Releasing a video game into the wild can be a harrowing experience for developers, especially if it’s a title that has been hyped up for years. What can be more troubling is if a game releases to, shall we say, lukewarm responses.
In these instances, entire communities will rally together, bang on the developer’s door, or even the publisher’s, and demand recompense. Too often a game will not receive the fixes and attention it deserves, and the playerbase will abandon the game, never to return. What’s more incredible though, are the comebacks these games make. The best comeback, and probably the greatest gaming comeback ever, is undoubtedly No Man’s Sky.
To say No Man’s Sky released to unfavorable reviews and reaction is putting it mildly. Over the first couple of weeks, every headline read like a eulogy for a game that had died: No Man’s Sky Suffering From Numerous Issues on PC, No Man’s Sky Concurrent Players Drop by 89 Percent, it went on and on.
A lot of players, with their righteous anger, left the game, vowing never to pick it up again, never to preorder another title, and never to give in to hype. The subreddit exploded with the voice of players crying out against Hello Games as the studio went radio silent. It was not a good time.
But then something happened. No Man’s Sky started receiving updates. First there was the base building “Foundation” update, allowing players to build fortifications on their favorite worlds. Then at the start of 2017, dataminers revealed ATV buggies deep within the code and only a couple of months later, the Path Finder Patch went live.
This huge – and completely free – patch really expanded the world of No Man’s Sky. It added tougher difficulty levels like Survival and Permadeath, 4K resolution and HDR lighting, the leaked all-terrain buggy along with two additional terrain types, and the bases from the previous update could be visited by other players. It was a huge step in the right direction for No Man’s Sky and quite possibly the turning point for the game, taking it from a “must not play” to a strong “dive in and lose track of time”.
But the comeback train didn’t stop there. In August of 2017, No Man’s Sky received its Atlas Rises update. This content update added improved visuals, new biomes, conflict and economic wealth for star systems, missions from vendors, improved farming, hireable freighters, 30+ hours of story, new alien race, terrain manipulation for improved base building, portals now allowed quick travel between planets, freighters could crash into planets, additional weapons, and probably the most amazing addition: cooperative exploration. It was the ultimate evidence for a game that has risen from its own ashes, offering itself back to the gamers it had disappointed not so long ago.
If you take a look at the No Man’s Sky Steam page, the game’s most recent reviews are Mostly Positive, which is a massive testament to the dedication of the developers and their continued commitment to the game, especially when “All Reviews” still reads: Mostly Negative. It’s just indicative of how poorly the game was received when it first launched and just how far it’s managed to come in 2017.