When No Man’s Sky was originally released in August 2016 for PS4 and PC, there was an insane amount of hype for this game. The game was released by the indie studio Hello Games and was centered around four pillars of gameplay: exploration, survival, combat, and trading.
The procedural generation system promised over 18 quintillion planets to explore and it garnered awards and praise from critics, although the reception amongst gamers was mixed, with a large amount of backlash for unfilled promises largely due to the hype and lack of communication in the months leading up to the release. The game was criticized for overly repetitive gameplay and many got bored and stopped playing the game. For those angry at Hello Games for failing to live up to their expectations, they returned the game.
Although much of the “unfulfilled promises” were largely due to hype and not the creators themselves, the damage was done. The reputation of Hello Games was in ruins, but rather than give up, they decided to make amends and continued to develop the game towards gamers’ expectations in the forms of updates. These updates are put out free to all who own the game! The amount of time and effort put into these updates to try and match up to original expectations is impressive.
The November 2016 update, known as the “Founder Update” added the ability for the player to designate a home planet and construct a base there. They also added two new modes: a more difficult survival mode and a creative mode that allows unlimited resources for creating bases. In March 2017 the “Pathfinder Update” was released which added some new features to the game including the ability to share bases with other players, new vehicles or “exocraft” to expand exploration, a permadeath option of gameplay, and support for Steam Workshop so that players can modify the PC version. They also added enhanced graphics for the PS4 Pro. In August 2017, the update “Atlas Rises” was released which added procedurally generated missions and 30 more hours of narrative to the story mode, along with portals for fast travel throughout the galaxy. They also added a limited online cooperative mode called “Joint Exploration” which allows up to 16 players to explore the same planet and to communicate, although players only appear as glowing orbs to one another. The next update planned for July 24, 2018, titled “Next,” will finally add the full multiplayer experience to the game. This means, combat, exploration, base building, and ground/space travel with other players online! Previously, the lack of multiplayer support was one of the biggest gripes the gaming community had with the game.
I had purchased the game and played it upon release, but quickly got bored as I felt that it was repetitive and kind of empty feeling. Sure, there were an almost uncountable number of worlds, but the layouts and creatures and exploration wasn’t really all that diverse. I felt that I could have just stayed to one world and pretty much that would have felt the same. Also, there were plenty of game-breaking bugs. I recently re-downloaded No Man’s Sky and added all of the current updates. Upon playing it again, it seems a lot more polished and fulfilling. There is more wildlife and the Sentinels’ AI is much better. There are also sentient aliens that can assist you and resources are a little more sparse. It also seems like the procedural generation does a better job of creating diverse worlds, at least in my newest play through. And soon we will have true multiplayer! At last this game is the game I first imagined when I saw the announcements for it a couple of years ago. No Man’s Sky is certainly worth playing for the first time, and it’s certainly worth a replay for those that originally bought the game upon release. I can now confidently recommend this game.