No Man's Sky received its first significant update since the game's release last August. The update is the first the public has officially heard from Hello Games since the alleged "No Man's Sky was a mistake" hack.
Back in October, a tweet was posted on the Hello Games official Twitter account stating, "No Man's Sky was a mistake."
The tweet was quickly removed, but the whole matter sunk into a morass of confusion as news came out that co-founder of Hello Games, Sean Murray, was the originator of the tweet. In emails sent to Polygon and Forbes, Sean admitted that he was the one who posted the tweet, but that another staffer took it down. Then later Murray claimed it was not him, but that they had been hacked. He also claimed he did not send the emails.The official story was that he had been hacked through his LinkedIn account due to him not using two-factor authentication. However, many in the media were skeptical of the official narrative. It did not seem logical that a hacker could get access to both Murray's email and Hello Games' Twitter accounts through Sean's LinkedIn account. Forbes appeared to believe that perhaps it was Murray who had posted the tweet in frustration and the whole hacking story was "damage control."
"Is Murray now claiming that the email sent to myself and other journalists claiming this was all a disgruntled employee's doing part of this apparent hack? Or is this merely damage control?"Regardless of whether or not the hack was real or just a story to minimize further damage to an already beleaguered game, the developers went back to work on No Man's Sky, and the product of that work was released on Sunday.
This No Man's Sky update is not just a patch. The update adds all new features. One of the biggest complaints the title has received was that the game is not all that Sean Murray said it would be, that it was missing promised features. Murray and team claimed that it was because they were pressured by Sony to release the game and did not get time to add everything that they had planned. Since the title's poor reception, Hello Games has been working on improving it.
They are calling it the "Foundation Update," and even released a video describing some of the features it contains.The "Foundation Update" adds two new gameplay modes, Survival and Creative. Survival increases the difficulty of the game making resources rare and enemies more aggressive. While some may appreciate the increased difficulty, the main complaint is that the game is boring without much to do.
The Creative mode in No Man's Sky seems to be addressing that core complaint. This feature will give players unlimited heath and resources so that they can build structures unhindered. Player's will be able to create bases on planets and even add onto existing buildings.
Construction seems to follow a Minecraft-like example. For instance, to create a hallway players highlight a portion of a wall where they want the corridor to begin. With a single click, a block is removed from the wall and replaced with the start of a tunnel. Continue clicking to add length to the hall, or change its dimensions by knocking out blocks to the sides to widen it or the ceiling and floor to adjust its depth. The controls seem intuitive and complex structures should be possible to build relatively quickly.
The "Foundation Update" does not limit construction to terrestrial structures. Freighters, which are also a new addition to the game, can be customized in the same manner as bases. Freighters also allow players to transport large quantities of goods to other systems where they can trade them for a profit. This addition makes the trading aspect of the game much more viable. The initially limited inventories hampered trading in No Man's Sky, but with the addition of freighters and stackable inventory items, these limitations have been lifted.
Mining of resources is less of a chore now as well. The update has added tools that automatically mine resources without being attended. Presumably, players can still blow away rocks and such to gain resources, but why should they when they can just build a mining unit?
Another gripe was that after visiting several planets, players found them to be unappealing and somewhat repetitive. Overcoming such criticism is not easy since the whole galaxy is procedurally generated. Base construction can at least add a bit of uniqueness to planets, but since it is user created, it does not alleviate the feeling that Planet A is no different than Planet B.
In a more substantial attempt to address this problem, the developers tweaked No Man's Sky's terrain creation algorithm so that it can create "more aesthetically interesting planets." Whether this will be enough to give each world a uniqueness that can be seen and felt is still in question. It will take time for explorers to report back on this adjustment.
Continuing on the "things-to-do" theme, the "Foundation Update" adds plants that actually grow, which in turn adds the possibility of farming crops. Additionally, the developers have added the ability to recruit aliens to help run player-created bases and farms. Each alien has a specialty such as farming, weapons, science, and engineering. Presumably hiring the right alien for the job will give the player a bonus in production or defense.The rest of the features in the No Man's Sky "Foundation Update" are more technical in nature than they are content-adding. The development team has added the ability to teleport between home planet and space station. Freighters can be summoned from anywhere in the galaxy. Players will not need to fly their cargo to the next planet they plan to strip of its raw materials. They have also added planets that are devoid of life and resources. In conjunction with this, players now have the ability scan planets from space to determine if it is even worth the time to land and set up camp. The update is rounded off with some minor graphical improvements including antialiasing and motion blur.
Altogether the No Man's Sky "Foundation Update" seems solid. It appears that the team is genuinely attempting to add value to the game. Furthermore, they promise that this is just the first update of many to come. Whether it will be enough to generate new interest or bring former players back to a game that flopped on release remains to be seen. If No Man's Sky does manage to make a comeback, it will be a first in gaming history.
If you have already bought the game, try out the new features and let us know what you think in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Hello Games]