Nine weeks after the last update to No Man’s Sky, developer Hello Games has released what they have dubbed “The Foundation Update”, bringing a long list of changes to the game. Most notably it brings the previously hinted ability to build your own home bases on planets, as well as a couple new gameplay modes.
But when I say a long list, I mean a long list; and if you want to read each specific thing then you can head over to the No Man’s Sky website. Hello Games also describes the Foundation Update as “the first of many free updates”, which is certainly a good move since after so many players felt burned by No Man’s Sky’s initial launch they’d be hard pressed to get them to fork out more money for the game.
But I digress, let’s look at the major changes.
Firstly, there’s the base building. Players can now design and build their own outpost using resources gathered while exploring, forming a central location where they can store resources. Bases can be travelled to and from using Terminus Teleporters, which is certainly convenient but wouldn’t have helped me in my frustrating instance of being stranded in the game.
Players can create facilities in their bases to research new technologies. The research can be facilitated by aliens that can be hired from space stations, in areas like weapons and farming. Farming is also a new addition to the game, where indoor and outdoor biodomes can be built to produce and harvest various resources.
But then there’s the new addition of multiple game modes, dubbed Normal, Creative and Survival. Normal is exactly what it says on the tin, the regular No Man’s Sky experience.
Creative mode is described as letting players “explore the universe without limits, and build a huge base.” Similar to Minecraft’s creative option, all the base components are free, removing the need to grind through resource gathering to fulfil your dream of an intergalactic recreation of Westeros.
Lastly there’s Survival mode, the “much more challenging endurance experience.” Exact details on Survival mode’s changes are scarce, even in the official patch notes (good to know Hello Games are taking the negative feedback to making vague announcements on board), but several accounts from players shed light on the subject.
We’ve seen reports of players spawning on their starter planet miles away from their ship’s wreckage, forcing them to battle the harsh conditions to get to it. Others have reported their planet’s weather being more brutal, with some reporting cloud cover affecting temperature. Some players are saying jetpack/sprint times are shorter, scanners being reduced and very scarce resources. So yeah, clearly a mode more the most masochistic players.
Another interesting addition are Freighters, giant spaceships whose captain’s loyalty can be bought for the purposes of using their craft as resources transport. Purchased Freighters can be summoned anywhere in the galaxy, and goods can be transferred onto them from planets. Much like bases, the internals of Freighters can also be customised and expanded.
There’s also a number of graphics and gameplay tweaks outlined in the patch notes, most notably the addition of motion blur and better anti-aliasing along with a slight alteration to inventory system. Now up to five stacks of the same resource can be placed in a single tile in your inventory, which addresses vanilla No Man’s Sky’s woefully small inventory system (more like Your Inventory is Full Sky, amirite?). Also, when scanning for resources new icons appear to better differentiate what resources are nearby, rather than having just three symbols to describe the wide range of options.
So, will these changes make No Man’s Sky less of a disappointing experience? There are those who found a positive side in the vanilla experience, but speaking from my time with the game the wow factor of space exploration was quickly stripped away by a its tedious crafting, frustratingly small inventory system and tiresome resource gathering. The Foundation Update does seem to aim to make these issues a little better, primarily by giving you an actual, tangible purpose towards gathering resources like building a base, and also having Freighters act as massive, portable inventory slots.
What I’m trying to say is maybe No Man’s Sky is going to be less garbage now. I’ll have to load up the patch sometime and find out. But perhaps for some it may be too little, too late. Only time will tell.