Review: No Man's Sky multiplayer NEXT update
NEXT, the long-awaited update to the deep space exploration game, No Man’s Sky, gets a lot of things right.
The intergalactic sandbox from Hello Games finally got the multiplayer mode it deserves, and it actually feels great. But still, after two years of constructive discourse between the ever-updating development team and the game’s voracious fan base, I’m still asking: why can’t I fly directly into the sun?
Sure, annoying quirks like the wonky menu screen navigation and laughably easy spaceship battles got a much-needed overhaul. Updates have made the game a lot more efficient, allowing for the basic necessities such as the pulse drive, life support, and mining beam to be recharged with much less tedium. You can even gaze upon the deep expanse of space from a third-person perspective.
But, if you want to navigate your starship away from the grand, procedurally-generated worlds, resign from sifting through the void for those six to seven fleeting elements that merely allow you to continue existing, and pilot your ship directly into a nearby star, No Man’s Sky NEXT is still not the game you hoped it would be.
As an explorer in the crushing, merciless desolation of space, it seems only fair that I should be able to cast myself, joyously, into a red-hot fiery inferno whenever I want. Whizzing past space stations and megalithic starship fleets, that latter of which you can now purchase and manage for yourself like some kind of megalomaniacal, power-hungry Elon Musk, the game's universe looks more stunning than ever, but for some reason, the sun is always just out of reach.
Though some very dedicated astronauts on YouTube have tried, you can spend 30 minutes, an hour, even a thousand hours rocketing toward the sun, but the screen will repeat the same endless animation, with space ripping past you, never getting any closer no matter how long you wait. It’s like the endless staircase from Mario 64 all over again–but this time, the developers never let you reach the top, no matter how many game-breaking wall kicks or rom hacks you pull off.
There are other ways to die in NEXT. You can die from running out of life support on some alien planet, or you can be torn to shreds by some new nightmarish creature known as a “biological terror.” You can be blasted into space dust by the new and improved planetary defense Sentinels, or if you’re lucky, you can even be killed by a real person, as anyone, at any time, could find themselves on the same lonely planet as another player, either destined to be traveling companions forever, or mortal starbound enemies.
I’ve already spent hours voyaging side-by-side with my older brother through several of the mysterious, procedurally-generated galaxies, and with all the new terrors that NEXT offers, the game finally feels less like a boring middle school astronomy assembly and more like those planet-hopping rescue scenes in Interstellar.
At one point, I got ambushed outside of a space station by a local gang of pirates. I called for my brother, and he warped in like Han Solo, fired down the marauders, and saved me from certain doom. Then, like a good brother, I fired my plasma beam at him, and he died immediately. Online video games, welcome to the 21st century.
No Man’s Sky is transforming into something closer to the original concept that Sean Murray famously pitched over two years ago, even landing himself a spot on Colbert's Late Show. There’s finally something to do, and it still inspires that deep, stargazing awe, like a child watching a meteor shower for the first time. I’ll likely be exploring its quintillion galaxies with my brother for the next many months, stealing any chance I get to spend some time drifting into the abyss with him at my side.
Then again, if you’re looking for a game that will you let you pilot yourself directly into the surface of the sun, No Man’s Sky NEXT is still a disappointment.