BySamuel Axon, writer at Creators.co
I love video games. So much. Director of Content and Business Development at Playsource. Executive Publisher at Movie Pilot and Now Loading.
Samuel Axon

Today, developer Hello Games announced a bunch of new features in the second large update patch for the game. The result is that the game is getting closer and closer to what fans originally wanted when the game launched.

A little background

No Man's Sky was, to say the least, one of the most hyped games to come out in years when it came out on PS4 August 9, 2016.

Unfortunately, it didn't live up to the hype for a lot of people. Many features that were expected — in some cases, explicitly teased while in other cases only assumed — were not included.

You probably remember the backlash. Hello Games went silent on Twitter for a long time, but then it started releasing updates. As of today, there have been two major updates, and they're massive. Here's what's been added.

What's new in No Man's Sky 1.2: Path Finder Update

Released on March 8, 2017, the Path Finder update built upon the earlier Foundation update. It added, frankly, a ton of new stuff.

PS4 Pro support

This game seems meant for a 4K TV, and Hello Games obliged. PS4 Pro support included:

  • 4K rendering
  • Horizon-based ambient occlusion
  • Higher resolution assets and textures
  • Improved lighting and rays
  • HDR support

Land vehicles: Exocraft

Update 1.2 adds new ground-based transportation vehicles that you can acquire by hiring a technician and doing a series of special missions.

  • The Nomad is a small, fast land vehicle
  • The Roamer is rugged traveler of medium size
  • The Colossus is a huge truck that holds tons of cargo

Multi-tool and ship classes and specializations

Ships and multi-tools aren't just randomly generated oddities anymore; they now fall into multiple classes of quality, including S, A, B and C.

Additionally, they are specialized into different types. For multi-tools, the types are:

  • Pistol
  • Rifle
  • Experimental
  • Alien

For ships, your specialization options include:

  • Fighter
  • Shuttle
  • Hauler
  • Explorer

Permadeath

Like the foundation update, 1.2 adds a new game mode — permadeath. Needless to say, it's not for the weak. But if you want to risk it, by all means go for it! Let me know how it goes.

Other changes

There are a host of other changes and updates — almost too many to list. But here are some highlights.

  • Sharing your bases with other players
  • Photo mode for taking cool pictures, with lots of filters
  • More music and sound effects
  • Numerous UI and quality of life improvements, particularly in the Discoveries menu
  • New base-building options
  • The ability to create and run land vehicle races and racetracks
  • New shops for buying blueprints, and a new currency to spend there
  • The ability to own multiple ships

You can check out the full patch notes from Hello Games for more details.

What's new in No Man's Sky 1.1: Foundation Update

The Foundation update, released in November of last year, was the first major content update. It added the following features:

  • Base building
  • The ability to teleport to your base
  • Recruiting crew members for your base
  • Various quality of life and UI improvements
  • Buying freighters, which are essentially space-faring storage warehouses that can travel with you
  • New resources
  • The Survival game mode
  • Farming and agriculture

Lessons for game developers

Audience expectations are everything. It's critically important to keep their expectations in line with the reality you expect for your game — even the worst case scenario, where your marketing plan allows. It's always better to surprise your audience with new features instead of disappoint them with missing ones.

There are a couple ways you can do this. The first is to hold your cards close to your chest; identify the core features that must, and will, be part of your game. These should be closely aligned with the primary selling points and emotional argument for purchasing your game. Be very careful about what you reveal of stuff that is not part of that core pitch. If there's any doubt at all about your ability to implement it before launch, leave it out of your trailers and messaging.

The second way is open development. Fans who participate in an open development process like you'd host on Steam's Early Access, Xbox's Game Preview or itch.io's Refinery program will see first hand how the vision shifts.

In this case, you still have to be careful about what future features you project (a particularly challenging task in the world of crowdfunding stretch goal commitments), but having an open dialogue with your players creates good will and understanding that can lessen the blow even if you do need to make a major change to the feature set or direction.

And players: Be kind. Making games is damned hard.

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