Venturing Forth on a No Man’s Sky Expedition
It is incredible to sit back and just look at how far No Man’s Sky has come. I was reading through some of the older major patch notes, finding surprise after surprise when some note or another reminded me that a certain thing, now taken for granted, wasn’t always that way.
For all that, whenever I make a return to the game — it generally goes in one of two directions.
- Dive in for a while, happy to explore the universe and build up my technology as I go, or
- Disappointment at how surface level the systems are, resulting in a quick bounce off the game for another 6-months to a year.
This time around, it has seemingly rolled the die to land on option 1. I played a fair amount of the recent Endurance update in a normal save before the Expedition came out and have jumped both feet into that now that it’s out.
At this point, which direction my interest goes has very little to any changes actually made in the game. The constant iteration is fantastic but never really fundamentally changes what the game is. No Man’s Sky chases down depth of experience through breadth of systems and options. It is incredibly easy to become lost in the moment as to what to chase down as your next goal.
And you know what?
Sometimes that works for me.
The Polestar Expedition (Expedition 8)
Expeditions came to No Man’s Sky a bit over a year ago, but despite an interest to be there for the inaugural community journey, I… wasn’t. Nor have I done a single one of the expeditions since. If you’re unfamiliar — you can essentially think of Expeditions in No Man’s Sky as ‘Seasons’ in another game. They have milestones/achievements to hit in various different phases to complete the season. As you go, you earn rewards that can then be claimed in any of your No Man’s Sky save games.
More interesting than the rewards, to me, is the fact that Expeditions start people off in the same place. Not the exact same spot! That would be chaos. Typically it’s the same planet, though. Then, through each phase of the expedition, there is a rendevous spot so that even if people wander off the beaten path, there are points that bring them back together again.
For a while, Expeditions seemed to follow a fairly similar path. But the last few have started to really experiment. Throwing up new modes of progression, including a roguelike for Expedition 7!
This one doesn’t even start you on a planet.
You start with — and on — a freighter capital ship.
In fact, planetary base building is almost entirely locked down for a good long while. You can’t build — or unlock — hyperdrive upgrades for your normal starship at all.
This expedition really wants you to focus on the updates made to the capital ship base building upgrades included in the Endurance patch, so pushes that style of play. It also wants you to experience the upgrades to the capital ship’s own hyperdrive, letting you stay onboard and warp on it — in much larger jumps — than would be available on a normal ship during the early stages of the game.
So far, I’ve completed this expedition’s first two phases (out of five). For myself? I love it.
But I also have to say the experience of bringing someone new(ish) to the game has been made more difficult for the nonstandard start and progression experience. There is a lot you can get very early on — and for easier to obtain resources — in a ground base which you just can’t do here. Almost everything you build or do with the freighter relies on rarer materials.
It has been an interesting perspective shift on the perceived ‘depth’ of the game, too, advising (or trying to, hah) someone else through it all. There is… a lot. And at times, I can really feel the friction involved in learning it at all and how close it is to being too much.
So while I’m ready personally, I’m holding off on moving ahead to the third rendevous system. My friend is perhaps midway through the second phase objectives.
Soon though, soon!
I just really wish I’d taken the time to jump into some of the earlier expeditions. This has been a good amount of fun so far! I can only imagine where they go next, now that they’ve taken on this Path of Exile-like experimentation with game styles from expedition to expedition.
I’m also really curious what the 4.0 patch for No Man’s Sky will bring. Assumption is that will land with the Switch release in October. Endurance is now up to 3.97 — so not exactly a lot of versioning runway left there…
So will it be a tiny update (other than, you know, the whole new platform being supported?) or, will it still be a giant update on the order of NEXT and Beyond?