No Man’s Sky is maybe the most high-profile indie game of the current generation. Revealed for the PlayStation 4, No Man’s Sky promised to be an innovative, endless, procedurally generated universe made up of over 18 quintillion planets. Procedural generation means the game is generated algorithmically and, thus, allows near-endless variation. No Man’s Sky embodies the most innovative use of this method of world-building.
Unfortunately, that prolificacy was not entirely positive. In fact, No Man’s Sky has become a template of how not to market a game. The marketing for No Man’s Sky promised the world, and the final product fell short of those marketing promises. Any other indie game might have gotten away with it, but No Man’s Sky, at the time, was one of the most hotly anticipated games of the generation. With the might of Sony behind it and the promises made, the hype train behind No Man’s Sky derailed come launch.
In the years since No Man’s Sky’s original release three years ago, Hello Games have quietly been at work making major improvements to the game. The studio recognised the game at launch didn’t deliver on the hype, but since then No Man’s Sky: Beyond represents the game the marketing originally promised. The best part of all of this is that Hello Games have released all these major updates completely free of charge. The studio might have lost good will back in 2016, but they have earned it back and more now in 2019.
The Beyond update to No Man’s Sky brings with it three major additions. Firstly, the Beyond update brings VR to No Man’s Sky. The entirety of No Man’s Sky is fully playable and enjoyable in virtual reality. Secondly, this update brings expansive multiplayer to No Man’s Sky. At launch, the game received a lot of backlash for the lack of promised multiplayer and surrounding mistruths. However, with the Beyond update, explorers can now enjoy the game with up to 16 players online in multiplayer. Lastly, new changes to gameplay, missions, and tutorials make the game far more streamlined and accommodating to new explorers.
The VR update is perhaps the most impressive feature of this new update. No Man’s Sky in VR just feels right; like it was always meant to be played this away. After all, as an explorer discovering new frontiers, it is appropriate to play in VR. It’s not a basic switch to VR, the developers modified the interface and designed it to feel natural in VR. The expansive universe and worlds really come to life in VR mode. It really makes the game a more breath-taking experience, and as a completely free update, kudos to Hello Games.
The new multiplayer supports up to 16 players and fulfills the promise made before the game launched in 2016. Multiplayer in No Man’s Sky means you can see other players’ full character models, their cusotmised ships, and share resources with them. You can survive and build together in your exploration of these brave new worlds. The Beyond update also introduces a social hub akin to Destiny’s Tower. The social hub, dubbed The Space Anomaly, has been transformed into an all-new social hub to meet up with other explorers. Here you can meet old and new friends before embarking on your journey together. From the social hub, you can easily transport to other friends’ bases and the most popular bases across the universe. The introduction of Nexus missions allow you and your mutliplayer friends to embark on all-new missions together.
Ultimately, No Man’s Sky: Beyond represents the amalgamation of all the hard work Hello Games has done in the past three years, accumulating all their minor updates, as well as the larger ones, on-top of the new VR and multiplayer features. Whilst some minor bugs still persist, No Man’s Sky: Beyond is the game it always should have been. Everyone loves a good comeback, and this may be one of the greatest comebacks in gaming history.
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Release Date: 11th August 2016 (original release), 14th August 2019 (Beyond update)
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