There were two theories about what happened to the Hello Games team after they went almost completely dark after the release of No Man’s Sky. One was that they had fled the planet to avoid the deluge of criticism pouring in about the game. The other was that they simply went back to work, and had been quietly working on some massive update for the game to hopefully fix many of its issues.
It seems the latter is true, and for the first time in nearly two months, Hello Games is speaking about their plans for No Man’s Sky, which include a new “Foundation Update,” an introduction to base-building in the game, as well as laying the groundwork for future, larger updates. From the announcement:
“We’re calling it The Foundation Update, because we have added the foundations of base building, and also because this is putting in place a foundation for things to come.
In the nine weeks since then our small team has been hard at work on development, testing and certification for the Foundation Update. It won’t be our biggest update, but it is the start of something.”
They also address criticism of the game, however briefly:
Here’s the thing. After so much silence, after so much aversion to discussing anything about the game, either its present day failures or its future plans, I don’t think that this is going to change much.
This update is not “the big one” that was prophesied, rather it’s something that might introduce the foundation base-building, (I’m not even sure that’s a guarantee that base-building itself is ready) and set things up for larger updates to come.
One of the problems I discussed a few months ago back when all of this still seemed relevant was that it seemed unlikely that there was much No Man’s Sky could do to even fix things at this point. So what if they inserted promised-but-missing features like rotating planets or multiplayer? And in this case, does anyone really care about something like base-building in No Man’s Sky anymore?
I have many immediate questions about base-building that I hope patch notes less vague than this announcement will answer. Does base-building let us build structures that are different than the 6-7 we see copy/pasted across six zillion planets? What exact purpose does base-building serve in a game with no real objectives or goals? And finally, how does base-building even work in a game where you are constantly leaving planets behind, never to see them again? Can you ever return to your creations?
But at this point, even if base-building had a number of diverse structures you could build, could print rare minerals, and could be visited at any time, I still don’t think that’s enough to bring people back to No Man’s Sky. It doesn’t seem like Hello Games truly understands how deeply people have grown to hate their game over time, as it’s now held up as the game that failed to deliver on its promises, and some fans are actually trying to sue the developer for false advertising, because of how disparate the final product was from what was originally showcased.
I sympathize with Hello Games to a certain extent as I get that they’re in between a rock and a hard place. I mean, what do you do? Give up on the game and go work on something else? Or do you stick around and try to make it better through a number of free improvements, even though there’s no revenue stream in sight? I suppose doing the latter is somewhat noble, but my sympathy stops short as I still don’t think they’re really going about this right way.
Despite briefly addressing negative (and positive!) feedback in this article, the sheer amount of silence from the No Man’s Sky team has been frankly, astonishing, in the wake of the game being one of the most controversial releases of all time. Sean Murray especially, who was more than happy to go in front of cameras for years before the game’s release has yet to answer more than a handful of questions about the failures and shortcomings of the final product. Even just laying out an explanation that was along the lines of “We planned for this and this, but this had to be cut, and this was just delayed; we really tried, we’re sorry for biting off more than we could chew,” would be infinitely more than we’ve gotten so far. I’m not asking for some sort of SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! walk through the town square, but a lack of communication feels like a lack of respect aimed at players who spent a good amount of money buying the game early on, and also to the press who Hello Games was more than happy to use for endless amounts of hype, but have provided almost no answers to these burning “what went wrong?” questions since.
While I many not have hated No Man’s Sky as much as everyone else (though reaching the end of the ATLAS quest was enough to make me begin truly raging), I find it hard to see a way back for this game. They could add fifty, a hundred new features, but unless some core elements of the game are changed, I don’t think it’s going to be anything that draws players back in droves. I have previously said that the only thing that would get me to come back would be a huge overhaul of planet diversity, both in terms of the types of planets themselves and on the wildlife/alien life found there. If there was something truly unique and surprising to discover out there, I might come back and try to hunt for it. But if not? I doubt base-building or multiplayer or freighter ownership is really going to do the trick.
We’ll find out more this week when the patch and patch notes debut. Here’s to hoping this is the start of a true turnaround, but it’s easy to be skeptical of the game’s chances to make a positive second impression at this point.
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