No Man’s Sky NEXT Brought Me Back to PS4

From my earliest gaming days, Sony’s PlayStation has always been my console of choice. I’ve never owned an Xbox, or even wanted to, and the only times I’ve ever ventured away from Sony’s platform was for short trysts with either Nintendo or my PC. Every time, I’d eventually find my way back. That is, until the Switch happened.

Since its release back in March of last year, the Nintendo Switch has completely consumed me, bringing my longest stint with Nintendo up from just a couple of months to a year and some change, and it’s even caused me to completely abandon the gaming PC I built from scratch. For me, the Switch has completely flipped the script, essentially changing Nintendo from a secondary console into a primary, and my PS4 into a secondary.

It’s no secret that the Nintendo Switch release schedule has slowed down a bit lately, at least as far as first-party games I’m actually interested in are concerned, and through the lull I found myself finally putting down my Switch and looking back toward my PS4. This never happens, and the fact that I’m only just realizing it is something to be said about just how much I love the Nintendo Switch. Plenty of stellar games have been released on the PS4 since the Switch’s release, but none of them could convince me to take a break from my Switch, at least not for very long. And yet, by some sort of twist of fate, only No Man’s Sky was able to capture my attention and rope me back in.

I’ve played No Man’s Sky before, back when it was first released in 2016, but like many other players I didn’t play it for very long. I remember my experience with it as a positive one, but a game that had very little else to offer besides endlessly exploring nigh-baron planets. As soon as my curiosity for exploration subsided, the wasn’t a compelling reason to pick it back up until I heard about its newest update, called NEXT. The fourth major update for the divisive platform, No Man’s Sky NEXT finally introduced true multiplayer functionality, the likes of which players have been clamoring for since its release two years ago, but it also overhauled the graphics, added a ton of new content, removed base building limitations, and revamped the game’s core mechanics.

The patch notes for No Man’s Sky NEXT are extensive, but that’s exactly what drew me in about it. I could care less about the multiplayer features Next is exalted for, because I was more intrigued by how many of the update’s earliest reviewers claimed that it was finally turning No Man’s Sky into the game Sean Murray originally said it would be. The comeback story that came with that news was incredibly inspiring to me, because it meant that even if the game originally disappointed the most hyped of gamers, the developers never stopped believing in it, even as the game was ridiculed for its lack of content and the glaring differences between what was shown and what was delivered. Never did Hello Games decide to throw in the towel and dedicate their resources to a new game that might have a better and more lucrative chance at redeeming their studio. Instead, they kept their nose to the ground, kept on working hard, and kept on demonstrating the love they had for the game they’d made, nurturing it from its rough early years to the gem it is today. This time around, Hello Games is showing us that their game is amazing instead of telling us, and it’s for these very reasons I’ve fallen madly in love.

As all of my friends killed demons in God of War, or hacked robots in Horizon Zero Dawn, I picked flowers in Breath of the Wild, and knocked people out in ARMS. The Nintendo Switch, I’ve come to understand, is now my preferred way to play games. But No Man’s Sky reminded me that the PS4 Pro still occupies an important place in my rotation, if not only for larger-scale AAA titles that require much more power than the Switch will ever be able to muster.

I don’t imagine I’ll be playing No Man’s Sky as religiously in the months to come, but the time I’ve spent with it has been a joy. I like all of the core changes, I adore all of the graphical improvements, and I love how small it makes me feel in the face of such a vast, endless galaxy. I’ve found something of an extra-terrestrial home in No Man’s Sky, but even if it turns out to only be more of a temporary vacation, I will always cherish the hours we’ve spent together.

So, until that time that we discover what lies ahead, see you in the skies.

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