No Man’s Sky: NEXT Review
No Man’s Sky released to a mixed reception despite it’s innovative and astoundingly scaled approach to the survival/exploration genre. A lot of people were upset that multiplayer was not an option, despite what the marketing had suggested, and the galaxy also felt a little empty with not a lot of interactivity. Now, almost two years later, Hello Games have released a major update to the game which adds in extensive multiplayer options along with a whole host of other features and it’s all for free.
Since the 24th of July I’ve poured a huge amount of hours into playing No Man’s Sky and I haven’t regretted it. There’s more to do than ever before and all the usual stuff you get up to has been considerably fleshed out and dressed up. For those of you who missed out on No Man’s Sky when it released, this is a space exploration and survival game with a map the size of the actual galaxy. Hello Games have achieved this by using a series of algorithms to procedurally generate the worlds that you visit. You can upgrade your exo-suit to carry more, run faster or handle hazardous materials along with many other options. You can also upgrade, trade and repair your space ship, a feature I love, to make it into a sleek and predatory fighter, a science based exploration vessel or a ‘space trucker’ cargo hauler.
I’ve spent hours flying from system to system, checking out all the different ships in the area to try and find the perfect fighter to zip about in and hunt fugitives for bounties from the system authorities. But in No Man’s Sky: NEXT you can actually acquire multiple ships and dock them all aboard a capital ship, or ‘freighter’, which you can command from the bridge. Getting your hands on a freighter is just brilliant. Not only do you get to captain a capital ship and explore the galaxy with your crew and a compliment of star-fighters in the hangar, you can even supplement your freighter with a fleet of support frigates. These frigates can be specialised for combat, trade or exploration and even sent out on their own missions to distant systems. When flying in your personal ship you can summon your freighter, along with it’s support fleet, at pretty much any point. When you do you are treated to the awesome visuals of your own personal emerging from warp speed in a flash before you.
There are also extensive additions to the base building now so you can construct industrious complexes and staff them up to mine and refine resources for you. The fact that any base you build will exist in every other player’s games as well is a nice touch as it really allows the multiplayer elements to shine. With up to three other players you can all converge on a world and build a shared fortress. It is also possible for you to come across structures made by other players in the galaxy but the distances between random players are so vast its almost impossible that that would happen. You can also construct ground vehicles to make it a lot quicker to get around on the surface and not waste your launch thruster fuel all the time. I should say though that while the base construction is in depth and does provide a lot of rewards, the game is very much about exploration for me and tying yourself to one planet in one system is a little counter productive. Hello Games have added a teleportation mechanic to try and counter that discrepancy but for me I like to just stay mobile.
The graphical updates are pretty great as well with the most fun, but probably least difficult to implement, being the planetary rings that have been added into the possible planetary permutations. The real meat of the technical updates comes with the fact that models are more detailed and the textures are all overhauled so the game genuinely looks nicer. You can now also play the game from the first or third person now. Playing third person means you can actually see your player model and Hello Games have allowed for customisation of your character too. The player customisation is surprisingly detailed with a lot of variation for different tastes. One of the graphical features that you notice more often are the clouds. Whether your entering the atmosphere of a planet or walking around on the surface and watching the clouds cast shadows over the land you really feel a lot more immersed in the environment now.
While there are a lot of significant improvements to No Man’s Sky in the NEXT update I do have to point out that the game, at release of the update, is still very unstable. There are audio glitches every time you warp or pulse jump, the frame rate falls apart whenever you enter a planet’s atmosphere at speed and the game sporadically crashes for indeterminate reasons. All of which are annoying but one would hope that Hello Games will be able to patch out a lot of those issues. The worst, for me, is that I finally have a ship I really like but as soon as I get in the cockpit canopy keeps opening and closing constantly, even in space…
That being said this update feels like a full blown sequel and the fact that we’re getting it for free is just gravy.
Better story quests
Incredible fleet mechanics
Glitches and crashes make the game unstable