No Man's Sky: Next multiplayer trailer breakdown

The trailer for No Man's Sky Next arrived yesterday, and feel free to give it another viewing above before reading on because there's a lot to take in. Hello Games provided a rundown of what its fourth free expansion will contain, including the long-awaited multiplayer feature and third-person perspective, but it can't hurt to dive in deeper and see what other details we can wrangle out of the footage.

Here's a breakdown of everything we spotted in the trailer, as well as a few things we didn't see.

Co-op appears to be four players max

It appears as though the multiplayer or team cap may top out at four. The only thing I've seen Hello Games say in terms of numbers is 'a small group' or 'a small team.' The screenshots shown contain no more than four players, and the various trailer scenes show a total of four players at any given time (with one possible exception I'll get to in a bit).

This could mean your team is maxed out at four, but what's unclear is what happens if you run into another team or solo player? Or two other teams? Or, like, 10 teams? I assume we'll find out very soon after Next arrives, as dedicated NMS players have already begun planning mass meetups.

One of the players is a Gek

There are four factions in No Man's Sky: the Korvax machine race, the grouchy Vy'keen warriors, the Travelers (players), and the birdlike yet aquatic Gek. Except in the trailer, one of the players is a Gek rather than a Traveler. Or, at least is a Gek who is a Traveler.

That's pretty cool, and I'm curious to see if players can also choose to be Vy'keen or Korvax, and if it's simply a cosmetic choice that can be swapped at will or if it has some deeper impact on the game.

Underwater bases?

There were random structures that could spawn underwater in No Man's Sky, and players have been able to build bases underwater with some clever terraforming, but water would still fill all the chambers of the base. It's hard to tell from the opening scene in the Next trailer, which shows players swimming around near some underwater buildings, if those structures are player-made or randomized spawns.

There's also a frame or two where you can see a much larger structure that looks like it could possibly be a player-built base:

According to Hello Games "Bases can now be built anywhere on any planet." This is great since it sounds like we won't need to have to find a randomly placed habitable outpost to begin building, but I'm hoping it also truly means anywhere, including at the bottom of an ocean where you could construct an air-tight habitat.

Are those pilotable mechs?


So, near the end of the trailer there's a cool sight: one player and three big stompy robots. I'm not sure they're player-controlled, though—a car can be briefly spotted in the same scene, which I assume is driven by a player. So if there is a four-player team cap, and one is in a car, and one is running around on foot, there probably wouldn't be three more players piloting mechs at the same time. Unless you could have more than four players on your team, or if this shows a team of four encountering a fifth player. I don't know. I don't know!

Those mechs just might be extra-large sentinel bots (there's a small quadrupedal bot as well) on the lookout for anyone blowing up trees or stealing expensive resources. They might all be chasing the guy in the car for some infraction of the planet's guidelines (you can see a few standard hovering sentinels following the car, too). But it would be pretty cool if we could pilot those stomping bots around as a new exovehicle. And if not, I'd be surprised if some modders didn't make it happen in the future.

Portal pals

It's not clear how you'll be able to link up with your friends in the vast expanse of No Man's Sky. It may be as simple as inviting a friend to a session and having them appear beside you. If not, it could require using portals to crew up, which were dormant in the original game and only became functional in the Atlas Update. There's a brief glimpse in the trailer of a couple players strolling out of one.

NMS looks great in third-person

We've been able to see our ships in third-person perspective since the Pathfinder Update added a photo mode, but we could only use it while the game was paused. It made for some great screenshots, but it's exciting to think about running and flying around in real third-person mode in Next. It looks like some thought has been put into extra effects you wouldn't normally see while flying in first-person, like the wake the ship leaves when flying over the water.

(Also I think that pilot hit a tree.)

At last, ringed planets

The best planets are ringed planets. Scientists agree on this (probably), and so do I. I'm personally in favor of a mission to blow up our dumb boring moon and turn it into a sweet rocky ring around the earth. Please call your congressperson and help make it a reality.

Modders addressed the ringed planet shortcomings of No Man's Sky long ago, but it's still nice to see long-overdue official rings around planets. I'm interested to see what they look like up close: is it just an effect or are rings made of actual, mineable rocks?

Exterior freighter docking pads

Being able to dock on a freighter (and buy one) was introduced in the Foundation Update. But I sort of didn't care for the way you docked with them: fly too close to the entry port and you sort of automatically get sucked into the interior landing area, which is a bit of a hassle if you didn't intend to actually land.

At the end of the trailer, we see what appears to be a couple of exterior landing pads (I slowed it down in the gif above) outside the freighter with some ships parked on them. That feels a lot nicer than having to always park in the garage.

This little backpack dude lookin' around

I'm guessing this is just a cute animation of our suit's scanner, but this little pod attached to the player's backpack looking around is a nice touch. Like visiting an alien planet with a curious kid sitting on your shoulders.

What we didn't see much of

If there was a big disappointment at the initial launch of No Man's Sky for me, it had to do with the randomized alien lifeforms. Once you saw a few, you began to recognize the base parts and pieces they were mathematically cobbled together from, until each life form just became a familiar mix of limbs and beaks and claws you'd already seen dozens of times before. There just wasn't much magic to them, and when they were strolling around the randomized terrain on procedural legs, they often appeared clumsy, graceless, and completely artificial.

There's not a lot in the trailer showing off alien creatures. There are one or two in the background, and one scene lasting a few frames (slowed down above) with players attacking one of them. I'm hopeful there's been some work done on creatures along with everything else, and that we'll see some exciting and truly different lifeforms in Next. It's certainly not shown in the trailer, though, and not mentioned in the post on the official site.

"You can help friends to stay alive, or prey on others to survive." That's something Hello Games listed as a feature in NEXT, but it's hard to say how it will work or if any of it is included in the trailer. There are a few quick pew-pew spaceship scenes, but I can't tell if it's NPCs or players fighting each other. Certainly no face-to-face PvP combat is shown.

If you can prey on others to survive, does that mean you can take their loot? Their ships? Their bases? We don't know yet, but it won't be long until we find out: No Man's Sky Next arrives on July 24.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.