With a big-budget space exploration game debuting in days, indie spacefaring mainstay No Man’s Sky continues to deepen its own world with no signs of slowing down.
No Man’s Sky is one of gaming’s biggest unlikely success stories: After launching as a widespread letdown, the team at Hello Games dedicated themselves to steadily enriching the game’s interstellar setting with free updates over the course of the last seven years.
The game’s latest infusion of fresh content is called Echoes and introduces a new robotic alien civilization for anthropologically-inclined players to study, among many other updates. The new alien race apparently adds a chain of missions packed with hours of narrative questing as the player explores where these scrap metal-lookin’ guys came from and what they’re all about. That includes new cloaked encampments on inhabited worlds, secret monolith-powered visions and a fresh lexicon to uncover.
If you’re less into archaeology and more about blowing stuff up in space (understandable), the Echoes update incentivizes the pirate in you by making freighters destructible. The game’s hulking dreadnought freighters now include an ominous, aggressive pirate variant and new trenches you can fly through, Death Star-style. Freighter combat also improves with more detailed module-based targeting to make dogfights in space more interesting and tactical.
If you prefer a Pokémon-like playstyle, No Man’s Sky’s Echoes update introduces a new set of collector’s objectives known as the Voyagers Expedition, which will reward you for finding the nicest planets, highest mountains and weirdest critters. You can showcase the stuff you like in your base with a new projector that makes your HQ on a far-flung planet that much cozier.
With Echoes, anyone playing No Man’s Sky with PlayStation VR will benefit from a new visual update that improves detail and resolution using eye-tracking that sharpens the center of your field of vision. Nintendo Switch No Man’s Sky players will also see a visual boost on the relatively underpowered hardware thanks to new improvements leveraging AMD FidelityFX that will boost framerates and image quality.
Somehow, there’s even more stuff in the latest No Man’s Sky update than listed here. It’s shocking how much care developer Hello Games puts into a relatively ancient game with these ongoing free infusions of new content. The Echoes update isn’t even the only one this year — April’s Interceptor update and the Fractal expansion in February also made a bunch of improvements while bringing more variety to the procedurally-generated space game.
It’s an interesting time for No Man’s Sky. Over the course of many years and many updates, the Hello Games team delivered a dream game for anyone who just wanted to fly around in an infinite universe and check things out. Personally, I played the game for the first few years after it started improving and my biggest complaint at the time — that No Man’s Sky’s universe was endless but didn’t offer enough rewarding variety — has been addressed and then some. It’s admirable that the game’s team has supported the No Man’s Sky community for so long and done so without relying on gimmicky seasons or selling virtual items.
With Bethesda’s blockbuster space exploration game Starfield out on September 6, No Man’s Sky players are sure to be curious about the big-budget space sim, which promises at least 1,000 planets to explore. Lapsed No Man’s Sky players like myself are plenty curious too, assuming we can peel ourselves away from Baldur’s Gate 3 long enough to check it out.
Even if Starfield fully delivers on its promises, anyone who’s spent time in No Man’s Sky can appreciate its colorful take on limitless space exploration and the wonder it continues to inspire, now seven years after the fact.