With Origins, No Man’s Sky is a big, glorious, mess again.

One of the joys of No Man’s Sky at launch was the chaotic worlds the game would generate. It was a game that could often be beautiful, but only from the correct angle. It was a game that was as likely to generate an awe inspiring planet to explore as much as it could generate one that looked like somebody threw up over a map from the original Halo.

A screenshot from the launch version of No Man's Sky. It is a radioactive planet, an assortment of rocks and veins cover the landscape. It is not pleasing to the eye.
My very first planet from No Man’s Sky’s launch, sort of like a rock of space vomit.

I loved it. Not just because I never quite knew what I’d find when landing somewhere but also because I really, really, enjoyed finding the angle it looked amazing from and *click*, taking a screenshot.

Over a series of updates, that all changed. I think it kinda had to because the promise of visiting dinosaur laden lush planets was a huge part of what people wanted from the game, not something akin to your cat sitting on the keyboard whilst you have Vue open.

An earlier version of No Man's Sky, mid scan. A quadrupedal animal is labelled "Frying Tonight"
I’d forgotten quite how much UI there was.

I can’t say I didn’t appreciate it myself either. It took Hello Games a couple of rejigs to get it working but when they were done, the results were astounding. It became incredibly difficult to take a rubbish shot because the game looked that good pretty much most of the time, from most angles.

Unfortunately, this came with the cost of the universe feeling increasingly uniform. The tidier the generation, the more things looked similar no matter where you travelled to. A wonderful thing for setting up a virtual space home in but yeah, exploration meant seeing the same thing, often. I won’t say the game lost something, it was just different.

An alien looking landscape from No Man's Sky. A rocky outcrop, a rock floats in an orange and red sky, a planet is visible in the sky.
A rock formation that looked great before the 50,000th planet I landed on to find it present.

By the time the Beyond update dropped, it was an absolutely remarkable kind of different. I don’t know what they’re putting in the snacks down at Hello Games HQ but blimey, whatever it is made the game look breathtakingly beautiful. Closer than ever to the great infinite book cover generator dream that sold me on the game from the off.

Gosh, look, I’m getting tingly thinking about how often this silly videogame had me in awe of the talent behind it. I’m a sucker for the craft of game making (not just art) and No Man’s Sky became an absolutely pure show off game. Really, really something.

A much more recent picture of No Man's Sky. A canary yellow spaceship sits amidst an asteroid belt. An enormous glowing space jellyfish  floats in front of a planet.
This pic gets me every time. Seriously good stuff.

I wrote about the game a few months back, fully expecting that to be close to the game’s final form. It’s been four years, it looks astounding, more than had my entertainment from it all. But no. That absolutely was not close to it’s final form.

Since my last piece, explorable space wrecks with more than a tinge of survival horror to them got added to the game and a few weeks back, an absolutely enormous update to the world generation. No Man’s Sky is a big mess again and for the fourth year running, Hello have made me fall in love with the game all over again.

A screenshot from No Man's Sky. A blue squid spaceship flies through an enormous red capital ship.
This was the first shot I took after Origins landed and, well, SOLD.

Which is just rude, really. They should let someone else have a chance.

There’s just so much stuff now. So many new plants, rocks, things, creatures, colours. It’s an absolute treat and best of all, it’s chaotic again! Just chaotic with 4 years of lessons, 4 years of improvements, 4 years of making the thing increasingly beautiful. Because of all this it’s messy in a way the launch version never could be. Stuff everywhere! Incredible storms tearing up the sky! Massive cloud cover! So much stuff to see that I’ve barely touched the sides of it.

It’s really good you know and I’m feeling proper spoiled by it.

What a game. What a game.

A fighter ship flies through some clouds, multiple suns and planets hang in the background.
A remarkable alien planet, spiky rocks and red grass cover a harsh clouded landscape. Strange plants reach up into the sky.
A binary star system, a spaceship flying through space towards a nebula and two planets.
A cold planet, a yellow spaceship parked in the foreground.
A blue sky, orange grass - a mysterious organic ship sits barely in view, a metallic dog like robot walks past.
A side on picture of an alien traveller, green with a white patch, boggly eyes and a thoughtful expression.
An astronaut runs through a storm covering a red planet, mist fills the air and the only light is from the glow of the astronauts backpack.
A pineapple creature looks out to a vaporwave sea.
One of the robot dogs close up. It has a silver disc akin to two plates stacked upon each other, for a head.
A knowing look from the green alien from earlier - in this shot you can see they have what appears to be akin to a marrow for a head.
A lizard chum wielding a laser blaster against a dirty pink sky.
The same lizard chum, walking through the woods.
An astronaut listens to an alien egg.
An astronaut jetting through a strange landscape, black mushrooms with glowing red veins are in front of them.
A dusty landmass, rocks and cacti in the foreground
A spaceship careering through the clouds as a lightning storm erupts in front.
The robot dog with a disc for a head, bowing downwards
The astronaut on a frozen planet. Crystals dot the ground and pants with glowing tips stretch into the sky.