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Hands-on review: No Man's Sky Next adds new features

By Damian Seeto, Mon 30 Jul 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

No Man's Sky initially came out back in 2016 and was met with a lot of criticism because it did not deliver on its promises. Well now it's back and better than ever as developer Hello Games has released a huge free update for the PS4 and PC versions of the game. Not to mention the game has now debuted on the Xbox One console.  The reason the original release of No Man's Sky was ridiculed is mainly because Hello Games did not add the many features that it promised it would have. There was no proper multiplayer mode, the diversity of plants and animals was non existent and most importantly, the game was just downright boring and not fun to play.  Two years later, Hello Games has now listened to all of the fan feedback and has released No Man's Sky Next which is a free update for existing owners and adds tons of new content that was not in the game before. I managed to review the game on Xbox One X and I'm happy to say this newer version of the game is far better than before, although it's still a game that won't please everyone.   Let's start talking about the positives first and that's the fact that the update makes the game far better to look at. Honestly, you need to own a 4K TV to see how magical the planets can be. The added third person view for both the player and spaceships makes exploration that much better. It's also worth mentioning Hello Games added more variety as there's more water, colour and different animals to look at this time around.  Before this new update, exploration was a joke because the planets and animals would all be the same colour and look all identical. Thankfully, I have not come across any recycled content playing No Man's Sky Next as of yet because everything I have seen so far has been big and diverse.  Aside from adding more spaceships, there are also land vehicles you can drive too making exploration much more enjoyable than it was two years ago. Driving around the different planets while taking lots of photos can easily get many players addicted. The only thing I feel that's still missing on planets is that there are no cities or proper civilisations for you to meet. If Hello Games were ever to make a proper sequel, I'd love to see the cities and different types of aliens like those seen in a Star Wars movie! Another thing that has been changed for this new update is that the game finally adds several missions and goals for you to complete. When the game first came out in 2016, there was nothing for you to do other than get to the centre of the galaxy and be greeted with no rewards whatsoever for your efforts.  Now you can sign up for missions inside Space Stations and you get to discover different planets that allow you to dive deep into the game's lore. I'm currently in the middle of a mission where I have to locate a character named Artemis who is hiding out somewhere in the galaxy, but his location is currently hidden from view.  Other missions allow you to construct your own home and base and you can even command your own fleet. The fact that there are actual goals for you to complete allows you to have a purpose and encourages players to keep playing the game. This is far better than the directionless motives that the game had prior to this huge update.  No Man's Sky Next also includes three different difficulty settings to cater to players of all skill levels. First there's the "Normal" mode where you pretty much have to farm for resources in order to keep your spacesuit and your spaceship full of the right supplies. Failure to maintain your suit and ship means you will die a horrible and cold death in deep dark space.  If you feel like really challenging yourself, you can also play the "Survival Mode" which is basically Normal mode but ten times harder. It goes without saying only veterans of the game should play in this mode as you'll die quickly if you don't know what you are doing. My favourite mode in the game however is "Creative" because you get infinite resources and you can explore the entire game without needing to worry about death or lack of supplies. Sure it eliminates the survival aspect of the game, but it's less annoying and repetitive.  While No Man's Sky Next does add tons of new features, I still don't believe that it will bring back those that hated the game two years ago. Sure the new features are nice, but No Man's Sky is still a survival game at heart and collecting resources all of the time can be a repetitive chore. The game is also still slow paced and lacks any type of action so it can still be boring just flying around in space all of the time too.  The user interface is also still clunky and navigating through the different menus is always a big hassle. There are also times the game fails to tell you what to do and where to go making it super annoying to play. That said, No Man's Sky is fun to play, but only if you're the type of player who is very patient. Overall, No Man's Sky Next is a huge improvement over the original game because there are new features and better visuals for you to look at. It's worth playing the game if you still own a copy of it and want to download the free update. However, the game can still be boring at times and I don't think it does enough to entice new players to give it a try.  Verdict: 7.5/10   

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