With the latest update to No Man’s Sky, called “Path Finder”, arriving recently (and patched) I decided to spend the last few days giving the game another shot to see if the changes continue to show Hello Games’ commitment to giving people the game many had wanted from the beginning. Impressions so far are they might just be heading in the right direction.
Though the “Foundation” update was billed as the one that would set the tone for the future of No Man’s Sky I believe that this one far exceeds that for the simple fact it really begins to make it feel more like a game (to me) rather than a set of loosely connected gameplay systems.
Adding class specifications to ship’s and multitools brings a loot element that has potential in making it worthwhile for players to search further than before. Purchasable upgrade blueprints also gives players means to customise their character without relying solely on lucky finds or trades. I think there is still scope for improvement here… it’d be nice if journey milestones offered their own rewards, almost like XP levelling up. For example, getting a little endurance boost for all that running around might convince players to do more of it.
The other big feature in this update is the inclusion of land vehicles, known as exocraft. Before you can even begin you do need to build a new terminal in your base and recruit a technician but depending on how far you’ve progressed with base building from the “Foundation” update it may not be a lot of work.
There are three types that you’ll eventually end up with: a solid all rounder, a light and fast machine and finally a massive behemoth for the ultimate in mining and transport. The all rounder is the one you begin with and if you’re playing with a controller it handles similarly to Halo‘s Warthog, so soon enough you’ll be smashing your way over the planet quickly and easily. It may not be as fast as flying but it does save you from burning through fuel quickly and with upgraded scanners on an exocraft you can find locations much more easily.
I’ve had a fair amount of fun driving around my base and venturing out further to find resources. Walking was always a pain and so slow I actively avoided it but the exocraft make it much easier to get around. By improving a player’s ability to get resources on a planet, the building and crafting systems become a lot less frustrating. Soon enough I had begun to build up a much more interesting base. I haven’t touched on the new ability to share bases and create race tracks (time trials only) for other players – I hope it means at some stage multiplayer will happen.
The visual improvements made to the game in this update are substantial and sometimes just plain impressive to see for yourself. Some have criticised the changes for making it lose some that 70’s sci-fi art style it had in abundance but I think that is being a little harsh. What it does do is add a pile more detail that I think really leads to some spectacular images. Performance isn’t too bad for me at 4K but it does seem like the extra graphical shine has slowed things down a little.
The new camera mode is just perfect for showing off the how great things can look too and I’m sure to be spending a lot of time taking snapshots. A few of them are scattered through here as examples.
I still have some gripes though. Early on I was still having troubles just getting the resources I needed to build a base to support an exocraft. Much like how the beginning of the game could screw you if you are stuck on a planet lacking the stuff you need to repair your ship the very same can happen with base building. So I’ve spent a lot of time scouring other systems to find a single resource I need and that still sucks.
Being spoiled by Elite Dangerous also makes me wish your ship could deploy exocraft. As it stands, all exocraft appear to be confined to the planet your base resides on.
I’m really glad to see these changes being made to No Man’s Sky. My time with it this time around has been far better an experience than I had before and it finally feels like I’m accomplishing things. There’s still more to do but I really like where the developers are taking us.
No Man’s Sky is out now for PC and PlayStation 4.