After 7 major updates, a host of fixes and marking three years since its release, update 2.00 or the Beyond update was introduced. You can now play the entirety of No Mans Sky (NMS) in virtual reality or play with up to 32 players in multiplayer.
I am still loving this game after 60 hours of playing and the more I read in discussion boards and watch in videos leads me to the realization that I have only just begun exploring this vast universe and there are so many things I still want to achieve. Completing the story lines; a better starship and freighter with accompanying support ships; an underwater base; an exocraft; upgrading my exosuit; building teleporters and visiting Eden where players have made amazing settlements to view. These are just some of the things on my “to do” list and it seems to grow the more I learn.
You begin with an annoying lack of inventory space, a pitiful spaceship and no base to speak of. Everything from gathering resources, flying between planets and combat will seem slow and difficult at first. After you upgrade your suit, multitool and ship you will start finding things much easier. You’ll be able to hold more items and swap them between your starship, exosuit, freighter and storage units. You will be able to mine resources faster. You’ll be able to travel further distances and reach other planets. The more time you put into this game the better the reward.
You can follow a few different story lines, or you can do your own thing. Trader, explorer, pirate, miner or builder are just some of the pursuits you can spend your time on. You can specialize in one area or dabble in them all.
A recent introduction, the Anomaly, a huge floating spacial hub, means you can socialize with other players through chat and join missions together. Successfully completed missions are rewarded with quicksilver which you can spend on customization of outfits, building parts or social interactions like dance moves or greetings. There are daily missions varying in difficulty. It is a hub where you can upgrade all your equipment, share knowledge of your exploration and earn rewards.
Once visited through the story arc, you can summon the anomaly whenever you want. I still haven’t worked out how to join missions with other players through the Nexus on the Anomaly. I have started missions, but nobody ever joins me and therefore I have not had any experience playing multiplayer. I also have not been able to randomly join a player’s game. I think they have disabled this feature. At present, the only way I can see that you can play multiplayer is by joining a friend on Steam who is on your friend list.
Space stations are also an important part of the game and you will find one in every galaxy. Here you can interact with the three species in the known universe, learning their language and gaining standing with them. You can buy and sell items at the terminals, upgrade your exosuit, exocraft, starship and multitool. You can take on missions and learn of new places through the cartographer.
All space stations look identical. It would have been nice to have a bit more variety here. Talking to the different races is a bit laborious but can be speeded up by pressing the action button on your controller. Learning words is important as it increases your popularity with that race. The higher your standing, the more profitable the missions become and trading opportunities arise.
Travelling around the Universe is done through the galaxy map. A rather awkward affair where you can select different galaxies which, if you have the warp capability, can travel to. If you have an economy scanner fitted to your ship you can also get information on the type of economy and race, along with a few other bits of information useful for trading purposes. I found the use of the map to be confusing and difficult to control and this area could definitely be improved.
The planets are procedurally generated and no planet is the same. There are similarities in plants and animals from planet to planet and the terrain could be a bit more imaginative in my view but in the main you do feel like every planet is suitably different. There’s an excellent photo mode where you can take photos and add filters.
Some planets contain friendly creatures (which you can feed and tame) and manageable environments, but some planets have dangerous creatures and environments which drain your health. To survive in these harsh conditions you can build underground tunnels using your terrain manipulator or upgrade your exosuit to withstand the cold, heat, radiation or toxicity.
On the planet you will mainly be mining resources, and scanning plants, minerals and animals. Every new discovery classifies the object which you can then upload to the NMS database and earn nanites for you to spend on upgrades. I am finding it particularly difficult to find all the animals on the planet. Your visor does not pick them up and whilst flying in your spaceship you cannot see them.
Each plant or mineral provides a different resource and you can see what you will get with the analytical visor you wear. I particularly liked the mining process. It is a lot more satisfying than most games of this type. It looks impressive and sounds interesting. The mining beam can be fired from great distances and you can mine whilst you are running which was neat. I quite often spent hours mining different resources without getting bored. Initially I did a lot of mining and found a rich source of cobalt. I mined it for hours and ended up selling it for millions at the space stations. After you install the blueprint for the terrain manipulator, you’ll be able to mine deposits in the ground like gold, silver and copper. You can also use this tool to pound through the ground and find hidden treasures and underground caves. You can also fill in the ground where you made a hole.
Once you have mined your resources you can refine them into different materials. Each blueprint requires different materials to make it, but it wasn’t always clear what mixture was needed to produce them or even where to find them! Again, with upgrades you will be able to produce bigger refineries and be able to combine multiple ingredients.
Using your inventory was a bit time consuming, especially at the beginning when you had minimal slots. I found I was continually moving things around to make room for upgrades. Some items can be grouped in hundreds whilst other items will take up an inventory slot with only 5 pieces. This was my biggest frustration when playing in the early stages of the game. “Inventory Full” was a common sound and to make things worse, the item you just spent time mining would just disappear and you were left to access your inventory to rearrange items once again. Inventory pieces can be deleted, a useful addition as you will often pick up things you don’t need without even realising. A careless press of the mining tool or remnants of earth from terrain manipulation will often find their way into your inventory filling that last spot you thought was empty. This does improve after you upgrade your suit however. You’ll be ably to purchase extra suit slots at each space station you visit. A very worthwhile purchase. If you own a decent starship you can move items in there and once you own a freighter (which you can summon anywhere) you will have even bigger cargo holds which you can fill with storage units.
On the planet you will find a host of different buildings. Discovering these places will earn you more nanites or reward you with maps or items. Quite often buildings will be guarded by sentinels who will attack if you try to break into them. Once in the building you are faced with a terminal where you have to crack a mathematical code to win the prize. These are quite simple in the main and you shouldn’t have much trouble. There are other kinds of puzzles too. One involves deciphering a wall of text which will explain the situation and what you need to do. You are then presented with a multiple choice answer. Get it right and you are rewarded. Get it wrong and you could be penalised. Deciphering the text will depend on your language skills. You can improve these skills by talking to aliens, finding monoliths or accessing word terminals in some outbuildings. Of course you can just guess!
You will notice that all buildings on these planets are identical wherever you go, and it starts to become a little repetitive visiting them and doing the same things. This is a common occurrence throughout NMS as the space stations, cargo ships, trading posts etc. are all identical. Even the aliens look a bit similar. I would like to see more variety in the puzzles and appearance of the structures and aliens.
Sentinels also stop you from mining resources on certain planets which can be frustrating.They are the custodians of the planet and their primary mission is to stop intruders causing any harm to their home. They see mining as a danger to the ecosystem and will approach you if they detect any activity. If you decease mining they will move away but if you ignore their warnings and continue, they will attack immediately. Sentinels come in waves which get tougher. If you defeat the first wave they will return stronger and in more numbers. I can see that sentinels add a basic layer of combat to the experience but I wish they would just leave me alone when I am mining. By all means defend outposts and strategic buildings but leave us alone to mine resources.
NMS is an all-rounder. It doesn’t do anything spectacularly but the sum of all its parts creates an enjoyable experience. It is quite easy to lose hours of your time in this game without realizing. There is so much to try out and explore, whether that be building bases, trading items, mining, fighting in space or playing missions. You will find something that interests you.
Yes, there are a huge number of bugs still present in the game but I am impressed with Hello Games commitment to tackling these and regular fixes are posted.
I cannot comment much on the multiplayer aspects of the game, but I have heard that the experience is frustrating and buggy. As a single player I am really enjoying the game and I expect to play this for many more hours to come.
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