Returning to a game you haven’t played in years is always a strange feeling. It’s like seeing a childhood friend from your hometown after years apart. You can still see the child you spent so much time with in their eyes, but also the age and growth that you missed out on due to your separation. They still laugh the same and still have an intense love for movies, but now they walk a little differently and have an ostrich tattoo on their ankle that you feel too awkward to ask about.
Playing No Man’s Sky in 2021 feels like seeing that childhood friend again. I jumped into this quintillion planet galaxy at launch and thoroughly enjoyed it, zits and all. However, I bounced off from it after a while and only returned for a moment when the base-building patch arrived. For years it was out of my mind as I focused on other games, projects, and general life stuff. With the new Prisms update being released, it felt like the perfect excuse to don my exosuit and travel out into the stars once again.
With a considerable list of updates and patches since I last played, this game has evolved exponentially, moving beyond what was originally promised.
I am no stranger to games that are constantly updated throughout their lives. I have been playing World of Warcraft pretty consistently since launch as well as the Destiny series and League of Legends. I was there for all of the major updates, patches, buffs, and nerfs that these games had. In real time, this experience was gradual and many times went unnoticed. However, jumping back into a game after years of polishing and updates, you get to see how far it has really come and how much it is still the same.
I decided to start fresh with the new Prisms update, mainly to see the game more in its totality and because I do not want to know what I thought a good base looked like in 2018. Frankly, I was blown away by what I experienced in the “tutorial” section of the game. My starter planet was highly toxic, with exploding plants, but I’m not referring to that. The game does considerably more heavy lifting to ease players into the galaxy, with more guided content, actual quests, and even new (new to me, remember) characters and storylines. Walking through the Anomaly Station for the first time is truly amazing. An actual player hub in a game that did not have multiplayer when I first played. I was literally that fool running around the station waving at other players.
And yet, it is still the game I remember. I still traveled the stars, mined resources, melee boosted around, and scoured planets for knowledge stones. The core of the game did not change with all of the new updates. The game’s language was unchanged, and I am still fluent in it. This meant I knew to hoard oxygen and di-hydrogen so I could try out the new content without any worry of being stranded or just flat out dying.
With all this new content, I can’t help but ask, did No Man’s Sky finally fulfill its promises? It is no secret that this game had a plethora of promises regarding what it was before the game was released. Unfortunately, most of those expectations were not met, and many people felt as if the game was just a shadow of its promised self and worse because of it.
Prisms gives us an answer to that question. A Reddit user compiled all of the content the game originally promised and compared it to what was available at launch versus the current (from a year ago) state of the game. Surprisingly, the game now has fulfilled the majority of the promises to an extent. The game has also added additional content that wasn’t initially promised to players. Base building, social hubs, and even driving other types of vehicles were never outlined, but here they are, content that is now integral to the current state of the game.
No Man’s Sky is now more than just what was promised by Sony’s infamous marketing campaign; it has grown to be something all of its own and not just what we expected it to be.
Think back to your childhood when you and your friend would spend sleepless nights together talking about becoming rock stars and firefighters and of all the fantastical road trips you will take once you both learned to drive. Flash forward years later, with you being a journalist, them being an IT technician, and only one of you having a driver’s license. You can still play music and finally take that trip together. Maybe it’s finally time to let go of that list of failed promises of No Man’s Sky and just let the game keep growing at its own pace.