No Man’s Sky’s latest ‘Next’ update is the deepest reinvention of the game to date. In terms of the improved rendering tech, the addition of a third person camera, a long-awaited multiplayer mode, upgraded base building, and much more – we’ve come a very long way since the its original PS4 launch. Indeed, this isn’t just No Man’s Sky’s biggest update so far but also a landmark release for Xbox One and Xbox One X, with users of Microsoft console hardware finally able to enjoy this fascinating game.
The increase in install size compared to its launch on PS4 is telling. Back in 2016, No Man’s Sky had a tiny 3GB footprint – a factor of the game’s procedural generation of locations and artwork, but today’s fully updated Next edition brings us closer to 8GB on Xbox One, with users of Microsoft’s console getting all of the new updates and benefits in one package at release. And while it’s difficult to show the exact before and after of visual upgrades, the promise here is of improved terrain generation, lighting, draw distances, better atmospheric effects, higher quality textures, water shaders, new sound effects – plus a third-person camera option.
The new camera mode stands out immediately, and it’s the default for anyone starting a new game. This has its pros and cons, but it does a great job of giving you a sense of perspective in a large spatial playground. A detailed, polygonal character is rendered on-screen, where animations are surprisingly varied. It looks great: every step, every type of incline, is factored in – meaning a steep hillside triggers a sideways trot, while flatlands can be navigated at a sprint. One frustration here is the way the camera orbits behind, only loosely attached to the player’s movement. It sways left to right constantly, and never fixes on the subject – making aiming the target reticle harder than in the first-person view.
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