No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky is constantly evolving. When the game first launched, it was seen as a massive disappointment, a game that promised a lot yet delivered a little. However, Hello Games was determined to turn it around, and turn it around they have. The version of No Man’s Sky that launched back in 2016 is barely even recognizable as the game that exists today.

To emphasize this evolution, I thought it would be neat to collect every single No Man’s Sky trailer and watch them all in order. And man oh man, did this game ever change.

So grab a cup of coffee, sit back in your chair, and take a journey through space and time. This experience is basically a feature-length film at this point (and it’s not over yet).

Note: I’m leaving out the gameplay demos and focusing only on official trailers. The experience is already long enough as it is — we don’t need to slow it down with huge 18-minute gameplay demos (like this one from IGN).

The No Man’s Sky Reveal Trailer (December 8, 2013)

No Man’s Sky was announced at the Spike VGX awards on December 8, 2013. At this point in development, we knew nothing about the game that wasn’t shown or hinted at in this trailer. We knew it was a first-person exploration game set in a procedurally generated universe, and, well, not much else.

Still, it set our imaginations soaring.

I should point out that this trailer shows crashed freighters and sandworms, which are two things missing from the launch version of No Man’s Sky. Both were eventually added, of course.

The E3 2014 Trailer (June 9, 2014)

The trailer that debuted at E3 in 2014 is infamous now. What’s shown in this game is clearly not the game that No Man’s Sky was at launch. A lot of folks wondered what happened between 2014 and 2016, and it turns out a lot — such as a flood that completely destroyed the Hello Games studio. In fact, this flood set the development so far back that it’s might be largely responsible for the release version of the game having to cut so many features intended for launch.

Perhaps the biggest controversy this trailer caused had to do with animal generation and behavior. In the trailer we see a rhino-like creature crashing through trees. We see animals moving in herds. We see different species of animals interacting with each other in seemingly complex ways. And, of course, we see giant, hulking diplos. None of this was present in the game at launch, but just about everything I mentioned here has been added at this point (animals still don’t smash down trees though).

Another big controversy was raised over the space combat shown here. In the trailer, we see three other ships flying close to the player, which a lot of people interpreted as four-person multiplayer. On top of that, we see a massive fleet of NPC freighters, which the game did not have at launch (the launch version had NPC freighters, but not in this type of massive fleet). Again, all of this was eventually added to the game.

The Infinite Worlds Trailer (June 9, 2014)

Also released during E3 2014, the Infinite Worlds trailer didn’t get nearly as much talk as the bigger E3 trailer, though it did get some.

Also, I should point out that this trailer is dated June 9 on the official Hello Games YouTube channel, but gaming news outlets didn’t seem to start talking about it until June 21. I wonder if the trailer got lost in the shuffle during E3 and then was attached to a press release later that went out on the 21st? Or perhaps it was uploaded June 9 and set to private, then changed to public on the 21st? It’s really hard to say now that so many years have passed.

But it’s still a great trailer.

No Man’s Sky: Portals Trailer (December 5, 2014)

Almost six months after the big E3 trailer released, Hello Games would release a pair of trailers to remind us that their universe-sized game was still a thing. The first of those is the Pillars trailer shown above.

This is another trailer that became contentious after the game had launched, because portals were nowhere to be found in the launch version of No Man’s Sky. They arrived a year later, of course, but it was kind of disappointing to see them showcased so prominently in a trailer, only to have the rug pulled out from under us once the game arrived on store shelves.

No Man’s Sky: Galaxy Trailer (December 6, 2014)

Released just a day after the Pillars trailer, the Galaxy trailer is the biggest one yet, clocking in at over four minutes. Considering its length, this actually doesn’t show us all that much that we haven’t seen in previous trailers.

What I think is notable about this one, however, is that this is the closest to what the game looked like at launch, if my memory serves. And yes, memory is a fickle thing, and this is a game that launched almost five years ago, but this is actually what I remember the launch version of No Man’s Sky looking like.

The UI changed a bit, but you’ll notice that the colors are a lot more muted and there are distant landscape features that sort of pop in as the player approaches. Those landscapes are also a lot less interesting to look at than many of the ones shown in previous trailers.

This might be the most honest No Man’s Sky trailer we’ve seen on this list so far.

No Man’s Sky: “I’ve Seen Things” Trailer (October 30, 2015)

After almost a year, Hello Games released the incredible “I’ve Seen Things” trailer, narrated by Rutger Hauer.

It’s strange, because the first half of this trailer goes back to the look of the E3 trailer rather than one that more accurately represents where the game would have been in development at that point. Look how crisp the markings are on the animals, and how electric the colors are. As I mentioned earlier, the launch version of No Man’s Sky wasn’t nearly this interesting to look at.

It’s still a killer trailer though.

Oh, and this was probably around the time when Hello Games started talking about the Sentinels (referred to as “bots” and “drones” in this Edge article from September of 2015), which feature prominently in this trailer.

No Man’s Sky: Pillar Trailers (July 16, 2016)

Pillar 1 – Explore

Pillar 2 – Fight

Pillar 3 – Trade

Pillar 4 – Survive

No Man’s Sky was building hype for its official launch with four separate trailers, each showcasing a different aspect of gameplay. The game was less than a month away from launch at this point.

These do look much closer to the game as it launched, though I have noticed some things shown here that were conspicuously absent from the day-one version of No Man’s Sky. Most notably whales, massive alien ruins (the ones in the game at launch were pretty small), and thick forests. I think these also oversell the trading and dogfighting elements of the game, which are two things you’ll likely spend very little time doing, even in the game as it exists today.

No Man’s Sky: Pillar Roundup Trailer (August 4, 2016)

Just a few days before No Man’s Sky‘s big launch, there was a new trailer that condensed the previous Pillars trailers into one fast-paced trailer. I honestly don’t have much to say about this one, as it’s mostly a more tightly edited version of the Pillars trailers.

No Man’s Sky Launch Trailer (August 9, 2016)

No Man’s Sky finally came out on August 9, 2016, and there was an official launch trailer. A really good official launch trailer, I might add.

Not only is this a great trailer, but it does accurately depict what the game looked like at launch, and, as far as I can tell, doesn’t show — or even suggest — features that weren’t in the game.

The music cues are incredible here as well.

Unfortunately, this ended up being a not-so-great day for the folks at Hello Games. No Man’s Sky sold gangbusters, but there were also a whole lot of unhappy campers, begging for reimbursement and calling for the head of Sean Murray. No, that’s not an exaggeration — death threats were a pretty common way for “fans” to communicate with Hello Games during the No Man’s Sky launch fiasco (and even in the months leading up to it).

No Man’s Sky: Foundation Update Trailer (November 27, 2016)

No Man’s Sky could have died at launch. It was a game made by a tiny team of people that promised the world — nay, the entire universe — to its players, and then failed to deliver. We could have seen Hello Games slink off into the night, never to be heard from again.

But that’s not what happened. In November of 2016 (still long before the dust had settled on the game’s controversy), Hello Games released the Foundation update. In a heartfelt blog post, they claimed this “won’t be our biggest update, but it is the start of something.” And that’s a promise that they did deliver on — No Man’s Sky is still getting semi-regular updates four and a half years after launch.

This also began the trend of naming updates after famous sci-fi novels, this one being a reference to Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

In this patch, Hello Games added the very foundation (see what they did there?) of the base-building feature. They also added purchasable freighters that allowed you to store ships and resources and drag them across the galaxy with you. Both of these things laid the groundwork of a radical shift in the focus of the game from basic exploration to actually settling and shaping the worlds you discover. While it was a slow shift — happening over several years — the entire feel of the game changed as a result. I think we can all agree that this was for the better.

No Man’s Sky: Path Finder Update Trailer (March 8, 2017)

Several months after the Foundation update, Path Finder was released. This update’s big feature was Exocraft — vehicles that players can drive around on planetary surfaces. Photo mode was also added here, as well as more base parts and visual enhancements.

While the title Path Finder can be attributed to a lot of things (including a version of Dungeons & Dragons), the most likely inspirations are the 2010 novel Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (which features space colonization) or any of a number of actual space probes and missions across various places in our Solar System.

No Man’s Sky: Atlas Rises Trailer (August 11, 2017)

Just about a year after the launch of No Man’s Sky, Atlas Rises released. This was the game’s biggest update thus far, adding 30 hours of additional story content, planetary ratings for economy and conflict levels, new biomes, even more graphical enhancements, and the long-awaited portals feature.

I can only speak from personal experience here, as I don’t have the hard data, but Atlas Rises seemed to be the update that really brought the player base back. Here, the reputation of No Man’s Sky seemed like it was starting to turn around.

Of course, the best was still yet to come…

No Man’s Sky Next Trailer (July 17, 2018)

Hello Games went dark for a year after Atlas Rises. Many of us expected that this was the end of the game’s development cycle. Hello Games had been supporting it for an entire year, and while it might not have been exactly the game we’d wanted at launch, Atlas Rises seemed like it was able to salvage No Man’s Sky. This had become a game worth playing.

So imagine the world’s surprise Hello Games broke their silence to announce No Man’s Sky Next, which wasn’t a sequel but yet another free update. The update launched on July 24, 2018, and the trailer above came out a week before that (though Hello had been talking about Next since March of that year).

I’m pretty sure that Next is still the biggest No Man’s Sky update of all time. This fundamentally changed everything about the game. Every system of the game was completely overhauled with a focus on how all of those interconnected. No Man’s Sky started to feel coherent again.

I can’t even begin to stress how big this update was. No Man’s Sky Next was the point at which, if you were a No Man’s Sky denier, you began to realize you owed Hello Games an apology. This update changed so much about the game that it would never quite feel the same again.

In fact, the official patch notes are absolutely massive, but they barely even scratch the surface of how fundamental these changes were. Just a tiny sampling of noteworthy improvements include a third-person viewpoint, character customization, true multiplayer, the ability to build entire fleets of freighters instead of owning just one, and so, so much more.

If the last time you played No Man’s Sky was before Next, you really owe it to yourself to jump back in and see what’s going on now.

And yes, this trailer has a completely different look than the ones before it. The reason is because the entire look and feel of the game had changed. This trailer is a pretty accurate representation of what the game looked like after Next dropped.

No Man’s Sky: The Abyss Update Trailer (October 29, 2018)

Just in time for Halloween, No Man’s Sky got yet another massive update. While much smaller in scale than Next, The Abyss completely revamped underwater environments, adding new biomes, new underwater base parts, a submarine, and about six more hours of story content.

No Man’s Sky: Visions Update Trailer (November 21, 2018)

After the previous two updates, both of which were parts of a fundamental overhaul to the core of No Man’s Sky, Visions felt a bit smaller in scale. Still, it added new biomes, new creature types, more colorful seas and skies, crashed freighters to salvage (finally!), and archeology (which was sort of an expansion of a similar Next feature that let you dig up buried alien tech).

Honestly, I think Visions would have felt a lot more substantial if we didn’t have the previous updates to compare it against.

No Man’s Sky Beyond Announcement Trailer (March 15, 2019)

If Hello Games’ previous release schedule was any indication, we should have expected an update in February or March of 2019. But then we got the above trailer, which was both exciting and baffling because of its vagueness.

What was No Man’s Sky: Beyond? We’d just have to wait and see.

No Man’s Sky Virtual Reality Trailer (March 25, 2019)

10 days later, we got yet another trailer, this one teasing one of the big new features planned for the Beyond update: VR. Yes, Beyond would overhaul the game yet again, adding in the ability to enjoy the entire No Man’s Sky universe in virtual reality. This wasn’t a new version of the game — this let you play every aspect of the current game in VR, which was a pretty big deal.

Better yet, Hello Games promised that VR was just one of three pillars of the Beyond update. The second pillar ended up being expanded multiplayer, and the third pillar was a bit more nebulous, though it was basically another complete overhaul that worked in a lot of long-requested features, such as cooking, the ability to ride alien creatures, and power grids.

Of course, we’d have to wait quite a while to actually experience any of it, as Beyond wouldn’t be out until August of that year.

No Man’s Sky Beyond Release Date Trailer (August 2, 2019)

On August 2nd, it was officially announced that the wait was almost over. The launch date for Beyond would be August 14, 2019. This trailer is mostly just a re-cut of the announcement trailer with a release date added in. Still, it was pretty exciting to know that the update was just around the corner.

No Man’s Sky Beyond Launch Trailer (August 8, 2019)

About a week before Beyond went live, a launch trailer released, which showed off a bunch of the new features that Hello Games had been talking about for months by this point.

While Beyond was advertised as being bigger than Next, I don’t think it felt as groundbreaking. It was mostly additive rather than transformative, and two of the three pillars (VR and expanded multiplayer) weren’t all that interesting to me personally.

Still, the ranching elements were welcome additions, and Beyond was yet another important step in the evolution of No Man’s Sky.

No Man’s Sky: Synthesis Update (November 28, 2019)

No Man's Sky

The Synthesis update didn’t get a proper trailer, but I figured I’d feature it here regardless. With this update, Hello Games sifted through mountains of player feedback and tried to address as much of it as possible. This was mostly a quality-of-life update, but it was an important step for the game’s life beyond Beyond.

No Man’s Sky: ByteBeat Update Trailer (December 16, 2019)

After the launch of Beyond (and Synthesis), it was pretty hard to argue that No Man’s Sky hadn’t become the game we’d all hoped it would eventually be. Hello Games could have called it quits here, and we’d all be more than happy. Not only was No Man’s Sky finally great, it had implemented (almost) all of the promised features that had been missing from launch, and then some.

But Hello Games continued anyway. Now that the core promised features were pretty much all included in the game (with a couple notable exceptions that would be added later), Hello Games started looking into some weirder things that were unexpected yet greatly appreciated. The next few updates were kind of bizarre.

Just before the holidays in 2019 came the first of these: a bite-sized (or byte-sized?) update called ByteBeat. This update gave players the ability to make synthesizers and sequence complex musical arrangements inside No Man’s Sky.

No Man’s Sky: Living Ship Update Trailer (February 19, 2020)

Things got even weirder with the Living Ships update. With this update, you could grow organic ships as an alternative to buying ships constructed of metal. Along with this new feature came new story content to justify its existence.

No Man’s Sky: Exo Mech Update Trailer (April 7, 2020)

And next in the chain of super-weird updates was the Exo Mech update, which allowed players to climb inside a hulking mech suit and explore planetary surfaces in yet another way. It also gave us plenty of quality-of-life upgrades, including powerline management, expanded Exocraft options, and more base parts to play around with.

No Man’s Sky: Crossplay Update (June 10, 2020)

No Man's Sky

Like Synthesis, the Crossplay update didn’t actually get a trailer, and it seemed to kind of get lost in the broader No Man’s Sky conversation. Still, I feel like it’s an important thing to point out regardless.

This update added crossplay to the game, meaning you could play with your friends no matter which console you were playing on. Xbox One players could mingle with PC and PS4 players for the first time.

No Man’s Sky: Desolation Update Trailer (July 16, 2020)

While the Crossplay update was a practical one, the next update would get weird again. Desolation added derelict freighters full of deadly creatures and valuable resources. Players can now find these floating about in space and can explore their dangerous interiors.

And don’t worry, there were plenty of people willing to make comparisons to Alien and Dead Space.

No Man’s Sky Origins Launch Trailer (September 23, 2020)

No Man’s Sky Origins was a little bit of a mystery when it was first announced, but the details were revealed shortly after. With Origins, Hello Games was finally comfortable updating the game version to 3.0. The update expanded the diversity of everything, from planetary terrain to weather patterns to alien life. Origins was intended to make No Man’s Sky feel unexplored again, after having been out for four years and played by millions.

With Origins, sandworms were finally brought back into the game, as well as colossal alien structures. As far as I can tell, these would be the last two missing pieces that were shown in pre-launch trailers to finally make it into No Man’s Sky. The game was finally complete.

Or was it?

No Man’s Sky: Halloween Update (October 26, 2020)

No Man's Sky

This one might not be worth mentioning, but I bring it up just for the sake of calling this article comprehensive. The Halloween update didn’t get a trailer and mostly just added Halloween-themed community events.

To be honest, I stopped getting involved in community events around the time of Beyond, and I haven’t been paying much attention to this aspect of No Man’s Sky ever since. For some folks, this might have been an incredible update. For me, I didn’t find it worth getting excited about.

No Man’s Sky: Next Generation Update Trailer (October 28, 2020)

With a new generation of gaming consoles came a new generation of No Man’s Sky. Next Generation updated the game beyond the capabilities of the PS4 and Xbox One to expand pretty much everything: expanded multiplayer, better graphics, massive increases to the potential complexity of player-built bases, etc.

The update was announced October 28, 2020, and would arrive in time for the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X in early November.

No Man’s Sky: Companions Update Trailer (February 17, 2021)

The Companions update added yet another new feature brimming over with potential: Players can now raise and breed alien pets. These pets can help you mine, protect you from dangerous wildlife, and be traded with other players.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Next-style overhaul (probably over the summer) that brings farming, cooking, ranching, and pet-raising together so that these systems can feel a bit more coherent — like they enhance each other rather than feeling like separate systems.

Then again, Hello Games might lean into the super-weird updates again, bringing us things we never expected.

Either way, the future of No Man’s Sky is still as bright as ever.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x