Surviving the leap to VR in No Man’s Sky Beyond

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.

7 Comments

  1. I’ve claimed a planet, I’ve called it British Empire 2.0 and my ship is the Queen Elizabeth. I can’t wait to start colonising other planets and making the Galaxy a better place.

  2. Since the update dropped i’ve played about 12 hours in VR. I did try flat mode at some point in the middle of that as i felt i wanted to check out some of the new content ‘more clearly’ but after 30 mins i was yearning to play in VR again. However i discovered a rare diplo (longneck dino) last night so it’s just as well that i can switch to the flat version any time and grab a few decent specimen photos. (when you’ve played 800+ hours and only encountered mini diplos up to your knees, finding one that was 3 times your character’s height is quite a moment lol, especially in VR)

    • I’ve spent longer than that this week, I think. Quite a few hours were spent on the “I’ve built the Mind Arc, now where the fuck is Artemis??” quest. Eventually fixed itself.

      My creature discoveries have mostly been evil looking fat rabbits. And something that can only be described as having the body of a giant ant on top of a pair of really long legs.

      I also keep getting a version of the music on the loading screen that consists entirely of piano and nothing else, which is nice. Just 3 separate piano parts and nothing else. Not heard that before, and now it keeps playing.

      And planets made of hexagons? Are they new?

      • Hexagon planets are just one of the anomoly planets added a while back (others have shafts of light, bubbles etc). They also play host to anomoly creatures, a bizarre and beautiful collection of oddities unlike the regular fauna, just one per planet too so it’s an easy quota to achieve. You can also collect specific anomoly constructs from those planets and place them around your base.

  3. Warping into a new system in VR is just…mind blowing. Loving the VR update regardless of the graphical downgrade, but still hoping a Pro patch is incoming.

  4. Another update tonight? 2.08. Which crashed first time I tried to play. Very slowly. But then worked fine afterwards.

    Seems there can be a bit of an issue in the space anomaly. I think it ended up with more people in there than it should. Just about to land, and another ship appears in my space, causing my ship to spin around madly with no way to control it, since the landing is automated. That was, unsurprisingly, not pleasant in VR.

    And underwater stuff is a bit dodgy in VR. Frame rate drops horribly.

    • And a big 2.09 update last night claims to have fixed the space anomaly spinning around until the last 3 weeks of food reappears issue. And the invisible hand (which could be fixed by changing your appearance anyway).

      Hasn’t fixed the end of the Artemis quest. That crashed 3 times with the always helpful 34878 error. Then it worked. Follwed by a weird issue where text and an option I had to choose appeared behind me.

      The very end of that quest (which I guess I shouldn’t spoil?) was kind of fun in VR. The music turned into a somewhat aggressive version of the main theme with lots of guitar and things happened that looked quite cool in VR.

      And now I’m going to rebuild my base in a new location. A lovely planet with friendly animals, nice red grass, lots of beaches and a generally pleasant climate. Except for the odd storm.

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