After months of unfortunate headlines and near complete radio silence from Hello Games, No Man’s Sky has evolved. This week, the much-hyped sandbox game received what can only be described as a major update. The Foundation Update gives players the chance to build home bases on planets (think Fallout 4 with less apocalypse), buy massive space freighters, farm and hire aliens to work for them. It’s a lot of changes for a game that has mostly sat on the shelf since August.
The update has been met with a mix of acclaim and scorn. Some think this gives No Man’s Sky a second life. They see it as a turning point and sense that the game is becoming the one promised. It’ll take lots of work and future updates from Hello Games but many players believe this is a first major step in the right direction. Others aren’t as convinced and are mad that the developers are getting so much credit for features that should have been part of the product at launch.
Which camp is correct? Well, they’re both right in their own ways. This was a big, big deal, but No Man’s Sky needs to deliver more. This update proves Hello Games isn’t nearly done with their game and more updates, patches, and additions will arrive in the future. So what should be next? What do players want most from the future of No Man’s Sky and what should Hello Games give?
Enhance Space Combat
Despite all its faults, no game does interstellar travel like No Man’s Sky. The feeling of bursting through the atmosphere into space is unparalleled. It’s always rewarding and a bit awe-inspiring. However, sometimes you’re met with villainous NPC pirates waiting to steal your loot. Ideally, you would set upon these bad guys and blast them to kingdom come with your pulse canon. I say “ideally” because combat in the game is a bit of a mess.
It’s far too easy to lose track of targets as they zoom past your vessel. Your ship’s response time often feels too sluggish or too fast. You’ll get a bit dizzy as you spin around trying to find a pirate to take down. If you’re lucky enough to find one, good luck keeping your focus on them. With a lack of target lock, you usually end up firing wildly into nothingness. I’ve still only won a handful of battles. I’m usually blasted into bits because I can’t make heads or tails out of dogfighting in space. Bummer.
We Bought A (Space) Zoo
You see a whole lot of colorful and wild creatures in No Man’s Sky. They are randomly generated and roam nearly every planet you set foot upon. But aside from being neat to look at, the animals in the game don’t really do much. Sometimes they eat your food and chirp in approval. Sometimes they attack you. Aside from that, they basically wander around without rhyme or reason.
Now imagine you could take some of those animals and give them a home. I know I’m not the only player who wants a zoo outside my base, full of all the animals I’ve stumbled upon in space. Maybe you can breed them and earn money. Maybe collecting animals also garners you rare elements to unlock new upgrades. Or maybe it’s just fun to build pens for your new pets. Space can be a lonely place, you should be able to come home to some friendly furry faces.
Customize Our Rides
You spend a lot of time in No Man’s Sky behind the wheel of your starship. While the ship design for the game is colorful, inventive, and fun, it would be much nicer if you could customize your ship. Even though you’re never in third-person view, you still look at your ship a lot. You should get a say in what it looks like.
But this goes beyond what color your ship is. If Hello Games is smart, they’ll allow players to craft their ships from scratch. Itemize each part of the vessel from its engine to wings. Let players mix and match their craft to look and feel how they want. Are you the type of space traveler who wants to focus on gunfire over engine strength? Well, you’d be able to construct a ship that’s more about weapons than power. You can do this to an extent in the current version of the game but Hello should let players run wild. No Man’s Sky should be to space ships what Minecraft is to crazy mansions.
Make No Man’s Sky Less Lonely
This is a big change and one unlikely to happen. Before launch, much was made about the massive size of No Man’s Sky. Remember, while it’s a single-player experience you’re technically in the same universe as other players. Many assumed that it would be possible to run into other travelers, even though the likelihood of finding anyone else would be slim.
Some early players attempted to find each other, spending much time getting to the exact same spot in the game’s immense map. They didn’t run across each other though, despite Hello Games saying it would be possible. Many were outraged. It’s not like people expected No Man’s Sky to be like EverQuest in space but they wanted at least the possibility of seeing other players.
Hello should give players what they’re longing for. While turning the game into a proper MMO would be a massive undertaking, it’d be nice to occasionally see another soul in space. Space stations could be more populated with real players. Maybe those stations could allow you to trade with other players via auction or in-person. Or perhaps you’re notified when someone is even remotely close to you. Perhaps you could send beacons out to attract other players and unlock abilities that only two players can use.
The game shouldn’t completely transform from what it is. Let’s face it: space will always be pretty lonely. But the ability to find other real players would add life and energy to the game, even if you’re just two ships passing in the expansive night.