As regular readers are aware, I spend a considerable amount of time exploring the early No Man’s Sky universe. And it seems I’m not alone.
I recently ran across a video captured by YouTuber Unholy_Mr_Brown during his live-streamed session of exploring several worlds in the Foundation (v1.1, circa 2016) version of the game, which happens to be my go-to for “time travelling” / historical exploration. During the hour and a half livestream, the fellow traveller explains the reasoning behind his preference for the older versions of No Man’s Sky to the new. His sentiments, full of emotion, echo many of my own and I found watching him explore and listening to his commentary very much to my liking, and so I share it here with readers. (His channel is full of other exploration videos of past versions of No Man’s Sky, for those wanting to see more.)
While on the topic of video explorations of worlds of olde, I will take the opportunity to share another video that I spotted a while back on Reddit in the NMS_Foundations sub (the focus of which is “to share the old-school sci-fi vibes of No Man’s Sky“). It’s called This is No Man’s Sky and was created in late 2019 by YouTuber J. Twittenhoff using the Press Kit version 1.0 of the game on a PS4 Pro. It’s something of a fan trailer of the early game with a lovely ’80s synthwave vibe. (The creator posted part II of his project a short while later.) Thanks to u/jenga67 , author of the lovely Back to Foundations game mod, for submitting the video to the subreddit.
The previous post made to this blog covers my exploration of a mountainous desert world from No Man’s Sky Foundation v1.1 (circa 2016), with photos and a somewhat lengthy video. Soon after exploring that planet, I set down on another world in the same system that turned out to be one of the most desolate I have ever encountered in my four years in the game.
The world is devoid of all flora and fauna and is nearly silent but for a subtle and woeful drone sung by the wind. It is a striking, high-contrast pink-purple world with a dark and purple sky. The landscape is full of rocky crags with stone arches and water lakes here and there. It is rather unlike anything one might encounter in more recent versions of the game.
Here I present several photos and a short video account of a portion of my exploration of this desolate place. I have rarely felt more solitude on a world in the No Man’s Sky universe than that which this planet presents.
As regular readers of this blog and my NMS-focused followers on Twitter are likely aware, I am currently enjoying No Man’s Sky Foundation 1.1 (circa 2016) alongside the current version of the game, which at the time of this writing, is Next Generation. I got this setup on my PC early last year and have had a lot of fun being able to go back and explore the universe of olde, harboring worlds with wilder and more chaotic terrain generation. In a recent session in Foundation, I decided to record my exploration of a mountainous desert world and share it, here, with readers.
Craggy desert worlds of this sort appeal to me, and I could see from high above the surface that it would be enjoyable to explore. After setting down beside a small lake as the sun was setting, I set out on foot to see what I might find. After, perhaps, 10 minutes of walking it occurred to me to start recording my screen as I explored.
The ability to be anywhere on a planet and summon your starship from afar had (happily) not yet been added to the game in the 1.1 release. Several types of Habitable Structures feature landing pads or ship summoning terminals that can be access by way of a Bypass Chip (dropped from the game in NEXT) in order to call your ship to those limited locations. As a driver for my exploration in Foundation, I often land and set out in a certain direction and not stop going forth — no turning back — until I locate such a facility from which I can summon my ship. On this adventure, it took 3 hours and 30 minutes to locate such a building, and it was a glorious little walk.
As mentioned in earlier posts, I am presently exploring the historical universe of No Man’s Sky Foundation (v1.1, circa 2016) alongside the current universe of No Man’s Sky Beyond. In so doing, I regularly encounter a great many striking worlds — bizarre and spectacular, both — in my travels. I have shared a number of these in earlier posts and in my Back to Foundations photo gallery.
Recently, while exploring the Foundations universe, I set down upon a lush, golden planet that was truly breathtaking. A planet part ocean, the land is covered in vibrant grasses and trees and rises in places to great, craggy heights. I was so struck by the beauty of the world that I wanted to share it with readers, and have captured a bit of footage while just wandering the hillsides. I hope you enjoy.
Early in the year I posted A Few Words from a “No Man’s Sky” Time Traveler, detailing my decision to put my 1,600-hour No Man’s Sky journey on hold and jump back-in-time to late 2016 and the Foundation (v1.1) release of the game. (My help page provides assistance to those wanting to do the same.) In that post I explained my motivations for so doing and I won’t restate them here other than to say, in brief, I missed the wilder nature of the early games’ (pre-NEXT) worlds and that greater sense of the unexpected, waiting around every corner. That was over half a year ago and it seems a good time for an update.
As I wrote the aforementioned blog post, I was 25-hours in on a new Normal-mode game started in the Foundation release (version 1.13 specifically), having archived my mainline progress to resume later. I ended up playing in Foundation for 10 straight weeks before archiving that save and going back to the then-current release (Visions v1.77) in order to get back into the active swing of things in preparation for the impending release of No Man’s Sky Beyond.
Beyond promised to bring VR gameplay, far deeper multiplayer, and a large bag of various quality-of-life improvements to enhance the overall experience. Shortly before it was released, I purchased an Oculus Rift S VR setup in order to immerse myself as fully as possible in the game. No Man’s Sky Beyond (v2.0) arrived on August 14 and it did, indeed, deliver on its promises. No Man’s Sky in VR is pretty amazing; I’ve spent hours in the game just slowly wandering about, examining prairie flowers blooming inches from my eyes, marveling at clusters of desert cacti towering above me, and running my fingers through blades of grass carpeting valleys that stretch off into the distance. And, what’s more, I’m liking the deeper online play mechanics introduced through the Nexus in the updated Space Anomaly (a sort of hub where players can easily find each other, explore together, visit each others’ bases). I didn’t expect to find particular fondness with expanded online play, but it feels like a nice addition.
As those who follow me on any of my social feeds are quite aware, I enjoy the game No Man’s Sky. Actually, that’s something of an understatement. I’ve written quite a few words about the degree to which the boundless universe that Hello Games has given us to explore has captivated me in various blog posts over the past two and a half years. In the first of these, written three weeks after the game launched back in August 2016, I explained,
All my life I have dreamed of exactly this in gaming — an interesting, alternate universe, massive in scale, in which I can freely wander and explore at my own pace. That is what No Man’s Sky is to me, and it’s my observation that many others are similarly moved by the game. The fact that the universe is procedurally generated and that even the game’s creators can’t describe everything that’s out there to be encountered ads to the incredible sense of the unexplored, the alien. There is a lovely feeling of solitude to the whole experience of discovering a world, leaving your mark on it, and moving on to the next.
I began playing the game on the PS4 back on its launch day in August 2016. I was so completely drawn into it that just a few weeks later I decided to build a high-end gaming PC — something I hadn’t done in many years — in order to get the best experience possible in the No Man’s Sky universe. The system I built was able to achieve a higher resolution at a higher frametrate than the PS4, as well as allowing mods to be run (which, in the end, I decided to stay away from in the interest of experiencing the gameplay as intended by the developers).
It wasn’t until a week ago, however, that it enabled me not only to travel across the vast and myriad galaxies within the universe at the heart of the game, but to travel back through time within that universe, as well.
In a nutshell, it started out like this. I first heard of No Man’s Sky in the summer of 2015. The previews looked pretty amazing and, as I had a PS4, I was excited for its release. Not long after, I grabbed Elite:Dangerous, which I had been following with interest for some time, when it landed on the Mac (I wasn’t a PC guy…at the time), and was amazed by its realism. Comparatively, my impression of NMS at that point was that it would be less of a “whole scope” universe simulation than E:D; it seemed from previews that NMS wouldn’t be presenting an “I can fly from point A to point B across the galaxy without ever breaking frame” environment and I wondered if that would make for a much “smaller” experience. Months passed and I was spending time in E:D, mining, fighting, but became frustrated because the difficulty of amassing assets in order to upgrade ships was, to me, a huge barrier and I eventually lost a good deal of interest. I wasn’t having much fun and as a result I pretty much stopped playing.
Months more passed and No Man’s Sky was released. I purchased a digital download of the game for PS4 on day one and began playing. I fell in love immediately.
I recall waking up on my genesis planet and walking about the lush alien landscape in a sort of wonder. I had to make an extremely long trek in order to find the elements needed to repair my initial ship so that I could venture onward. Along the way, walking through the trees, boosting up cliff faces with my jetpack, gazing at planets hovering on the horizon, running around with the various creatures skittering about the landscape, I experience a feeling of incredible immersion and the scale of the thing reality sunk in. I could explore every inch of this massive planet if I wished. And there are over 18 quintillion planets in No Man’s Sky‘s procedurally-generated universe. My earlier concerns about NMS feeling “smaller” than Elite:Dangerous were certainly for nought.
The PS4 I played with was in my den entertainment center with a few other consoles, tied to the wall-mounted screen. After just a few days in, I wanted to get as deep into the experience as I could, so I pulled one of my Mac’s displays off the desk to clear a space in the basement computer room, bought a 32-inch curved 1920×1080 display, and plopped it and the PS4 down next to the Mac and started playing. This turned out to be a great move — so much nicer than playing from the couch across the room. I ran like this for a couple of weeks, getting up well before dawn to get some time in before heading to the office most days, and it was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I wanted to take things farther, to get all that I could out of the game. I decided to build a high-end gaming PC specifically to play No Man’s Sky.