No Man’s Sky promised players a galaxy of infinite planets (procedurally generated) to explore, each possessing a myriad of fauna and flora to examine and record with the hope of being able to do all of this with their friends in some form of integrated co-op. Unfortunately, what players felt they were met with fell a bit shy of that expectation. Yes, since it’s initial release back in August 2016, No Man’s Sky has seen more than it’s fair share of ridicule and criticism for seemingly not meeting the expectations of it’s consumers, so much so that developer Hello Games themselves must have felt like they were dodging their way through an asteroid field of disapproval. At times No Man’s Sky felt almost bland and samey, some planets shared far too much consistency to the next making the task of gathering resources on one of these just to reach the next almost a little tedious. I mean, the idea of an infinite amount of outstandingly gorgeous planets to explore should feel overwhelming as opposed to daunting. Ultimately players expected a game to be able to indulge in indefinitely, especially with only approximately 30 hours worth of story gameplay. What they felt they were greeted with was merely underwhelming.
However, in light of the number of players that gave up with No Man’s Sky within the first week, Hello Games have been hard at work since to provide players with game updates and ultimately some incentive to not completely abandon the action-adventure/ survival title they worked so hard on altogether. First off we were offered The Path Finder Update. Not only did this update allow players to build bases and share them with other players but they really elaborated on ship specialisations, the ability to own multiple ships, a permadeath mode was introduced as well as a much anticipated (and needed) photo mode. The update also featured a variety of minor tweaks to generally improve game standards. This did peak the attention of previously disheartened players. Following on from this and in celebration of No Man’s Sky year anniversary, Hello Games brought about the “game-changing” Atlas Rises update in an attempt to rigorously recapture it’s audience. In this update we see the development team really trying to push to achieve that initially promised co-op element. Yes, this update allows you to explore an infinite galaxy with up to 16 other players. Regardless of the limited interaction currently enforced with this feature, it’s absurdly high demand had players swarming back to appreciate this element alone. Alongside a co-operative mode, Hello Games have really tried to fluff out the lore of No Man’s Sky with an extra 30 hours worth of story and varying wealth and economies among star systems. Furthermore, they’ve tweaked building elements and further ship designs to really extend the depth of it’s preexisting content.
Now that I’ve covered what Hello Games have done to in an attempt win over the players it lost to begin with, I’d like to put out there a number of reasons in which No Man’s Sky had me completely entranced from the very get go. I mean, Hello Games ironically enough really did have me at hello with this perplexing title. I’ll start by tackling the very obvious reason No Man’s Sky is such an exquisite title, it’s visuals. No Man’s Sky is without question one of the most visually alluring games I’ve ever played. Each planet you visit it an ostentatious banquet of colour and vivacity for the eyes. In accompaniment with one of the most placid video game soundtracks provided by 65daysofstatic, a real tranquil ambience is created. All in all this really constitutes the perfect conditions in which the player can really savour exploring the infinite galaxy of No Man’s Sky at a leisurely pace. However, No Man’s Sky can suffer a change of pace at times. With it’s cleverly integrated survival elements, not everything is a walk in the park. A laid back stroll on a planet can swiftly turn into a blood-bath given you aren’t weary of what fauna you are messing with or if you don’t keep an eye on your hazard protection and life support levels. Toying with sentinels is an equally dangerous game. Furthermore, once you breach a planets atmosphere and enter the wide reaches of space, you become instantly vulnerable to attacks from pirate star ships. If you aren’t efficient in keeping on top of your ship defences/ offences, expect to be made quick work of. These survival elements don’t swallow No Man’s Sky main selling point of exploration, they just fair well in adding a feel of purpose to the game so you aren’t left feeling as if you’re playing idly, without making things overly intense.
Another reason I will always enjoy playing No Man’s Sky is due to how easy going it is as a game. It isn’t overly challenging or difficult to play and amongst some of the more intense, difficult titles floating around in the gaming market at the moment, a mellow come down game is always somewhat alleviating. Hello Games have ensured that this title doesn’t throw you in at the deep end without anything to keep you afloat. Upon starting the game you are walked through a sufficient amount of tutorials that serve well in getting the player familiarised with the basic game mechanics. Furthermore, the story itself isn’t massively difficult. The 30 hours of story provided are just seemingly some incentive to push you to different star systems and really delve deeper into the exploration side of No Man’s Sky. The entire game from the soothing indie sound of 65daysofstatic to the marvellous settings of each planet is wonderfully lax. It really makes cataloguing the games versatile range of wildlife at your own leisure a wonderfully calm experience and really draws attention to what makes No Man’s Sky such an impressive and unique game.
Both the Path Finder and Atlas Rises updates have served particularly well in giving No Man’s Sky a much needed new game feel. Everything about the game now feels rejuvenated and fresh from it’s very content to it’s rethought game mechanics. Exploring the incomprehensibly prodigious galaxy of No Man’s Sky is now wonderfully consistent, all the more immersive and generally more pleasant to experience. It’s almost as if you can see the masses of pressure lumped on a small development team carrying the weight of millions of game craving fans on their shoulders being lifted at long last. Without question and bearing in mind I am a huge fan of this title, I strongly believe in depth updates like these that are thriving with new and evidently game-changing content is exactly what Hello Games needed to redeem No Man’s Sky in the eyes of hordes of disappointed players. On a side note, it’s always reassuring as a player to have your views and opinions heard and this development team have been listening intently to what we as the players wanted from No Man’s Sky and in turn have been hard at work to achieve that.
No Man’s Sky as I mentioned prior, is a title that had me unquestionably mesmerised from the get go. From the time I first made my descent from deep, ominous space onto my first planet I was completely won over. Passing through the planet’s atmosphere, ship battling the heat of re-entry, emerging through the clouds to see an immense world, rife with glorious colour, waiting to be explored. In the countless years I’ve spent gaming, I’ve played some titles that have really toyed with my emotions, but non of which have compared to how this experience took hold of me and has stayed with me since. I have explored countless planets in the many hours I have put into No Man’s Sky and no matter how much I play, the sheer vastness of the game will forever have me in total awe. I do appreciate the fact this is a controversial topic of discussion as by all rights, consumers shouldn’t feel that they have been misled by what a game has to offer, however, I think a lot of the misconception was led by No Man’s Sky being hugely over-hyped. In all due respect, Hello Games is a remarkably small development team and I believe if anything they shouldn’t be penalised for what they haven’t achieved but instead credited for the sensational game they developed. It’s sad that they just seemed to be set up to fail. I will always be in keen admiration of their persistence to make No Man’s Sky the game many hoped it would be. In some ways it would seem that Hello Games have come on quite the intergalactic scale journey themselves. However, in light of these new in depth updates being introduced and having replenished some means of interest in No Man’s Sky for otherwise perturbed players, I think it’s fair to say this admirable development team may very well be on their way out of the worm hole.