DaMarcus settled down in his newly crafted, three-story No Man’s Sky base to start the tedious but necessary work of making dozens of metal plates. As he worked, his vision suddenly shook violently. He rushed out to the balcony, only to see a giant sandworm crest above his base, blotting out the twin suns.
“I screamed, like actually screamed,” DaMarcus told Polygon over Discord. “I’ve been playing No Man’s Sky since launch, and I always thought that they wouldn’t add sandworms. Then they did, and I was like … OK, but I’ll never see one. And then I did!”
DaMarcus jumped into his exocraft and tried to hunt the thing down for the next hour, a journey that would make him late for work the next morning. DaMarcus is one of many No Man’s Sky fans who have come together to unravel the mysteries of the sandworm.
Many players feel lucky to have the chance to study the sandworm. After all, it once seemed impossible due to the fraught history during the development of No Man’s Sky. Sandworms that slithered on the ground originally appeared in the 2013 reveal trailer, but never made it to the live game. The lack of sandworm, along with other apparent unkept promises, was used as a piece of evidence in the community backlash against Hello Games directly after No Man’s Sky launched.
In 2018, studio founder Sean Murray told Waypoint that the sandworm had been cut from the launch because it “turned out, as we went through development, that [the sandworm] wasn’t very fun.” This early version of the creature would explode out of nowhere, sometimes killing the player and not providing a whole lot of opportunity. The sandworms never showed up … until Origins, in 2020.
But the sandworm that has made it into No Man’s Sky remains cloaked in mystery. Players have completed some initial tests: They don’t leave any holes in the ground or change terrain in their wake. They don’t seem to cause damage to players. If you scan them, they do not get added to your codex. Twitter user AlmightyEnder recorded that some planets are “worm-ridden,” and if you scan a worm in flight, it simply tells you that you are viewing an “immortal worm.”
Ray Reynolds, a No Man’s Sky player and fan, even developed a strategy for encountering more worms. “Once you find a planet with worms on it, you can get them to spawn by saving your game with a save beacon in the area you’d like to see them. Leave the planet and reload your save. Within a minute, after you load back in, the ground will erupt with tremors and they’ll come.”
Sandworms seem to be linked to high activity on worlds in general; if there are a lot of buildings, there’ll be worms. (And no, walking without rhythm doesn’t help.)
This is a good start, but there is a surprising void of knowledge given the determination of the community. Even the exhaustively updated No Man’s Sky Wiki doesn’t have a page on sandworms or immortal worms. It’s a highlight feature, and it makes for great footage, but no one knows exactly what else you can do with it.
Can you kill sandworms? If so, do they drop anything? How do you even kill something that big? Can you see them rise and fall from orbit? Can you ride them like a big, terrifying horse? (The answer so far seems to be no.) Everyone has questions about the worms, and no one seems to have answers.
For now, their primary role seems to be a punctuation mark in the usual No Man’s Sky experience. In the middle of farming rows of carbon crystals and shooting big bugs, having a sandworm suddenly lunge past you and arc toward the sky ranges from terrifying to awe-inspiring.
Some fans are already making plans for when they can find their own sandworm-infested planet to call home, especially since the Origins update changed so many existing worlds. “I’m looking for my worm world,” says Rajat, one fan who I spoke to through Discord. “I’ve spent the last few evenings after work trying to find a worm planet or the solution to endlessly spawn worms. I’m going to build a temple to the Glorious Worm. I’ve been playing for so long and I never thought the mad lads would do it and add Dune-style sandworms. All hail the Worm.”