Quick lowdown on the history of No Man’s Sky – back in 2016, No Man’s Sky, a procedurally generated space exploration game launched on PC and PS4. To say the game had been hyped would be an understatement. It had been doing the rounds at press events since 2014. It was a small indie game from a team of 16 people in England, headed by all round soft voiced guy Sean Murray. What made it new and special was the promise of complete freedom – an entire universe where you could fly anywhere, name planets, meet other players as you worked to get to the centre of the universe. It sounded great and it sounded better every time Sean Murray, as the front and centre pressman, described it. The trailer showed exotic worlds with enormous beasts roaming, space combat, factions and endless entertainment.
Then it launched.
Now, to be clear, it wasn’t a bad game. It was an often beautiful, solitary survival style game where the player made their own choices in a lonely universe. Some people loved it. However, the issue was that it didn’t deliver on a lot of promises. A reddit user (it’s always a reddit user isn’t it), listed out all the pre-launch press features that had been discussed and what was missing. It was a long list. A darn long list.
This tapped into a long festering issue in the gaming industry – namely, bullshots and promises not made reality. This wasn’t new but in this social media age we had a nice chap telling and showing features that didn’t make it in to the game for launch. The backlash was epic and it has gone down as one of those industry scandals that will feature in top ten youtube lists for years to come.
It got nasty, and of course, over the top. Death threats to the developers, Hello Games, and Sean Murray in particular and general anger. The game sold well at launch but, many argued, this was because of the promises and not the end product. However, at the end of the day, there was a real issue that many, myself included, felt strongly about. The hype about the game was not representative of the end product that was launched and this wasn’t made clear to purchasers. It angered me at the time, and it still does.
Yet the game still exists and, more than that, Hello Games have spent two years producing free content updates to make the game what was promised. Now, with the ‘Next’ update launched this last week, alongside an XBOX1 release, many feel the game has delivered on a lot of its promises. More narrative structure, a third person mode, base building, better graphics, better NPS’s and real multiplayer.
I had always been intrigued by the game but the actual product didn’t seem that compelling. Until now that is. Now I have seen the end product, I’ve decided to leap in. The game is on sale on the playstation store and I have decided to give it a go. That said, I had to think about it. I was completely one of those naysayers in 2016 who has annoyed people had been duped. So has my anger gone? No, that was still wrong. However, Hello Games could have taken the money and run, disbanded or rebranded. They could have moved on and left the players. Instead, they have knuckled down and made the game better. They haven’t charged more, they’ve just invested the money they made back into the game. Has that ever happened before, to this extent? No. So in my mind, anger with the initial release is fine but I respect that No Man’s Sky today is a different game from 2016 and it has reached a point where I can now judge the game for what it is right now. Hello Games have worked hard to redeem themselves and the gaming community should forgive to show other developers that redemption is possible.
So, wish me luck as I jet off into the Universe.
Though, given the heat wave going on at the moment, it sounds more like my PS4 is going to take off first.