Two years later, the hype for No Man's Sky is back

Some posts on the NMS subreddit over the past few days.

I looked at the Steam Top Sellers list yesterday morning and noticed that No Man's Sky was sitting at number 12. This was just for my region—on the global top sellers it sat around 34th place at the same time—but it represents a bump in recent sales of Hello Games' space sandbox. And surely those sales are the result of the trailer for No Man's Sky's fourth free expansion, Next, which shows the upcoming multiplayer features.

While Steam doesn't give us any indication of how many new copies are being sold, it still feels kind of remarkable to see NMS climbing the Top Sellers list because Next hasn't arrived yet: it comes out on July 24. In a way, this makes copies of No Man's Sky being bought now a bit like a pre-order—you can obviously play the game and first three expansions, but you'll have to wait until next week to see how the multiplayer in Next really is.

Which means the game that came out in the summer of 2016 that deeply disappointed so many players who had pre-ordered it based on its impressive trailer is once again selling copies (and still, by the way, at the launch day price of $60) based on an impressive trailer. Round and round we go.

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The hype and excitement for No Man's Sky is back! Yes, it's definitely (and thankfully) a dim shadow of the stratospheric hype prior to the original launch, but a look through the No Man's Sky subreddit (which has gained 2,000 new followers this week), and the fact it's creeping back into the Steam's Top Sellers list show that a lot of people are incredibly pumped to play Next when it arrives.

This reaction isn't out of the blue. Hello Games has spent the time since that troubled initial launch working (mostly very quietly) to produce three big, free updates. Those expansions added a lot of new player-requested features like base-building and base-sharing, ground-based vehicles, new lore and story quests, additional planet types, interaction tools for players to communicate with each other, plus a ton of tweaks, fixes, and improvements that have enhanced everything from the visuals to the UI. The updates have been well-received, which is reflected in No Man's Sky's 'recent' Steam reviews, most of which are positive. (This is including a sizable spike in positive reviews over the three days since the trailer appeared.)

There are also plenty of players for whom the hype has never really subsided: lots of people who enjoyed No Man's Sky from day one and have continued to play it since its release in 2016. They've been supportive and positive (and patient!) throughout the entire life of NMS. So, it's natural they're pumped: the game they've always enjoyed is getting even more free stuff.

Being hyped for a game you already own that's getting a bunch of new stuff added is perfectly understandable, but if there's something that worries me a bit, it's posts like the one shown in the image at the top of the page that reads: "Next is everything I wanted and more." And I've seen a few posts from people saying they're thinking about buying the game now, before Next actually arrives.

It's those kinds of posts and comments giving me this "here we go again" feeling. Deciding No Man's Sky was everything we wanted based on a trailer that didn't accurately reflect the game at launch, putting expectations so sky-high that they had so much farther to fall, is what made the reaction to No Man's Sky so explosive the first time around.

It's not quite the same situation with Next: we've seen and played No Man's Sky, we've seen steady improvements over the past two years, and the expansions so far have been, as far as I can tell, faithful to what we were told they'd be. I'm guessing, at the absolute minimum, the multiplayer features described will actually be in the game this time. I am fairly confident this will not be a repeat of 2016.

So, sure, yeah, we can get pumped! We can be excited and we can be hopeful. Heck, I'm excited to try the expansion, too. The multiplayer in Next both looks and sounds like it could be a lot of fun, and I'm personally eager to check it out myself. It also doesn't sound like Next is the end of the road for No Man's Sky: the post on Hello Games' site states it's "just another step in a longer journey", so it sounds like further expansions or improvements could be next (after Next).

But by now we know, or at least we should know, the dangers of too much hype and the peril of expecting a game (or expansion) to be everything we want it to be (and more!) before we've actually played it. Be excited, be hopeful, but let's not launch the hype rocket before the actual launch of Next.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

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.