No Man’s Sky in its Beyond expansion are the new gold standard


No Man’s Sky in its Beyond expansion are the new gold standard for how to gracefully cope with a game’s flaws post-release. The game laid the foundation with its release, but it took Beyond to elevate it into something magnificent. Successfully transitioning to VR is a creative victory on its own, but realizing just how full and vibrant and rewarding an experience this game has now become is almost poignant. Beyond represents the courage of convictions, a concept that has not only met the lofty expectations it set forth, but transcended them. It is breathtaking right away, waking up for the first time completely immersed in an alien world literally no one else has ever seen. Everything has a new fascination: the way the flora moves and shifts under harsh weather, the way the ground is pockmarked and windswept, the vast, unknowable vistas stretching across toxic interstellar perdition. It’s all beautiful before you even make the first flight into space.

An incredible amount of additional work has gone into making inhabiting that Exo-Suit even more of an experience. On PS4, you can play in 2D or VR with the DualShock, something that also gives you a Smooth turning option, but two PlayStation Moves are the real way to go. With the Move, your Multi-Tool is strapped to your back, ready to be whipped out more like in Blood & Truth than an ever-present floating gun like in most VR titles. The Analysis visor has you pressing the wand to the side of your head, like you’re Cyclops preparing to fire an Optic Blast. Getting in and out of your ship involves physically pulling the handles, and escaping from a hairy situation with sentinels or the local wildlife with that lightning quick motion adds an even greater layer of tension. Best of all, the menus are mapped to a little hologram in your hands that activates when you point at it. It’s a simple and intuitive implementation of such an elaborate and persistent mechanic. That extends into the rest of the game once the tutorials stop and the training wheels are all the way off. All of the larger narrative pieces from the previous updates feel organically woven into Beyond. Dialogue and instructions from one mission from the Atlas Path may be rewritten or tweaked to reference Artemis or some new action you can take in Beyond. Direct links have been made where the next logical step in your current mission involves learning more alien language instead of just trying to get your next cell to warp to the next galaxy. The missions and their objectives have a synergy now, where lines of dialogue and specific mission objectives weave narrative strands together. It’s a bit of minor housekeeping No Man’s Sky has needed for a while now. The overarching subtle tale of both exploration and acceptance in the great unknown remains, but it also has quite a bit more meaning now that it’s not your sole purpose in the universe.

No Man’s Sky has long had one of the more positive and welcoming online communities in the gaming landscape, and there was always the worry that removing the barriers between players would invite the worst elements of online play into what’s typically a place of zen. This is far from the case. The new Anomaly, summonable to any galaxy at any time, is no longer a sparse, glorified save space, but a bustling 16-player hub of activity, full of greetings, proud ship captains, aliens who look upon you with curious eyes, and players more than happy to bring you to the worlds they call home. Just like the first spoken line of the game, so much of the Anomaly’s layout, from its menus to the way it presents the current state of the area, is about reminding you that you’re never fully alone out there. Beyond has made it so much easier to find allies to either assist in their mission or share what you have from your own inventory. Everything you pick up and mine may have a price, but the game quite often reminds you via the descriptions that those items can also be given to others. Clicking an item while on the Anomaly gives you a list of everyone in range that you might possibly hand it off to. Checking mission boards reminds you there are people who may be looking for the same thing you are, and when it’s the other way around, the request shows up in the lower left. During my time with the update, there were good Samaritans everywhere in the Anomaly, giving out extra rare items to whoever wandered into range.

NoManSky, #xgamezones, #xgamezones

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