It's been almost a year since the rocky release of No Man's Sky, but it sounds like the game's developers and fans are looking to the future rather than the past. Since the beginning of June, Hello Games has been conducting an augmented reality game in the form of physical cassette tapes and posters sent to moderators of NMS subreddits and forums, as well as 16 different radio stations around the world and live meetups with role-playing agents.
The No Man's Sky community has been converting all the information gleaned from these various clues into puzzle solutions, which are entered on a web domain called "Waking Titan." These solutions have lead to videos, web addresses, documents and more.
The collaborative effort that went into gathering all this info is certainly impressive, but that's the nature of any ARG. It's the international scope of this particular ARG and its immersive physical items and roleplaying that set it apart. Not only have Hello Games created in-game puzzles like decipherable star coordinates based on the clues in the real cassette tapes, but they sent out 180 free copies of No Man's Sky expressly for this purpose. They are also working with ARG company Alice & Smith, known for their persistent alternate reality game The Black Watchmen, to orchestrate the roleplays and in-person meetups.
The most recent discovery is a livestreamed video featuring a woman roleplaying as Elizabeth Leighton, CEO of something called "the Atlas Foundation, which is dedicated to studying the nature of reality itself." In the video, she invites 10,000 participants to apply for Level 4 Atlus Passes, which will grant access to a series of "very specific tasks we'd like you to perform - individually and collaboratively" taking place on July 21. She also mentions that "this won't be my last transmission."
In addition to this, Waking Titan players uncovered this image:
Given this document's wording— hat input from the tasks will "pave the way towards new experiences in version 1.3 of a familiar universe"—and NMS's Foundation and Pathfinder updates were versions 1.1 and 1.2 of the game respectively, fans are safely assuming that this is all pointing to a beta test for the next major update to the game. It is also signed by "S.M.", which players have attributed to Sean Murray, the creative director of No Man's Sky.
If Project Waking Titan is indeed the next expansion to NMS, many are hoping that it will include the fabled multiplayer component that was notably absent from the game at launch - which might be why it necessitates a beta test. In any case, it's clear that Hello Games is pulling out all the stops for this ARG in an attempt to reward diehard fans and draw the attention of potential newcomers. The game has been hemorrhaging players since launch, due in no small part to its misleading marketing and the promises it couldn't keep. It remains to be seen if this update will make No Man's Sky the game fans hoped to see a year ago.
If nothing else, it seems Hello Games has stayed true to its claims that No Man's Sky is a persistent, living universe - that real-time events and actions from its player base are shaping the game's future at this very moment.