No Man's Sky has been appearing on more and more people's radars and wish lists in the months leading up to its release, and for good reason. Hello Games has tried to do what many could not: create a simple and intuitive space exploration MMO. Many have tried but have only proven how difficult it can be to create a game where flying through space requires complicated flight controls and steep learning curves. No Man's Sky prides itself on the sheer amount of content in the game: more than 18 quintillion planets to explore, with incentives coming from the Atlas, a universal database intended for explorers to consult with and sell their own information and findings to. Along the way, each planet has its own ecosystem, environment, and species inhabiting it.
These are just a few of the reasons why many have been anticipating the release of No Man's Sky, which was little over 12 hours for PlayStation 4 owners. It released at midnight EDT and will likely follow suit for PC gamers.
One might think that, with all this content, Hello Games would ship the game as is, but they would be dead wrong according to a developer post on the No Man's Sky website. It's astounding that the developers were able to add so much and improve on so many features since the game "finished" its development stage.
Some additions include a changed generation algorithm, designed to force more diversity between planets and even larger bodies in space; this change also makes galaxies up to 10x larger. Creatures are now even more interactive than before as they now have diets and more functions as pets. Trading has been improved on, as has terrain generation and graphical effects on every planet. The scope of this update is massive and it would be best to read the full change log, courtesy of No-Mans-Sky.com:
The Three Paths – there are now new, unique “paths” you can follow throughout the game. You must start the game on a fresh save, with the patch, as early choices have significant impact on what you see later in the game, and the overall experience.
The Universe – we changed the rules of the universe generation algorithm. Planets have moved. Environments have changed biomes. Galaxies have altered shape. All to create greater variety earlier. Galaxies are now up to 10x larger.
Diversity – Creatures are now more diverse in terms of ecology and densities on planets.
Planets – we’ve added dead moons, low atmosphere and extreme hazardous planets. Extreme hazards include blizzards and dust storms.
Atmosphere – space, night time and day skies are now 4x more varied due to new atmospheric system, which refracts light more accurately to allow for more intense sunsets.
Planet rotation – play testing has made it obvious people are struggling to adjust to this during play so it’s effects have been reduced further…
Terrain generation – caves up to 128m tall are now possible. Geometric anomalies have been added. Underwater erosion now leads to more interesting sea beds.
Ship diversity – a wider variety of ships appear per star system, and are available to purchase. Cargo and installed technology now vary more, and ships have more unique attributes.
Inventory – ship inventories now store 5 times more resources per slot. Suit inventories now store 2.5 times more per slot. This encourages exploration and gives freedom from the beginning. We’re probably going to increase this even further in the next update, for people in the latter game phases, and will allow greater trading potential.
Trading – trading is deeper. Star systems and planets each have their own wants and needs, based off a galactic economy. Observing these is the key to successful trading. We still working on adjusting this based on how everyone plays, but all trading values have been rebalanced across the galaxy, giving a greater depth. A bunch of trade exploits were uncovered and have been removed
Feeding – creatures now have their own diet, based on planet and climate. Feeding them correctly will yield different results per species, such as mining for you, protecting the player, becoming pets, alerting you to rare loot or pooping valuable resources.
Survival – recharging hazard protection requires rare resources, making shielding shards useful again. Storms can be deadly. Hazard protection and suit upgrades have been added. Liquids are often more dangerous
Graphical effects – Lighting and texture resolution have been improved. Shadow quality has doubled. Temporal AA didn’t make it in time, but it’s so close
Balancing – several hundred upgrades have had stat changes (mainly exo-suit and ship, but also weapon), new upgrades have been added.
Combat – Auto Aim and weapon aim has been completely rewritten to feel more gentle in general, but stickier when you need it. Sentinels now alert each other, if they haven’t been dealt with quickly. Quad and Walker AI is now much more challenging, even I struggle with them without a powered up weapon.
Space Combat – advanced techniques have been introduced, like brake drifting and critical hits. Bounty missions and larger battles now occur. Pirate frequency has been increased, as well as difficulty depending on your cargo.
Exploits – infinite warp cell exploit and rare goods trading exploit among other removed. People using these cheats were ruining the game for themselves, but people are weird and can’t stop themselves ¯\_(シ)_/¯
Stability – foundations for buildings on super large planets. Resolved several low repro crashes, in particular when player warped further than 256 light years in one session (was only possible due to warp cell exploit above).
Space Stations – interiors are now more varied, bars, trade rooms and hydroponic labs have been added
Networking – Ability to scan star systems other players have discovered on the Galactic Map, increasing the chance of collision. Star systems discovered by other players appear during Galactic Map flight
Ship scanning – scanning for points of interest from your ship is now possible. Buildings generate earlier and show up in ship scans
Flying over terrain – pop-in and shadow artefacts have been reduced. Generation speed has been increased two fold (planets with large bodies of water will be targeted in next update)
Writing – The Atlas path has been rewritten by James Swallow (writer on Deus Ex) and me. I think it speaks to the over-arching theme of player freedom more clearly now. Early mission text has been rewritten to allow for multiple endings.
No Man's Sky released on August 9 for PlayStation 4 owners and will be releasing on August 12 on Steam and for Windows. It is available for $60.