No Man’s Sky launched in 2016, and the response was – well, it sure was something. The game was a divisive experience, and one that launched without many of the features the crew at Hello Games had mentioned in interviews prior to release. The resulting letdown was immense, and it spawned an internet mob that threw waves of death threats and harassment at Hello Games’ door.
The studio went silent after the game’s launch, quietly working on a series of free updates to expand the game’s features based on the community’s most pressing desires. According to some, those updates have made No Man’s Sky into the game it should’ve been at launch, but according to director Sean Murray, the version that released back in 2016 was exactly what the team wanted to make.
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“No Man’s Sky was what we wanted it to be when it launched,” Murray tells The Guardian. “We always talked about the feeling of landing on a planet that no one had been on before … It was lonely. It had nice calm ambient moments in it. But we always wanted to expand it. If you played [the original game] for 20 hours, you probably got the experience that we wanted. But you probably would have never picked up No Man’s Sky again.”
One of the main features fans missed at launch was multiplayer, and it’s one that finally comes to the game as part of the NEXT update on July 24. Multiplayer had been part of the game prior to launch, but was scrapped because it was too much work for too little payoff.
“Multiplayer at that time was the way we had talked about it,” Murray tells Eurogamer. “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.”
It proved too much for the final game – though Murray adds “we were fighting for it until pretty much the final hours” – but the resulting blowback after all those interviews served as another lesson. It explained why most game interviews sound like canned, scripted PR speak, as the launch of No Man’s Sky showed exactly why Murray’s candid interview style could be a bad thing.
“Why don’t all publishers do that, why is it so scripted? I totally understand why now. I stepped back and got that perspective.”