No Man’s Sky broadens its horizons with new update

For new players, returning skeptics, or fans who’ve stuck with the game, it’s a whole new sky

Hello Game’s No Man’s Sky has been the topic of intense discussion and controversy almost since the first trailer dropped in December of 2013. Billed as a limitless, infinite world that harnessed the power of procedural generation, the shipped game suffered under monumental hype and an arguably misleading marketing campaign. It garnered as many vocal detractors as it did ardent fans, so everyone expected the developers to quietly let the game grow moss and be forgotten.

Instead, the team has been actively releasing content updates, balancing patches and optimizations in a show of support that is echoed by a fiercely loyal playerbase. Their latest addition, announced today as No Man’s Sky Next and available for free on July 24, may realize the series of promises made nearly five years ago.

Among the list of additions is true multiplayer support, as opposed to the previous system where you could stumble upon the changes wrought by another player (and even occupy the same physical space) but never interact. But Next will allow players to team up for exploration, base-building, and in another exciting addition, ship-to-ship combat. From the May 18 devblog:

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.


Also teased in the trailer are enhanced visuals and the ability to construct and customize a fleet of frigates that players can use for exploration or to tackle “challenging multiplayer missions.”


Long-time players will also notice that the game will now be playable in third-person or first person, whether you’re exploring on foot or zipping around in your personal ship. This is part of a larger visual overhaul that encompasses enhanced graphics, improved terrain generation and more detail in manmade features like spacecrafts and buildings.


Reckoning with the Past

It is next to impossible to discuss No Man’s Sky’s future without recalling the media blitz that quickly soured once the game was released in June 2016. Many blamed the two and a half years between its initial announcement and eventual release. Expectations ballooned beyond reason. Others laid the fault at the feet of Hello Games and it’s founder, Sean Murray, for going on a spree of interviews that deployed misleading and too-hopeful language.

In either case, the game’s release polarized fans: many demanded refunds for delivering a product far short of what was advertised, while others still found the experience enjoyable. Time passed, the media moved on to other things, and No Man’s Sky quickly became a tired joke about investing too much personal stake in an unreleased game. But players stuck around for the quiet and meditative cruising through a beautiful, if ultimately empty universe. Their gripes with inventory and lack of interaction were leavened by gameplay that truly couldn’t be found in anything else this generation.

And, luckily enough, the developers hadn’t given up, either.

Through a series of patches and larger updates, Hello Games kept their game afloat and interesting. The Foundation Update introduced base building, frigates, and different game modes like Creative and Survival. The Pathfinder Update gave players access to a variety of planetside vehicles, support for PS4 Pro, ship customization and the first major visual overhaul.

And the latest addition, Atlas Rises, developed the game world further than ever before with missions, a revamped story, galactic economy and trading, and a host of UI optimization. It also introduced simple, limited versions of Next’s multiplayer and space combat systems.

But the fans were just as busy. They created their own civilizations, which banded together to form a galactic government called the United Federation of Travelers. They established holidays, fought for a calendar, and went to war with each other. They searched for a rare species of giant mushroom beetle, and they began establishing a volunteer police force. The No Man Sky community thrived under the care and curation of the developers, and never gave up home that the game they loved was actually as good as they all believed it was.

The addition of Next might be an update-sized vindication.


Flying Towards the Horizon

Just going off the press release blogs and trailer (which is a faithful reshooting of that 2013 trailer I mentioned at the top) No Man’s Sky Next could be the perfect opportunity for those who skipped it the first time. Buying the pase game on XBox One, PS4 or PC gives you access to everything released up to the present, and Next will be available to all for free when it drops July 24.

I was one of those turned by the upswell of negativity when it originally released. I’ve watched the drama and discoveries from the periphery but always found excuses not to make the plunge. But I am excited to finally jump in the cockpit of my very own cruiser to see what mysteries the universe has to share. Being able to do it all of it with my friends makes it that much sweeter.

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About Chase Carter

Chase is a journalist and media scholar interested in fan communities and how they communicate. He loves reading, cooking and his two cat sons very much.
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