How to get a cargo ship in No Man’s Sky

Cargo ships in No Man’s Sky are a wonderful acquisition. These gigantic ships are like a home base, storage container, unit growing machine and greenhouse all rolled into one – and more! Freighters are primarily designed to store additional items, but they have a variety of other functions as well and should be high on a player’s priority list in No Man’s Sky.

However, the charterer in No Man’s Sky is not cheap: a minimum of millions of units, a maximum of almost 200 million units. However, there is a way to get a cargo ship for free. Whether you’re rich and looking for a high-end cargo ship or just one that’s good enough for the time being, we’ve got you covered.

What are cargo ships for?

Before investing millions of units in a cargo ship, it is better to know what it is for. Here is a brief overview of some of the uses of cargo ships:

  • Starship storage
  • Item storage
  • Base building
  • Farming
  • Expeditions on frigates
  • Summon exocraft

First and foremost, cargo ships are a place to store additional items. Each of them provides a huge amount of storage slots, up to nine pages of additional storage on top of the initial free page. Freighters come with a first page, and additional pages can be added by building storage rooms.

Speaking of building facilities, it is important to note that you can build bases on cargo ships. Not all buildings that can be used for a standard base can be used, but cargo ships have their own building parts. Corridors, large rooms and ramps can all be used to create a massive floating base several stories high. Terminals, teleporters, agricultural equipment, decorative elements and much more can be built on the basis of a cargo ship.

Interestingly, there are two special rooms for cargo ships that players must build: Fleet Command Rooms and Orbital Exocraft Materializer.

  • The exocraft materializer has a simple but very useful feature: it allows the player to spawn an exocraft on any planet, as long as their cargo ship is in the same system.
  • Fleet Command Rooms are a less basic, but perhaps the most useful part of a cargo ship. Building a command room allows the player to send frigates on expeditions of various natures. Frigates return after certain periods of time with a bunch of items, units and more.

Another way to use a cargo ship is to store starships. Each cargo ship is equipped with multiple “parking spaces” for starships, allowing the player to build multiple ships and have space to store them.

How to buy a cargo ship

It is very easy to buy an NMS cargo ship, but it can be very expensive. If the player wants to buy a cargo ship, it’s very simple: just fly up to the ship floating in space and climb aboard, and then talk to the captain. The captain will show the price and allow the player to compare it to their current freighter if they have one. Then everything is simple: click the “Buy” button and transfer the money. Now this cargo ship becomes the property and under the command of the player.

A player can only own one freighter at a time. This means that the existing cargo ship will disappear when a new one is purchased. However, all storages, frigates and built bases will be automatically transferred. Unfortunately, any updates or installed technologies will not be carried over.

Unfortunately, buying a cargo ship is easier than finding it. Finding them isn’t that hard, but sometimes you have to jump over several systems before one (or a half-decent one) appears. Any cargo ship that can be bought will have a cargo ship icon, as shown in the picture above. Those that cannot be purchased will not have a badge.

To evaluate a cargo ship, it is not necessary to talk to its captain. After landing in the docking bay, important statistics can be viewed using the Analysis Visor. It can save time when buying. This can be seen in the image below:

How to get a free cargo ship

Not enough money to buy a cargo ship? Fear not – there is a way to get it for free. Here’s how to do it:

Jump through the systems until a distress call comes in about an attack on a cargo ship

As a rule, a cargo ship battle with pirates can be detected after five jumps. Jumping through systems as part of the Path of the Atlas quest will also often result in this. However, these space battles cannot occur more than once every three in-game hours, so quickly jumping between systems to find a battle will not work.

Defeat the pirates attacking the cargo ship

This part is pretty simple. Attack the pirates until they are all defeated. Be sure to check the in-game message to see how many pirates are left.

Climb aboard the freighter and speak to the captain

After defeating the pirates, the captain will call the player on the intercom and ask them to come aboard to express their gratitude. Just fly up to the blue docking light and land, then go up the stairs and onto the bridge where the captain is waiting for you.

Accept or decline the cargo ship offer

From here, a cargo ship can be accepted as a thank you. However, the player should consider discarding the first freighter they find, and there’s an important reason for doing so that the game doesn’t mention: The second free freighter offered to the player will always be better than the first.

The first free freighter will have a maximum of 19 storage slots and will be a standard class freighter. After refusing it and demanding payment (or simply leaving without paying), the player can repeat this process until a second battle begins and a second freighter is offered to them. This will be a capital cargo ship with at least 24 storage slots. Capital cargo ships are generally better than standard cargo ships.

That’s all! Bought or earned by protecting a cargo ship from pirates, the player now has a huge ship that they can use for a variety of purposes. The cargo ship No Man’s Sky is worth the money and effort it takes to find it.

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