With just weeks to go before the second anniversary of No Man’s Sky, developer Hello Games has just rolled out the largest and most important patch for the game to date. While many video game patches feature new maps or balance changes, NEXT is a near-total revamp of No Man’s Sky, with full-fledged multiplayer, the ability to build bases virtually anywhere on any planet, and a graphical overhaul that will make the entire galaxy look better.
But those are just the broad strokes, and don’t do justice to just how massive No Man’s Sky version 1.5 really is. You can read the full patch notes here on the No Man’s Sky website, but we want to highlight ten of the most fascinating changes that have us desperate to jump back in after all these months.
1. Third person camera for walking, jetpacking, swimming and in-ship flight: You can now play the entire game in third-person, which means you can actually see your character for the first time. This opens the door to all kinds of new customization options, which are necessary now that multiplayer has been added.
2. Completely overhauled tutorial: I plan on starting No Man’s Sky from scratch when I jump back in this week. It has been far too long since I played it for me to feel any connection to my old character or ship, so I’m glad to know that I won’t be repeating the same tutorial I completed nearly two years ago again.
3. Bases can be built anywhere: While No Man’s Sky was never meant to be a Minecraft clone, the restrictions on building made it feel a bit archaic by comparison to the popular Mojang game. By allowing players to build wherever they want, Hello Games has turned every planet in the galaxy into a playground for builders.
4. Joint base building: I can’t see myself ever spending hours on end building the perfect space base on my own, but the idea of putting together a base with a friend is incredibly appealing now that multiplayer has arrived.
5. Frigate fleets feature, including missions, upgrade system, system combat and exploration assistance: My number one complaint when No Man’s Sky launched in 2016 was that there simply wasn’t enough to do. There were almost literally an infinite amount of things to see, but you pretty much did the same thing on every planet. The more systems like these that Hello Games introduces, the more likely I am to stick around.
6. Points of interest can be tagged from analysis visor: This is a smaller feature than many of the others I have focused on, but much like the points of interest system in Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed, it’s nice to have a game nudge you in one direction or another sometimes, even if it is supposed to be a big sandbox.
7. Improved fog and increased draw distance: No Man’s Sky’s art design has always been a strength, but the actual graphics were never anything to write home about. With increased draw distance, an all-new terrain generation system, improved particle effects, improved rendering, variation on tree sizes, better storm visuals, and better textures on ships, NPCs, and buildings, No Man’s Sky might finally look more like a modern video game.
8. New space station marketplace: Admittedly, I won’t know exactly how this marketplace functions until I get my hands on the update, but the game desperately needs to feel more alive, and a marketplace could help.
9. Player movement is more dynamic: For a game where you spend a majority of your time running and jumping around planets, the characters in No Man’s Sky were never all that much fun to control. They were serviceable, but the sheer act of traversal was never the game’s strongest suit. Any attempts to change or fix this will certainly be welcomed by countless players, myself included. Plus, you can slide down cliffs now.
10. Ship weapons can be used against ground targets: Finally. This one’s a no-brainer.
These are ten of the bullet points that caught our eye, but there are dozens and dozens of changes worth checking out in the full patch notes. There are also plenty of minor alterations that don’t even appear in the notes, so you’ll have to actually play the game (or check around the internet) to see all of the other surprises that Hello Games sneaked in to NEXT. With any luck, this will be what No Man’s Sky needs to make a full recovery.