When No Man’s Sky was first announced, it promised an impossibly huge game with almost endless possibilities, but when it finally dropped, the gaming world was collectively bummed out. Many felt cheated by the developer, Hello Games, either because they felt misled by information prior to release, or because any requests they had were ultimately ignored. Two years later, it looks like No Man’s Sky has finally become the experience fans were after all along.

NEXT is the biggest patch for the game yet, and it includes a huge amount of new features, graphical updates, and general fixes. I’m not going to cover everything, because that’s what the patch notes are for, but let’s check out the big-ticket items.

Multiplayer

Finally, you can explore the quintillion planets in No Man’s Sky with your mates. While folks wanted to do this all along, studio director Sean Murray stressed that the game was meant to feel lonely and even if you did want to find your pals, the chances of doing so were incredibly slim simply because of the sheer scale of the universe.

Now you’ll be able to explore, build bases, or generally just fuck around with friends or strangers. By all accounts, the process of adding your mates and then joining them is simple and easy to do.

  • Team up with a small group of friends and explore the universe together, or be joined by random travellers.
  • Help friends to stay alive, or prey on others to survive.
  • Fight as a pirate or a wingman in epic space battles with friends and enemies.
  • Group up to build communal basesfarms, and racetracks, and share your creations with all players online.
  • Explore the galaxy at your own pace, or progress together from the very start of the game and all the way through the story.
  • Invite your friends aboard your Freighter and take on challenging multiplayer missions from the Galactic Commission Station on your bridge.
  • Communicate with other players vocally using a headset, and / or converse using text chat on PC.
  • While wandering the galaxy solo, continue to experience chance encounters with strange floating orbs.

Community events

According to Hello Games, this is just the beginning of what’s to come, and more missions and events will continue to rollout over the coming weeks.

  • Soon after the release of No Man’s Sky NEXT, Hello Games has planned its first season of weekly content and community events.
  • This will be free for all players, with no microtransactions. Take part in community missions and unlock new rewards and customisations.
  • Players will also be able to interact with Xbox One Mixer streamers by helping or hindering their gameplay.

The team has even launched a dedicated website for the community called Galactic Atlas.

  • The site features points of interest in the No Man’s Sky Euclid Galaxy, and will grow in functionality and expand over time, in part through your feedback.
  • Key Regional Hubs are marked, with discovery statistics and community events appearing soon.

Third-person / character customisation

The game is now playable in third-person, which means you get a chance to customise what you look like, including all sorts of kooky options.

  • Ship controls in both views now allow for true low flight mode across the surface of planets.
  • Communicate with other players using expressive gestures available from the quick menu.

Screenshot of new bases

Exploration, flora, and fauna

How you explore and scope out weird-looking beasties has also changed. Check out the changes below.

  • Find and excavate buried ruins with the Terrain Manipulator to unearth locked ancient treasures.
  • Use the Terrain Manipulator to locate buried technology modules and turn the salvaged components into new base parts with the Blueprint Analyser.
  • Some creature types will herd together, grazing and fleeing from danger as a group.
  • Creatures now respond more enthusiastically to being fed, recognising you as a friend and alerting nearby creatures to the food source.
  • Creature movements now appear more natural and intelligent, with improved AI and entirely revamped animations.
  • Sentinel behaviours and animations have been improved. Players can stand their ground in combat, or take advantage of the time between reinforcement waves to escape and find a place to avoid Drone scans and searches.
  • Find Navigation Data and use it in the overhauled Signal Booster to locate planetary structures.
  • Survive the threat of new hazardous flora and fauna. Be careful if you touch the eggs…

There’s honestly so much more to the update, so be sure to check out the rest of the changes here. You can also suss the update trailer below.

See you out in space, dickheads. For real this time.

Image: Hello Games