Published on March 16th, 2017 | by Justin1
No Man’s Sky Pathfinder Update Analysis
No Man’s Sky.
Those three words have so much meaning behind them, so much emotion, and not just to the people who purchased or pre-ordered the game since last summer. It’s the game that people love to hate. It’s a cautionary tale highlighting the dangers of hype. It’s a punchline at the end of a joke. Let me start things off by saying a couple of things before delving into the content released in the version 1.2 Pathfinder update.
First of all, I never believed the hype about NMS. I was excited about it, sure, but I’ve always been a firm believer in the “if it sounds too good to be true” mentality. I wanted a space exploration game. I don’t know why I suddenly wanted this, but NMS seemed to fit the bill. I don’t have a flight stick, and I’m not all that interested in Elite: Dangerous or the like. I just wanted to fly around an enormous universe and see what I could find. With that criteria in mind, I actually liked NMS, even at launch.
Was it plagued with bugs? Sure. Did it run pretty poorly on computer? Absolutely. Did consumers set themselves up for disappointment by filling the pre-release information gaps with their hopes and dreams of what a game could be? Unquestionably. For a moment I want you, the reader, to try and erase all of your preconceptions of NMS from your brain, if only temporarily. Maybe hit yourself in the head really hard, or huff gasoline for a few seconds and then come back. I’ll wait here for you.
Okay, so, No Man’s Sky is a video game where you explore a universe. That’s it. There’s some space battles thrown in here and there, there’s a lot of resource gathering, the graphics are absolutely beautiful, the soundtrack is incredible and it is, as the kids would say, chill AF. Does the idea of wondering the universe with very little guidance while mining for minerals, upgrading space ships, and just generally trying to stay in the black when it comes to survivability sound appealing to you? Then I would seriously consider No Man’s Sky. If you want simulation level space combat controls and a solid multiplayer experience then you are in the wrong place.
So now that you are hopefully seeing the game with eyes unclouded by hate, let’s talk about the update. The version 1.2 update titled “Pathfinder” adds a plethora of content. First of all the game has received some polishing and some optimizations, although it still runs fairly poorly on my Haswell i5 and GTX 970. I’ve got the FOV at 100 and pretty much all the graphics options on low and still dip well below 60 fps at times, so I definitely wouldn’t recommend the game if you’ve got worse specs than that.
Freighters, which were added to the game previously (think star destroyer) have also gotten an upgrade allowing pilots to collect multiple ships, which is handy now that there are different classes of ships with different specializations (specifically fighters, haulers, explorers, and the all-rounder shuttles). The classes range from C class to S class and when purchasing a new ship you can now trade in your old ship towards the purchase of the new one (something I’d been wanting since launch day to be honest).
The vehicle changes don’t stop there, with the introduction of three Exocraft vehicles that can be used on planet surfaces for better mobility and/or storage capacity. 1st is the Nomad, a very fast hovercraft that skims across water. 2nd we have the Roamer, a slightly larger vehicle pushing four wheels similar to a car. The Roamer can be driven underwater which made me very happy because I’m terrified of going in the ocean in NMS for some reason. Last we have the Colossus, the largest and slowest of the Exocraft, but with an enormous storage capacity. Acquiring these Exocraft is actually pretty easy with a quest line that takes less than two hours, and once learned you can build these vehicles on any planet that you visit. Originally, they could only be used on your “home planet” but that was changed in a patch that came out shortly after version 1.2.
Another change to the game is the introduction of a new currency called Nanite Clusters, which can be used to purchase blueprints for base building and also the new weapon types. Speaking of weapon types, there are six new ones, three for your ship and three for your multi-tool, allowing for further customization and tweaking of playstyle.
Segue into multi-tool specialization and classes… Oh, there’s also specializations and classes for the multi-tools now too! Along with the ships, the multi-tool classes are ranked C through S and the specializations offer improved mining capability, stronger combat effectiveness, scanning strength, and the mysterious “Alien” specialization which, after nearly 40 hours with the Pathfinder update, I’ve yet to find. Similar to the ship changes, multi-tools can also now be traded in toward the value of a new one.
There have been other less noteworthy changes to the game that range from quality of life improvements to base sharing via Steam Workshop. I can’t help but think this was always the intended path of the game, but modern attention spans and severe bandwagoning have all but destroyed the NMS community before it had a chance to show its true colors. But here’s the kicker: NMS doesn’t need a community. NMS is a single player game. NMS is meant to be enjoyed alone, to get lost in, to escape reality in. I wouldn’t recommend paying the full $60 price tag unless everything I’ve said sounds extremely appealing to you, but in the $30 to $40 range I think NMS is a bargain, regardless of what you’ve been hearing about it for the past seven months.
If you already own NMS but haven’t played recently I’d encourage you to give it another shot. If you were thinking about buying it but then didn’t because of the bad reviews, this might be the best time to reignite that interest. NMS isn’t game of the year 2016, it’s not the best game ever as so many foolishly expected it to be, and it isn’t perfect (screw you for even thinking it could be). That doesn’t mean it should instantly be written off as nothing more than a cautionary tale. As of this writing I’d spent 40 hours in NMS prior to the patch, and since the Pathfinder Update I’ve spent another 40 hours in the game, and I’ve been having a blast and taking lots of pictures.
No Man’s Sky has been both blessed and cursed in its lifetime, but right now, in March 2017, it’s a good game and worth considering playing… if you want a chill space exploration game with no multiplayer and lots of grinding.