No Man's Sky Is Good Now

To say that No Man's Sky had a troubled launch would be a massive understatement. Even as someone who generally had a good time with the game then, I had to admit that it was missing promised features and lacked polish.

Over a year later, a lot of things have changed for the game, and all for the better. Even though I've always liked it, this is the first time I'd say that No Man's Sky is an actual good game.

I frequently enjoy things that aren't "good", such as the CW's Riverdale or Fall Out Boy's music. The things that I like about them aren't necessarily on purpose, and are maybe a little corny, but I find value in them. For a long time, No Man's Sky fell into that category for me.

It wasn't delivering on the vision it promised, of unfettered exploration and discovery. It was a bit repetitive, and I felt like I'd discover more things I couldn't do than things I could.

Want to make a home on a planet? Well, you can't build bases. Want to become an expert dogfigher? Not enough information in the heads up display to make it work.

I'd go to a planet, scan for resources, discover some species, and hope that something interesting would happen before getting bored and leaving. Compared to the now infamous E3 demo, this was unremarkable, but it was really perfect for getting your buzz on and listening to podcasts.

I played the vanilla No Man's Sky for a long time, but the shine did wear off, I ran out of podcasts, and I moved on.

Finally finding a planet with tufts of grass and blue skies feels so good!

Returning to the game doesn't feel wholly alien, but the changes are significant and important. This really struck me when I finally got in a dogfight in space. At launch, all aerial combat sucked. Whenever I jumped into space and got an alert that pirates were attacking my ship, I always resigned myself to death. Ships didn't handle very well, which made aiming any weapons with the reticule and avoiding enemy fire feel impossible.

Since the most recent patch, dubbed Atlas Rising, I had noticed that flight controls were more sensitive, and I could fly closer to the ground on planets. In space, when it came time to fight, I learned suddenly that I could roll right and left, that my turning radius was sharper, and when I had an enemy ship in my sights, the camera would zoom in slightly, and the ship I was aiming at would be highlighted. These are small, quality of life changes, but last night was also the first time I was able to destroy an enemy ship.

Finally, combat didn't feel like a slog.

There's also a lot of new content — such as base building, vehicles and joint exploration — but what makes a difference to me is that the core features have polish. The changes to the scanner makes discovery not only more interesting, but more profitable, as scanning animals automatically adds credits to your account. You could always play as a pacifistic explorer, but now it's less grindy and more profitable.

Base building has also added farming, making trade among NPCs an actual viable tactic for making money, and giving players a chance to settle into a planet they like and stay there.

The changes to how planets and animals are generated make space feel more mysterious and exciting. There's new biomes, some of which are shockingly beautiful, and on those planets more variation in abandoned buildings or ruins or crashed freighters you can find exploring planets.

You're no longer resigned to walking around and hoping you find something, either. You can now build signal boosters, which will point you in the direction of an interesting close landmark. That's how I found my first crashed freighter, half buried in the ground.

Against my will, I found myself sighing, "Wow," when I saw it.

Source: Atlas Rises trailer

The user interface has even changed in ways that make the game easier to play — all items stack now, when previously they did not, and ships have multiple menu screens for different kinds of resources. These minor retools help me find game features that have been there since launch that I had never encountered.

When I landed on a planet with incessant acid rain last night, the game told me right away I could craft an add-on for my exosuit to protect me from it. You could always do that, but I never felt invested enough previously to explore such a hazardous planet. Every complaint, major and minor, had been addressed.

When I played No Man's Sky at launch, my reaction was often, "Oh, well, that's it?" Now it's, "Wow, I didn't know I could do that."

Portals, which can send you to specific coordinates once you learn the glyphs to turn them on, also allows players to visit specific landmarks and areas of interest. Combining that with joint exploration, a basic multiplayer which allows you to speak to other players, the game now fosters community instead of forcing players apart.

The people who stuck with No Man's Sky always found ways to play with each other. The Galactic Hub was created as a way to bring players together and share discoveries.

Portals make what was once complicated much easier. You don't have to jump through hoops or make complicated maps to find what other players have found — you can just go there, and then talk with other players about things you've all experienced.

No Man's Sky has always been a good idea. Exploring a vast universe and discovering the unknown was a good enough hook that hundreds of thousands of people gave it a try. Now the game has graduated from a good idea to an actual good game.

It isn't just that there's more content and more things to do. The game has been re-tooled, from the user interfaces to the dogfighting to working Portals, in order to improve players' ability to discover interesting things, and allow them to actually feel a part of the worlds they inhabit.

If you haven't played since launch, pick it back up. If you were turned off by bad reviews, it's time to give it a try.


Comments

    Got it on sale for $20USD, definitely worth that price, wouldn't pay full retail for this though.

    Game is still lacking in content, lots of open exploration, but no actual meat to sink my teeth into. The base building is also a bit underwhelming. Especially after Fallout 4 and games like Rust.

    Honestly, it still feels like a game in early release, and if they had slapped that label on the cover and left it there for another 4 years, it would probably be ready for full release without complaint, but having released it when they did was about the dumbest thing any developer has ever done.

      I've said it before, I'll say it again. I think the release was done fully because of pressure from Sony to release it in August last year. They needed a big name title to fill what was a pretty big gap between AAA releases, and banked on NMS to be that title.

      As Sony had a lot of control over the game, Hello Games were backed into a corner, then handled things poorly post launch. And I'm not sure HG could have done anything different, you don't just walk up to Sony and say "we need another 12 months".

        What degree of control Sony had is speculative, but we do know that the only money Sony put into the game was for marketing and publicity. They didn't fund its development at all. While I agree pressure from Sony was a factor, I don't at all believe HG was backed into a corner.

          15 man outfit versus the juggernaut of Sony. That'd be intimidating to say "no" to.

          As for Sony's control, fair enough. Here's how I see it though.

          Sony : "if you can release NMS in August we'll cover the advertising and marketing"

          HG : "we can do that"

          Sony : "sweet, we'll gear marketing to that date"

          ...

          HG : "shit, we aren't going to get everything in"

          Sony : "we've already done all the marketing, and organised the advertinsing. Changing it costs millions."

          HG : "well, we can release something, but its going to be missing stuff"

          Sony : "just do it and patch it in later, the reaction is never as bad as you think."

          They aren't Blizzard or Bungie, they didn't have the AAA experience to stand their ground, and learning that the hard way was quite the lesson. And the hatred on the internet didn't help.

          There were death threats to reporters for merely reporting a 2 week delay, imagine if it was 6 months or longer like people think it should have been?

            But your still just speculating, wildly.

              And...? People were way too fast to just lay blame on Hello Games, without any consideration for what else might have happened. And as nobody knows the full story, ANY position is speculation.

              I haven't said its not speculation, I even started with "I think" which makes it MY opinion. But it sure stacks up better than the "Hello Games are evil" mentality that butthurt so many people last year.

              Without googling, name one other Hello Games release other than No Mans Sky. It was such a stretch from the one IP they had worked on before (I'll save you the googling, its 3 games around a franchise called Joe Danger), and they had no experience working with a game at the hype or interest level of NMS. Otherwise Sony wouldn't have had such influence.

              Yes, speculation. But whats the alternative? I work in a job that requires constant speculation and theorising, and to me, this is Occam's Razor with the whole NMS mess. 20 years of analyst and strategy work says to me that the simplest reason for the NMS mess were decisions by Sony, and Sean Murrays lack of confidence to say no to them, simply because he had no experience with the scale of the game.

              But the fans want to put a face to their butthurt, and that meant they unloaded all their anger at one person. And that's on the fans. No speculation, the vitriol dumped squarely on to Sean Murray was so far out of proportion to reality it was disgusting.

                And.....its wild speculation that has mired down and surrounded the game, leaving it no practical chance of moving forward?
                Because at the end of the day the rabid hating and defending based on speculation doesn't represent the reality of the controversy?

                  It may be wild speculation, but things like this DO happen. I was involved in Star Trek Online's development. One day we got a call from Atari. They basically said release on date X or we pull your license. We were able to get them to give us an extra month, but if it took us that long we'd lose our bonus. We got it out "on time" but it was no where near ready.

                  Now a game like Star Citizen, is on the opposite end. Without a publisher lording over them demanding release dates, they can take their sweet time. Which drives the fans insane. But it will probably be worth it in the long run.

          I suspect the lack of development funding might have been the issue. While it's fine for us to all sit around and say it needed another year in development, for a small independent developer like HG to actually spend another year working on it without any revenue coming in might not have been a realistic possibility.

            Agree with most of what you are all saying. However, if funding were really the issue, they could have released the game in Alpha (think how Ark and Rust have been doing). From this they would have gotten funding, and been able to continue development. Moreover, everyone would have been "oh it's still in alpha, that makes sense". As such, Sony's pressure on HG, makes way more sense...bad sense...but sense.

    I'm the same, I always enjoyed NMS to a certain point, probably because I never really jumped on the hype train, i tend to make judgements for myself rather than listening to people or reviewers. I've found a lot of gems in games that I enjoy purely from staying away from the herd mentality.

    Just glad that the devs didn't leave the game in an "as is where is" state. So yes, they screwed up initially but they've admitted to their mistakes and are trying to improve the game, better than some much bigger producers would ever do.

    Loved it since launch, as I too didn't believe the hype just played it for what it was.the only issue is it makes me motion sick when I play for too long

    I've been thinking this over the last week, as I've worked my way through the new story. It's really good! I'm also one of those who enjoyed it's 1.0 release, but now it's even better. Lots of cool things to find.

    Loved it since launch, but agree there was so much more that could have been done to add some 'meat' to the game. I bought the game for a chilled experience, I love exploration and doing things my own way and in my own time, NMS is perfect for that. The latest update has boosted the enjoyment immensely even though for some reason it rotated my old base 180 degrees so the view out the window is no longer an ocean haha

    The one thing I loved was the fact that even if you had completed the game originally, you could redo the Atlas path and all the other missions without having to restart and lose your progress.

    I picked it up the other week when it was on sale as $60 USD is WAY to much for it, but at tits sale prices its a great fun experience :)

      "but at tits sale prices" How much do tits go for these days?

      ...sorry!

        *shrugs* $60 AUD for 15 minutes last I checked haha

    Got it for the PC, more than got my moneys worth in terms of hours sunk into it.

    Got it on sale yesterday for PS4, actually excited to start it all again

      Yeah, I picked up a second hand copy on PS4 a week or so ago. Its certainly a more complete experience than the original run on PC. Even up to the Pathfinder patch - 1.30 really changed the basic experience that became so dull originally.

      And its little things, like opening crates or interfaces, and needing to collect/scrape off junk stuff just to access, or have to repair things that were previously perfectly fine.

      Like the damaged technology modules. Need to be repaired before you can open them. Or crashed ships, where most of the slots are damaged and need repairing. Which gets expensive, fast.

      Tip: early on, if you grab a crashed one, look for a NPC in a station with a similar sized ship. You get tradein value of whatever you own, and it goes on the capacity whether the slots are repaired or not. So it ends up costing you nothing to buy theirs, and bam! all the slots are repaired.

    Anyone know a cheap place to buy a copy on PC? I am keen to give it a try now but can't find it for a reasonable price.
    It's far cheaper on PS4 atm.

      Not at the moment but I would keep an eye out during the next sale

    Its still not "Good" but its on the right path to being "Good". I only re-purchased it recently because it was on sale for $20 (Which is what its worth imo).

      As someone who never bought it until this patch, I think it's at the very least "good". I totally understand that it's hard to separate that initial experience from what it is now, but jumping in brand new, it's not disappointing at all.

    It's really shown how much the game has improved with ratings jumping from "mostly negative" to "mostly positive"

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now