Hello Games’ survival exploration game undergoes its biggest update yet and drops onto the Xbox One for the first time.
Let’s be clear, no matter how No Man’s Sky changes over the course of its life, it will, rightly or wrongly be known as having one of the most problematic and disappointing releases in gaming history. While there are many ways to look at it, the fault primarily lies with Hello Games for over-egging their puddings and at the doors of Sony for a pre-launch campaign driving interest and pre-orders, at the expense of setting expectations within the wider No Man’s Sky’s community. While the signs were there with no pre-launch review code or hands on play time, the resulting fall out was all together hideous with even Sony throwing Hello Games under the bus for how the game was marketed in the run up to launch.
“It wasn’t a great PR strategy, because he didn’t have a PR person helping him, and in the end he is an indie developer,” – Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios – September 2016
Full disclosure – as we’ve already stated here on getindiegaming.com, longer term readers and viewers will perhaps remember Get Indie Gaming morphed into its current from a YouTube channel with an almost exclusive remit in covering the pre-launch news and information on No Man’s Sky. Like others, we covered trailer breakdowns, compiled lists of things we might all be doing once the game launched and even asked the question in January 2016 if No Man’s Sky could be expected to launch on the Xbox One. In retrospect, our coverage stands on the level. While incorrectly joining the dots on one or two occasions, staying away from the “multiplayer confirmed” and conversations of the time feels as right today as it did a couple of years ago.
In any case as you, dear reader, already know from the original launch in the summer of 2016, the hype fell inwards with No Man’s Sky delivering a graphically flawed offering with a simple and repetitive game-play that for many, given the marketing weight behind it and the AAA pricing, offered little attraction after the first handful of hours.
Credit where it’s due though. Hello Games have continued to work on the game since launch having rolled out a number of free-of-charge additional content and updates. The November 2016 Foundation update added new Creative and Survival modes, base building, farming, and freighters. The Pathfinder update added planetary vehicles and base sharing. And last August’s Atlas Rises added 30-hours to the overall storyline that tied up many of the loose ends from the original roll out.
The Next update represents the largest update of the game so far with graphical improvements and a third person viewpoint. Crafting feels more meaningful and we also get ringed planets for the first time as well as many, many other things besides. The undeniable biggest step forward in the Next update comes via the addition of a full multiplayer option which works well well enough and leads to some interesting interactions with friends and other random players who pop into your game from time to time.
There are also new missions for you to complete. They are sometimes given to you by aliens you meet on planets although you’re more likely to be given such tasks from folks you meet within the newly designed space stations. So far, we’ve not found any mission that’s too taxing. The standard affair here being to go and collect 200 units of a given item and to take a photo on a ice planet, that sort of thing.
While Next has, like the other updates improved the game from what is was, we’re still left feeling No Man’s Sky remains a work in progress. Next does not alter the underlying simplistic and repetitive gameplay loop that remains the same today as it did at launch some two years ago. For some, that’s what No Man’s Sky is all about, a grind-like experience and after all, “it’s a survival game silly, it’s supposed to be like this!”
Fair enough, and yet we continue to hope and want for more. The game is still far from what was hinted at within those trailers we saw at E3 many years ago. However, while were sounding overly critical, we’re still not quite done with No Man’s Sky. Hello Games are on record with the promise of future free updates and in-game events that will ensure we pop back to play every once in a while once the next update drops. We’re ever hopeful and as we often say, fingers crossed for the next update.
- Formats: Xbox One (reviewed – copy purchased for full retail price) also available on PlayStation 4, and PC
- Price: £39.99
- Publisher: Hello Games / 505 Games
- Developer: Hello Games
- Release Date: 24th July 2018
- Age Rating: 7