Return to No Man’s Sky

It has been a fortuitous week for me and No Man’s Sky. I saw the game on sale at Humble Bundle last week and decided to pick it up again to see how it is with the Foundation and Pathfinder updates. Today, they released the third major patch… Atlas Rises. I’m sure the timing of that sale was not a coincidence but it seems weird coming into it again right before a major update like this. Overall though, even before 1.3 (the newest patch), I kind of decided I was going to return to the game after 10 months of inactivity. And I felt it was worth giving a sort of review here to explain why.

First, probably the biggest thing to me, is that the game feels more diverse. I looked through the 2 major patch notes and it does look like they made additions to plant and animal parts, and made some major world generation changes. The overall result of this is that, I did get a better sense of each world being different. And even more important, I was stepping foot on more planets that seemed to have life on them. Unlike before where it seemed like almost every world was a barren wasteland with a random animal roaming around it. Even when I found myself on a barren world, there were features on it, which made it seem different than other worlds. I appreciate this a lot.

It isn’t perfect. There is still a general sense of same-ness to the worlds, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it once was.A personal pet peeve of mine, still exists… diversity within the same planet. And honestly, I don’t think that one will ever get fixed. To me it is weird that an entire planet basically has the same environment. There are certainly patches where it differs but by and large if you are on a planet it looks a certain way everywhere on that planet. Looking around the NMS reddit, and the one most requested update for 1.4 is to focus on flora and fauna to give even more real planets, and I couldn’t agree with this more. There are other wishlist items I have, but this would make the game feel complete to me.

You can also tell that a major rebalance of the game has occurred. This happened in a number of ways. First, resources. I’m not sure what exactly was already there and what is new, but I do believe that Hello Games has reclassed their star systems and resources so that the hard to get to systems have more rare resources and few planets, whereas the easy to get to systems have more planets but fewer rare resources. I also think they went and basically added logic where each planet in this type of system will have X common, Y uncommon and Z Rare resources. And I feel like they may have created rarity in the first place. Before it seemed like Gold and Copper were everywhere, but these seem far less common than they used to, and honestly this is appreciated. They’ve also added a whole bunch of new resources, I think around 20, since launch. And on top of that, they’ve created barriers to harvest, which I know some people are annoyed by, but the reality is that it helps give you a sense of something to work towards. Now I need an Advanced Mining Laser to mine Titanium, which makes sense. I actually wish there was one or two more mining tiers than just normal and advanced. There is also a Hazmat Glove that you need in order to harvest certain plants. Again, nice touch.

Then there are starships and your multi-tool. Instead of everything just being random, Hello Games has added classes and rarity to both objects in No Man’s Sky. Starships come in Shuttle, Fighter, Explorer and Hauler now. Each class has different looking ships, and each class has bonuses. For instance, Fighter ships do bonus damage when in a fight, but generally have small storage holds. Haulers get bonuses in storage and shields. Explorers get bonus to their Hyperdrive engines. And Shuttles get no bonus but tend to have more storage than Explorers and Fighters. And then there is rarity. Each ship has S, A, B, or C rarity, in that order from most rare to least. Increased rarity means increased price, but higher chance for more storage and it also gets an increase to the bonus that the class provides. So a C class Fighter will do up to 20% bonus damage, but an S class Fighter can do more than 50% bonus. Multi-Tools have been given new weapons that you can install on them and have their own specializations. They can be a Pistol (Mining bonus), Rifle (Damage Bonus), Experimental (Scanning Bonus), or Alien (A mix of bonuses). Like the starship, it has the same rarities that affect how much bonus you get, and I would also guess how many slots for modifications the item has.

I mean, all that is really just restructuring of what was there. And the reality of it is that those additions do a ton for the gameplay loop. They give you things to work for. The new rarity system also gives you more want to go back out there and find the “perfect” starship or multi tool. Resource balancing gives you more reason to explore the galaxy to find rare and exotic resources so that you can build enhancements to your gear that are more powerful. All this leads to a better overall experience… and it doesn’t even get into what they really added.

And that is Bases, Freighters, and Cars. Bases allow you to personalize your home base, increase your storage space, allow you to farm certain resources, and even automate harvesting nearby resources. Freighters allow you to get into and purchase those big ass ships that you always see flying in the distance. They are super expensive so it gives you something to save up for, and it looks like in 1.3 they are adding in classes for freighters too to give more variety and make you now want to find the perfect freighter. Freighters share storage with your base and can carry up to 9 starships and even more cargo than before. So now you can go and get a bunch of starships to make your perfect fleet for your situation. I’m less sold on the cars, I think it’ll be nice for exploring your world and getting more storage while doing it, but I don’t know the limitation of that buggy. They also added the ability to create race tracks and race other player’s track which is a nice touch but I’m unsure how interested I am in that, but I like that it is there.

And now… 1.3… The big flashy thing they added was Stargates which let you portal from one planet to another, if you know the address. This alone is pretty awesome, but they also added 30+ hours of story and lore, a fourth race, new buildings and base parts, crashed freighters, new farming branches, and NPC missions. All of this again, fleshing out the universe that much more and giving the player more to do.

I’m actually kind of excited for the game again. And unlike the last time, the game is already out! I can go play it! I have been playing it for about a week now and still enjoying going in and exploring more. I am probably going to restart with 1.3. And I’m probably going to YouTube it like I said I was going to over a year ago. It seems surreal that the game took an extra year, but it feels like it is finally starting to live up to its promise.