The universe exploration game No Man's Sky hit the scene more than a year ago and disappointed many of the people who bought it. Some gamers felt that developer Hello Games had made big promises that they couldn't possibly live up to. But a dedicated fanbase kept the game alive with mods, bug fixes and—after the toxicity faded—a strong online community.
Hello Games spent the past year working to improve No Man's Sky and add features the fans hoped for in the original release. The newest update—Atlas Rises—adds an expanded story, rudimentary multiplayer, and improvements to the game's economy. It's also adding several quality of life changes the fan community modded into the game almost a year before the official patch.
One of the biggest additions that was already a mod is low altitude flying. In the original game, players could bring their ships only so close to a planet. If an explorer wanted to stay in their ship and cruise the planet's surface, they had to stay in high orbit.
Players who dreamed of piloting their ships through caves and buzzing strange creatures had their hopes dashed. Until, that is, modders added the feature to the game two weeks after its initial release. Now, a year later, Hello Games is fixing a problem the community solved a year ago.
It's not the only thing in the patch that fans had already fixed. Atlas Rises adds various graphics overhauls, the ability to summon your ship while exploring a planet, and new biomes. These are all improvements the community added to the game while Hello Games was working on other things. Despite that, some fans are thrilled..
After it's initial release, No Man's Sky bled players. It roped in hundreds of thousands of people and made publisher Sony tens of millions of dollars, but couldn't keep most of them. Thousands demanded their money back. On Steam alone, more than 800,000 people own it and during its first month more then 200,000 played it concurrently. These days, it's lucky to break 1,000 concurrent players on Steam.
Those 1000 or so players are dedicated though. Motherboard reached out to the fans on Reddit to see how they felt about the new update, the state of the game today, and to see if Hello Games was catching up with the modding community.
"I think looking at modding is always one of the best ways a developer can put an ear to the ground," Redditor Bolty wrote. "You see it a lot with Bethesda games; popular mods tend to become features in subsequent releases."
User The_Scho_Empire said they were, "very satisfied," with the progress of the updates. "I didn't pay any attention to the hype pre-release, and have been happy with how the game has been developed and supported. [The previous updates] contained many quality of life and graphical improvements as well, so it's okay that it's taken a year to get more implemented. Hello Games is small and the vision behind the game is big, so I cut them some slack with improving it."
The players also reminded me that mods are only a big deal to PC gamers. "Keep in mind that PS4 players got no mods at all, so this is huge for that player base," user Fred_Zeppelin wrote. "I don't think it makes sense in that context for Hello Games to have thought that mods would carry them until they got around to developing that feature, when much of the player base had no access to them."
The fans also trust Hello Games to deliver on its promises and didn't worry to much about it fixing problems the fans had taken care of. "Each feature has it's own reasons for why it came along when it did," Fred_Zeppelin wrote. "Atlas Rises probably has a great development story. Would love to know how long this has been in the works."
Hello Games did not respond to Motherboard's request for comment.
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