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No Man's Sky 'Foundation' update is live, but don't expect a whole new game

It would be fair to say No Man’s Sky has been one of the biggest disappointments in modern gaming history. After two years of extraordinary hype, the game launched earlier this year to mostly negative reviews. Many of the features that were promised by developer Hello Games were missing, and the final game was scarcely a match for the awe-inspiring trailers, and the company’s silence after months of frantic communication went over poorly with much of the community, to the point that hackers took over the firm’s social media accounts (briefly) to apologize for the game. Hello Games is trying to redeem itself after months of silence with the “Foundation” patch, which has just launched on PC and PS4.

I’ve been playing around with the Foundation patch (AKA v1.1) to see if it fundamentally changes the experience. The headlining change in this patch is the option to build bases. Yes, in a game of exploration, you can choose a home planet. The resources you gather from around the galaxy can be used to build new sections of the base, eventually leading to complex, labyrinthine corridors. Your bases can be used to grow resources, research new technologies, and house your alien helpers.

If setting up shop on a planet doesn’t appeal to you, there are expensive freighter ships available that are essentially flying bases. These ships can move between star systems, taking all your items, grow chambers, and alien helpers along for the ride. In addition to having more space to keep things in your base and freighter, there’s a quick-access inventory system that makes it easier to find items. This is much appreciated as the clunky inventory system at launch was one of the most tedious gameplay features.

The most serious issue with No Man’s Sky at launch was just now uniform everything was. If you’d seen one planet, you’d seen them all. The random nature of the game was so random that planets lacked large scale distinctive features like mountains, oceans, and deserts. Hello Games says that changes to the landscape algorithm allows for more aesthetically pleasing planets and biome-specific resources. I don’t know that I’m seeing much difference yet, but the graphical tweaks like motion blur and antialiasing do look nicer. One big drawback here; Hello Games had to regenerate all planets in the game. Continuing a previous game might mean you character could be in a different environment than before the update.

No Man’s Sky has also been split into three game modes with the Foundation update. There’s the original game mode, creative mode, and survival mode. Creative mode grants you unlimited health and resources to build whatever you want—it’s basically sandbox mode. Survival mode is the opposite; planets are more dangerous and resources are more rare. You will die a lot in survival mode.

Admittedly, the Foundation update brings a lot of new features, but this is still No Man’s Sky. If you didn’t like it before, you probably still won’t. There’s very little story to speak of and the animals still look fairly ridiculous much of the time. If you were on the fence, some of this might entice you to give it another shot. Players at least seem to be giving No Man’s Sky 1.1 a chance. After dropping dramatically after launch, No Man’s Sky is back in the top 50 most played games on steam with a peak of about 7,700 players on Monday.

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