When Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky launched in early August 2016, the hype surrounding the title was genuine. The developers promised near-infinite procedurally generated planets to explore, intriguing creatures to encounter, and, perhaps the most exciting element, a multiplayer experience. Unfortunately, No Man’s Sky failed to deliver on almost all fronts. Now, after a whirlwind of backlash, No Man’s Sky seems to have bounced back in its latest update that introduces multiplayer-like gameplay. Though there was a bit of skepticism about the new feature, evidence shows that players are, at long last, actually meeting each other in a game.
The “multiplayer” experience in No Man’s Sky was introduced in the Atlas Rising update, which details that the new gameplay isn’t traditional multiplayer but is something approaching it. Referred to as “joint exploration,” the feature allows players to locate up to 15 other users in their vicinity, and interact with them over voice chat. Interactions include sending other players notes and messages, sharing bases, and speaking with others in real time.
One such No Man’s Sky fan is DesignationG, who found a fellow player shortly after the Atlas Rising update was made available. The meet-up happened on August 11, 2017, exactly one year after two players theoretically met in the game. DesignationG streamed the experience, with a viewer clipping it for the world to see.
While DesignationG wasn’t able to view what the other player was doing, he could hear them and speak with them. He explained that investigating the new multiplayer features wasn’t something he initially thought to do and was pretty baffled when he noticed a green player icon appear on screen, believing it to be a suit upgrade at first.
DesignationG decided to test the range of interaction in joint exploration, and in doing so, revealed some interesting information. He and the other No Man’s Sky player couldn’t see one another changing the terrain with the game’s terraforming tools and that when he taps “interact,” the game responds, “(Player name) can’t build a monument right now.” Additionally, DesignationG stated that he doesn’t think fellow players’ ships appear.
Not long after DesignationG’s first joint exploration came another, which isn’t entirely surprising considering his active participation in the game’s Galactic Hub subreddit, the forum whose users map out a portion of No Man’s Sky‘s expansive universe. Speaking in an interview with Kotaku, DesignationG stated that he thought the Hub capital was the best place to venture after the update since it was highly likely that other players would be there as well. “I would say that without the Galactic Hub that a meeting like this would be taken a very long time to occur,” he explained. “The Galactic Hub has already proven to be such a fantastic community to be a part of and for me personally, was already providing that sense of ‘joint exploration.’”
While the new multiplayer experience in No Man’s Sky isn’t fully fleshed-out and has limited utility, players have still expressed their enthusiasm about the new feature. It appears this is just the start for No Man’s Sky settling into its own, albeit a year late. Hopefully, this small success, along with future improvements, will be enough to win over No Man’s Sky naysayers, or at least open them up to the idea of giving the game another go.