The newest update for No Man's Sky, Atlas Rises, is exciting for multiple reasons. The update adds hours of story content, new mechanics, and even a little co-op. It goes a long way to excited players who left No Man's Sky uncharted after discovering the game under-delivered and over-promised. For steadfast fans, it's a return on everything Hello Games first promised. And the No Man's Sky subreddit has never been happier. Something the community needed after flare-ups of toxicity.
The No Man's Sky community was wild. Let's get that out of the way first. When No Man's Sky was teased at the VGX Award in 2013 before getting a proper reveal at E3 2014, the enigmatic game had already captivated a legion of gamers, even if we didn't fully know what the game was about, let alone how the finished product would look.
The fever for the game reached a point where fans on the No Man's Sky subreddit were making in-jokes likening creator Sean Murray to God. Then came news that the game would be delayed for a bit, prompting some on the internet to send death threats to both Murray, as well as Jason Schreier of Kotaku who reported the news. Someone even bought a copy of the game for $1,300, just to play it two weeks early.
A year later, far removed from the chaos of a partial meltdown following the less-than-stellar response the game received from press and players, and the subreddit has regrouped, and moved on. Some players lapsed and left the game, while those who stuck with it enjoyed two major updates, "Foundation" and "Pathfinder", that took steps at improving the base game. "Atlas Rises" is by far the most interesting, and players both old, new, and lapsed, are sharing their interest in No Man's Sky's latest update.
Excitement for the game is so much so that the fans have returned to doing their part to spread the gospel of No Man's Sky, urging players to leave positive reviews, or revise negative ones. While the general consensus is that the update is at the very least interesting enough to get casual fans to talk about No Man's Sky again, I wanted to wade through the excitement to get a better understanding of what this update means for devoted fans and those who fell off of the game after the initial hype.
It was kind of difficult to be honest. One user who goes by "maximumcarnage" responded to my question with what sort of sounded like a sales pitch. "The launch left many feeling disappointed but those who saw what the game could be and knew it would be supported stuck throughout," they said in a Reddit reply. "The first months before any updates were announced it was dark and hate-filled yes but quickly as updates started coming ... the community has been great welcoming. We all love this update and are only now scratching the surface of what's to come and loving every moment of it."
I pressed them to see if they were someone disappointed with the initial launch or someone who stuck with it to which they responded, "Both. I've been a fan since the reveal. I've always wanted something so easy to jump into for a space sci fi adventure... I stuck it through and have played well over 400 hours of the game on 2 saves. Just started a new save today erasing my old ones to start a new[.]"
Another user named "Real3nigma" told me that they "Hammered the game on launch, well got my money out of it for hrs played, then put it down till last week." They told me that the last two patches got them back into the game but the Atlas Rises patch was something else entirely. "Jus ran the 1.3 patch and to tell you the truth I was so overwhelmed after 30 [minutes] I had to turn off the console... Never seen a patch/overhaul for a game paid or free that has so dramatically improved a game. AMAZED." They also told me that they never "doubted [Hello Games'] commitment to improve the game."
Other players who did leave the game for an extended period of time also found the update to be a long-awaited answer. "I stopped playing the game about three weeks after release and really regretted not refunding it on Steam," said user "Wolfey1618" who described their regret as "a mile wide and an inch deep." I guess it's a good thing they didn't end up getting that refund because as they tell me, "This update is what I have been waiting for and I will be going back when I get home tonight and starting from scratch."
Another lapsed player named "Anato33" responded with a similar sentiment. "The last two updates were basically nothing to me, but this update has changed everything," they said. Citing improvements like the low altitude flying, mission generation, and addition of a story, they said No Man's Sky "went from a 4/10 to a solid 9/10."
Atlas Rises is a big deal for No Man's Sky fans, that's clear enough. It says a lot that a year later, this update is enough to interest players like me, who jumped ship after finding the game to be a barren experience at the time of launch. But for a fanbase as passionate as the one for No Man's Sky, the pressure to deliver on the game's initial promises must have been tremendous. At the end of the day, No Man's Sky fans just wanted the game they first fell in love with. I don't know if Atlas Rises is that game, but there's just so much desire in the community for No Man's Sky to be the game that it was promised, that I hope Atlas Rises is a step towards that first love.