No Man's Sky NEXT

No Man’s Sky NEXT: Come on down to Stan’s Garbage Space Ranch

On returning to a game, crafting, space flight, and aspiring to be a space farmer.

Two years ago I spent a considerable amount of time playing No Man’s Sky. I even wrote a review about it! Despite its shortcomings, my opinions of the game were generally positive. However, I felt pretty done with its vast, beautiful vistas after spending dozens of hours with it and reaching the galactic center. So I left. That is until Hello Games launched the game’s latest update, No Man’s Sky NEXT.

With Hello Games’ latest update, No Man ‘s Sky NEXT I’m back again to see what’s changed, all the while peddling my space trash to any alien foolish enough to part with their money. Oh, and I built a garbage space ranch.

No Man's Sky

Come on down!

No Man’s Sky in 2018 is a wholly different beast compared to the first time I voyaged across its 18 quintillion planets. In fact, I even deleted my original save file because, at the time, I was pretty sure I would never return to it (like, delete your save file and trade your game in done). So I was surprised when I felt the urge to pick the game up a second time and soon found myself lost in the stars all over again.

Starting off, aside from the new third-person perspective, it seemed similar to my first time with the game: I regained consciousness from the wreckage of my crashed starcraft with no idea where I was, how I got there, or why (to my knowledge you never learn the why). To top it off, the entire planet was a heat hazard. I hardly had my bearings before I was racing to find my ship and figuring out how to escape its atmosphere before frying to death. The similarities ended with these broad themes and diverged in the minutiae of achieving them.

No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky new third-person view is a welcome addition to anyone who likes to take breathtaking photos of their space person (just don’t die of radiation poisoning in the process).

This time around there is an added level of complexity to the game’s starting situation. New menus, new tools, new materials to gather. It felt a little overwhelming, not unlike the first time I booted it up in 2016. I was familiar with the set up–gather resources to repair the multi-tool, then the ship and then, later, gathering new materials to craft a hyperdrive. This time, however, I found myself building portable technology to take on tasks like refine materials in order to make craft things to, again, craft more things. It was dizzying, to say the least.

I would often gather a ton of ferrite by mining rocks, for example, only to find out I needed to refine that into pure ferrite. Later I had to refine that pure ferrite into magnetized ferrite for another component I needed to craft. Often, I would be in the middle of constructing something only to completely forget why I was even doing it (“I’m sorry, why am I stuffing fistfuls of copper into this machine again?”).

This resulted in me diving back into the menus, and trying to retrieve my train of thought from where I lost it. All of this inevitably feeds into the cyclical hum of the game’s creative loop: find the next thing, craft the next object, then move on to the next planet better equipped, (hopefully) richer, and with a general idea of what your plans are. Fickle plans that fall apart once something else comes over the horizon to distract you, but plans nonetheless.

No Man's Sky

I paid them 10 credits to learn that.

That’s not a bad thing. I came back to No Man’s Sky to get lost in the game’s hum. I needed a meditative “break” game to wind down from work, grad school and the other demands of waking life. For that reason, No Man’s Sky is fantastic in how it enables you to get lose track for a few hours–especially now that the game gives you the option to change your character’s race and appearance. I spent a lot of time mulling over which color pallet is perfect for my TV-faced, space rogue robot-person.

One of my favorite additions is the almost Minecraft/Fallout 4-esque inclusion of base building. Now, I’m not sure if this is a NEXT update or one of the other myriad updates Hello Games launched since the original release of No Man’s Sky–all I know is that it’s real fun.

I landed on a planet named Otis IV in pursuit of an early game story mission (which was the tutorial for said base building). From a distance the planet was beautiful–covered in bodies of water and rust-colored land–I thought it would be a neat little garden world. Of course, it wouldn’t be No Man’s Sky if that beautiful planet wasn’t also dangerously radioactive. Perfect place to build a house!

The waypoint lead me to a little crash site and prompted me to start gathering materials to build a litany of tech, a base computer, and more. All this so I could put up walls in my new home. This was simple enough (for No Man’s Sky matryoshka doll crafting system, anyway). Pretty soon I had my little hovel up just in time to brave a massive radioactive storm that hit the area. I was safe, and my roots on Otis IV were planted.

Now that I’m settled on this radioactive dustball of a planet, my next project is to gain enough credits to buy the microprocessors I need to craft a hyperdrive and leave it all behind. Sure, I could just circumvent this whole endeavor and unlock the bonus ship made available to me for buying the game on launch, but where’s the fun in that? No, instead I installed a flora containment tool to let me farm on my homestead. Yep, suddenly I’m a goddamn spacer farmer now. I even changed the name of my base to reflect this–from Stan’s Garbage Space House to Stan’s Garbage Space Ranch.

 

No Man's Sky

PLEASE VISIT, I AM LONELY.

So if you’re ever in the galactic neighborhood of Otis IV come on down to Stan’s Garbage Space Ranch. I grow only the finest selection of *checks* one alien plant. I’m serious–please visit me! I haven’t had the opportunity to try multiplayer out yet and I’m just dying to. Don’t worry, I plan on sticking around for a while.

Posted by Stan Guderski