Review: No Man's Sky (NEXT - PC)



No Man's Sky. Chances are just reading that brings up some sort of emotion within you. For what it's worth, I completely agreed with Chris' original review of the game. It was a good game that became all too transparent with its systems. I still put dozens of hours into the original version and enjoyed most of it.

Eventually, I stopped playing. I thought about returning when some major patches hit but still held off. It wasn't until the free NEXT update that I felt the draw to give it another go. I mean, how could you not when multiplayer is added? A lot of the core elements of the game remain the same, but otherwise, the experience is almost unrecognizable for the better.

No Man's Sky NEXT review

No Man's Sky: NEXT (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows [reviewed])
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games
Released: July 24, 2018 (NEXT update)
MSRP: $59.99 (base game, NEXT update is free)

The No Man's Sky that people are playing now is incredibly different than the game at launch. So much content has been added in addition to structural changes to planet generation and actual multiplayer. If you gave up on the game initially, you owe it to yourself to at least take another look. The core gameplay loop is the same, yet improved, so if that never appealed to you, NEXT will not change that.

Multiplayer is something that has been on many people's wishlists since release. There was a stopgap implemented during one of the updates, showing other players as floating orbs, but it fell far from being "multiplayer." Now, you can play with up to three people in multiplayer. No floating orbs, no lack of interactions, straight up multiplayer. Well, strangers still show up as floating orbs, but anyone who has joined you will show up as their now-customizable avatar.

Not everything works so perfectly, though. While the other members of your "lobby" show up on your compass, it's wrong about half the time. Sometimes it's stuck on their (stationary) ship, other times it seems to show them as a waypoint; it's very unreliable. Storms are also client-side, which can be frustrating. One player might be relegated inside because they're experiencing an extreme storm, while someone else in the same spot is just fine. Other than these issues, things work as you would expect. You can mine together, fly together (not in the same ship, sadly), fly separately, anything your little space heart desires.

Bases have been added since the initial release, and they add an entirely new and exciting layer to No Man's Sky. With bases, players can have a "home planet" or two and be able to teleport there whenever they wish. Working on a base together with friends brings back memories of Terraria or Minecraft, especially considering the resource-heavy aspect of all three games.

Freighters are a new feature since 1.0, which act as extra inventory space, an extra base, and can even go out on their own missions. Luckily, the tutorial system has also been overhauled to introduce players to all of this at a comfortable pace. Some things are still too obtuse, but at least there are enough resources on the world wide web to help out at this point.

The biggest issue with No Man's Sky is the same biggest issue that it had when it launched. The user interface (UI) is unfathomably horrible, at least on PC. Sometimes, I need to click and hold to do something, other times it's just a click. The X key is often used to select an item, but so is the E key -- it just depends on what I'm interacting with. If I've played the game for dozens of hours, I shouldn't still be confused as to what button to push almost every time. 

Oh, and then there's the object-placing and "quick" UI. Seriously, did anyone ever try and test this? Pressing the X or Z key, then using Q and E to move the menu left and right, followed by F to select and Right Mouse to go back is just, AUGH! There's an option to quickly refuel your tools, but it's honestly faster for me to bring up the actual menu and do it from there. 

No Man's Sky NEXT review

Another frustration falls to the glitches. Other than crashing, which has happened to my co-op buddies more than myself, some things just...don't work. Player-set waypoints disappear constantly, making it impossible to return to areas of interest. I've been randomly teleported into space upon receiving a mission, instantly killing me. Objects and NPC lines often become lines of code instead of actual text. While these don't amount to unacceptable issues (crashes aside), they can often add on to the frustration left behind by constantly interacting with the awful UI. (SERIOUSLY HOW HAVE THEY NOT ADDRESSED THIS IN TWO YEARS.)

I would be remiss to mention that there have been a lot of quality-of-life improvements made to improve the overall experience. Knowing where and when to "land" your ship on outposts is a huge improvement. Nanites no longer take up inventory space, and inventory space, in general, is much easier to come by. There is a ton more structure to the game's pacing -- so much so that I was taken aback at all the things to, well, do

It can be hard to explain just how exciting it can be to explore space. Something unique or noteworthy takes place every time I play, and each play session seems to end up going longer and longer. Yes, you start to recognize flora and fauna that are very same-y, but it only takes one gigantic beast or set of underground ruins to turn a planet from "meh" to "holy moly." And the best part is now you can actually show things off to your friends. What used to be "check out this screenshot!" is now "come join me on this planet!" 

No Man's Sky NEXT review

With missions of various types, multiple story paths, and just so much procedurally generated points of interest, I've never been so excited to explore the universe. Despite all my frustrations with glitches and the UI, I am constantly excited to jump back in and explore new worlds. This is and has always been a game of exploration and adventure. NEXT takes this to a whole new level, and even lets you enjoy it with friends.

Despite all of my qualms, everything seems to fade away each time I warp to a new system or enter an uncharted planet's atmosphere. If you felt the original No Man's Sky had promising ideas but ultimately let you down, NEXT is the perfect time to jump back in. No Man's Sky and its NEXT expansion prove that there is equal parts excitement, dread, and anxiety in exploring the unknowns of space.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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No Man's Sky (NEXT) reviewed by Patrick Hancock



Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide


Patrick Hancock
Patrick HancockContributor   gamer profile

During the day, he teaches high school kids about history. At night he kicks their butts in competitive games like Rocket League, Dota 2, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike. Disclosure: I've persona... more + disclosures



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