The Resurrection of No Man’s Sky

Hello Games aren’t giving up

This week an extraordinary thing happened: Hello Games released No Many’s Sky Next, also known as Version 1.5. It’s a significant milestone, marking the two year anniversary of the game’s original release. Ever since its infamous release, Hello Games has quietly been refining the game; steady updates have brought meaningful changes and bug fixes.

It says a lot that Hello Games persisted with the game, continuing to deliver updates since launch (the major ones being Foundation, Path Finder, and Atlas Rises), considering the incredible backlash they received from many corners of the gaming community. Perhaps caught between their own desire to deliver things they simply couldn’t as well as community-driven hype that arguably escalated well into the stratosphere, it’s fair to say that the original release wasn’t what most players expected. A huge omission — and something that Hello Games’ Sean Murray had strongly hinted would be in the first release — was multiplayer.

It might be two years late, but multiplayer has finally arrived with No Man’s Sky Next.

Among all of the analysis and hand-wringing over the game on the internet, it can be easy to forget that Hello Games only has around sixteen employees. As a tiny indie studio, they have nowhere near the massive resources on-hand that large AAA developers do. It’s probably fair to say that Sean Murray had — and continues to have — a grand vision for this project, and it’s understandably taking time for the small team to realise it.

On one level, it could be argued that No Man’s Sky may never truly recover from the horrible PR it received upon release. There is, however, something to be said for pure persistence. As a gamer, I’d rather play something with a distinct vision — something being worked towards by people who are passionate about that vision — rather than a big-name game that is perpetually pumped out into the market with $60 season passes. This isn’t the route that Hello Games probably wanted to take initially, but perhaps this rocky road is exactly what was necessary for No Man’s Sky to become fully realised.

Those key elements like multiplayer and base building have been added after the initial release, and Next now features a third-person perspective (both while flying and while exploring on foot). It’s important to understand, however, that No Man’s Sky is still fundamentally the same experience — there’s a lot of grinding for resources, for example. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, that much is clear. Yet there is definitely a certain kind of player for whom No Man’s Sky is the kind of idyllic sci-fi getaway that they’ve always dreamed of.

All of this work from Hello Games to continue adding to and improving the experience also come just in time for a 50% off sale on Steam, as well as the game’s debut on Xbox One. Looking at No Man’s Sky on Steam, the reviews are still overall mixed, but recently they’ve been very positive as a result of Next.

The future of No Man’s Sky is certainly still unclear, but it’s worth pausing to acknowledge what Hello Games have done here — they didn’t simply make their money and run, they continued to invest heavily in a project they believe strongly in. It would be understandable if they decided to simply cut their losses and do something else, but they didn’t. That definitely means something.
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