No Man's Sky

While playing the next-gen upgraded version of No Man’s Sky on my shiny new PS5, I was struck with a thought: In its current iteration, No Man’s Sky is finally almost exactly what was promised way back in the infamous reveal trailer from the Spike VGX Awards in 2013. It’s taken almost six years, numerous updates and an untold number of work hours, but No Man’s Sky (in my opinion) has finally realized its potential as a massive, procedurally generated universe to explore and interact with.

Although still not a graphical one-to-one comparison with the infamous E3 2014 trailer, that isn’t necessarily a fair thing to ask for. No trailer should be held as the litmus test for a game’s final state. Look no further than Ubisoft — a vastly larger operation than Hello Games — for examples of visual discrepancies between early trailers and the launch version of their games. Graphical downgrades seem to be their stock in trade if forums and Reddit threads are to be taken at face value (they never should be, by the way). To hold No Man’s Sky to that standard would be unfair to Hello Games.

That being said, if you were to dive into the Next Generation version of No Man’s Sky (available on PS5, Xbox Series S/X, and PC), you will be greeted with a game vastly superior than the one that launched on PS4 six years ago, from the recent introduction of companions and pets to the base building and farming updates that have been rolled out over the years. And that’s to say nothing of the plain-old planetary exploration and documentation that’s been there since the beginning (though even that has been vastly improved since then). And who can predict what ‘s next to come from Hello Games?

Below I have posted some screenshots from the PS5 version that I feel back up my lofty claims. Look at the lush grass and abundant forests (and the incredible flora in general), as well as some of the creatures I’ve found along my journey (yes, even those weren’t immune to the update fever).

No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky

Does any of this make up for the “betrayal” that people felt from the so-called One Man’s Lie? Probably not. But that isn’t really the point here. As a longtime fan of No Man’s Sky, I just wanted to take a moment to point to the current state of the game, which I feel has finally delivered what Hello Games had always desired and planned, even if those plans were nowhere near realized in 2016 when the game first launched.

None of this is meant to excuse the gulf of disappointment that existed between what was “promised” and what was ultimately shipped. I still feel that games shouldn’t be announced until they are practically ready to launch. That being said, it is nice to see how far No Man’s Sky has come through sheer determination and hard work (and I’m sure the millions of dollars helped too).

All of this gives me hope for other games that fell victim to hubris and failed to deliver — games like Marvel’s Avengers, Cyberpunk 2077, and, until a few weeks ago, even Anthem. Of course, I hope this Cinderella story doesn’t lead to more development studios launching unfinished games with the intention of fixing what’s broken later and hoping at a No Man’s Sky-style redemption story. This is a trend we are already seeing far too much of.

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