Over the weekend Hello Games, the team behind No Man’s Sky announced its first big update to the game; offering players new gaming modes, functionality and overall improvements to the experience.
Amongst the update, Hello Games has included a feature that allows players to build bases on home planets. These essentially act as a place to store items and conduct research. According to the announcement this enables players to build their own structures of any size and design and thus delivering on the Minecraft aspect of No Man’s Sky that many were expecting.
In addition to its base building functionality, the update includes new gaming modes such as a survival mode which promises to make it more difficult to survive on alien planets as the player endures the harsh environments. With the new update, also known as the ‘Foundation Update’, Hello Games are clearly trying to repair the fractured relationship it has acquired with fans. However, is it enough to build bridges with gamers or is the update simply too little too late?
Originally released in August 2016, it’s safe to say No Man’s Sky received mixed reviews from critics and a less than warm reception from fans. What was expected based on previous play-through demos and trailers and what fans got were polars apart and led to the game being one of the most heavily criticised of the year.
When it was first announced at the 2013 Spike VGX awards, No Man’s Sky was met with a lot of excitement and anticipation. Made by an indie developer in the UK, the game seemed to have everything that most mainstream games were lacking and showed that indie games were still heads and shoulders above the AAA titles when it comes to innovation and trying something new. However, whilst many still classified No Man’s Sky an indie game, it was an indie game with an AAA marketing campaign, price point, level of hype and ultimately backlash.
The level of backlash received by No Man’s Sky upon release led to rapidly dwindling sales, mixed reviews and even an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority into claims of a misleading marketing campaign. Essentially No Man’s Sky was hit hard; with Hello Games describing the reception as “”intense and dramatic”. Whatsmore, players lost trust that the game would ever deliver what it had so confidently promised and with that No Man’s Sky lost the credibility it had so favourably gained over the two years since reveal.
Whilst the new updates do look fantastic and base building in particular is an aspect fans were waiting for, I fear that the long-term damage may have already been done. The ‘foundation update’ may be a little too late for most gamers three months down the line and might not be enough to get new fans excited enough to delve into the universe-exploring title.
When the announcement was published on Sony’s Blog, many fans weighed in with their reaction as one in particular wrote:
“Hey Hello Games, thanks for adding new content to the game. However you LIED to all of us so we would buy the game originally. To clarify, your company told us about features and showed us videos of ingame content that simply wasn’t there at all in the release. It wasn’t a few features that were missing either. It was a massive amount of content from factions to multiplayer you failed to deliver.”
Whilst there are also many praising Hello Games for acknowledging the issues with the game and doing their best to rectify them, I believe the relationship with mainstream gamers will remain heavily broken and No Man’s Sky has had its moment in the sun. However, if the game continues to release substantial and game-enhancing updates it could still retain its small number of devoted fans. Maybe that’s where No Man’s Sky’s true audience lies; not in the mainstream fanbase of a AAA title but in the small cult following of an indie game that it was originally intended to be.