No Man's Sky 1.1: The Foundation Update. A massive update to No Man’s Sky, after several months of radio silence from developer Hello Games. Philippa Warr, Rock Paper Shotgun:

No Man’s Sky’s [official site] Foundation update was released over the weekend bringing base-building, different game modes, farming, freighters (kind of mobile resource warehouses), new resources, UI tweaks and so on. It’s a massive update, both in terms of what it brings and also in the sense that it feels like it changes the nature of the game.

And here’s Kirk Hamilton, writing for Kotaku:

It makes me hopeful about the future of No Man’s Sky, given that Hello Games describes it as “the first of many free updates.” My sense after a few hours is that while it adds depth and allows players to anchor their game with a new degree of permanence, the Foundation Update will ultimately fall short of remedying the broad, shallow aimlessness that left so many cold back when No Man’s Sky came out.

I also sense that that this game’s overarching lack of focus couldn’t have been addressed or “fixed” by any one addition or patch. If this update is anything to go by, No Man’s Sky may gradually become fortified over time as Hello Games adds more systems, features, and modes. It’s a confident step forward.

Not mad, disappointed. That’s how I tried to describe No Man’s Sky in my review and subsequent commentary. Based on its launch and lack of, well, game, I was relatively sure that No Man’s Sky would fade into the night.

For now, it appears I might have been shortsighted. This update is huge (see the patch notes) and appears to address some of the concerns I had with the original gameplay. Base building and resource farming adds variety to the previous formulaic universe, and the ability to quickly revisit old planets makes exploring less lackluster.

The patch also seems to have reinvigorated the player base. Steam Charts, a site that monitors player numbers of PC-based game platform Steam, is reporting a jump in active players over the past few days, taking active user count from 500 to more than 6,000. This is still a far cry from the 36,000 average players in August, and 200,000 after launch, but the spike is impressive.

I don’t think going completely silent for three months was the best PR approach, but there’s something to be said for screwing hype and choosing to under promise and over deliver.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

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