No Man’s Sky sure has seen its highs and lows. At first Hello Games built up a massive hype around their showpiece, only to have it come crashing down hard after the game’s worldwide release past August. Ratings were low, promises of features being in the game weren’t met and the indie game-designer studio went silent for a few months straight. And just when the uproar was at its highest, there it was: The Foundation Update. So what does the future hold? I have my take on it.
That same silence I mentioned earlier has held us at The Galactic Observer in a bit of a pickle. We weren’t really able to pump out quality content, when all we were given was nothing. No new information, no hints, not even a tweet from an employee of either Sony or Hello Games, let alone something from Sean Murray, who was relentlessly spitting out tweets and interviews pre-launch and then seemingly went to the Bahamas for a few months and left his phone and laptop at home. So we didn’t post anything really, for the same length of time. Until the update came, of course. So where does No Man’s Sky stand when we make up the balance at the end of 2016? Is the game still alive? Is the future looking bright and shiny? Or is it simply too late and has Hello Games’ strategy to keep their mouths shut for so long kicked them in their baby-makers? Let’s take a look at the game pre update and the game post 1.1, shall we?
Ratings have gone up
I can’t help but think of the game in comparison with its community surrounding it. I can surely put myself next to the angry, disgruntled people who have followed the game devotedly for years, only to be left in the dark when the game went live. Heck, I was probably one of the most disappointed people out there! I stopped playing the game about a week after release. Sure, it was somewhat fun, I will be the last to deny that fact, but it got repetitive fast and couldn’t grasp me as I wish it would. Then 1.1 got released a few weeks back and here I find myself suddenly and actively playing the game for a few consecutive weeks now and I am having a blast! To top things off: Steam’s reviews and ratings have become way more positive, from having a relentless ‘largely negative’ status, to a mediocre ‘divided’ as of today. Most voiced reviews the past few weeks have been mostly negative, but that’s all due to the fact that there are obviously still quite a few people not satisfied with the game’s current state and have the urge to tell others about it. The happy(er) ones are likely playing the game. Or Final Fantasy for that matter 😉
I think there is an interesting dynamic at play here: Herd behaviour. You see, opinions are contagious. Infectious even. So as soon as the game got released and people jumped on it like a flock of vultures to devour it, the community started to kick back quite rapidly right from the start. We noticed the first negative rants on Facebook only hours after initial release. And thus it began… A plethora of curse words were used to give meaning to lots of angry posts, complaints about the lack of features and so on, to the very (and sad) extent of Sean Murray receiving death threats to his address. People started replying on those posts, mostly agreeing with the poor shape of the game and by doing so, the herding began. You could’ve had quite a good experience when playing the game and have enjoyed yourself for a few hours or days. but those few reads on Facebook, Reddit or anywhere else have more than likely affected your opinion of the game and soon you start to emphasize on all the negative specifics posted and you couldn’t help but agreeing. Or could you? A few people never backed down and stayed with the game no matter what and in my opinion that’s something to commend. I applaud you, as I too was a sheep for long…
The one update to rule them all
And there it was, the Foundation Update. No-one expected it, we saw blurry snapshots of a seemingly abandoned Hello Games HQ in Guildford, UK. We never got a word from them, nor from Sony and still, there it was. We got a few brand spanking new trailers and learned that we could soon own freighters, items could stack and we could build a base and recruit aliens to work and research new shinies for us! Also the game got a few much needed graphical updates, as well as bug-fixes and some other technical improvements. We were blown away and as most of my fellow sheep, I instantly got goosebumps again and shouted Hallelujah! On top of that, more updates were promised and despite a few weeks without anything (likely due to the holidays) the game sure has set a new course due forward.
A flickering on the horizon, hints of a bright future?
With the release of the Foundation Update, 1.12 and 1.13 the British developer has proved they are capable of listening to their fans and bringing quality improvements to the game. Hence I am of a forgiving nature. I honestly believe the people over Hello Games are doing their utmost to bring us more and more content. I recognize future updates will be a bit slow and will probably remain so the few months ahead, due to the fact that there aren’t really a lot of people employed by the indie developer as of yet. I am having fun and even though I play on a shitty 4 year old PC with a shabby GeForce 460 and therefore can’t enjoy the game to its fullest, it still brings me joy each and every time I set foot on another planet.
I still wonder what happened to the hired Community Manager though…