With Atlas Rises, it’s worth returning to No Man’s Sky

Hello Games are in a deeply unenviable position. In the wake of No Man’s Sky‘s [official site] release with its waterfall of unkept promises, to me it seems the studio is trapped in the Sisyphean task of trying to tweak, patch, update and amend their game until it can meet the impossible imagined version created by the combined efforts of its developers and its players. Rather than compare this hugely embellished version of the game that greets players now with that of just over a year ago, the temptation is to compare it to the dream version we will never get.

But it’s crucial to push that aside, and accept that no, No Man’s Sky was never going to be this game of true universal exploration, of truly unique realistic planets with truly unique creatures existing in an intricate ecosystem, where we might stumble upon another player and interact, where we might see flocking dinosaurs hunted by predatory beasts as trees fall down in their wake… Instead, let’s look at what we do have now, because it’s actually rather a lot.

I played an enormous amount of No Man’s Sky last year. It was such a fascinating mess, such a relaxing experience but ultimately so pointless. I created my own goal of reaching the then-largest ship available – a 48-slot beast – and designed my play around gathering the resources and finances necessary to make that happen, without using deliberate exploits. And gosh, that took dozens and dozens of hours to do, hours I just puzzled over why I was entranced and yet so disappointed. (Never, ever more disappointed than by the non-end of the god-awful Atlas plot.) It was a contradiction that caught me for a long, long time. And as a result, when I came back to the game this week with that save, I just couldn’t play any more. I tried to pick up where I’d left off, the game offering me its new challenges and stories at that point, but there was a sense of ennui far too overpowering to get past. So, I chanced the idea of just starting against from scratch, and I’m really glad I did.

It’s worth stressing at this point that I didn’t spend a lot of time with NMS after the previous major patch that introduced base building, larger ships and combat, and so on, so a lot of what I describe as “new” here may well be a muddle of both patches. That’s going to be the case for a lot of people finally tempted to properly return with the better news surrounding this latest update, so I’m treating all the added content since most people last dug in as new. Also, I continued to play in the “relaxed” mode that was the original intended way to play.

The game begins slightly differently. You’re no longer required to spend a good long while foraging to fix your initial ship. Instead it pretty much works straight away, just limited to a few simple fetch quests before you’re able to get into the sky. However, it plots this far better, albeit with the aching sigh of your character having lost their memory. Siiiiiiigggggggghhhhhh. It quickly introduces the basics of what you need to know in a much more coherent fashion than previously, and there’s the immediate joy of discovering that both your Exosuit and ship have special inventory slots for technology now, meaning you have more space for resources.

I did, however, have a rather unfortunate false start. No Man’s Sky’s obvious primary strength and major attraction is that, despite the overbearing weight of similarities, planets are somewhat unique in their procedural generation. On this occasion though, this meant that it had started my game with my stranded ship atop a high plateau on a deeply toxic planet. It was impossible to return to my ship without a trek too far to survive the elements, and I had to quit out and start again.

The second time, however, things were much improved – navigable landscapes, slightly more breathable, and I found that I was quickly getting back into that process of gathering carbon, iron and plutonium to fix up the ship, and discovering just how much more autonomy the player has with the more smart uses of the building abilities. Building a Signal Booster from iron and plutonium, you can seek out nearby mineral resources like the now-vital heridium, or having it find you relics and the like. This is far, far better than having to stumble upon buildings with similar options inside.

The game checks with you a couple of times that you definitely want to pursue its new story, rather than just wander off on your own un-nagged. You can absolutely still wander off at any point, do whatever you like, but the somewhat erratic quest prompts will pester you a little when you do. (It seems to change which mission is selected entirely at random, which is a touch frustrating.) But once pursued, there’s now the path of trying to make contact with a mysterious signal from someone called Artemis, which sends you along a chain of quests that neatly and effectively introduce pretty much all the major elements of the game.

So you’re quickly off the planet, visiting space stations, and pursuing a path that gains you galactic travel. Then there’s quite a rapid series of planet/solar system hopping (rapid if you doggedly follow the quests – you can take as long as you like) as you discover the new holographic stations found on planet surfaces, and learn your way around the new economy of Nanite Clusters. Rather than dispensing blueprints for tech upgrades, to improve your suit, ship and weapon, from boxes scattered around the universe, now you buy them from merchants in space stations and certain buildings. So those odd little units on the walls of shipping containers that once contained the same bloody blueprint you’d already found sixteen times, now contain Nanites. As does smouldering wreckage, and it’s handed out by approving aliens, and scrounged in a few other ways. Blueprints are surprisingly pricey, and even trickier to get as you also need to improve your standing with the relevant alien race to be able to buy them. It makes upgrading your multitool a much slower process, and possibly not in a great way.

However, cor blimey you can get a better ship more easily. The starting ship has an agonisingly small 10 slots, madly forcing a bunch of the tech into the inventory slots, leaving the new tech slots empty, which means the game is still mired in the frustrations of inventory juggling, barely giving you enough space to gather the basic needs. I did a quick bit of gold mining to make a few hundred thousand units, and fluked on a 17-slot ship on a space station that was ridiculously underpriced, which helped. But the new story quite quickly leads you to a crashed ship with an enormous 27 spaces. The catch being, now wrecked ships have many of their slots locked off as damaged, fixed at an ever-growing cost. I’ve managed to unlock 22 of those slots so far, but the 23rd is going to cost me over 350,000 units, and I can only assume from the steep incline that the 27th will be in the region of a million.

Oh, and the best news of all – those ships can now properly fly near the ground! Finally you can indeed zoom through a canyon. You’ll want to be careful, because this means crashing is now also very possible, with severe damage easily achieved. The controls still don’t feel quite right, but I’m getting much more used to them and enjoying my near misses. And another huge plus is, if your ship has enough fuel to take off, you can remotely call it to your location, rather than trek all the way back to it after a long wander.

The counter to this is in-space fights seem to be much, much tougher. I’ve yet to survive a single one, usually because bad luck means when fighting invading pirates, I’ve accidentally shot an allied ship, whose forces then turn on me too.

When I tried to go back to the game after the last big patch, and indeed again with this latest, I found that base building was the aspect that put me off more than any other. NMS had always been a nomadic game for me, and the idea of putting down roots on planets that were (and still are) incredibly superficial seemed utterly ridiculous. The veneer of NMS’s magic is far too easily broken, and spending too long on any one planet quickly reveals how hollow it really is, as the same creatures and flora endlessly repeat and the exact same landmarks that appear on every planet in the universe repeat themselves ad nauseum. But via this new plot thread, the action begins to make some sense. There’s a scripted reason for its being, and scripted characters staffing it, giving you quests of their own as you go. It makes the base feel more purposeful, rather than a contradiction to the game.

That, so far, is where I am. It’s still a slowly paced game, and it’s still so very easy to get distracted by exploration or mining, which is utterly splendid. And it remains the case that the best stories are the ones that happen by mistake, rather than anything written. The Artemis plot may well go somewhere interesting, but it hasn’t been interesting yet. So far it’s served to provide a strong motivation to play through the game’s elements, introducing both old and new in an effective way – that’s a big win, but it has yet to make me actually care about they why. Meanwhile, the time I crashed my ship into a cliff and had to survive the long walk back to retrieve it, then the meticulous resource gathering to fix it, then the flight back to collect my lost things and get back into the flow, was the best story I experienced. The game is still so capable of creating those moments, and they’re still its greatest strength.

Right, let’s have some moans. It’s beyond belief irritating that at this point it still requires a complete restart to change anything in the graphics, even switching from windowed to borderless to fullscreen. Figuring out how to get it to run at a steady 60FPS is utterly painful, restarting everything for every single tweak, even though it loads significantly more quickly. And while it purports to run in 3440×1440, at this setting it seems to impose its own limit at a very unpleasant 30FPS, ignoring your own settings. Setting it to 2560×1440 immediately saw it jump to 60, so something fishy is going on there.

There are also some consoley elements that have snuck into the PC build that are annoying. A new menu pops up with X, is scrolled through with Q and E, and selected with F. Which is a fucking mess. It’s so very obviously designed to be a menu for a controller that hasn’t at all sensibly translated to keyboard, especially when – infuriatingly – some of these menu options can’t just be mapped to a direct key. Why on earth can’t I just set the button to recall my ship to something useful, rather than have to juggle this garbage menu mess?

Talking of garbage menus, good lord they’ve somehow made uploading discovered planets and flora/fauna even more annoying than it was before, with an even worse new menu (that doesn’t even allow for mouse scrolling), and still no bloody “upload all” button. Come on!

And there are, of course, many bugs. I’ve had the game get to the point where it froze for ten seconds between one second bursts of play, until I rebooted my PC. Right now something mad has happened to the mouse, the game having added bonkers acceleration to its movement mid-play, which will likely require a restart. It still feels flaky.

Trying to carry on from before, I couldn’t get back into No Man’s Sky at all. I felt like I was done, and it wasn’t for me any more. But starting afresh was the trick (my old save safely backed up), even with the minor annoyance of having to get used to a weaker multi-tool, slower movement, and less powerful jetpack. And I’m hooked again. I still don’t really care about the plot, but I do care that I’m on this trail of breadcrumbs. I can’t enormously justify why, other than it’s interesting to find out what happens next, and it’s still enormously pleasurable to just land on a planet and look around it. Just that alone is NMS’s main magic, and with a far larger range of creature types (even some that look a bit like dinosaurs!), that’s more enjoyable than ever.

I still love this enormously mad game, and it’s unquestionably far better than it was last year. So much has been fixed, so much has been added, and it’s creeping its way toward having some sense of purpose in its empty wandering. It will never be the game that was promised, but it’s something of its own right now that I think is well worth playing. My only concern would be the extraordinarily premium price.

I shall carry on to find much more of the new content, most especially terrain manipulation and portals, and report back soon.

No Man’s Sky is out now for PC for £40/$60/60€ via Steam, GOG, and Humble.

Disclosure: Our Alec once spent a bit of time writing some words for this game.

53 Comments

  1. pfooti says:

    Heh, my first crashed ship had only 21 slots. Still, 21 seems enough, especially as I have been getting the high-capacity cargo slots in my exosuit, which I guess are also new.

    I’ve only just started playing NMS – bought it during the summer sale, and I’m enjoying myself so far. My expectations aren’t all that high – I want to be able to tootle around, mining and working the economy until I can buy a nicer ship. I’m pretty pleased so far.

    • pfooti says:

      I will say that I find the quest nag popup (bottom right corner) suuuuper annoying, and if I could change one thing, it’d be that. I mean: upload all discoveries would be nice, but a checkbox to hide that popup is my number one feature right now.

  2. Drib says:

    The control issues put me off entirely. Direct key mapping in a pre-set manner that you can’t change? Obvious console-focused menu systems? No mouse scrolling? The hell?

    Also, what sounds like some weird memory leak that persists until reboot… what, is the game not closing properly too?

    It’s cute they’ve added things. Maybe they should work on making their game a stable game, too.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      Direct key mapping in a pre-set manner that you can’t change?

      I always play with my numpad for movement. As such I absolutely hate it when I can’t change my hotkeys.
      For Fallout 4 I went through the trouble of writing an AutoScript that maps my keys. But really, this should not be needed!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I really *really* want them to add an option to disable “hold to click” because that is just the worst input idea (for PC) of all time. Basically, just integrate this mod into the official game, PLEASE: link to nomansskymods.com

    Otherwise I’m liking the new stuff. Was kinda done with the game after having a decent amount of fun with it and making a ton of screenshots, but I’m thinking I will explore some more.

  4. alert says:

    nah I’m good.

  5. kwyjibo says:

    It’s quite admirable that Hello Games continued to support No Man’s Sky. The game sold so well off the hype that they’re probably all millionaires now anyway.

    • Nelyeth says:

      Don’t forget that one or two weeks after it was released, Steam allowed anyone to refund the game, regardless of play time. I don’t know how many people decided to keep it, but I bet it must have cost them the majority of those hype-induced preorders.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        It probably sold most copies on PS4 though. That’s where it was marketed most heavily.

      • Nogo says:

        That is definitely not true, valve denied it, and I believe them because I tried.

      • spec10 says:

        I wish that was true, but it’s not. It was just a myth. I spent hours discussing this with steam support. This game is still awful in many ways and still doesn’t hold what was promised and advertised initially. Objectively it might not be as bad a game as I think it is, but for me it is nothing but a huge disappointment – same alley as X-Rebirth.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      They clearly bit off more than they could chew, which is a shame and I don’t want to make excuses for that, but it was ridiculous how many people accused them of being straight-up scammers.

      • Vandelay says:

        It all seemed a bit absurd to me. I didn’t buy and still yet to buy No Man’s Sky, so maybe it does open with Sean Murray calling your mother a whore, but from what I heard it didn’t seem to deserve such vitriol.

        People built up far too much of an expectation on the game when it was pretty clear from the first trailers that it was going to be a fairly light weight exploration game. The main question everyone kept asking every time there was any news was “but what do you do?” and they seem to have decided to make up their own answers rather than just accept what was being shown was the game.

        • Vandelay says:

          Edit (because I missed the edit window when I had no signal)

          And I scroll down and see people making crooks and liars comments, as if they were robbing grannies. It is almost as if they have never encountered marketing before.

  6. NelsonMinar says:

    I’ve finished the new Artemis story quests and they’re pretty good. It’s not quite Mass Effect, but there’s some interesting writing and a nice thematic tie-in that makes the whole endeavor have some meaning.

    In general this patch is very good. It makes scanning animals a viable money-maker which greatly helps with affording upgrades. The new world generation algorithms are better. I’m enjoying it. And now that I’m done with the new quests I’m off to the Galactic Hub, a fun player-organized community that explores together. Kotaku just did a nice article about it.

  7. Rack says:

    Interesting that they’re adding so much but there were so many broken systems I’m not sure this is going to be any better. Is the flight model vaguely interesting? Is the inventory interface still a hot mess?

  8. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    Thanks. May have to try the game restart option. I’m on my second start right now (whoops) because I accidentally created a new game without realizing it overwrites the previous save… but I’m basically nowhere and I have a garbage ship.

  9. Chek says:

    Took a step back from NMS with the furor at it’s release but with the positive reviews since 1.3 and a steam sale I thought I’d give it a go.
    It’s gotta be the best 30 odd kiwi bucks I’ve spent in a while as I’ve had it a week and am approaching 70 hours on the damn thing. Perma death actually gets the pulse going as you clamber aboard your ship gasping for breath with shields, health and suit all demanding immediate attention, although I mostly chill on normal.
    It feels balanced to me as everything feeds quite naturally back into the gameplay. Start to wonder what to do next and oh yeah ole Artemis wanted me to do some stuff for him and off we go again.
    Repairing a crashed space ship had a feel of starting a car with a flat battery and running jumper leads across, “yeah alright mate give it a go now, that should do it” vrooom and away we go, alright new ship.
    I love the look of it as it reminds me of the covers on all those sci fi novels I devoured as a kid.
    If you can get past all that pre release hype,which we all know is bullshit anyway,and ya like a good space exploration survival game, then this is a good one.

  10. zephram says:

    I use a PS4 controller(Steam does support it), which seems far more comfortable than WASD.
    The first crashed ship I found was a hauler with 40 slots,although it was so bad in combat,I switched it out for a 28 slot fighter with a 48% damage bonus.

  11. aircool says:

    I tried after the update, but it’s still shit. It’s not even all the ‘expected’ stuff that’s shit (because it can’t be shit if it doesn’t exist), but the fundamentals are shit. The flying is shit, the combat is shit, the interface is shit, the graphics are so shit that the pop up is horrendous. It’s so bad that you get triangles missing textures so it looks like there’s just triangle shaped holes in the world.

    The stuff that’s missing isn’t the problem, it’s the shit mechanics of the game that deserve to be lined up and shot.

  12. Spacewalk says:

    The most positive thing that I can say about NMS is that it made me go back to Astroneer.

  13. Meoith says:

    I hope they keep on updating it with more content, i’m really enjoying its ambience i think it pulls it off well it draws you in to its world despite its shortcomings.

    I really lucked out at the start too i’m glad i stuck at it.

  14. Raoul Duke says:

    “the impossible imagined version created by the combined efforts of its developers and its players”

    I think you mean “the non-existent version actively and misleadingly marketed by the developers for the specific purpose of creating false expectations”. No blame goes to the players in this case, surely.

    • Someoldguy says:

      It’s marketing. Do you really expect your teeth to gleam brilliant white when you use MagiGleam toothpaste, girls to fall at your feet for using ManScent deoderant, or that new car you bought to transport you to a world where there’s never any traffic on the road so you can drive through an earthly paradise?

      • modzero says:

        I… I actually enjoy the game somewhat, and I can say they redeemed themselves somewhat, but how is “it’s marketing” an excuse? At best you’re arguing for banishing of marketing, at least as it’s done now.

        Those examples you give? Yes, creating a more-or-less unconscious link in your head between those feats and the products advertised is very much the goal. And it does work. You don’t have to believe it, really, it’s enough that there’s a tiny, dumb part of a human brain that will.

  15. DingDongDaddio says:

    Can we not support liars and crooks please? I don’t care if they’ve “fixed” it by now, history is unchanged and Fuck Hello Games. That’s all.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      What a useful and constructive post. Could you provide an argument that supports it, or did you just want to spew some vitriol at some people you don’t even know?

      At the end of the day, either buy it or don’t, your wallet has the voting power, not your edgy internet comments. If you’re impressionable enough to make a purchase decision based solely on what John Walker or anyone else says, then you are part of the problem and not the solution, so get off your high horse.

  16. Zaxwerks says:

    They do say after one bad act it takes several good acts for people to regain trust in a company. I never got caught up in the hype-train prior to NMS release, so wasn’t disappointed due to perceived broken promises and customer expectations, however I was struck on how meaningless and repetitive the gameplay became, with not enough variety or things to do in this enormous sandbox. When every single planet can utilize all the procedural pieces suddenly after a few dozen planets nothing seems special or distinctly unique.

    I have to say I take my hat off to Hello Games, they could have taken the money and ran, but NMS is something they obviously are deeply invested in and the past three major FREE updates have been a nice apology from them and much appreciated.

    When base building was introduced they started to give a purpose to staying put but at the expense of any purpose to explore, now with 1.3 they have started to address that.

    I still think there needs to be more to do if you decide to settle and more to do if you decide to explore. More diversity over the surface of a planet and more unique diversity in different regions of space so it doesn’t feel like one procedure to rule them all no matter where you are in the galaxy and gives regions more character.

    I’ll definitely be revising it.

  17. geldonyetich says:

    My crashed ship on the Artemis quest had a staggering *42* slots, of course most of them needing to be unlocked.

    But it turns out that slots aren’t everything, because ships now come is varying classifications of haulers, fighters, and scouts which seem to give more slots, weapons, and equipment slots respectively. Ships also have classes, with B class better than C class, and so on.

    In fact, if you save up about 150M credits, you can buy a super freighter that lets you own up to 8 different ships, so you can have a little hangar of ships each with their own specialty!

    Another funny coincidence is I rank amok of a friendly Vy’keen who asked for my multi-tool and gave me an experimental class one in exchange, meaning it’s actually overwhelmingly unlikely that I’m going to find a better multi-tool any time soon.

    I find myself bouncing off midway through base upgrading quests. I’m driving about my buggy Exocraft, have both ship and multi-tool with a ludicrous amount of slots… I sort of feel like I’ve already seen everything of significance the game has, there’s nothing much to look forward to.

  18. racccoon says:

    I restarted all over again last week and the game is as awesome as always. I just found a good home base with loads of pearls to make tons of dosh with, I’m building my new home so i can go about traveling about lol
    next on my list is a freighter around 18 mil + depending on size, my goal ship is like 48 slots and 110mil for that! but, now i found my homebase, it is awesome.
    No Mans’ Sky is a great to play a game with only a tiny amount of glitches in it.
    The cockpit fault I find fascinating, on very limited occasions you can be low down like some nutty dude who sits in his car with the seat pulled down. & the over the cockpit view which is a right scream to fly with as well. I take all this with a grain of salt as these are just way to small and lot of fun to try and pilot with. lol
    Great game!
    Go buy it if you haven’t and you like space games.
    enjoy :)

  19. wombat191 says:

    I skipped it at launch because when they announced procedural generation I knew what was going to happen with the game.

    Well I saw all the launch controversy and saw them supporting the game and picked it up a week ago and I’m actually really enjoying it

  20. ChrisT1981 says:

    Welp. I got the game recently when it was on sale on the humble store, right when Atlas Rises was about to release. I installed and started the game only to be greated by completely gimped graphics. Looked to me like some shader doing horrible, wrong things to the fine art to be rendered.

    I got an AMD Card (RX 480).

    Went to the forums to inform myself. This error it seems is not new with the patch, but actually existing for quite a while. Workaround: revert drivers to a version more than 6 months old. The devs Claim there is nothing they can do on their part and the fault is at AMD.

    Which is something I always have a hard time believing when devs claim that the graphic card manufacturers are at fault. I do not doubt that there may also be bugs in drivers that can affect games, but when 80% of the games work fine almost regardless of Driver Version and you can up that number to 90% if you don’T Count small Performance issues, then I say something stinks.

    Long Story short: If you use an AMD Card and don’t want to run on outdated Drivers stay away from NMS.

    • krombob says:

      I’m running an RX 480 with the very latest drivers and I have no issues in No Man’s Sky.

      • ChrisT1981 says:

        That indeed is strange. And begs the question what might possibly be at odds with NMS on my System. OS is Win 10 64bit. Intel i5 CPU. 16 GB Ram. Logitech Peripherals (Mouse KB, Headset). Except for the whitescreen issue with Nier Automata this is the only game in the last 10 years for me that is unplayable due to graphics issues.

        • krombob says:

          I have the exact same setup as you except with an i7 CPU. Could it be a driver version? My Radeon settings say I have:
          Radeon Software Version: 17.7.2
          2D Driver Version: 8.1.1.1614
          Direct3D Version: 9.14.10.01292
          OpenGL Version: 6.14.10.13491

        • ChrisT1981 says:

          Same Versions here. I am just updating to the newest optional drivers and reinstalling NMS to have a nother go.

          • krombob says:

            In case this helps, here are the graphics options I have selected in No Man’s Sky:
            Window Mode: Fullscreen
            Monitor: Primary (only have one monitor)
            Resolution: 1920×1080
            Vsync: On
            Antialisaing: TAA
            Motion Blur Quality: Off
            HBAO: Off
            Anisotropic Filtering: 4
            Texture Detail: High
            Shadow Detail: Medium
            Reflection Quality: Medium
            Light Shafts: Off
            Max FPS: 60

  21. BaronKreight says:

    “Even if a hundred or more hours from now No Man’s Sky wears out its welcome, I’ll be grateful and still somewhat awestruck by what a tiny team of developers rejiggering decades-old design ideas managed to pull off”

    Review: ‘No Man’s Sky’ Isn’t What You Wanted. Thank God

    90 out of 100, Time

  22. wombat191 says:

    Well the procedural generation for animals can be a mess even with this patch..

    Meet the “Please kill me-o-saurus”
    link to steamcommunity.com

  23. LokiDanai says:

    I play on the PS4 and I found the best way to upgrade my ship for free. I first found a 24 slot one that was mostly broken. I took it and then went to a space station. Found a guy with a 15 slot one, willing to trade me for free so I took it. Next system I found a broken one with 28 slots. Took that to a space station and exchanged it for a 24 slot ship for free. It sucks to be limited on space for a little bit, but the trade off is nice. I have a 24 slot ship and I’m not that far into the game.

  24. Peppergomez says:

    this game should be priced at $20, max…no way in hell I’m getting it until it’s $20 or less.

    • LokiDanai says:

      Sony had it on sale for 24 the other day and my husband snagged it for me. We had traded our original one in, but he knew I enjoyed the exploration and such so he got it for me again. I am really enjoying the changes, well, except maybe the being able to fly extremely close to the surface. I am not well coordinated and I tend to run into a lot of things.

  25. hungrycookpot says:

    So i did it. After wasting my time and money on release date, and being denied a refund, I uninstalled the game, never to install again. But after all these glowing reviews of the new patches, I installed it to try it out and see what I bought with my $80.

    Spoilers: its still a boring and shallow pile of shit. I’m sure people who enjoyed the game when it released are enjoying it even more now, as there sure are more features to see and a couple more things to do. But the people who thought it was a steamer when it launched aren’t going to think anything has turned around in the meantime.

  26. Titler says:

    I pirated the game originally, and I’m unashamed to admit that. It allowed me to look at what it really was, with any of the massive over-emotional investment that led to what Jim Sterling called the No Man, Boys DDOSing his site for reviewing the game as merely average.

    But then, when they actually attempted to improve the game I legitimately purchased it on Steam during a 60% off sale which coincided with the Atlas release. I don’t approve of all the dishonesty and hype that came before, but if they are genuinely going to try and return value to the consumer, I’m going to try to be a genuine customer and reward pro-player behaviour.

    I’m not sure however they’ve improved the basic core of the game as such though; rather deliberately obstructed certain elements to imply mysteries, whilst making resetting your saved game the only real way to enjoy the game.

    Finding bases is the big one; I tried pointing this out during RPS and it’s audience’s previously far too supportive coverage and discussion… the bases were being generated at the same distances from each on every single planet you approached. It wasn’t an “exploit” to simply fly in a straight line and land at the types you wanted, nor was it an “exploit” to use the mechanisms included to locate the specific type you wanted, and then trade up your Multi-tool and Space ship to the maximum. This was, in fact, the only real gameplay. People were too busy applying their own wish fulfilment and dreaming to a blatantly limited procedural landscape rather than looking at what was really there.

    Now however, I’m pretty sure the same procedural generation is still there, only the game is deliberately hiding it to pretend that it’s not. Here’s how you can prove it. Get in a ship, lift off, and fire the ship scanner. It might find a single something on the other side of the planet, instead of putting a green “?” very close to you as before. Fly randomly about and you won’t see anything either. The planet looks barren, mysterious, right?

    Ok, now stop the ship and wait. You’ll see in fact the area suddenly populates with more trees etc and maybe even a base you didn’t know was there. The game is using it’s own slow updating and dithering to hide the content that was there. And it’s quite deliberate too, you can fly slowly around looking deliberately at the terrain and see how it’s trying to prevent rendering it unless you’re specifically “exploring” the area by staring at a piece of terrain. You can fire the scanner and it’ll simply not report what you can discover is right in front of you, by just waiting a little while. They’ve nerfed the scanner, and hidden the detail to prevent you playing as before.

    It’s the same with locating bases by type; the types are all still on the planet, but they’ve obfuscated the methods to locate them. Build one of those land scanner thingamjigs; fire it off on a type of building. Do it again a few times and you’ll see they’re all nearby, but it’s only allowing 2 different waypoints at once, and removing the older ones if you keep asking. But once more, they’re all still right next door if you ask. The game is just trying to pretend they’re not.

    The ships that have damaged slots? There’s no gameplay reason to have them except to force you to earn money to repair them, or instead buy them whole from the NPCs.

    And that in turn pushes you into base building to get a farm to grind the credits to get the ships to…

    Now with a fully upgraded tool and ship already available, the only real goal I actually have outside of the new quest line and building a space empire just for fun, would be to get a much longer jump range ship to cut the time taken to get to the centre… as that’s the only thing I never bothered to do in the original as it was so, so boring and we all knew what the infamous surprise actually was by now.

    But the path to do that in turn means laying down roots on a particular planet and staying in that vicinity. I think, but haven’t gone far enough in yet to test, that the portals content is designed to allow you to warp back and forth from anywhere, thus allowing you to effectively “quest” for waypoints as you go further out. But that means delaying any of the money earning farming and settling until after you’ve done all the travelling the quest line forces you on.

    The game is literally torn between two directly contradictory demands at once.

    This forced gameplay even extends to the Steam Achievements, when you look at it with a critical eye. Now, I managed to get my pirate saved game working in the legitimate copy; you still can’t upload your past data, because you’re not given a unique player name on the old data; but you can upload from there with any new discoveries. And I have no problem with that, as such; that’s a fair trade off instead of invasive DRM etc. I was indeed naughty on those worlds, so don’t take my records.

    But if you look at the Achievements, they’re only for Survival and Permadeath arrival at the centre of the galaxy, not Normal. And having played for about 20 hours on Survival on a fresh save… it’s miserable. Every planet is deadly to the point that you can only survive a single trip to a resource and back to your ship due to drain on shields and life support. You might, if you’re lucky, make a teeeeeny bit of progress on a larger goal after 3 dashes in and out in an hour.

    I got insanely lucky and got a near maximum S class Multitool from the first NPC I met on a station; but the cost of fueling the terrain manipulater is so insane I’ve only been able to really use it once. If the NPC in your system isn’t selling Grenades you can’t blast out your own caves to survive the enviroment either, so you’re limited to running between natural holes just to keep making progress.

    I got as far as setting up my first simple base before I realised I’d have to do literally thousands of hours of this to make any progress in Survival, I couldn’t see how anyone without mods or cheating could ever possibly get the Achievement in Permadeath, and that if I wanted to do anything in my old Normal save game, it meant being led around by the nose from then on in… and so I bounced off the game again, HARD. Haven’t gone back to it since.

    So… I approve of them still trying to improve the game rather than just taking the money and running; but I’m not sure Hello Games have actually got the wisdom to actually make one. If you do want to try it, play it on Normal, fresh save, get a good few hours of fun there, then put it down again. Everything else is still a lot of smoke and mirrors hiding quite the design mess

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      And having played for about 20 hours on Survival on a fresh save… it’s miserable. Every planet is deadly to the point that you can only survive a single trip to a resource and back to your ship due to drain on shields and life support. You might, if you’re lucky, make a teeeeeny bit of progress on a larger goal after 3 dashes in and out in an hour.

      I had this experience my first time on survival, but having read a few tips I learned that life support drain is massively affected by running and using the jetpack so you need to be really quite frugal with these at the start.

      Once you get used to that, it’s really not so punishing and you can start working towards upgrades to your survivability like the various hazard deflectors and life support booster modules.

  27. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I actually retried this until I hit the wall with Atlas rises…
    Gain three more levels allegiance with the Gek…
    I’ve been playing some 30 hours most of them in Gek space but three more levels is like twenty hours of only grinding… no thanks.

  28. castle says:

    Revengeance had a similar issue where it would output 24hz in some resolutions. A helpful soul made a tool that locks output to 60hz and fixes the problem, I imagine it would work for NMS too.

    The RPSbot will delete my comment if I link to it, but if you google “sourceforge forcefix” it should be the first result.

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