'No Man's Sky' Patch Will Add a Multiplayer Mode, But Will It Be a Letdown?

Hey, even if it misses, you'll still be among the stars.

It looks like No Man’s Sky is finally getting a full-on multiplayer mode. During an interview with Inside XBox, Hello Games managing director Sean Murray confirmed that No Man’s Sky NEXT will simultaneously launch No Man’s Sky on XBox One along with a multiplayer system that allows players to build, explore, and even fight with each other. On July 26, No Man’s Sky will finally be the game that fans have always wanted it to be.

This is a long time coming. When No Man’s Sky was released on August 16, 2016, the highly anticipated title was met with lukewarm reviews and enraged customers who felt cheated. Prior to the game’s release, Murray implied that the space survival game would launch with multiplayer. He even went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and demoed the game for Colbert. When Colbert asked Murray if it’s possible to encounter other players, Murray said yes, but such a thing wouldn’t be practical because of the game’s massive—I repeat, massive—scale. The game has 18.4 quintillion planets.

Players imagined teeming galaxies filled with other astral explorers and their creations, but what they got instead was an enormous, empty sandbox. They had scoured their respective universes for signs of intelligence life only to discover that they were alone.

To be fair, there was no way that No Man’s Sky could have lived up to the hype. Since the game’s reveal at the 2013 VGX Awards, it generated feverish anticipation as vast as one of its star giants. Hello Games was and still remains a small outfit of less than 20 developers, and fans expected these handful of artists and programmers to deliver not just the world, but the universe.

After the initial backlash, Hello Games has done an admirable job improving the title with free, consistent expansions. Critics of open world titles like No Man’s Sky have an adage that describes these games as vast as the ocean but shallow as pond. While liberating to some, it can feel aimless to others. The epic scope wears thin when the millionth planet you visit feels just like the first. In the past two years, Hello Games has added a ton of new features, such as a 30-hour story campaign, new vehicles, off-road racing, shops, and more. All of this is very impressive for a small team, but it’s also why we should temper our expectations.

Hello Games

In Inside XBox, Murray talked about the possibilities with this new multiplayer mode. You can meet strangers while wandering random planets. You can team up with other players and build tiny camps on backwater planets or sprawling colonies that span numerous planets. You can even become a pirate and attack fleets of other players.

But Murray never divulged how this multiplayer system would work. The company blog post and press release also had little details beyond possible emergent scenarios. Are the multiplayer sessions persistent? How many players can be in one session—dozens, hundreds, thousands?

We don’t know, which is what landed No Man’s Sky in such hot water during release. Maybe this time around, instead of expecting the universe, we should just expect a good time.

No Man’s Sky NEXT comes out on July 26, 2018.

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