No Man’s Sky: A Year in Review

No Man’s Sky: A Year in Review

Hello Game’s No Man’s Sky has been featured prominently in gaming news and user reviews, but how does it fare a year down the line from the First Reviews?

No Man’s Sky: A Year in Review

A Tale of Unprecedented Hype

Hello Games released No Man’s Sky last year on August 9th, 2016. Shortly after launch, players realized that the game fell drastically short of their expectations. Many stories of refunds, returns and even a lawsuit for false advertising circulated the internet. One hundred days passed in total silence from the developer. The gaming community saw No Man’s Sky as a tremendous failure.

After almost three months of silence from Hello Games, the “Foundation” update was released. This update added base construction, new game modes and the foundations of things to come. The next update, called “Pathfinder” came three months later led many to believe a new update would come in another three months or so.

In June, the moderators of several No Man’s Sky sub-Reddits received packages containing some swag and cassette tapes. This marked the beginning of an Alternative Reality Game called “Waking Titan” which had the community working together to solve various puzzles and take part in live drops. This ARG continued until August 7th and teased the next update. August 11th saw the update released in all its glory, and spawned a massive resurgence of new and old players to revisit No Man’s Sky.


Faith Restored

After having some time to play around with this update, I feel that I can finally give No Man’s Sky a proper review. I bought  No Man’s Sky a few days after launch, before I saw the massive amount of backlash take place. Trying to keep an open mind was incredibly difficult in the Hundred Days of Silence. Thankfully, Hello Games has redeemed themselves by continuing to support No Man’s Sky and has changed many people’s opinions. Even the recent Steam reviews have become “Mostly Positive” after being firmly “Mostly Negative” since launch!

New Features

Most exciting is that portals and the foundations of multiplayer have been added. The portals function much like the ones on the TV show “Stargate”, using a set of sixteen glyphs to dial in coordinates of a planet. This acts as a form of fast travel, but first you must learn all sixteen glyphs from Traveler Graves. These graves are found while exploring planets and moons and are quite rare. A recent bug patch added in a conversation option with various Traveler NPC’s that lets you locate these graves more easily.

Multiplayer is similar to Dark Souls ghosts. You see a floating spark, or “glitch” that shows the actions of another player. Proximity voice chat allows communication. However, currently you cannot see the actions of another player or their effect on the world.

Atlas Rises also adds in a story line, which was mostly absent from the base game. This story has you interact with fellow Travelers like yourself and discover the fate of Artemis, one of the characters hinted at in the ARG. The story is well written and interesting, tying events from the Waking Titan ARG into the lore of No Man’s Sky.


More Places to See

Some amazing soundtracks from 65daysofstatic have been added and help add ambiance. They also give the new biomes a unique feeling. Strange bubbles, sublimating planets, weird hexagon-shaped plants and more await the eager Traveler. I’ve often found myself just wandering around a planet, looking at the scenery and trying to find the perfect spot for a screenshot using the Photo Mode.

There are also a ton of quality of life changes, including varied inventory tabs for technology, cargo and general purpose items. Crashed freighters await a brave explorer to plunder their riches, while changes to the economy have encouraged more trade options. New exotic ships expand the already large roster of spaceships available, and you can own several different ships, parking them on your freighter until you are ready to use them.


The Future is Bright

Hello Games has really redeemed themselves this last year. No Man’s Sky has a whole new look and a whole lot of added features. Bug fixes have been handled with speed and efficiency and the promise of future updates keep the community engaged. A few large groups of players have made coalitions, colonizing parts of the galaxy.

I encourage anyone who was interested in No Man’s Sky to look into the game again. Don’t expect Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen, as No Man’s Sky is neither of those. No Man’s Sky is its own creature, deserving of a second chance at life.

Hopefully I’ll see you in the stars.


I've been gaming since the old school Nintendo days and have a wide variety of genres I enjoy.

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4 comments on “No Man’s Sky: A Year in Review”

  1. Avatar ElvesRule says:

    Thanks, Lich. Well-written for a short review. I need details on mechanics since I forgot most of the old stuff and have no idea how to discover the new mechanics. New meaning post-launch. How do I build a base? Pick a pretty planet and then what? I see no prompts. Buying a freighter, how? I have 83 million units but that’s probably not enough. How does that new story appear? Land on the first planet you see and just explore till you bump into a clue? That doesn’t sound fun.

    I guess I’m going to have to look up all these things and watch vids but that much effort on a game I platted and gave up almost a year ago and spending 1000 hours farming/selling to get all the new stuff sounds like a very tedious chore, even in normal mode. No, the more challenging modes sound like even more tedium for less fun.

  2. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Well I can answer what I can here, just so you and others don’t have to go looking, then I can probably give a write up of this stuff later on and maybe have more detail.

    Building a base is simple, really. You can scan a planet from orbit with your ship, and look for a "Habitable Base", our land and construct a signal booster (press up on the direction pad for PS4, not sure about PC control). They require iron and plutonium I believe. These are what used to be scattered all over the surface, and now are just constructed by the player as needed. You use the signal scanner and search for "Habitable Base".

    Fly over to where the icon shows up, go into the circular building and use the big red computer terminal to claim your new base. You can then construct building parts with the (up) menu as long as your inventory (ship and exosuit) contains the needed materials. You can also rename your base from this terminal. The portal on the wall must be activated before you can use it, I believe by doing missions for specialists hired in space stations. The portal gives you a link to up to 5 space stations. The portal is only good once from base to station, so if you want to remember the station you have to remember to land at the station and return to base using the portal. The portal room in the space station is located to your right when you land, behind what used to be an Atlas Pass door.

    The mission board is also here, which gives you various jobs and lists the task, risk and reward for each. Certain guilds (merchant, mercenary and explorers) will gain rank depending on the task performed.

    Planets and moons almost always have habitable bases on them. I believe the only ones that don’t are the "uninhabited" and "airless" ones, as well as a few of the new types of biomes.

    Freighters show up while in space, and can be found either sitting around or under attack by pirates. If you help the freighter out (and don’t let any stray shots hit them!) you get a reward from the captain that sometimes gets you a big discount on the freighter price, but is usually units, antimatter and warp cells. To talk to the captain, you have to look for the freighter with a yellow icon, and it has a large blue landing area similar to space stations. 83 million might be enough for a small freighter, around 14 slots. They go up to 48, just like ships and exosuit inventory.

    Ships also come in several variants that change their inventory space, and also come in grades, C, B, A and S, as well as exotic variants that have a unique look. Haulers have the largest inventory, maxing out at 48, while fighters have the smallest. There are also scientific and shuttle variants. The grades give various bonuses to damage, shields and hyperdrive, with haulers having the best shields, fighters the best damage, scientific the best hyperdrive and shuttles being balanced between all three.

    You also have access to general inventory, technology and cargo slots for freighters, ships and exosuits. General inventory is able to be used for storage and technology, while technology gets tech upgrades, and cargo has higher inventory capacity. As an example, general inventory can hold one green item like a Vykeen Dagger, or a stack of 250 raw materials. Cargo can hold up to 5 green items or a stack of 500 raw materials.

    You still get bonuses for grouping together similar tech, like shield boosts and damage/mining enhancements, but they only calculate the number of links, not how you group them. You used to group a Theta with Tau, Tau with Sigma, but now it seems to not matter, as you get the full bonus regardless of how you group things, as long as the color around the icon matches its neighbors.

    The new story appears through a sub-space communication in your ship (press up to access functions).

    You can also recharge technology faster through a quick-select menu, under (down) on the D-pad. You can also summon your exocraft (if you’ve made an exocraft bay), ship (costs launch thruster fuel), access Photo Mode (take pretty screenshots), summon your freighter if you have one and access your flashlight.

    The difficulty settings are more for people who didn’t like how simple normal mode was, and feature increased resource costs and higher damage taken, as well as more hostile creatures and sentinels. I like Survival, as it’s a little less restrictive as Permadeath, but still enough difficulty to keep me engaged.

    As for generating units… You can do a TON of stuff to make money now. You can grind resources to plant a farm at your base or in your freighter (yes, you get a customisable base in your freighter too) and grow specific plants for materials and make trade goods. Right now Living Glass, Circuit Boards and Liquid Explosives are the go-to farmables, as they sell for 696k, 1.2mil and 1mil units respectively. You can make about 12million an hour with an efficient farm, or more. The community is still trying to figure out the most effective method.

    You can also do missions for units, farm resources using automated machines, hunt sentinels, and the best part – with the addition of the Flora and Fauna Analyzer upgrades, you can make a few million units by just landing on a planet, scanning everything in sight, and leaving. I believe fully upgraded with all the scanner upgrades you get around 200k per creature, more for rarer creatures, and a few hundred thousand per plant or mineral. I’ve made probably 50mil just casually scanning stuff, and spent all that on exosuit upgrades and a multitool I found.

    NMS is no longer the game you played last year. The best thing for you do as a returning player is just start over totally, and experience the new NMS.

    Holy crap, this is a long post.

  3. ckmishn says:

    I got No Man’s Sky for ~$30 at a Steam sale maybe 6 months after it was released. I’ve started a couple times but been afraid to get very far, not because it isn’t fun but because they keep adding so much stuff that I fear I’m not getting the "optimal" experience I would get if I waited a few more months for another patch.

    The economics for Hello Games are very good. They have a team of around 15 employees, and they sold something like 2.5 million copies on PS4 in the first week alone. That’s already $10 million retail per-employee, and the sales on PC, combined with further PS4 sales have likely added significantly to the total. Yes more than half the total will have been taken by the retailer and publisher between them, but the implication is that they should have the money to fund continued development for as long as they want.

    Of course in another year or two, even if they’re still selling copies, they’ll probably be so bored continually updating the same game that they’ll want to move on to something new. The question for me is if I’ll wait till then or break down and just play it as-is.

  4. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Yeah I bought NMS a few days after initial release, cashed in some rewards points so I only spent 30$ too.

    I don’t think you’ll miss anything by just starting and playing. Anything you discover and name will stay discovered and named, even if they regenerate the universe like they have twice now. They’ve released 3 huge updates in a year, so I’d expect them to stay with that, maybe go down to 2 a year, but maybe do 4. They have an excellent staff still, and are very dedicated to their game.

    This last Steam sale had to have made them a TON of cash, especially since the sale coincided with the update. They won’t be hurting for funds anytime soon.

    So far their progress reminds me of the early Minecraft days.

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