It has now been a little over a year since Hello Games released the polarizing (and many would say disappointing) No Man’s Sky. Even after drawing the backing of Sony and taking centre stage at E3, the game flopped, and it flopped hard. Fans turned their backs and many digital stores were forced to adopt interim refund schemes for the game.
Yet Hello Games kept to their word of free expansion updates and have recently released update 1.3, titled “Atlas Rises,” on the first anniversary of No Man’s Sky. But is it too little too late?
What Is “Atlas Rises”?
“Atlas Rises” is the third major update to No Man’s Sky. Previous large-scale updates, known as “Foundation” and “Pathfinder“, focused on the introduction of home bases and planetary vehicles. “Atlas Rises” focuses mainly on expanding the previously scarce lore and backstory. Economic and weapon systems have been added and upgraded with new mechanics and interfaces. Without changing the underlying design of their universe, Hello Games has made No Man’s Sky feel almost like a new game.
There are too many small edits to No Man’s Sky to list comfortably, but there are enough new significant entries to sink at least two pairs of teeth into. First and foremost is the new quest. Based on the Travelers, it offers a glimpse into the purpose of the player and their race in the game’s greater universe. Despite getting to meet two others of your race here, there is no certainty that either appearance will be the same in future multiplayer versions.
Then there are the new interfaces. Before the update, the galaxy map was simplistic and underwhelming. It displayed each solar system as a single dot of light and did little to make the player feel part of the experience. With “Atlas Rises,” the map now shows each planet in a selected solar system orbiting the central star, lists the dominant life forms, and even gives the option to identify life forms, economies, and conflicts.
Ships have also been upgraded to include crash freighters and S-Class ships. Both are rarities within the universe but welcome news to treasure hunters. In addition to the ships, weapons have been upgraded and new ones added.
Missions and Guilds
Missions also provide a new direction for No Man’s Sky. Until the “Atlas Rises” update, the only missions available were those given by the Atlas and terminal experts. Both were dreadfully repetitive and offered little in the way of excitement. The latest update includes guilds and mission dealers, which can be found at all space stations.
Criteria for accepting missions and rising through the guilds are varied and wide. Merchants like a player who farms and earns units whilst the mercenary guilds look for players who have destroyed sentinels and pirate ships. More detail has also been added to the Traveler’s standings with the alien races.
And then you have the portals. If you have seen Stargate, skip to the next entry. If you haven’t, check out this groovy feature. No Man’s Sky now has portals which let you enter specific coordinates and warp there in seconds. “But what about warp drive?” I hear you cry. Well, that only gets you a few systems ahead. Portals take you a lot further, a lot quicker. Just use the dial home device to get back to Stargate Command — I mean “home base” — and continue your exploration of the galaxy.
As with all updates, there come a few bugs. But when Hello Games “rebooted the universe,” it had the unfortunate side-effect of resetting planets. And that has caused a major problem within the community.
The Galactic Hub was a project that several thousand players created to live and work together within a single system. Hundreds of hours of work was erased in the blink of an eye. Many of the Galactic Hub veterans, including founder UniDestiny, scouted out a new set of systems to settle down in. Hundreds of players have left messages at the appropriately named “Legacy Hub” and departed for their new homes.
Check out this video to see some of the messages and how the current multiplayer appears.
Other players have also reported finding Atlas Entities who have no dialogue and become stuck in the questline.
Despite these setbacks, Hello Games has worked hard to iron out any problems and will doubtless continue to work on expanding and perfecting their game.
The Final Verdict
So now we reach the question once again: Is No Man’s Sky finally worth buying? Honestly, all I can say at this point is: maybe.
No Man’s Sky is like Minecraft but without the joy of an Ender Dragon challenge waiting for you. Players tend to be drawn into the same loops over and over again. Even as a game of exploration over action, the constant trudging to find minerals and identify animals can become boring.
Whilst this is not the game to pre-order and drool over, the “Atlas Rises” update has made it a good game and worth the price it has lowered to over the past year. Hopefully, we can expect another amazing update to push it from a “maybe” to a “yes.”