NO MAN’S SKY IS BACK
Have we finally got the game promised in 2016?
THE LATEST UPDATE for NoMan’sSky, called Next, has managed to push the game up Steam’s charts. As we write, it’s the sixth most popular game being played. Quite a turnaround for a title that crashed and burned so badly in 2016.
NoMan’sSky’s claim to fame is its vast procedurally generated universe. You’re free to explore, trade, craft, and fight as you journey to the center of the galaxy. There have been four major updates, but it’s this latest one that’s turned things around. Next was launched on July 24, at the same time as the Xbox One version, and compatibility with the Chinese WeGame distribution system. It overhauls the game engine and, more crucially, adds support for multiplayer.
NoMan’sSky was originally released in August 2016, after considerable promotion. Talk of 18 quintillion planets to explore had gamers itching to enter its huge sandbox. On launch, it sold well, and peaked at 212,321 concurrent players. Then it all went wrong.
Promotional material had features that hadn’t made the final cut. It looked pretty, but gameplay was repetitive, and it could be played through rather quickly if you didn’t hang around and admire the scenery. People complained loudly. The number of players crashed to under 1,000. There was a huge gap between expectations and actuality. The game became something of an abject lesson in how not to handle marketing, with its bubble of hype, disillusionment, and backlash.
The developer, Hello Games, has stuck with it, and now we have something that looks more like the game we were hoping for, complete with a multiplayer mode, albeit a limited one. A true open MMG with a galaxy this size would be almost impossible technically, and anyway, even with all of Earth’s population playing, the chances of meeting someone at random would be next to zero. It looks as if NoMan’s Sky is going to make it after all.