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Within the first two minutes of the game, I had some sentinels shooting at me, and I don't know why. Before I knew it, I'd completely depleted my mining laser taking them out, was out of shields, and only had 2 health left. Luckily, I recovered from that, and kept a wary eye on sentinels ever since.

Except... they never attacked me after that for like my next 6 hours of play. The only time since then that they've attacked me was when I was blowing up a sealed door to a workshop, and alarms were going off and stuff.

What causes sentinels to attack?

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Sentinels will only attack if you are attempting to make changes to the area they are residing in, provoking them by messing with the wild life or terrain, or exploring a planet with rare resources.

No Man's Sky - Sentinels

Summary

The Sentinels in No Man's Sky are a species of self-replicating, non-organic machines. They were created to balance the efforts and actions of the player with the procedurally generated ecosystem. Sentinels act as the workhorse machines of The Atlas, and police the actions of those within the universe.

They are, in essence, the "gardeners" of the No Man's Sky universe. If the player makes an attempt to alter the environment while they are around, they will not hesitate to defend their "garden".

Behavior and wanted level

Sentinels will normally act passively towards the player unless they witness them violating a universal law (such as killing an animal unprovoked, or over-mining a planet's resources). This behavior will accrue wanted levels. The aggression of the Sentinels and their dedication to pursuing the player is entirely linked to the player's wanted level. As this level increases, the number of Sentinels will increase, and more dangerous Sentinels will also start to appear.

On high security planets, because endangered resources are likely, sentinels will attack on sight.

In Addition, the following will cause sentinels to appear and attack you - even when there are none in sight:

  1. Picking up Gravitino Ball from the ground

  2. Picking up Sac Venom from the ground

  3. Taking a Vortex Cube from a pedestal. Picking up a Vortex Cube from the ground will not alert sentinels if no sentinel witnesses it.

  4. Removing an Albumen Pearl from a shell

  5. Attempting to destroy reinforced Resource depots or steel gates of a Manufacturing Facility

  • Per #5: Technically, hitting a depot or door once will alert them to your activity; a second hit will cause them to attack. You can either A. destroy the object in a single shot (with a good grenade), or B. hit it once, wait for the alert to fade (about 5 seconds - check the top right of the HUD) then hit it again, repeating until it's destroyed. Note that using a boltcaster or mining beam will perform multiple hits very quickly; grenades are always better. Both techniques will allow you to destroy the object without incurring hostility - provided of course they were non-hostile to begin with. – Superstringcheese Aug 17 '16 at 2:31
  • Is there any indication on your HUD as to this wanted level? I still have yet to understand everything that shows up on the HUD, specifically the top left and right of the screen. I'll probably make that a separate question... – Kaizerwolf Aug 17 '16 at 14:11
  • There is a row of 5 boxes in the top right, which is usually the same shade of gray as the rest of your UI. Sometimes a sentinel will "scan" you, at which time the boxes will glow blue; actions taken at that moment are far more likely than normal to make them hostile, but they don't have to be scanning you to detect something they don't like. When you have a "wanted level", one or more of the boxes will turn red. – Dan Henderson Aug 23 '16 at 18:15
  • @Superstringcheese I have another strategy for those doors (doesn't work for depots though). If your boltcaster has at least one damage output upgrade, and there are no sentinels nearby when you begin, you can get through the door before they hit you (or at least take only minor shield damage); as soon as you step inside, the sentinels will deactivate. You might also be able to get by with just a firing rate upgrade, along with one to either clip size or reload speed. – Dan Henderson Aug 23 '16 at 18:22
  • I've also had them attack because one was behind me through a rock I was mining - I didn't penetrate through the rock and hit it; I think it interpreted the direction of my aim as aggressive regardless of the fact that I didn't hit them. – Random832 Aug 28 '16 at 3:20
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  • Resource extraction
  • Looting Depots and Manufacturing facility's
  • Hostility towards sentinels, living animals, freighters and other star-ships
  • Repeatedly attacking space stations
  • Being on a planet where sentinel behaviour is erratic or hostile
  • Picking up rare resources like a Gravitino ball will instantly get you a level 3 grade

These will all cause sentinels to attack the player.

I may have missed some things but i hope this helps.

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