NEXT Gonna Give It To Ya

HIGH Photo Mode.

LOW Finding 500 Platinum.

WTF Where do those buried artifacts go?


 

About ten hours into No Man’s Sky NEXT, I found myself walking on the surface of a tropical planet. I’d spent a good bit of time casually going through the remains of a ruined society to pick up translations of alien words, and it was then that I found the smoking hulk of a spaceship. Upon investigation, I discovered that I could trade it for the one I had. The new ship had better stats and far more storage. The caveat was that because it was damaged, I needed to search for a few items before it would be fully functional.

Eight hours later, and I’m still looking for platinum to repair its damaged hull.

NMSNext is an update to the PS4 and PC versions from 2016, and the first release of the game on Xbox One. It’s a survival title that has the player searching alien landscapes in third-person. They can also fly off into space, explore more planets, and find further resources. According to the developers, Hello Games, there are over 18 Quintillion planets.

Starting normal mode dumps the player on a toxic or hazardous world and asks them to figure it out. I initially wandered around with no real understanding of how to replenish life support, or how to keep my hazard suit running. After successfully not dying, I was tasked with repairing and fueling a ship via some light hunting and gathering. Once I had life support and a transport squared away, NMSN ceased all hand-holding and let me get on with… whatever I wanted to do.

Once the player has a good foothold, the play loop gradually expands beyond simple survival. There’s a main storyline to follow as well as a center of the galaxy to find, a home base to build, frigates to hire, guilds to join, pirates to fight and a whole bunch of minor objectives to pursue. The devs smartly layer all of these things in as the game progresses, and it’s stayed compelling over the hours I’ve put in so far. To their credit, Hello Games has created an experience where even though the core activities are repetitive, a sense of discovery and wonder remained with me throughout.

However, NEXT isn’t without its problems. For example, managing items can be tedious. With so many different types of resources and limited slots to carry them, I often found myself selling resources that seemed pointless only to realize I needed them shortly afterwards. Crafting also feels counterintuitive at first — there must be a slot in the inventory available before the item can be created even if the combination will free up space. There were also times where I was uncertain how to build something and there was little help from the vague guidelines. I knew that I needed plating to make launcher fuel, but how did I do that?

Multiplayer, new to this patch, now allows for players to drop in to another’s instance. There are currently syncing issues with people appearing to be off planet when they’re not, some resources appear for one person but not the other, and so on. They’re minor problems, though, because once things got going it was a pleasure to share mini-adventures with others. Having said that, anyone who found the single player experience lacking in purpose won’t have their mind changed with NEXT.  The multi is as aimless (or as purposeful) as the players in the session make it, though it’s largely unnecessary to play with others to accomplish anything.

No Man’s Sky NEXT was a meditative experience for me. The simple loop of landing, scanning flora and fauna, scrounging for minerals, and finally walking up a hill to experience a breathtaking vista never got old. Others may struggle with the game’s openness, and others will likely feel intimidated by such a non-guided experience. But for those craving an experience full of addictive play loops and the ability to go anywhere? This game is for them. Rating: 8 out of 10


 

Disclosures: This game is developed by Hello Games and published by 505 Games. It is currently available on PS4, XBOX, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher code and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 24 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed4 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes. 

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Teen and contains Fantasy Violence. The game allows the player to kill animals and engage in space battles. There is no gore or explicit maiming, although some pre-teens might be sensitive to the ability to commit genocide on cute alien creatures.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All information is provided in text form and by default any voice acting has captions turned on. The game is fully playable without sound. Text size cannot be adjusted.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

AJ Small

AJ Small

AJ Small is a games industry veteran with over 12 years of experience. He started his gaming on the BBC Microcomputer and switched to being a devout SEGA fan from then on. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made.

He can be found on twitter, where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.
AJ Small

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