I bought a PS4 for No Man’s Sky. My hype for the game prior to its release reached astronomical levels. When it finally released, I was ready, and for the most part I was satisfied. It may have been disappointing in some regards, but I found a great deal of fun in it. That doesn’t mean I didn’t (or don’t still) have my own reservations about it, just that I felt like I got my money’s worth.
However, Hello Games has stuck to their word about working on No Man’s Sky to make it the game they promised it would be. Since launch, they’ve released many updates: Foundation, Pathfinder, Atlas Rises, and now the Next update.
No Man’s Sky, for all of its strengths in the beginning, was a barebones experience. Exploration was the primary goal, the sole driver, whether that meant attempting to get to the center of the galaxy or just roaming around. Over the many updates applied to No Man’s Sky, Hello Games has introduced a narrative to follow, along with tons of quality of life improvements.
Now players can build bases on the planets and moons they discover, and return to them at will. Owning multiple ships is now, thankfully, possible. You can acquire large freighters and fleets, build ground vehicles, and haul around portable equipment. Exploration feels much less restrictive now that you can get about much faster, and combat is more engaging.
But does it make for a better experience?
More, Definitely. Better? That’s A Good Question
As they say, variety is the spice of life. In the universe of No Man’s Sky, there’s life teeming in every nook and cranny; every crevice and crevasse. Oddly enough, it isn’t the life in the universe that makes the experience. Instead, it’s the fact that you can go anywhere, at any point you’d like. That may be because the lifeforms in No Man’s Sky only vary between odd and Lovecraftian levels of terrifying, but that’s beside the point. The worlds you can visit are massive and plentiful, just like they were before. The changes have added more to No Man’s Sky, but what existed previously is fundamentally the same.
It’s still about collecting resources and moving along, progressively empowering yourself and exploring the universe. There are just more tools at your disposal to do so now. Maybe this is actually the game that Hello Games was meaning to create in the first place. Perhaps they’re still on the way towards fulfilling the original vision. Regardless, it isn’t like this is a drastically different game, and it’s unlikely that it ever will be. The direction that Hello Games has taken No Man’s Sky in seems to be the intended path.
I’m honestly at a loss about what to say. I get the feeling that there were folks that expected No Man’s Sky to be something drastically different from what it turned out to be. Whether that’s due to the marketing of it prior to the original release, or a result of coverage of the game over time, is a moot point. My take away from playing after the Next update is that No Man’s Sky is slowly becoming what it was meant to be, but that the core experience was present all along. To expect any different would be akin to expecting updates to Grand Theft Auto to turn it into a realistic depiction of modern American life, or turning Dark Souls into a hack-and-slash series. No Man’s Sky clearly was designed as a game about endless journeys through space, and the core has stayed largely the same from inception to now.
I have a new appreciation for No Man’s Sky, and I find myself drawn in once more as I learn about the new things I can do. Still, I can feel a mounting annoyance at times as I run out of resources for constructing my tools, modifying my settlements and vehicles, and catalysts for venturing into the void. That said, I’ve found enjoyment in learning the new tricks and tools available to me, as well as experimenting with different multi-tools and ships.
That’s right, with the updates, Hello Games has delivered on multiple promises including different ships having different strengths and weaknesses. In the original iteration, all ships performed the same with the exception of more expensive ships sporting more inventory slots. Now there are four ship types: shuttles, explorers, fighters, and haulers; each with their own rarities. Similarly, multi-tools not only have different rarities which dictate their strengths, but also different types which confer additional bonuses: those being pistols, rifles, experimental, and alien varieties. Admittedly, I’m partial to the rifle variation because it affords so many customization slots, but the other types carry bonuses that make things like mining and scanning much more efficient.
However, I don’t imagine that my interest will maintain once I hit that inevitable wall I come to in any survival/exploration game I play. In games like this, I always find myself at a point where I don’t have a goal to strive for anymore, and the progress I’ve been seeking all along will slow to a grinding halt. It’s at that point that I’ll find it difficult to convince myself to pour more time into No Man’s Sky. The unending abyss will no longer inspire the wonder I once felt, the hundreds of worlds will cease to bring about a desire to delve into them, the creative spark in me will die out as I grow tired of building and gathering. Maybe that’s a problem associated with every survival/exploration game?
I don’t know. All I know is that I’m actually having fun again.
What’s your take on No Man’s Sky? Are the updates enough to get you interested in the game, or does the idea of endless exploration sound unbearable to you? How does it meet up with your expectations now?
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