We all know that No Man's Sky is huge, but despite there being 18 quintillion planets out there you're basically left to your own devices from the start. The emphasis is on exploration and discovery, but if you want to get a headstart then this guide will explain some of the mechanics the game keeps quiet and help put you on the right track towards the centre of the universe.
After scanning the flora and fauna on a planet, hit Options and go to the Discoveries page then hold square over any item marked with a red dot to upload it in exchange for units. You need to do this individually for each item, though you can hold down square and move between entries to save repeated pressing. The "Records" and percentage completion section in the middle of the right hand side relates to the individual wildlife species on the planet, and you'll receive a massive units bonus if you can scan them all then upload your 100% collection. If you switch from the initial Multi-tool you start with, you may need to unlock/construct the Analysis Visor function before you can scan anything.
When using the Multi-tool Analysis Visor to scan fauna, a red dot appears under wildlife you've not previously discovered, whereas a green dot means you've already recorded that particular creature - you don't need to scan it again, though this can be useful to reveal if it's going to be hostile towards you. You can also see the dots through obstacles/terrain, to reveal new fauna to chase after which isn't directly in your view.
You can feed certain wildlife by approaching them and supplying the prompted element. This will make them happy and if you follow the magnifying glass prompt when it appears they'll give you items in return - either by leading you to them, digging them up, or otherwise 'producing' them.
When harvesting elements with your mining laser, fire it until the bar is full and flashes red then release it briefly before firing again. Doing this will instantly reset the temperature to minimum, meaning you don't have to wait for it to cool down and can maintain a steady stream of materials being collected.
After examining Monoliths and Knowledge Stones to learn new words in alien languages, those words will be filled in when accessing terminals and during dialogue with aliens from that race. Try and work out what's being said using the words you understand, as this can help you pick the correct response if you're given a choice of options. If you have a relic relating to that race, transfer it to your Exosuit inventory as you may be given the option to trade it for a gift, which is usually a blueprint for an upgrade.
When flying over a planet in your Starship, if you see an Outpost with a landing pad outside then aim for it and hit square when a reticule appears around it (or you're over the top of it) to automatically land on the pad. When you next take off you'll receive a boost from the pad, so won't expend any Launch Thruster fuel to get going again.
While you explore a planet on foot, you can travel much faster by performing a melee hit then immediately boosting with your jetpack and using the burst of momentum to propel yourself forwards. This is much faster than the standard sprinting option, though for covering larger distances it's always best to return to your Starship.
If you have a red icon in the bottom right of the screen, this means your inventory is full and you won't be able to pick up any new items. You can stack identical elements up to their maximum capacity per slot, but any non-element items can't be stacked and take up a slot each. If you're close enough to your Starship you can transfer items between inventories by holding triangle, and if you have a matching element onboard then it will stack automatically - bear in mind the the maximum capacity per slot is larger on your Starship, making it more efficient to store elements there. If you're desperate for extra space you can always discard items by holding R3, ideally common elements that can be easily replaced.
Interact with one of the laser beam emitting Signal Scanners found near structures on planets, by using a Bypass Chip which is very cheap to construct, then choose to scan for a Shelter. This will often lead you to a nearby Drop Pod, where you can buy an extra inventory slot for your Exosuit. You can use several Bypass Chips in a row to rack up a number of markers on your map, including multiple instances of the same type of location, then go off and explore them all without having to return to the mast to scan for more.
On your HUD in the top right corner, the 5 boxes represent the level of Sentinel interest in you if they are attacking. Should they come after you, either take them out as quickly as possible or hide from their view (represented by their markers changing into eyeballs), as otherwise the interest level will continue to rise and more powerful Sentinels will be sent in to attack.
During night time or in dark areas on your current planet, you can press up on the d-pad to activate a light on your Exosuit. This nifty hidden feature can help you find your way around once the sun (or suns) set on your planet, and doesn't appear to place any additional drain on your resources.
You can unlock your first Atlas Pass by following and progressing the Atlas Path storyline, triggered at the start of the game - don't worry if you decided to ignore the glowing red orb though, as you'll be guided down an alternate path which also yields an Atlas Pass. Once armed with the blueprint, you can craft passes that give you access to locked rooms in Outposts and Space Stations, containing inventory upgrades and useful items.
Looking for more information? Here's 9 No Man's Sky things you need to know: death, saves, offline play and more...