowly fight your way through the derelict — exploring every single room and activating three terminals along the way. Make sure to activate and stop by the small, rectangular heaters scattered throughout the ship as well. These are soft checkpoints that let you stop and regain your bearings between rooms.

Here’s a very straightforward list of tips on how to prepare and protecting yourself:

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  1. Clean out your inventory before entering
  2. Bring ammo and/or materials to make more
  3. Interact with the light blue cannisters floating inside the freighter to gather Oxygen and Sodium
  4. Don’t open doors until you’re ready to walk through
  5. Activate the small heaters to create zones safe from environmental damage
  6. Shoot pustules on the floor to reveal hidden heaters
  7. Kill mobile enemies first
  8. Don’t fight auto-turrets unless absolutely necessary
  9. Open every blue container you see
  10. Interact with every datapad you see
  11. Bring a good gun (e.g. the Pulse Spitter)

We want a clean inventory because derelicts are full of valuable loot. That includes rare trading items to sell on the galactic market, but also special items which can be traded to NPCs back on your favorite space station. You can also get stuff like Living Slime in droves by destroying the green pustules growing throughout the ship. Living Slime isn’t that valuable on its own, but it can be refined into Runaway Mould, which can be refinedfurther into valuable Nanite Clusters. Meanwhile, Oxygen and Sodium recharge your life support and hazard protection manually. Having space to pick up more (from the floating cannisters) is a good safety measure.

One of the biggest prizes, however, is a Salvaged Frigate Module or two. These are used to permanently upgrade your freighter. You need quite a lot to unlock every add-on, too. This makes it some of the most valuable Derelict Freighter loot in No Man’s Sky. Make sure to keep these items safe if you get one.

The derelict will also likely be full of enemies more aggressive than the col: floating drones, acid-spitting monsters, and defense turrets. The drones and monsters aren’t hard to kill. Yet they attack immediately and will chase you down. That’s why we kill them first. You should actually avoid auto-turrets altogether. These only attack if you step into the moving, red security lights they project. You can watch the red lights to gauge their patterns before simply slipping past them.

However, if you do decide to destroy a turret, be very careful about it. Peek around corners to shoot them and use cover when reloading. These turrets hit very hard and have reinforced armor. They take a long time to kill. Don’t be afraid to simply walk away and stand next to a heater while your shields recharge. You can whittle them down this way (as long as you have Oxygen to sustain your Life Support).

With those hazards in mind, you just need to explore. There are usually about a dozen rooms in total. You need to check each one and activate those three terminals to finish each derelict. Terminals typically give valuable items called a “Crew Manifest” and a “Captain’s Log.” You trade these to the Scrap Dealer or any mission agent back on space stations. The agent will award you with either faction reputation or Nanite Clusters; the dealer will hand out Tainted Metal.

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Tainted Metal is a unique currency. The Scrap Dealer gives unique rewards for its safe return: including cosmetics, base decorations, and random modules for your gear. You can also process Tainted Metal into more nanites, if you wish.

No Man's Sky Derelict Freighter Guide: Landing, Tainted Metal, & Tips (2)

This is why it’s important to pick up datapads. Most of these items scattered about the derelict only provide small snippets of story. However, one will also provide a password needed to access one of the terminals and retrieve its reward item. The terminal will offer a list of greyed-out dialogue options, while having the password in your inventory will cause one of those choices to become available. Select that dialogue option to retrieve your reward.

On that note, the third Derelict Freighter terminal doesn’t actually award trade-in items. Instead, it presents a list of rewards for you to select from. You can take 500-600 Nanite Clusters, a “Cargo Bulkhead” for your own freighter (which increases its inventory slots by one), or a “Salvaged Fleet Unit” (which provides a random upgrade to one of your frigates).

Each terminal also has a teleporter next to it. You can reactivate this cylindrical device by interacting with it. Then just step into the tube of light to teleport. This will let you fast travel around the Derelict Freighter — including back to the airlock at the beginning once it’s time to leave.

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Finally, we don’t open doors (by shooting the goopy tendrils that block them) until we’re ready to go through. This is because you can use the Analysis Visor to see which doors are already open. Since there’s no map inside the derelict, this is the best way to keep track of where we have and haven’t been, so you don’t get lost. Remember that the objective requires us to search every single room; losing track of where we have yet to go just makes things harder.

Return to the airlock using the teleporter once you retrieve your reward from the final terminal. At this point, it’s safe to return to your ship, and hit up the space station! You’re done. All that’s left is to sell your booty and decide which NPC you want to sell the Crew Manifest and Captain’s Log to. Best of luck and enjoy your future as a Derelict Freighter hunter in No Man’s Sky!


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