The hype leading up to No Man’s Sky was nauseating, due chiefly to the ambitious promises its developers used to sell the dream. Here was a prospective space explorer with potentially limitless destinations to visit in a massive procedurally generated universe. No two planets are the same, each layered with a rich ecosystem of vegetation and intelligent life, ripe with valuable resources you’ll need to survive harsh weather conditions and salvage the ship you crashed into its surface. Stop piloting under the influence, please.
An intergalactic crash landing is always an intriguing premise, but No Man’s Sky was largely about the journey after you regained your ability to jump lightyears. Leading up to launch, we’d heard Molyneaux-level hyperbole about the possibilities, the most dominant headline being how unlikely it’d be for two players to meet up on the same planet. The chances, as told by lead creative director Sean Murray, were to be a billion to one, or something equally absurd.
That claim set enormous expectations for its scope and expanse, and the strides being made in graphics technology at the time spurred a race among developers to build the endless space flight sim we’ve always dreamed of. Star Citizen leads the pack for dangling a pretty carrot we’re not so sure it can actually reach, but No Man’s Sky wasn’t far behind.
What we got at launch was a pretty fun game at its core, but the illusion of its variance came crashing down hilariously quickly, with many players landing on the same planets on launch day. Worsening the stew, developers overpromised and underdeveloped its multiplayer component, claiming that if two people did happen to find the same planets, they’d bump into each other. They didn’t. And need I mention the game-breaking bugs?
Thankfully, Hello Games cowered not against its call of duty. Truth be told, the game was worth playing quite a few updates ago. A laundry list of improvements and additions like killer mechs have made these space walks a ton of fun. I can’t begin to describe the amusement and hell I endured when one of these lumbering hunks of metal followed a friend into my new save and leveled my very existence. It was some of the most fun I’d had in a while.
And though the galaxy wasn’t nearly as outstretched as advertised, there was still a ton to explore and build. You can even build your own space fleet and become an interstellar bounty hunter!
That gets even better today with a huge update seemingly birthed from a black hole. We’re said to be getting billions of new planets to uncover, with tons of surface-level and underlying improvements both functional and visual in nature. Per Mike Fahey over at Kotaku:
New lighting conditions, new colors, new creatures, new weather. Planets with alien infestations. Swamps and marshlands. Massive alien buildings reaching into the sky, filled with stories of ancient civilizations. Gravitational shifts. Volcanoes. Lightning. Rogue robots. Holy hell the Origins update for No Man’s Sky is massive. I am completely overwhelmed by the patch notes. Basically, Hello Games has completely refreshed the universe. More variety, more aliens, more danger, more excitement.
It’s not just more stuff, it’s also higher quality stuff. More details, like clouds gathering and darkening during storms. They’ve upgraded the “Ultra” graphics setting on PC, allowing for more detail at a greater distance.
Long story short, if you were holding out on No Man’s Sky and just never got around to trying it, now’s the time. If you’re new and on the fence, you should still probably get it. Even if you haven’t put the game down since day one, it’s time to clear your schedule and fall in love all over again.
Underscoring the good news about No Man’s Sky latest renaissance is that it’s pretty cheap by now. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers won’t even have to pay anything extra to jump in. Just $15 per month, you’ll get hundreds of games to play on Xbox One and PC, and deals like this make it even cheaper. It’s also available to buy on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at $20 apiece, and just $15 on PC.