It may have been a long wait, but No Man’s Sky finally went Beyond last week. The free update brings with it a variety of additions to the game, the biggest being either VR support for those that have the headset or further expanded multiplayer, though things like an overhauled space anomaly, electricity to improve your base, and some new crafting recipes shouldn’t be ignored.
Let’s start with multiplayer; the game now supports up to eight players at a time now when out and about the universe. You can even (theoretically, at least) bump into other players whilst roaming the galaxy, or you can just play with friends, but if you really want to find some players you’re better off making your way to the space anomaly. Or more accurately, you can now bring the anomaly to your current position the same way you summon your freighter.
The new and improved anomaly features up to 15 other players and is populated at random. Whilst the space anomaly may look the same as before from the outside, docking reveals a much larger area featuring a selection of aliens to chat with, or to turn in data you’ve collected from exploring, purchase a new multi-tool, and so on. There are completely new things to find here as well, such as the ability to browse and visit other players’ bases and, perhaps most importantly, you can also start multiplayer missions here.
Easily the most exciting part of the update, at least for me and (presumably) other VR owners, is the VR support. Using PSVR you can play with Move controllers, your Dualshock, or even switch between them on the fly. With the latter the game controls the same, except now you have to physically aim your multi-tool using the controller when shooting. The move controllers, naturally, are another story. Movement is handled by pointing your left controller in the direction you want to go and pressing the move button, rotating your view with X and circle on the right controller. It takes some time to get used to the controls, perhaps due to having to relearn them, but once you’ve adjusted a little they work very well.
There’s plenty of care taken in the implementation as well. If smooth movement causes you a little motion sickness the accessibility options have got you, it can be set to teleporting for movement and snap for rotation, as well as tunnelling to reduce your peripheral vision. More than just this, there are a litany of great touches that improve the experience, such physically reaching for the handle on your windscreen(?) and pulling it up to get out of your ship, reaching over your shoulder to equip your multi-tool, and inventory windows and the like not simply floating in front of you. Instead, they’re projected upwards out of your left wrist and interacted with using your right hand. It might sound small, but it all about the immersion and makes you feel a bit like a spaceman from the future, which is always a good thing.
There are drawbacks, however, and the obvious one in VR is the pretty drastic drop in graphical fidelity. Things are a bit jagged, especially at a distance, and it’s most noticeable on space stations or the space anomaly where there are more fine details in the architecture. Certain things are lacking a little polish which, whilst I’ve never noticed before, become very clear in VR when you can look out of the window of your ship and see the moving parts of the engine clipping through the outside. You can also clip through parts of frigates and freighters rather than colliding with them. Despite these issues, they fail to take the sheen off wandering around alien planets and actually physically pointing your laser gun at things.
There are a host of other improvements too, from another visual upgrade outside of VR through to a reworked opening that better explains all the features and controls to you. You can even mount creatures and ride them once you’ve tamed them, and from there you can ride them up to your newly constructed farm where you can actually farm animals for milk, eggs – and poop for some reason. Your inventory is a little roomier now, so you can carry even more space rocks, and when you get tired you can finally sit in chairs instead of just spinning them around as you rush past.
Beyond is yet another significant update for No Man’s Sky, adding in a lot of content and instantly making it literally the biggest VR game available. It’s still a space-faring survival game, complete with grinding, although that’s been lightened a little. If No Man’s Sky interested you but was light on content and features, this is the closest it’s been to not being light. It won’t change your mind if survival isn’t your thing, though it’s worth a look in VR either way.
As for me? Whilst sitting in the cockpit of your ship is great and flying out of the atmosphere into space is thrilling, personally, I’m going to build a nice space house on my home planet, sit in my space garden and look up at the stars and take in that massive ringed planet that dominates the sky. Maybe I’ll see you out there.