First Impressions: No Man’s Sky Waypoint Update Stays The Course

No Man's Sky has just dropped its 21st major update, 4.0 Waypoint. Is this game still worth playing in 2022? Hello Games have taken some bold strokes with their monolithic space sim - read on to find out if you're missing out!

First Impressions: No Man's Sky Waypoint Update Stays The CourseThe last big update to No Man’s Sky dropped 2 years ago. Hello Games is back in 2022 with the 4.0 update, dubbed Waypoint, marking the launch of the game on the Nintendo Switch Platform as of October 7. Of course, this update also comes with it a slew of new features, including custom game modes an updated inventory management system. 

I feel priveleged to be able to write about this game once again, having been well-impressed by the last big update. It seems obligatory to dig in and see if HG has been able to keep up the pace the company has set for itself – the debaucherous launch and subsequent redemption being an oft-retold cautionary tale when discussing pre-orders and lofty promises from developers.

I feel like saying “There is no better time to get into No Man’s Sky” is a well-worn drum, one that has rung true time and time again over the past few years. Hello Games managed to not only soften the hearts of those who felt slighted by the broken promises, but has gone on to develop No Man’s Sky into a truly unparalleled intergalactic sandbox of unprecedented proportions.  

No Man's Sky Waypoint (4.0) Update Trailer

 

Hello Games Has Been Listening

Literally each and every item I had on my 2021 wishlist has now been delivered – replete with significant graphical overhauls, performance upgrades, new quests, storylines, gameplay modes… I can go on. They might not resolve each and every issue players raise, and things like inventory system overhauls require extensive re-engineering and testing so looking back at what has taken place over the past couple years, I must say, I am impressed.

The takeaway is that Hello Games has not slept on this game, and this is a rather meaty update that is sure to come with many thrills, and the odd spill in the form of bugs that can sometimes be delightfully cheesy. These bugs are arguably a given with a game of this scale, but it must be noted that the developers are usually very responsive in patching out gamebreakers.

I did almost immediately encounter some familiar NMS shenanigans, glitching outside my freighter. I had fun with this, managing to freefall to safety, and can’t really attribute this to the Waypoint update since they updated the freighters some time back and I have not really indulged in the game in a while. The visuals seem to have improved dramatically all-around, especially when looking back at 2020’s 3.0 update, Origins.

Compare a shot of the same area in one of my previous articles - lighting has dramatically improved

Compare a shot of the same area in one of my previous articles – lighting has dramatically improved

Full-Stack Flexibility

It took a little getting used to as an older player, but you can now store technology upgrades – the catch is, they can no longer be installed in Inventory slots. Before, you could sacrifice some storage for a few extra tech modules, but now if you log in to your old save you will find any you had installed in your inventory packaged into re-installable items. I personally love this – but now I have to get more technology slots to reinstall all my upgrades! I’ll take it.

I also had concerns about the depth of NPC interaction in previous iterations of the game. Most of the improvements in this regard cannot be attributed directly to the Waypoint update, but it is worth mentioning that the game has come a long way since Origins. There are now settlements to build, a wider variety of quest types and random encounters, and many new opportunities to earn currency.

The core of the game has not changed: No Man’s Sky is about endless possibilities; discovery and exploration of the procedurally generated universe. Exploring, gathering, crafting and building all take place in a satisfying gameplay loop that will have you exploring impossible worlds, analyzing and encountering alien fauna and flora as you go. 

Wallpaper Generator 2022 Edition

Wallpaper Generator 2022 Edition

Play It Your Way

You can now also live life on the edge by smuggling high-value, unregulated goods out of dubious star systems to make a tidy profit. A warning – most systems don’t take kindly to this type of profiteering, and you’ll likely find yourself engaging in high-speed aerial battles with sentinels as you attempt to evade them.

You used to be able to evade them by escaping onto a nearby planet and laying low for a while, but the sentinel fleet will wait for you and attack as soon as you take off again. This makes the transition between space and planetary exploration feel that much more seamless – again, this is not a feature that was introduced with Waypoint, but rather is thanks Outlaws which introduced solar ships and more extensive space combat, as well as the sketchy pirate systems.

The Universe Is Yours

Custom game modes are also a thing now, allowing you to tweak almost every aspect of your game. You can create a more casual experience or challenge yourself by restricting things like profit margins and increasing the frequency of hostile encounters. Returning players might find value in the added flexibility, and if you missed the Expeditions update you can now also take part in time-based community events for special rewards that you can claim on the Space Anomaly. 

No Man’s Sky is always a pleasure to return to. Even after hundreds of hours with the game I still find myself getting lost in it. For example, I set out to take a few screenshots of locations I had been before to compare the graphics in a now vs. then-style comparison, only to find myself setting up a new mining facility instead, the objective I had set out to achieve all but forgotten. I eventually did get the screenshots, and many more – the game is more visually striking than ever, with a robust in-game camera mode that allows players to catalogue their adventures and capture memories with a fully-fledged set of capture tools.

I'm not sure what I expected. I bet it likes space!

I’m not sure what I expected. I bet it likes space!

No Man’s Time To Shine

While it might not boast flashy new planet types or lifeforms, Waypoint is a milestone update of respectable proportions, giving No Man’s Sky some attention in the right areas to ensure the game remains relevant for years to come. Some might hope for a sequel, and others may feel that HG has long since paid their dues for the game’s catastrophic launch, but I am grateful that they have continued to reimagine their masterpiece into perhaps more than they could ever have dreamed it could be.

Say what you want about No Man’s Sky, it is still a great game in 2022. Better than ever, thanks to the Waypoint update bringing some much-needed UI updates, and a slew of quality-of-life features like dynamic difficulty settings and the nifty trade rockets, a new feature that allows players to offload unneeded items for a profit while exploring planets. Keep in mind, I played the latest version of No Man’s Sky Waypoint on PC – I cannot confirm or deny whether you will have the same enjoyable experience I had on other platforms, particularly the Switch. Feel free to comment and share your experience if you’ve tried Waypoint on Switch? I’d love to hear about it!!