The launch of No Man's Sky has been...messy. We've had early copies leak — one of which sold for $2,000 — heard reports of it being a glitchy and disappointing experience, and seen people lose their minds over the fact that it's allegedly only 30 hours long. But there's an incoming change that'll see all of these concerns abated, if not entirely wiped.
As is known to happen, No Man's Sky will have a day-one patch. This will undoubtedly improve the game's functionality, clean up some bugs and include additional network features or much needed server support. But this update is so much more than a few minor tweaks.
To those of you who've played the game before the release of this particular patch, I say this: you haven't played No Man's Sky.
The Transformative Nature of No Man's Sky's Day-One Patch
The game's director, the beloved Sean Murray, took to the game's website over the weekend to reveal what the first patch would contain. His notes detail the extensive alterations we can anticipate for No Man's Sky, but beware, some players may consider some of this content to be spoilerific. Here are some of my favorite updates:
- The Universe - If you somehow doubted the claim that this update wouldn't have significant impacts on the game, check this out. Hello Games have actually "changed the rules of the universe generation algorithm." Planets within the game have been moved, the shape of galaxies has been altered, environments have changed biomes and, in some cases, galaxies are actually ten times larger. All of this has been introduced to create a greater sense of variety early on in the game.
- Aliens - The creatures you encounter in No Man's Sky are now more diverse. The ecology and density of life on planets has been dramatically increased to keep us challenged by a continuos stream of new alien lifeforms.
- Planets - Looks like things will be a lot more hazardous. Hello Games have added dead moons, low atmosphere and extreme hazardous planets to the game. This means we could find ourselves caught in the midst of intense blizzards and dust storms.
- Three Paths - No Man's Sky features three unique paths that players can take and the game will change based on how you play. Murray also made it clear that a fresh start is paramount: "You must start the game on a fresh save, with the patch, as early choices have significant impact on what you see later in the game, and the overall experience."
- Progress - All of the game's servers will be completely wiped before launch, meaning that anyone who's had the opportunity to obtain an early copy will lose all of their progress.
- Graphics - Lighting and textures have been improved, along with shadow quality. Additionally, day skies, night time and space are four times more varied, meaning that the atmospheric system refracts light more accurately, creating more intense sunsets.
Aside from these developments, Murray outlined numerous fixes that should improve the player experience. For instance, the effects of planet rotation have been reduced, as play testers were struggling to adjust; several hundred upgrades have had stat changes and new upgrades have been added; and pop-in and shadow artifacts have been reduced.
Seriously, there's so much going on: Caves of up to 128m tall are now possible, underwater erosion leads to more interesting sea beds, a wider variety of ships have been introduced per star system which are available for purchase, ship inventories now store 5 times more resources per slot to encourage exploration, trading has become deeper, creatures now have their own diets based on their planet's climate, buildings generate earlier and show up in ship scans, and advanced space combat maneuvers have been introduced. Unbelievable.
Finally, Murray clarified that one of the game's paths, titled The Atlas path, had been rewritten by himself and Deus-Ex writer, James Swallow.
I think it speaks to the over-arching theme of player freedom more clearly now. Early mission text has been rewritten to allow for multiple endings. - Sean Murray
All in all, these patch notes indicate the extent to which playing No Man's Sky will change once it goes live on the game's August 9 release date for PS4 (August 10 if you're in Europe). Though we've heard plenty of issues about the game's functionality over the last few weeks, I feel like these players haven't had the opportunity to play the game as the developers envisioned. Therefore, be open minded about No Man's Sky. It may yet surprise us.