On the No Man’s Sky Update and Virtual Reality

Please tell me that I’m not the only one who has been counting down to Wednesday, August 14th. I mean, the only one besides my space-obsessed son.

For the uninitiated, tomorrow is the release of a huge update to a game from Hello Games Studio. It is (drum roll, please) the day when No Man’s Sky will get the long-awaited “Beyond” update.

The game is already known as one of those titles that has grown and evolved with time, but this update is poised to take things to the next level. I think tomorrow’s update won’t just please the hordes of No Man’s Sky fans. I also think it has the potential to be quietly revolutionary on the virtual reality (VR) front.

For the last few years, VR games have been an ever-increasing feature in-game releases. There are a growing number of games with VR (Borderlands, in particular, comes to mind). However, most of the time, the execution of the VR element of the game feels gimmicky. From the outside, it doesn’t seem like the VR is an essential and organic thing that is seamlessly integrated into gameplay. Instead, it feels more like the free toy in the cereal box of the game (metaphorically speaking) – nice, but not necessary. That’s why I have yet to feel that any game release warrants an investment in a VR headset.

But the Beyond update for No Man’s Sky is about to change that. I may have to pony up and buy that headset after all.

Before I get inundated with examples of good VR games, let me acknowledge that there are a lot of good VR games in the market. What I’m saying is that there is yet to be a game that makes me feel that I absolutely have to play that VR element. What’s different about the No Man’s Sky update is that it has the right blend of genre and gameplay that has persuaded me that this is the best game for a VR headset.

It’s true that there are games that are well-suited for the VR genre but … well … space!!! Exploration!!! VR options that expand beyond play gimmicks and conversation in virtual rooms! From what I’ve seen, No Man’s Sky looks to be the perfect match for virtual reality. What’s more, given where the game is now – what with the vast amount of content and different subgenres within the game – this may be the VR game that can also appeal to a wide audience. That’s why I think the VR update for No Man’s Sky is a massively big deal for the gaming industry. Even more important (from where I’m sitting), it’s a good thing for gamers because it promises to push the genre and open up the market for better VR games.

A friend of mine had this to say about No Man’s Sky –

‘ I bought a VR just for NMS, to be honest. Going to be weird starting over from a new perspective. Apparently, things that look “normal” in the game look massive in VR ‘

I’m willing to bet he is not alone – and not just because I’m still pondering whether I should by a VR just for No Man’s Sky as well.

To be honest, I think the market needs a game like this to really legitimize VR. With so much potential, VR has been stuck in a gaming niche as something that is a nifty add-on or a rich man’s toy. It hasn’t been integrated enough in games to feel like a necessary part of the gaming experience.

Until the Beyond update for No Man’s Sky demonstrated how VR could enrich the game, I never felt compelled to buy into the VR concept. Now, I’m rethinking VR and what it can mean for gaming. And that’s something all gamers should be excited about.

No Man’s Sky Beyond will be released on August 14.

Beyond Update / Patch Notes

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