Why ‘No Man’s Sky’ is — finally — the game that everyone needs to playBy Katie Prime
If you’re at all into gaming, you will have heard about the biggest and best video game releases. Some of them seem to be smash successes, such as Fortnite. Some of them are niche enough to be revered only by selected gamers. And some of them fail to live up to the hype completely.
A launch into space
Before No Man’s Sky’s launch, there was a lot for its developers, Hello Games, to boast about. You could visit entirely new planets, interact with alien species, mine resources and trade them for tools and equipment such as a bigger ship. And if you tried to visit every planet for a single second — all 18 quintillion of them — it would take 584 billion years. That’s a bigger number than our current estimate of how old the known universe is. If you’re into space exploration, No Man’s Sky sounds like the ultimate treat.
All aboard the hype train
The head developer for Hello Games, Sean Murray, took on the PR responsibilities himself and boasted of No Man’s Sky basically infinite universe in which mystery and adventure were around every corner. The buzz around the game heated up to unimaginable heights. Sean Murray even appeared on the Colbert show before the launch. Mentioning a multiplayer option ramped the hype up even more, and gamers flocked in countless numbers to pre-order their copy of the game.
But the problem with boarding a hype train is that it can easily go off the tracks. No Man’s Sky suffered from major delays to its release, launching in 2016, three years later after the world’s first glimpse of the game. The trailer shown in 2013 promised many things, but in reality, the first release was lacklustre. There was much less to do than had been initially promoted — and multiplayer wasn’t possible. Gamers became angry and jumped ship. The reputation of Hello Games was tarnished, seemingly forever. According to The Guardian, they received ‘death threats, [had] bomb threats sent to the studio and [experienced] harassment of people who worked at Hello Games on a frightening scale.’
But where some developers would have quietly shelved the game and moved on, Hello Games stuck to their guns and kept pushing. Their main problem had been a lack of time, but now the game had no release date they could concentrate on making No Man’s Sky the loyal gamers had wanted. With their three major updates, it seems that No Man’s Sky — the version people were excited for, that is — has finally arrived.
The first update, 'Foundation', introduced basic but necessary additions to the game. One mode became three: Normal, Survival (increased difficulty in finding resources and more aggressive conflict), and Creative (where all resources are free, the ultimate sandbox mode). Freighters and base building were also added to the game, allowing you to colonise other ships and planets.
The second update, 'Atlas Rises' was much more in-depth, introducing a30-hourr storyline, a full galactic trading system, and a new intergalactic alien race — as well as major improvements to in-game equipment and planetary textures. Limited co-operation was also introduced, allowing players to see each other in a reduced capacity for the first time.
The third update, 'NEXT', was released just months ago and shows off the biggest overhaul of the game’s play. With 'NEXT', you can expand on your bases with many more structures than before; you can have third-person perspective as well as first; you can control your own space freighters; there are new vehicles to use as well as your ship… the possibilities are expanding and expanding. The visuals and the variety of the planets have been improved dramatically as well. Most importantly with 'NEXT', the game offers the multiplayer that players had been expecting from day one. Finally! Neither do Hello Games seem to be stopping at 'NEXT' either, so look out for future updates.
So, is it all worth it?
It’s not being overdramatic to say that No Man’s Sky is one of the most ambitious video games of recent years. Visually, it’s gorgeous. Conceptually, it’s astounding. Practically, it’s perfect for keen explorers and adventurers with a taste for the celestial. While there are no epic battles to save the universe from ending, the in-game story is intriguing and the calm atmosphere of No Man’s Sky makes it a relaxing, enjoyable experience.
That’s one of the places where No Man’s Sky has always shined. We all need moments to let our batteries recharge. In an information-heavy world, taking ourselves away from everything and putting all your concentration into something rewarding can be a much-needed balm. No Man’s Sky is exactly that — a rewarding piece of thoughtful escapism. If you’re stressed from work, from uni, from other people, or just from the world around you, jetting into a different universe can be the antidote.
I’ve been monitoring the rise, fall and rise of No Man’s Sky since before the game’s launch. If you’d asked me in 2016 whether buying the game was a good investment, I probably would have said no. But, thanks to the transformative updates and the sheer dedication of the team at Hello Games, No Man’s Sky is in good hands. I’d recommend it to anyone — for a way to chill, a way to escape, and a way to fulfil all your desires to be a traveller in an exquisite, never-ending universe.