No Man’s Sky was a modern-day cautionary tale: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Everyone expected it to be the next big thing. That expectation isn’t surprising, considering audiences have consistently supported stories about space exploration. Hello Games had a vision, and they had the determination to pursue that vision even in the face of great adversity, including a flood in 2013.
Unfortunately, when the game released in the summer of 2016 and the initial hype wore off, people began to realize that the game just didn’t have enough content. Exploration is fantastic, but procedural generation can only create so many truly unique things. It grabbed interest at the start, the way it was intended, but it failed to hold onto that interest. It was too limited, and despite the infinite worlds it created, too small. The novelty of No Man’s Sky eventually puttered out, and most of the gaming world moved on.
On May 18th, Hello Games broke the silence with some groundbreaking news. Among these announcements, they introduced multiplayer mode: A feature that will completely change the face of No Man’s Sky.
No Man’s Sky NEXT
One of the glaring problems with No Man’s Sky is that there isn’t a lot of reason to continue playing. If players see six worlds, they often feel as if they’ve seen them all, despite the changes in color, shape, and other details. Originally, this was part of the intended approach. Players were limited in order to encourage them to seek freedom in the stars. That exploration was really the only draw, and once it got old, that was it. You couldn’t create your own shelters, and you couldn’t collaborate with others. For a long time, you were just one player, adrift in space, hopping from planet to planet and trying to find a purpose.
Now, though, you no longer have to explore alone. With a team of friends, you can travel the universe. Multiplayer mode creates a wealth of reusable fun that a single, scripted game could never hope to produce. It’s an exciting concept, and Hello Games is excited too. Sean Murray, the team’s founder, says “it’s emergent, fun and intense in ways we always wanted it to be. It is genuinely exciting to be able to fully realize the potential so many people could see in No Man’s Sky.”
What does this mean?
It’s evident that Hello Games still believes firmly in their dream. They’ve been pouring work into this update, and they’ve had two years to consider and refine their approach. New games are risky for consumers and companies, but No Man’s Sky has done the hard part already – their game is already in the hands of consumers, and has been for a while. Live trial and error is one of the best ways to improve any product, which bodes well for the success of this update.
Some players genuinely prefer a singleplayer exploration experience, and this update may not be perfect for them. It’s reasonable to assume that they might be upset at this turn of events. Multiplayer games aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. However, there’s also a huge draw for an entirely new audience of players, because free-form multiplayer games are still difficult to find. The new face of No Man’s Sky is incredibly appealing for long-distance friendships and relationships, which are increasingly common in this age, in addition to local gaming friends.
But perhaps most importantly, this update encourages a key part of the human experience. We don’t like to explore alone. When we discover something new, we want to share it with the people around us. It’s the same reason children feel a sense of pride when their drawings are taped to the fridge. It’s the same reason modern scientific discoveries generate such a buzz in the media. We want to learn and grow, but we want to do it together.
Where to find it
Hello Games will release other features, such as the potential for encounters with random travelers, space battles, and the ability to build bases. These additions will expand the scope of the game exponentially. The development team seems to recognize this because they’re calling this update “NEXT”. No Man’s Sky NEXT will be released as a free update to existing players, and will be available on Playstation 4 and Xbox One on July 24th.