The NEXT big thing?

When Sean Murray announced the latest No Man’s Sky update, entitled NEXT, earlier this year the biggest headline was that the game was finally getting a multiplayer mode; something that he alluded to before the game launched in 2016 and its exclusion was one of the many things people were angry over when the game released. Fast forward two years and update 1.5 has landed adding to it a host of new features and with it coming to the Xbox for the first time.

I spent a huge amount of time playing the game when it originally launched, even making it to the centre of the universe. But boy, how times have changed. What was once an enjoyable but basic sandbox universe is now something far more complex, and coming back to it over one year on has been a greater challenge than I expected. For one thing, the crafting element has been deepened. You can mine elements to craft items as you always could, but you now have the ability to refine those elements to create even more. There are also more options for structure building (something that was introduced in an earlier update), allowing for more complex buildings with more facilities. Also, many of the blueprints have been enhanced or changed completely, meaning that most of the knowledge I retained from previous playing is now worthless. It is a lot to take in, even for someone experienced with the original game. Admittedly the game does have a more structured beginning than before, with a task based tutorial to give you the lay of the land, but this is in no way intuitive and your success with many of the tasks is dependent on the random planet the game starts you on.

MSRP: $19.99 – $49.99
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Price Id’ Pay: $29.99

I had to start a new game three times over before I was able to start and make some progress on making my ship flight worthy. A frustration any new player could do without, and something that should have been factored in when making this update. The game is also a little obtuse with how it informs the player of the systems and mechanics. For example, the game automatically starts you off in the new 3rd person mode, which is a nice addition, but I prefer the original FPS viewpoint. But there are no hints or tutorials on how to swap back to FPS so I had to Google it. You are doing something wrong when people playing your game have to Google stuff five minutes in. Whilst I am being negative on the game, I may as well mention that the Sentinels can go and do one. I understand that when playing the game in Normal mode there must be danger and threats to engage the player and to create action and drama. But the fact that the Sentinels attack for the simple act of mining is dumb. Mining is a core part of this game and by allowing the Sentinels to class it as a hostile action means the game is penalizing the player for using a core mechanic.

Hello Games may have added a lot to this game over the years, but still haven’t fixed this simple problem. Inventory space is another problem that hasn’t gone away. In fact it is made worse with the update as there are more things to mine and new tools that take up slots. It is worth bearing in mind that on every space station there is always an alien that is selling one extra inventory slots, so take advantage of this.

But the biggest addition is the multiplayer mode. Not the sort of multiplayer one would see in Call of Duty or Battlefield, and the universe is so vast that players are not likely to bump into another by chance. It is a mode that allows one to party up with friends or join a random person’s adventure. It is worth noting that random players can actually join people’s games if they do not turn it off in the settings. I say this, as players can actually join the game and grief people if they so please. The multiplayer may not sound big and exciting, but the addition of co-op is massive and to be able to enjoy the game with friends is a real boon. One that is long overdue in many people’s eyes.

As before No Man’s Sky is a game that I enjoyed the most when I was moving under my own steam, plodding along as a leisurely place. The NEXT update brings a lot of great new features to the game and as a result it now feels more complete than it ever has. It is also the perfect time to release the game on Xbox to a new audience that may not have yet had the chance to play it. Sure, there is still a lot of fine tuning that needs to happen and I may still have the odd bone to pick, but this update proves that Hello Games are 100% committed to making No Man’s Sky the best game they possibly can. The only real issue is the disparity between the platforms when it comes to the price of the game.

All three versions are identical as the NEXT update is free to all owners of the game. Yet the game can cost up to $30 less on PS4 or PC against the Xbox One version, simply because the game is two years old on those platforms. It seems unfair to tax Xbox players just because the game is new on that platform.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Deep survival and exploration mechanics
  • Almost limitless planets to explore
  • Now with multiplayer
  • Play at your own pace
  • A bit vague
  • The Sentinels
  • Some annoying glitches
Written by
News Editor/Reviewer, he also lends his distinct British tones to the N4G Radio Podcast. When not at his PC, he can be found either playing something with the word LEGO in it, or TROPICO!!!