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It is the year of our lord, 2022, and I’ve just stayed up until 2am playing No Man’s Sky. After years of trying to get back into the open-universe exploration game following a disastrous launch, I’m firmly back in. And reader, I am hooked.
No Man’s Sky’s disappointing 2016 launch has been exhaustively covered elsewhere, and there’s no need for me to bore you by going over it again. What I will say is that I really, genuinely liked the foundation of the game at that time, and put a surprising number of hours into upgrading my starship and leaping to new galaxies to explore until I finally realised it was all just a bit… empty. Like drunkenly eating a sweaty kebab at 3am, eventually you have a moment of horrified clarity and realise it’s time to pack it in before you’re sick all over the sheets.
It’s also well documented that developer Hello Games has embarked on an epic tale of redemption over the last few years, taking No Man’s Sky from an embarrassing cautionary tale to one of the most exciting games on the planet. A multitude of updates have made the game feel more alive with new quests, story content, characters, crafting, multiplayer, giant mech suits, and so much more.
But while I’m sure you know all this, I wonder how many of you reading this have actually given the game a proper second chance? I made a few attempts to get back into the game previously and bounced off before I really got to any of the new content. That was a mistake. No Man’s Sky feels like an entirely new game - one that honestly comes closer to Skyrim in space than I was expecting.
I’ve no doubt I’m already preaching to the choir in some cases here, but if you haven’t really played No Man’s Sky since 2016 I am urging you to give it another shot. I loaded up a new game on my PlayStation 5 last weekend and lost my entire Saturday in the blink of an eye. And you’d best believe I plan to do the same again this weekend.
The core of No Man’s Sky remains unchanged. You explore a near-infinite number of planets, scanning the local flora and fauna and mining resources to upgrade your ship and gear. But now, layered on top of this fascinating base, is a galaxy of endless possibilities.
My first ten hours in No Man’s Sky back in 2016 involved zipping between barren moons, finding enough resources to create warp fuel, and going to new galaxies with more barren moons. If I was lucky I’d occasionally find an interesting jungle planet, or an ocean planet, but space was still pretty empty.
My first ten hours in No Man’s Sky in 2022? I tracked down an ancient portal to rescue a traveler stranded between worlds, built a thriving base in a meadow filled with deep, red grass, saved a freighter from some space pirates and was put in charge of it my troubles, and flew headfirst into a black hole just to see what would happen.
I understand that to a lot of dedicated No Man’s Sky players these are new features that have been released gradually. But to someone who hasn’t properly touched the game in six years? The sheer amount of “new” content is dizzying - and thrilling. Last night I spent two hours fixing up a battered colony that had taken up refuge on a planet beset by brutal acid rainstorms - and that was on my way to do something completely different. I’m coming up to 20-25 hours in and still finding myself constantly surprised and delighted by what the game is offering me.
Much in the same way that Skyrim makes it impossible to simply follow the main quest by presenting a fascinating open world filled with dungeons and characters and quests, No Man’s Sky is now an entire universe packed with distractions, diversions, and jaw-dropping moments of real beauty. Was I supposed to be heading to the centre of the universe? Hell if I can remember: I’ve just received a distress signal I need to follow… right after I explore these ancient ruins. But I should probably stop at that space station and see if there are any new missions for me on the way, right?
It’s been an absolute joy to see Hello Games celebrated for refusing to simply take the money and run. The team believed in No Man’s Sky, and has delivered a game that I feel now goes far, far beyond what Sean Murray and his team originally promised all those years ago. If you’re thinking about giving it a second chance, consider this a sign that you need to do so immediately. This definitely isn’t the No Man’s Sky we dreamed of back in 2016: It’s infinitely better.
Featured Image Credit: Hello Games
Topics: No Mans Sky
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