No Man’s Sky added a lot of mechanical depth with its NEXT expansion earlier this year. Now it’s adding literal depths in The Abyss update. The new aquatic content will include all kinds of undersea creatures and structures.
That sounds like a nice next step for No Man’s Sky. Planetary surfaces got a whole lot more interesting after the game’s launch. Vehicles, base building, and story quests—on top of more diverse alien life—make it feel like a completely new game compared to what we got in 2016. Although it still has its rough edges. One such edge was the underwater content, or lack thereof.
You could go beneath the waves before today’s update. There just wasn’t any good reason for it. Oceans were extremely shallow and didn’t look very interesting. All the good animals, vegetables, and minerals were topside. Despite being a major part of the original NEXT trailer, swimming felt like a serious low point in the game.
The Abyss makes diving look a lot more promising. Its trailer talks about buried treasure and unlocking your very own little submarine. But I’m mostly interested in the “hours of new story.” That’s what made NEXT work so well for me. Its interwoven plot lines gave much-needed context to a sprawling, otherwise very empty galaxy. They were also very weird and creepy.
It doesn’t sound like that’s changed. According to the new patch notes, you will “Discover the fate of a troubled crew stranded from a freighter crash by the rising tides, or explore underwater ruins to uncover the tale of a lost soul trapped deep beneath the waves.”
Yes. More of that, please.
Story aside, my biggest fear is that this will just feel like No Man’s Sky… but wetter. The sea creatures in that trailer do look awfully promising. The underwater ruins and crashed freighters, on the other hand, look exactly like the ones I already find on land.
It doesn’t help that No Man’s Sky is drawing more direct comparisons than ever to one of my favorite games this year. Subnautica came out this January and offers an incredible undersea sandbox.
Whereas No Man’s Sky went for breadth, with its 5.8 gazillion planets, Subnautica is set on a single oceanic world. It also single-handedly sold me on survival games with a fantastic story and sense of progression. I started that game by crafting rubber flippers and ended with a mobile sea base (where I could store my personal mech suit). Subnautica is largely responsible for making me give No Man’s Sky a second chance in the first place.
So I’m intrigued. Hell, I’m pretty much up for any game that promises “predator fish rumoured to be larger than Starships” at this point. But I already played a whole lot of NEXT this year—possibly enough to burn me out until 2019.
I’m also happy to see developer Hello Games continue to build onto their controversial blockbuster. It looks like NEXT wasn’t the game’s swan song before some eventual sequel.