No Man’s Sky’s big Foundation update brings huge new potential and mixed (but hopeful) reactions

Hello Games has dropped the first of its (apparently many) free updates for No Man’s Sky, with the intent of setting a foundation for the future of the beleaguered space exploration sim. On paper, this is good news. No Man’s Sky was never strictly a bad game, more one with huge potential highlighting a distinctly lacking number of Things To Actually Do. And the advent of a long-term content update plan is heartening. It feels like an admission of the game’s limited scope, and also a pledge to manage it in a manner akin to a long-term early access project, or evolving platform. Look at Elite: Dangerous and Destiny, respectively, to see how well that can turn out. Hell, look at Minecraft. 

Adding a hardcore, endurance-driven Survival mode, an entirely more freeform, resource-unlimited Creation mode, and a whole raft of new features to make all of these modes (and the original, Normal one) work in greatly expanded, more engagingly complex ways, No Man’s Sky certainly does pack in a lot of new stuff. Everything from base building, to summonable space freighters, to farming, to custom save points is included. And much more, in fact. Check out the full patch notes to see the lot. It really feels like this is the No Man’s Sky that should have launched. Not a totally complete game, by any means, but one that would have made for much more satisfying, full, and versatile sandbox to kick things off. 

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Opinions so far seem mixed, but optimistic. The general consensus is that Foundation is indeed just that. A promising step in the right direction, but not a total game-saver in its own right. While Creative mode is a fantastic concept – and an obvious fit for NMS’s entire ethos – its functionality so far has been a cause for frustration for some. In particular, issues finding suitable base-building locations – the game has very specific stipulations over the (randomly generated) locations you can use right now – and the first-person building interface currently being the chief bugbears. 

Still, this is a much better situation than No Man’s Sky has been in for a while. Given the level of indignation at perceptions of deceit in regards to the game’s initial promise, ‘mixed opinions’ are a definite improvement. Reddit is no longer entirely a ball of flaming fury. Balanced discussions are breaking out. There is hope. Guarded hope, yes, but hope nonetheless. As starter of the above thread, Mamitroid3, surmises: 

"I realize that the vast majority are still butthurt, but this is a positive thing. In the very least I hope this makes folks cautiously optimistic and sheds a little light on the fact that HG didn't abandon this game". 

How will it go from here? It’s impossible to tell right now. It all depends on how frequent and meaningful the updates are from this point out. But Hello Games knows exactly what the game’s issues are now that it’s out in the open. That should make for a clear and much more straightforward development strategy, if the studio stays in touch with the community and how it’s playing. That worked marvelously for Bungie, allowing it to turn Destiny from a flawed gem to a bona fide, gargantuan must-have within a year. Whichever way it goes, perhaps the real judgement on Hello’s ability to manage a large-scale game will come not with No Man’s Sky’s original release, but what it eventually turns into. 

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.