The universe of No Man's Sky enjoys a grand expansion with the Origins update

Articles: Gaming
Oct 03, 2020 Written by:Eric Born

It’s remarkable enough that a developer has released a free content update to a game launched back in 2016. But the Origins patch launched on September 23rd for space exploration sim No Man’s Sky is no incremental addition. It’s a massive update that doubles the variety that players will find in the game’s universe. When I heard that the patch includes the long-promised sandworms, I grabbed a copy and dived in.

Like many others, I followed the development of No Man’s Sky closely leading up to its release. Classic games like Star Wars: X-Wing and Tie Fighter gave me a lifelong passion for space combat sims, and Wing Commander: Privateer gave me a taste of freedom in a wide-open galaxy ripe for exploration. No Man’s Sky promised something even grander: an entire universe as my sandbox. Using procedural generation, it creates a near-endless playground of planets, moons, solar systems, and alien civilizations to investigate. Thanks to its deep crafting and building interfaces, you can not only explore these worlds but leave your mark on them, as well.

volcanoImage courtesy Gamesplanet

A steady stream of updates has added a wide variety of features to that universe, including VR support, multiplayer, and horror-themed missions inside abandoned space stations. The sheer scope of the Origins update dwarfs all of those before it. Players will find new fauna and new behavioral patterns for the creatures that populate the diverse worlds. There’s new types of planets, and new terrain that includes soaring mountains, craters, rivers, and chasms that weren’t possible with the old procedural systems. You might even find a volcano as you explore, and you’ll now have to manage hazardous weather events like firestorms, blizzards, meteor showers, and tornados.

Long-term players won’t have to worry about the new update causing problems for their current structures and bases. The developers took pains to make sure that Origins brings new variety to the game’s universe without damaging what players have already accomplished. As a new player, though, I started off right in the middle of all the new content. Right from the start, No Man’s Sky gave me an exhilarating sense of adventure as I plunged into a fully realized alien world.

sandwormImage courtesy Gamesplanet

My character woke up on a singularly inhospitable planet. I’d opted for the Survival mode, and No Man’s Sky immediately challenged me to do just that. The unbreathable atmosphere forced me to harvest oxygen for my life support system. A massive sandworm broke through nearby terrain, soaring over my head before plunging back underground. After nightfall, temperatures plunged to dangerously low levels, requiring me to feed my hazard protection system with a near-constant supply of sodium. Then a firestorm swept through the region. (Protip: When fire is falling from the sky, don’t stand outside.)

As I progressed through the early missions, I found strategies for overcoming these obstacles. I learned to explore cave systems or hunker down in my ship when surface temperatures become inhospitable. I started to hunt for salvaged data from buried technology and build up a base of operations. And once I got my ship off the ground, through the atmosphere, and out into the void of space, I made my first intergalactic flight.

vistaImage courtesy Gamesplanet

After a brief dogfight with two fighters from an unidentified alien civilization, I followed a mysterious beacon to a moon with a new set of challenges. Danger still lurked around every corner, but as my gear and knowledge increased I got more dangerous too. I’m only a few days into my journey in No Man’s Sky, but I can already tell that this is a universe that I could happily spend many hours exploring.

With the huge Origins update, No Man’s Sky has a lot to offer returning players and even more for newcomers like me. It’s the perfect time to get started exploring its endless worlds. The game is currently part of the Xbox Game Pass, as well, so if you’ve signed up for Microsoft’s subscription service there’s nothing in the way of you and boundless science fiction adventure.