No Universe for Old Men?
No Man’s Sky was feted for years before its release… and when it came out, many people were hugely disappointed. Two years on, with several massive patches including the new ‘NEXT’ update and an Xbox release, can Hello Games finally rest on their laurels and deliver upon their original vision?
The initial release pretty much eschewed a storyline entirely, and whilst there have been some improvements to this in the NEXT update, it’s relatively minor stuff. There are some actual missions now, but there’s not a huge amount of interesting story to them, and they generally just encourage you to fly around planets to collect more stuff and continue the same old gameplay loop. It would have been nice to see a bit more variety to them, or even something to have you remain in a system for a while and start to call it home.
If you were expecting No Man’s Sky to no longer be a survival game, then you’ll leave the review disappointed. What the NEXT update has done, however, is make it more of a survival ‘lite’ game. Even getting off your starting planet is much easier, whilst generally the resources you need to stay alive are abundant. You’ll get a freighter for free after 3-10 hours (depending on your play style), which gives you extra space, and the missions that have been added will give you quicker access to technology. However, you’ll still need to mine, craft, trade and barter your way to get better ingredients, blueprints and ships in order to reach the centre of the galaxy at the end of it.
NEXT also introduces several new gameplay elements. Freighters, which also give you more cargo slots, also allow you to send support vessels away on missions (very much like the naval warfare part of the Assassin’s Creed games) and get money for you in your spare time. You can also buy new support ships too. There’s also base building, a core part of many survival games, and there’s plenty of options for how you go about it. You can also use your freighter as a sort of mobile command base too, as they have rooms which can be built into them. You can play in third person mode (useful to show off your suit given the new multiplayer elements), and new mission givers. These are all procedurally generated, so can be a bit samey, and don’t add to the story, but they do help you find more places on each world.
And it’s here that No Man’s Sky is most improved. It no longer feels lonely. Each planet has loads to do, and plenty to explore. There’s always something just on the horizon, and a new discovery to be made. NEXT’s rebalancing of the difficulty and gameplay, along with the new content makes discovery less of a chore and more of a joy. At the end of the day, No Man’s Sky will let you get out as much as you put into it, and you could easily spend hundreds of hours exploring the galaxy at your leisure.
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