Most of my time spent gaming this year has involved revisiting several games like Minecraft, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and No Man’s Sky. While Minecraft and Animal Crossing are great for offering comfort and the familiar, No Man’s Sky surprised me with its updates since the last time I played.
No Man’s Sky released in 2016, which feels forever ago, and it faced some…hurdles. But I’m here to talk about the state of the game today and my most recent experience with it.
On a whim, I decided to download No Man’s Sky and log in. Initially, I was frustrated because my original save wasn’t available on the PS5 (it’s complicated, but something happened to my PS4 save at some point a year or so ago). Knowing that I’d have to start over, I reset my perspective. Maybe this would be a good thing? After all, the game had had a number of updates since launch.
I’m glad I was forced to start anew.
So much has been added to the game. New material and elements, new systems, combat, contracts, etc. I was overwhelmed and lost until I settled in and started following the tutorial quests. I was a person on a mission. A mission to find an ideal planet, build a base, and max out my storage. And I did!
I found what I refer to as a bubble planet. It’s lush, peaceful, and bubbly! What’s there not to love? I created a makeshift base as I figured everything out and eventually upgraded to a base more thought out (I needed more room to grow space weed, okay?).
My friend joined me too. He set up a base on another planet and we traded material and just chilled while playing together. That social opportunity was something I’ve wanted from the game since launch. I get it, space should be a lonely place overall, but why not share some moments with friends? While meeting up with my friend was sometimes a buggy process, it was nice seeing him in game and knowing he existed systems away but within reach.
When I wrote about No Man’s Sky in 2017, I mentioned creating my own narrative while playing. I tend to do that with games that are more open and sim-like. I found myself doing that again as I explored beyond the bubble planet and sought out supplies and black holes. The exploration aspect of the game is still strong. The procedural part of the game still has its limitations (as expected), but there is variety in planet types and interesting creatures and formations to see. One of my favorite things is jumping to a new system and seeing what colors of light await me. No Man’s Sky still manages to fill me with a sense of awe and discovery. I felt that way about the game at launch and view it similarly now.
What works is exactly what will turn other players off though. If you need a deep narrative to drive you, you won’t find it here. If you’re not willing to set your own objectives, you’re likely to flounder. But if you appreciate the openness that comes with setting your own path and enjoy seeing and naming planets no one else may ever see, than No Man’s Sky may appeal to you.
Apart from the game’s own appeal, I’ve enjoyed watching Hello Games’ journey in all this. They keep putting out content for free and they seem to have learned some valuable lessons since launch. More game studios might learn from Hello Games’ commitment.
At the time of writing, I haven’t had time to check out the ENDURANCE update, but it sounds exciting as it “brings a complete overhaul of freighters and fleets, allowing players to live and work aboard their home in the stars, together with their own crew.” The future of No Man’s Sky seems bright, and I’m invested in following along. No Man’s Sky is one of those games I plan to revisit periodically, and each time I do, I’m rewarded with new content and discoveries.