When No Man’s Sky was originally released back in 2016, I was convinced we had finally reached the Singularity. Reality and Virtual Reality would become one and we would be able to seamlessly transfer our existence into a virtual reality. The developers, a plucky band of indie nerds, promised us a nearly infinite space exploration experience. A universe of 18 quintillion planets (that’s 18 000 000 000 000 000 000 planets), all procedurally created and all with their own unique fauna and flora.
The goal, as far as a game like this has a goal, is to get to the centre of the universe and discover the Atlas, a kind of ground zero for the big bang, but along the way you exist bouncing between the four pillars the game is premised on: exploration, survival, combat and trading. You discover a planet, explore it, trade or battle the local inhabitants and document what you see. This info then earns you credits that you use to build and improve your equipment and bases.
In essence, its The Sims meets Star Trek.
A pretty freakin’ cool concept, if you ask me. Take into account how small the dev team at Hello Games was and this had all the makings of the games world version of Cinderella.
Fast-forward 12 months and I was ready to go back to my Amish roots. My dreams of having my consciousness transferred onto one of Sony’s servers and spending the next million years exploring the boundless reaches of virtual reality were crushed like a liberals skull under the boot of socialism.
The game was NOTHING like they promised. It felt like they took enough good ideas to fill one galaxy and tried to spread it over an entire universe. It left the game feeling so thin that at any moment your screen would tear and the code would come falling out.
What followed should have been called No Man’s Sky-gate. There were many upset gamers out there, slamming their mouse in outrage! Demanding their money back from Steam! Demanding legal action for what they saw as false advertising and the honchos from Hello Games just seemed to disappear.
What followed was a type of commitment to fixing the problem that is rarely seen nowadays. A seemingly endless stream of patches and fixes that ultimately brought us to this: No Man’s Sky NEXT!
I would say think of it as No Man’s Sky 2.0, but the reality would be more like 18.104.22.168, and boy, has the wait been worth it!
This game is now finally starting to resemble what was originally promised, a truly open universe, where you will cross paths with other space explorers, work together, then go on your own, in a completely hop-in-hop-out type of gameplay. Everything is shareable, from resources to battles, and when you grow tired of looking at your teammate’s dumb space helmet face (which now has eyes behind the glass!), you just scootch off back into your own space story.
The procedural, creation mechanism is incredible! The planets feel really individual and the lifeforms are unique and believable and the game has gone from eye-gougingly repetitive to something that keeps you up till sunrise when you planned on just playing while you wait for your tea to draw.
There is a real thrill of discovery attached to coming across another player’s base on a planet you’ve just discovered, and the meeting and teaming up for a limited time, for me anyway, is really thrilling.
I haven’t played in probably over a year and up to that point, I hadn’t gotten very far. Although, I’m not sure how you would judge, is 50 space jumps towards the centre of the universe a lot? Is a thousand?
Anyway, when I got NEXT, I just started again. I’m glad I did because most of the equipment and progress I had made had become obsolete, but what it’s been replaced with is SO MUCH BETTER!
As in love, it’s the little things that matter, like being able to customise your character and being able to jump between 1st and 3rd person view so you can really appreciate your surroundings.
This game is just better, in every single way, but it’s by no means perfect. It’s not the bug-filled corpse it used to be, but there are still some patches and fixes on their way, but gameplay wise there will still be something that will frustrate, like the endless quest for resources and those burning, unanswered questions around the Sentinels, the Atlas and why do none of these planets have any cities?
Anyway, those are all minor and contribute to the intrigue of the game I guess and maybe one day, 10 000 space hops into the game, someone will find those answers…
This game is really very good all of a sudden and proves that you can polish a turd into a diamond. It feels like we finally have a game worthy of the Star Trek name.
I’m not sure what happens next, but this now feels like something that can live and grow for the next 18 quintillion years, and if the Singularity does happen, this is the game I want to become my reality.
I think it’s great!