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No Man's Sky adds save slots, improves quality of space-life

Space Van Sim 2017

Another day, another No Man's Sky [official site] update. Hello Games have had their noses to the space-grindstone ever since launch, with the recent Atlas Rises (1.30) update bringing enormous changes to the procedurally generated space-sim sandbox. This Tuesday, they rolled out another update, and a slew of minor changes. Patch, 1.38, (full notes here) gives top billing to save system improvements, expanding the number of usable slots to five, each of which can have a separate difficulty setting assigned.

The surprise star of the show this update is a seemingly minor tweak: planetary trade outposts now provide hazard protection, which not only goes a long way to explain why all those aliens were standing outside chatting in the acidic, radioactive hyper-rain, but gives players without upgraded survival gear an additional safe harbour planetside where you might be able to trade for precious fuel for your suit's life support systems. For anyone wild enough to play on Survival difficulty (I tried, cried space-uncle and tapped out), this could well be a lifesaver.

On the subject of trade, you'll probably want to spend a little longer at those planetary trading posts now. As part of their series of incremental upgrades to the galactic economy, this patch, stock is now gradually replenished over time, and trade prices can vary between planet and space station in a single star system. While far from thrilling, it does open up the possibility of making money ferrying goods to and from a given world's surface. Less Euro Truck Sim In Space, more White Van Driver.

Nobody ever said space would be glamorous, after all. Just big.

Beyond that, the patch is almost all minor tweaks and tuning. In space combat, friendly NPCs are less likely to turn on you if a stray shot grazes their hull, dead planets now have a variety of surface temperatures, trading NPCs are generated with their own stock levels, and your Analysis Visor is now significantly less useless, telling you the stats and approximate value of spacecraft scanned, as well as the distance to identified mineral deposits.

It's all good, solid improvements, assuming that you were hoping for NMS to become more of a traditional space-flight/trading/shooting sorta sandbox. While I admit that I've not sunk as much time into Atlas Rises as I might have liked, the recent move towards a more narrative-driven experience has been an interesting one, and the story itself seems surprisingly nihilistic for a genre normally dripping with optimism. I'm already interested to see what they're cooking up for their next major update.

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