No Man's Sky's NEXT update rolls out next week (opens in new tab). Billed by the devs as its "largest so far", it brings with it overhauled graphics, a new third-person perspective and full multiplayer support. Read Pip's words on what it's like to explore No Man's Sky Next with three other people (opens in new tab), and know that a "very light" multiplayer component was envisioned, but spiked, before launch.
In conversation with The Guardian (opens in new tab), Hello Games head honcho Sean Murray discusses No Man's Sky's turbulent launch—which led to personal death threats and bomb warnings at the developer's office. He speaks about the angry mob nature of the internet, and acknowledges he and his team's mistakes with regards to communication pre-release.
One particularly contentious issue for players at the time was the space explorer's absent multiplayer—a feature some players expected from the off.
“A very light multiplayer was envisioned for launch," Murray tells The Guardian (opens in new tab), "and we fought right up until the end to add it, but it was immensely challenging and we knew it was something that only a handful of people would experience due to the size of the universe.
"We later added a version of it for the Atlas Rises update, and it was nice, but not hugely impactful to people’s enjoyment. What players really wanted was the kind of multiplayer we are adding now."
When asked specifically about the absence of multiplayer at launch, Murray tells Eurogamer (opens in new tab) that Hello Games "talked about the earlier than we should have". He speaks to Hello's small team, and that certain aspirational, but not practical, features were axed along the way.
"We would go way down some routes sometimes and they wouldn't turn out to be a good idea," Murray tells EG (opens in new tab). "Other things we were fighting to get into the game until the last breath, basically. Multiplayer was one of those things. To be super clear—multiplayer at that time was the way we had talked about it.
"It was something that'd happen to people super infrequently. In play-testing it was of almost no value to the player—it was just a cool thing, a cool moment that some people would have, and we talked about it with the press that there's this cool thing that would maybe make a story sometime. But it's a big complicated thing for that payoff. We were fighting for it until pretty much the final hours of the game."
Murray reckons NEXT's multiplayer "totally changes the game"—which is doubly important, given it feeds into its pre-existing features. Murray explains things like base-building, riding in vehicles, and owning freighters weren't intended at launch. "None of these things existed," he says, "and we've kind of had to build the game out for multiplayer to make sense."
And let me again point you to Pip's words on what it's like to explore No Man's Sky Next with three other people (opens in new tab)—which also includes commentary from Murray.