“No Man’s Sky” Update 1.3: Atlas Rises

I hope by the end of the post you don’t think I hate the game – that wouldn’t be true. It is fair to say that there’s a lot more negative I can say about this update and that the impact of the changes made has really hit home for someone who spent a lot of time putting effort in to both labeling the system and planet names in an informative manner, as well as contributing to the No Man’s Sky Wiki as part of the r/NMSGalacticHub Project. That doesn’t mean I think the update was a mistake or in any way ruined the game. However, some of the bugs and mechanics I’ve encountered at the very least have me hesitant to play much more until another bug fix update or two comes out.

So, in order to prevent you from dismissing this post and missing out on all the “good stuff”, I’m going to try to list the good stuff first.

What did this update bring?

  • New textures, at least to the flora/planets if not the fauna. Also, I think space is darker.
  • Combat has been made more challenging (though admittedly I have some things to say about this that aren’t all positive).
  • The Atlas storyline has been fleshed out, and existing players are allowed to play it again.
  • Portals are active and there’s (another?) story involving that.
  • A fourth race. (?)
  • New style of ships.
  • Limited multiplayer.
  • Lower flight. I mean, REALLY low.
  • The HUD has gone through a welcome refresh.
  • Some other odds and ends that would appear to add a little more depth to the systems/galaxy.

So these are all (mostly) good things. Really! The one planet that I noticed had grass looked like actual grass, and wasn’t cartoony at all. In fact the trend does seem to be shifting the style of the game not necessarily towards realness, but still less away from cartoony. More towards the original idea of “stylized”.

Combat was (at least for those of us who had all the upgrades and had them set up so) a quick and easy thing and there were really never any challenging enemies. I will say that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you should be the baddest thing in the skies eventually. Now though it is an exercise in making sure you have plenty of shield materials, and even with the best cooling modules, making sure you don’t overheat your guns. Honestly, I dread to find out what it would be like for someone less established than I. The pirates I’ve encountered so far (and perhaps more often that I’d prefer) have been many, durable, and harder to shoot at.

I’ve barely started the Atlas Path again, so I can’t speak to that much, but it’s nice that they’ve given me the opportunity to give it another look-see. Whether or not it’s related to the “strange communications” story that I’ve found myself in, I don’t know (I doubt it) – I think “strange communications” has to do with portal activation. Portals require a 16 digit symbol code, and I haven’t figured out how you get a given portal’s address, though activating a portal is apparently very “Stargate”esque. I mean, you might as well call the darn thing that you punch the code into a DRD. Portals are also apparently much more complex than I expected – it seems that you can go through them to other planets, but getting your ship to you on the other side is purposefully difficult (and may have meant to be impossible). So portals may be intended as something you use to visit another planet … but only in that you are expected to return at some point. Hopefully you can’t get stranded on the other side. I very much like that it’s apparently not just a simple “here’s the code to this portal you can enter at other portals to get here” thing; apparently you have to work it out.

I haven’t seen the new ship styles yet, but they’re supposedly out there (I’ve seen pictures). I’ve also not seen the fourth race in any sense other than a communications hologram.

The HUD cleanly presents more information (particularly when scanning) than it used to; there were instances on the 1.2 series where text from one thing would be plastered over the text for something else.  While a tad more cluttered, it does present the information in such a way that it is more easy to read.  I did have some difficulty scanning some of the faster moving ground creatures.

That little blue ball is another player.

The limited multiplayer would best be described as being able to hear other players and see them represented as something best described as “sprites” – little glowing balls of light. You can see when they’re in vehicles or if they’re walking around. And you an hear them.

And here we come to my first major gripe in the post: You can hear them … even if they’re on another planet in the system.

That needs work. I first heard another player’s voice while I was in space and they were on the ground. The second person’s voice I heard, I was on a completely different planet and started hearing them discussing a portal site I had visited. There needs to be a relatively small range for the voice communications, because you could have 12(?) different people on six different planetary bodies in a system and they might all end up talking over each other.

So, since I’ve started dipping into the negatives, let’s list a few of those out:

  • The game has gone through another “planet regen”.  While this is great and allows the planets to feel “new” and better introduces the new textures, this also has:
    • Completely screwed up the naming of planets in the Galactic Hub – so much so, that they’re discussing moving to a new region that hasn’t been explored and start anew
    • Changed my nice ocean planet to a frozen waste – which I’d be able to take, if it weren’t for the fact that it
    • Royally screwed up my base (more on this later)
  • The auto-aim on combat is unpredictable, at least for the photon cannons
  • Completely reset the recipes for buildable materials
  • Completely changed the naming of some of the materials introduced in 1.1 and 1.2 – frankly, if you’re going to do that, you probably should have gotten rid of a vast majority of the economic changes from 1.2 such as:
    • Nanite Clusters – they were a bad idea from the start, but at least the dealers now show two whole pages of things you can buy from them instead of just one
    • The dealer in the base round room that sells additional base blueprints

So … my base.  The first I returned to the base, things seemed … okay.  Yeah, the planet was completely different, and all of the comm stations left by visitors (as well as, apparently, my mine and vehicles) were on the other side of the planet, but on the whole, things seemed … okay.  Until I took off.  I noticed that my race beacons were where they were even after I deleted my race platform …

The things floating in the air are race beacons I can’t delete, and that building would later move …

All of a sudden I ended up with 1 FPS.  That was painful.  A save and a reload later, and things were … okay, but then I didn’t look at my base – I just continued to fly towards the comm stations.  At this point the bugs weren’t annoying yet.  More amusing and chalked up to the planet regen.

You can’t build them within base limits and you don’t get the resources for them when you delete them. There was a vein of Emril there in another reality.

As some things have been … “reset” … it turns out that all of my specialists have run away, so I have to hire new ones.  I go through the beginnings of that process and return to my base to find this:

This left a very bad taste in my mouth. I was planning on moving … but, really?

And there’s no “base round room” where the base indicator is.  This was a frightening realization – where the heck was my Terminus?  My base build area is (at least last I checked) in this area … but the starting room isn’t.

I flew to a few other systems to see if I could get a handle on things, and risked a Terminus return to my base.  This is what I discovered:

Not allowed to build here, but this is where the Terminus spit me out.

On the whole, the new stories are intriguing in concept, but will take time to work through … and I feel a pull to a different game for the time being.  I’m just not looking forward to putting in the work … again … to get everything set up the way I want it.  Besides – I’m going to probably end up having to do that work at least twice since I’ll want a base that’s properly arranged (man, the noise of circling ships in the buggy Trading Post under my base gets really annoying), but it will take time after that to explore and find a planet I like – something with blue sky, green grass, and blue/green water.

I’m sure I’d find it … just about the time they get ready to regen the universe again.

Oh well … I’m sure I’ll be happy to take the time … after a couple of more bug fixes, and once I start getting bored of Elite: Dangerous.  Might be a while though.

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