No Man’s Sky is a game that certainly needs no introduction. Releasing back in 2016 to some pretty scathing reviews, as well as some fairly lukewarm reviews, No Man’s Sky drew quite a lot of negative attention, for good reason too. The game’s launch was an absolute mess, with reports of poor rendering, framerate instability and problems even just starting up the game, being chief among them. That, unfortunately, was only the beginning of the messy situation that developer Hello Games found themselves in.
Players and media alike rapidly took to social media and outlets to relay how lacking the game was, ultimately expressing concerns that there just wasn’t a great deal of things to do. No Man’s Sky, as a result, went from being one of the most anticipated games of the year, to one of the most negatively received games of the year. Major criticisms were aimed at the lack of features that both Hello Games and Sony had promised prior to the game’s launch, with Hello Games stating that the studio hadn’t anticipated such heavy sales.
Hello Games, at the time, estimated roughly ten thousand concurrent players across PlayStation 4 and Windows, but No Man’s Sky went on to smash expectations, reaching a total of five hundred thousand concurrent players. This resulted in server overload, as well as bug reports and help requests that naturally overwhelmed the small team of developers. In turn, this lead to problems with communication between the developer and its sizable fan-base. Safe to say, Hello Games and No Man’s Sky fast became a running joke.
I could go on and on and list each and every problem and flaw with the game at the time, but to be frank, I’d be here all day. Now, however, No Man’s Sky is an entirely different beast and is set to deliver its largest and most ambitious update yet, alongside arriving on Xbox One. Despite initially going dark, Hello Games has been hard at work ever since release of the game, doing all that they can to deliver on a promise that was never fulfilled to begin with. This began with the Foundation Update back in 2016.
This update allowed players to define a planet as their home planet, as well as enable them to construct a base on it. Foundations also implemented several other abilities and improvements, including a Survival Mode and a Creative Mode. The Path Finder Update followed suit in March 2017, also bringing several new features to the game; base sharing, new vehicles, permadeath, improvements and much more. The latest update, titled “The Atlas Rises” was then released in August 2017, the biggest update since launch.
The Atlas Rises threw in roughly 20 hours of narrative, bolstering the game’s story mode significantly. This update also pushed procedurally-generated missions into the mix, on top of several quality of life adjustments. That leads us to the upcoming launch on Xbox One (bringing all updates along with) and the “Next” update – both of which are set to arrive on July 24th of this year. Next will include a full multiplayer experience which includes exploration, base building, ground and space travel and finally, combat. Hello Games state:
You’ll be able to explore the universe with a small group of friends, or bump into random travelers. You can help friends to stay alive, or prey on others to survive. Tiny shelters or complex colonies that you build as a team are shared for all players. Fight as a pirate or a wingman in epic space battles with friends and enemies. Race exocraft across weird alien terrains, creating race tracks and trails to share online.
Multiplayer appears to support four players in total, allowing you and up to three friends to take to the experience in unity. Alternatively, if you take to the experience alone, you’ll likely run into random players who will either help or hinder your progression. Say what you will about No Man’s Sky, or indeed about Hello Games. However, there’s no denying whatsoever that they’ve not met expectations at last, but have totally surpassed them. Now, more than ever before, it’s time to finally take this game seriously.
The developer hasn’t just taken the money and ran for the hills, they’ve been working strenuously for the last two years, providing free updates to bring the game to where it needs to be. That’s two whole years of content and improvements, at no additional cost outside of the core game itself. I’m not saying that the concerns were unfounded, on the contrary, the game and its developer deserved every ounce of criticism. Though, with that said, they equally deserve to be highly commended for their efforts.
We know very little about Next and what it will bring, but to say that Hello Games are stating that it’s the biggest yet, I dare say there’s a lot to be excited about. Those of you that know me know that I can be blunt at the best of times. Though in this case, I think we need to loosen the noose around No Man’s Sky’s throat and appreciate that it is, by and large, a very different game than what it was back in 2016. This is the game that was promised and this is the experience that likely makes it worth the investment.
I would caution each of you not to be put off by its poor history or its poor handling, but to embrace the very relevant, very deep and very altering changes that Hello Games have made over the course of the last twenty four months. If it doesn’t flourish, then maybe it deserves that for all of its deceit. On the other hand, the bottom line in all of this is that we should at least be giving it the benefit of the doubt. We’ll have a full review up in due course and have reached out to Hello Games for comment, let’s hope this hard work has paid off.