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So Really. How Does the Portals Work in No Man's Sky?

Over the last couple of weeks, No Man’s Sky players have discovered a number of monoliths scattered across the universe. The structures look important somehow, like they are meant to do something, or perhaps trigger something. Except...they don’t.
So Really. How Does the Portals Work in No Man's Sky?

Two years ago, No Man’s Sky developer Hello Games uploaded a video titled “Portal gameplay trailer,” to YouTube, where you could see these structures in action. According to the footage, you could step through these Portals and be transported somewhere else, like so:

Fast-forward a couple of years, and players are indeed finding the Portals from the trailers in-game. Actually, the No Man’s Sky Gamepedia has been cataloguing the known locations of Portals, and many players are sharing their images online. Here’s a taste:

The question is, why don’t the Portals work? There are a lot of possibilities here, ranging from development changes, or perhaps the developers haven’t implemented the proper functionality for Portals yet. Some players believe that Portals don’t work because we haven’t actually solved the appropriate puzzle. Maybe you need a certain set of items, for example, before you can use a Portal.

Some Redditors allege that they’ve found in-game code referencing the Portals, as well as dialogue that may give us some clues. All of this is enough to inspire players to dig in and try to solve the mystery surrounding Portals.

No Man’s Sky player Luke Berner for instance discovered that going through the Portal hole can damage you under certain conditions:

Others are taking a close look at the dialogue hiding in the code, in the hopes that it will tell them something about how to turn a Portal on. The dialogue allegedly mentions the importance of the time of day, so some players are reporting staying near Portals in the hopes that something new will happen. Some of the ‘discoveries,’ like the Portal damage one, are likely just bugs—but the point is that players are experimenting to see what might trigger a Portal activation.

One player tried stuffing a Walker through the Portal:

Another tried stuffing a golden ball inside a Portal:

Others are messing around with the files and finding curious assets that seem to depict what Portals would look like once activated:

So far, none of this has turned up anything concrete, but it is inspiring a lot of Portal theories. Some players think Portals will simply do what they did in the trailers, and act as transportation devices. Others think that Portals may be the key to getting multiplayer to work, and that players will be able to use Portals to meet one another. The most out there theory I’ve seen thinks that Portals activate some sort of time-travel.

Occam’s razer would suggest that the game just doesn’t include Portal functions just yet, which is why no one has been able to turn one on. But we do know that No Man’s Sky is getting updates at some point that will add new functionality to the game, like base building. Could Portals be included in those updates? Maybe. Until then, some will continue to overanalyze the textures on Portals. You know. Just in case.