Monday, November 28, 2016

Can 'No Man's Sky' Ever Be The Game We Were Promised?

I don't think anyone but the developers, Hello Games, can answer that question. But it's something that a number of gamers are hoping for. The team announced an upcoming patch, which was confirmed by Sony, and that they are still dedicated to bringing the full game to life. The patch went live yesterday morning, much sooner then expected. The PC patch will arrive at a later date. Known as the "Foundation Update" it provides more items and options to players on building their home base on the planet of their choosing, and adds two new modes of gameplay: survival and creative. The patch is said to be the "foundation" for things to come. Har har.

This is the first big content patch that has been released for the game (the September patch was to mostly fix bugs and save files) and includes a number of features that were originally toted by Hello Games, but weren't available during No Man's Sky launch. But will this lure gamers back in?

While the content looks interesting, those who have already tuned out the game are long gone and have moved on to other prospects. They may return, but it will take time. Those still playing, are in it for the long haul.

No Man's Sky reminds me a lot of Final Fantasy XIV. When FF14 was released, it was bad. Real bad. I remember getting into the beta for that game and hoping that we were only seeing a small fraction of what was to come. Sadly, the beta offered everything for the game that was available. The leveling system was more damage focused - so healers were left in the dust and hard to find. The main story was locked behind leveling and required you to achieve goals that were absurd before you could move forward. You had to reach level 20 on a combat job to start the main story. It was annoyingly frustrating. And while the game was trying to help the gamers that couldn't log in daily with resting XP and bonuses, the gamers that were on daily got no perks. Everyone had to grind for XP. Everyone had to share mobs and gathering nodes. These are just a few issues, but it was a right mess. About the only good quality the game had was that it looked pretty. It blew WoW out of the water with the visuals.

FF14 knew it was in trouble when their subscription base dropped off after the first month. SquareEnix built it up to be the next great MMO and it fell flat on it's butt. They brought in a new team and redeveloped the game from the ground up. Some of the original concepts of the game are still there, but with a new, functioning system. They allowed those still playing to keep going for free, test the new content, listened to player feedback, and provide the Final Fantasy experience that was worthy of the title. It took me 2 years to return but I went back to the MMO and it's leaps and bounds better then ever.

No Man's Sky is going through the same transition. The game won't see a rush of people returning with this latest patch. Or with the next. Or several patches after that. It's going to take time, patience, and understanding that they hurt their user base. Now they have to rebuild trust and deliver the game that was promised.

Will that happen? It's up to Hello Games to figure that out.

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