Talk about a comeback. Two years after its woefully barren launch, No Man's Sky is finally shaping up to be the epic space adventure that fans had been hoping for.
No Man's Sky Next is a free update for PS4 and PC players, and also marks the game's official release on Xbox One. The update essentially transforms Hello Games' sandbox survival game into a whole new experience thanks to a myriad of quality-of-life changes. Whether you're a lapsed No Man's Sky player jumping back in, or exploring the game's vast universe for the first time, here are the biggest improvements you need to know about (you can check out Hello Games' full patch notes here).
Finally, Real Multiplayer
Before it launched in 2016, one of the most exciting things about No Man's Sky was the promise of getting to explore a huge galaxy with your friends. In 2018, Hello Games is finally making good on that promise.
The Next update allows you to group up with three other friends, meaning you can explore together, build together, and, yes, even battle together in slick space dogfights. You can progress through the story with your pals, as well as leave the door open for strangers to join you on your adventure.
Third-Person Mode and Character Customization
As soon as you touch down in No Man's Sky Next, you'll immediately notice that you can now play the game in a third-person perspective, whether you're exploring on-foot or flying in your spaceship.
And now that you can actually see your avatar, the game provides a ton of new character customization options. You can change the color of your spacesuit, and play as multiple races (including the amphibious Gek and the humanoid Vy'keen).
Improved Base Building
No Man's Sky Next overhauls the game's base building system. You can now build bases on any part of any planet, whether you want to create an underwater fortress or a small stronghold in the mountains. The game has also received a ton of new construction parts, and gives players greater freedom in regards to base size, complexity and terrain manipulation, providing a ton of options for building the ultimate base.
No Man's Sky Next features reworked version of the game's opening, including new story elements and gameplay tweaks. You can also expect a greater variety of mission types, ranging from photography and archaeology, to hunting and freighter combat.
Revamped Freighter System
The Next update allows you to assemble an entire fleet of frigate ships, letting you live out your intergalactic commander fantasies to the fullest. You can participate in real-time fleet missions, call on your fleet for help during space battles and customize your capital ship with improved freighter base-building.
No Man's Sky introduces weekly events and challenges, in which you can complete to earn special rewards and customization items.
Improved Graphics and Sound
The next time you boot up No Man's Sky, you'll notice that the universe looks a lot prettier. The game has gotten a host of visual upgrades, including a richer color palette, better draw distances and more varied environments.
Naturally, the Xbox One version of the game supports 4K HDR visuals and a 60fps/1440p mode for folks on Xbox One X. Those playing on PS4 Pro will continue to enjoy 4K/30fps and 1080p/60fps options, and folks on a high-end gaming PC are only limited by their graphics cards.
Next also introduces improved audio features, including a wider range of creature voices and an expanded soundtrack with new songs.
These new features are just scratching the surface. Next also introduces key additions such as improved crafting, interactive Mixer streaming on Xbox and better planetary scanning. We'll need some more time with the game to know if it's finally lived up to its grand promise of the ultimate open-world space adventure. But we can definitely say that No Man's Sky is a much better game today than it was two years ago.
Credit: Hello Games
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Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.