*Note: I played the PS4 version of this game which has huge performance differences compared to the PC version.
No Man’s Sky is a game with a very complicated history. Like it or not the game garnered a huge amount of controversy due to the developer and creators over hyped talk of the game as it leads up to launch. And when it finally came out it failed to deliver on most, if not all, of its promises.
My own experience with the game wasn’t nearly as devastating as some folk’s experiences. I kind of enjoyed my time with it, but everything about the game at the time was so shallow I got bored with the game very easily. Since then there have been several free updates and with the release of No Man’s Sky: Next the game received a huge booster to the games overall life and playability. I’m finding myself loving what the game has to offer now that it has reached its full potential. Granted some of it can feel quite tedious at times.
Maybe the only thing that hasn’t entirely been improved in the game is its story. It still feels like background fluff that doesn’t feel like I need to interact with it. The only obligation I ever have to complete the main quest stuff is for the sake of completing tutorials. There is still a ton of mystery behind the story, which can draw players in, but not enough maybe to keep them interested in the game.
There are several new core stories though that you can become involved in however. They are a tad bit more intriguing than the Atlas path, but there is a whole level of tedium that can get frustrating. Especially, having to manage all the games resources to travel between solar systems and planets.
Gameplay is also greatly expanded upon compared to the base game. There is now a whole host of content you can partake in to engage with the game. The five big additions to the game are the base building, freighter/fleet command, mission boards, character customization, and the recently added deep sea exploration.
You’re introduced to No Man’s Sky’s base building mechanics very early on in the game. The building mechanics feel very smooth and intuitive as building pieces seamlessly snap together. I only built a simple cabin in the tutorial, but it instantly felt satisfying constructing my own little home out in space.
Further expanding upon your property ownership in the game you’ll be able to own your own freighter ship. You heard correctly you’ll be able to own one of those giant freight ships you saw warping into the system. You’ll be able to dock aboard it, construct rooms with in it and even send ships in your fleet out into the galaxy on missions. These missions can help collect resource, trade items for currency, and even combat missions. And you can expand upon your fleet by recruiting more ships.
There are now mission boards in every space station. You can pick up simple missions you can complete to gain favor with either one of the three races or with the different guilds. It’s a nice bit of side content you can accomplish at your own pace to facilitate both rep and funds. But, nothing new to the concept of a “bounty board”.
The final and latest addition to the game is the deep sea exploration. Much like many of No Man’s Sky’s content you are guided through a tutorial quest to learn how to explore and build under water. The base building and crafting are the same as the base you have built on land. You establish your base then start constructing the different parts to make your base. It’s just as intuitive and simple as the regular base building.
But the unique addition you get from the deep sea exploration is the ability to construct and helm your very own submarine called the Nautilon. With your little submarine you can use your sonar to find wreckage of all sorts. Crashed freighters and starships can be found amongst the seaweed and sea life. There are also sunken buildings and ruins down in the deep as well. All which function like space exploration as you discover and search them. You’ll find terminals to hack, items, and new mysteries to uncover. The deep sea exploration adds a nice layer of exploration to those who can’t get enough exploring out in space.
No Man’s Sky FX and music are probably one of the few things to still have no changes made to them. All the games sound and music have all stayed the me since its release as far as I can tell. That being said, they are still immersive and fitting for traveling an expansive sci-fi universe.
The best improvements, or at least the ones I was happiest to see were the visual and graphical improvements that were made to the game. And, holy hell are they huge improvements. There is actual detail and variety in…well, everything. Environments are insanely varied from planet to planet. The games flora and fauna now have defining characteristics instead of copy paste parts just stuck together. They all appear interesting and unique.
And places like space stations are actually populated with other lifeforms. When No Man’s Sky first came out the space stations were sparsely filled with only four to five aliens occupying the station. Now there are about 11-20 with several of them occupying vendors giving the area’s space a feeling of being lived in. And this goes for nearly all the environments in the game. No Man’s Sky’s universe now feels like a fully fleshed out sci-fi galaxy.
Hello Games went ahead and accomplished everything they meant to accomplish when they first showcased the games varied worlds in its first trailer. I can understand those who saw that initial trailer felt mislead.
Horrendous frame drops do happen in the in some of the game’s more intense moments such as entering the atmosphere of a planet or travelling between galaxies. It isn’t massively disruptive to the experience, as the frame dropping goes back to normal after these occurrences. But, it isn’t exactly pleasant to witness either.
No Man’s Sky has finally become what it was meant to be when it was announced three years ago. As someone who enjoyed the basic idea of what the game was about I’m glad that Hello Games fully fleshed out the game to what it was meant to be in the first place. However, I don’t expect to those people who felt lied and cheated to by Hello Games hype, to come around even with the improvements. Sadly, you can’t win everyone over after such an immense screw up on the developer’s part. While I don’t think Hello Games has fully redeemed themselves, No Man’s Sky itself is far better and far more fun. It is fun and worth playing again if you can forgive its past faults.