YouTuber Ben Is Bread recently posted a video entitled Why I Needed No Man’s Sky, in which he shares his experiences playing the game after downloading it for the first time several weeks ago. Being a gamer who has run an active YouTube game channel for several years, Ben was well aware of No Man’s Sky and the travails of its launch, but had never stepped into its universe until recently. (And it’s worth noting that the video was published a week before the Origins v3.0 update landed, notably enhancing variation within the game.)
I don’t feel like I’m just playing or going through No Man’s Sky, I feel like I’m actively engaging and experiencing it … At the end of the day I feel something playing this game.
The video spoke deeply to me and certainly resonated with my own feelings surrounding the game. That you are reading this post on my No Man’s Sky blog, you probably have some idea of the regard I have for the game.
And, so, I wanted to share this video with those who feel likewise, as well as those who have not yet had the chance to see how they feel about No Man’s Sky.
What kept me constantly fascinated with this game was the joy and satisfaction I found in discovering and exploring the crazy hostile and beautiful worlds this game creates… There were just so many points in my journey where I would stop exploring, stop mining, stop looking for materials and — just take in the experience. No one else had ever been here. No one else had ever stepped on this planet and seen what I’d seen.
For right now, in a stressful and confusing time, where so often we can feel trapped and helpless, it’s incredible to be able to explore, to discover, to have curiosity and wonder what lies just over the horizon…
[ NOTE: This post contains references to allegedly leaked information about upcoming versions of the game and, as such, should be viewed as a spoiler post. Be warned. ]
On June 5th, Hello Games updated the Steam (PC) Experimental Branch of No Man’s Sky with an update several gigabytes in size. (The Experimental Branch is a beta version of the game that Steam players can opt into in order to see the latest features and help Hello Games work out the kinks by providing feedback and bug reports.) The patch notes for this release say only:
Replaced networking back end.
Upgraded to OpenVR 1.10.30.
Upon receiving this update, Experimental Branch players began seeing little platform icons attached to players wandering around in the Anomaly (a networked area of the game). Hello Games also released this beta version of the game (or a similar version) for the Xbox One via the Xbox Insider Hub, a Microsoft service that allows users to opt into betas, akin to Steam’s beta option. Players on both platforms running these betas are seeing each other, with appropriate platform icon, in the Anomaly at the same time. This, along with a host of platform icons discovered in the beta release by data miners, clearly speaks to some level of cross-platform gameplay on the way.
Now, since May 19th we’ve known that new content of some sort was on the way, thanks to a tweet from author / scriptwriter Greg Buchanan who was behind the (great) Artemis storyline from 2017’s Atlas Rises update to No Man’s Sky. On May 29th, Hello Games posted the Beyond Development Update 11 page on their website, detailing a number of new things going on in the game, including mention of a content-related hiatus to the weekend missions.
Beginning this weekend, there will be a short pause between seasons of weekend missions. These will be returning very soon, featuring new story content we’re really enjoying from one of the writers on Atlas Rises.
(There actually was a mission this past weekend, but it appears that it may have been a test of the new networking back end / cross-play and only visible to those running beta versions on Steam and Xbox One.)
The following day, an anonymous post appeared on 4chan (let me pass the salt) entitled “No Man’s Sky summer update leaked details.” Within, the poster claims that according to his/her source, a content update is imminent and that it will tease out details of what is to come in a larger summer update. I am not going to print all of the details that were mentioned, here, but will say that what caught my particular interest is the suggestion that this coming update is “heavily focused on pro[c]gen” (procedural generation), with the indication,
…my source has told me that hello games have been working on ambitious things with their procgen and will improve terrain diversity and formations. new biomes will be introduced & more “alien” planets.
Additionally, data mining efforts of Procedural Traveller on the June 5th PC Experimental release reveal several findings that seem to backup the notion of new biomes on the way. (It is worth bearing in mind, however, that there are some items found in the data from even years past that have not come to fruition in the game.) Also, a number of mild visual / rendering changes have already been observed by myself and others in the PC Experimental version.
The reason that this struck a chord with me is the fact that just last month, the patent for the “Superformula,” created by Belgian biologist Johan Gielis, expired.
The Superformula is, as Gielis describes it, “A generic geometric transformation that unifies a wide range of natural and abstract shapes.” It is basically a modified take on an equation that describes a unit circle. The equation contains a number of variables and the geometric shape that it generates depends on the particular combination of values plugged into it.
Yesterday, Hello Games unexpectedly released a significant update to No Man’s Sky in the form of “Experimental Branch Update 18/02,” the details of which they posted to the Steam community discussion forum, as per usual with updates on the PC Experimental branch of the game. The list of changes was long, bringing significant quality-of-life improvements as well as performance optimizations for both standard and VR display modes. (Some players have observed changes in certain flora rendering, as well as several worlds that have changed color.) It didn’t take long, however, for the community to realize just how significant an update Hello Games quietly dropped, here…
As PC Experimental branch players (such as myself) began to land in the Anomaly, they encountered extremely unusual, heretofore unseen organic crafts landing on the pads. What’s more, flying through space, we began being contacted by these strange “living ships” which broadcast to us pure music, to which our void eggs resonated in response, translating the melodies into navigation coordinates… And, so began the update’s new quest line.
It was quite clear that Hello Games, with “Update 18/02,” had stealthily deployed an enormous update to No Man’s Sky. As we began tracking the tonally-conveyed galactic coordinates and following the new quest line, we encountered strange and enormous crafts and structures drifting through space as we flew planet to planet and system to system. The first that I happened to encounter, in a lovely pink-hued system (above), was identified as a “Living Metalloid.” What was the nature of these extraordinary objects? None of these things were mentioned in the patch notes posted to Steam… Just how much was waiting unannounced out there? We continued to explore and share findings on the Discord. It made for a surreal sort of evening.
Things became rather more clear when today, announced in a tweet by Sean Murray, Hello Games officially released No Man’s Sky Living Ship, update v2.3 (presently available on all supported platforms).
Explore space from a different perspective with the Living Ship update. Introducing a new class of biological ship, a new story mission, mysterious space encounters, space NPCs and more.
Like all major updates of the game, Living Ship has a highly-visual release page on the No Man’s Sky website, detailing and illustrating much of what has been added to the game, along with a fascinating trailer video with a Rutger Hauer / Blade Runner-inspired voice over. [ Update: It turns out the voice over is Rutger Hauer, and it was created by him for No Man’s Sky before his passing. ] And “much” is indeed the word.
After following a new series of missions, “Starbirth,” players will be introduced these new procedurally-generated, sentient starships, of which there are dozens. The “Call of the Void Egg” quest line will allow players to grow and, ultimately, fly their own living ships. Traveling through local space will now bring chance encounters with the aforementioned strange, new objects as well as space NPCs hailing for a trade…or possibly something less desirable.
Road To VR indicates that games ported to VR often come out wanting, due to aging game engines or a lack of commitment to fully realize the VR experience. They salute Hello Games’ work in delivering the full experience to VR with all the bells and whistles intact.
… Here, No Many’s Sky bucks the trend by presenting a fun and fully-playable VR mode, which thankfully came to all users this summer for free as a part of the base game on PC or PlayStation 4. The VR mode is basically exactly what you’d imagine from No Man’s Sky in VR; blasting off into space is magical, exploring planets is awe inspiring, riding around in exovehicles is really awesome. It also looks great too, as the rich and vibrant universe demands even more inspection from the immersive viewpoint of a VR headset. …
No Man’s Sky chief Sean Murray recently acknowledged the win in a retweet of the award results.